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Backgammon Rules


A backgammon board has 24 triangles in alternating colors called points. The board is divided into 4 quadrants and each quadrant has 6 points. You and your opponent each have a home board and outer boards which are separated by a raised section called the bar. After a checker is hit it is placed on the bar and it can only re-enter in the opponent’s inner board on a subsequent roll. The way the checkers are initially set up for play is known as the starting position. Two checkers are on each player 24pt. five on each player 13pt. three on each 8pt., and five on each players 6pt. The direction of play is from your opponent’s home board to their outer board, to your outer board to your home board.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is for each player to bring all his checkers into his home board, and then to bear them off the board. The first player to get all his checkers off the board is the winner.

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Starting the game

At the beginning of the game, both payers throw a single dice. The player throwing the higher number moves first using both their number and the number of the opponent to move the checkers. If the same number comes up on both dice, the players re-roll until they are different. After the first move, players alternate turns by rolling their own dice.

Moving the Checkers

The checkers must always be moved forward around the board according to the numbers shown on the dice. The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves. For example, if a player rolls 4 and 6, he may move one checker four spaces to an open point and another checker six spaces to an open point, or he may move the one checker a total of ten spaces to an open point, but only if one of the intermediate points (either four or six spaces from the starting point) is also open. The bar is not counted as a space.

The checkers are always moved around the board from a player’s outer board to his inner or home board.

A checker may be moved only to an open point, one that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers. A checker may move to a point if it is occupied by only one of the opponent’s checkers. In this case the opposing checker is hit and placed on the bar.

To avoid leaving single checkers vulnerable a player can try to use his roll to make a point. A player makes a point (takes control of one of the triangles on the board) by positioning two or more of his checkers on it. He then “owns” that point, and his opponent cannot move a checker to that point nor touch down on it when taking the combined total of his dice with one checker.

A player must use both numbers of a roll if it is legally possible to do so (or all four numbers of a double). When only one number can be played, the player must play that number. Or if either number can be played but not both, the larger number must be played. When neither number can be used, the player loses his turn. In the case of doubles, when all four numbers cannot be played, the player must play as many numbers as he can.

The Bar

The bar is the middle strip that separates the inner and outer boards and once a checker is placed there, it remains out of play until it can be entered in the opponent’s inner board by a throw of the dice.

Entering from the Bar

A checker can be entered from the bar if on the next roll one of the numbers corresponds to a point not occupied by two or more opponent checkers in the opponent’s home board. If you cannot enter because both points indicated by the dice are blocked, the turn passes to your opponent. If your opponent owns all 6 points in their board you can not roll since it is impossible to enter until your opponent opens up a point in their board. If a player has one or more checkers on the bar they must all be re-entered before any other checkers can be moved. Once all of the checkers have been entered, any unused numbers on the dice may be used to move the checker that was entered or any other checker.

The Bear Off

The Bear Off is the final stage of the game when you remove your checkers from your home board but you cannot start this process until all 15 of your checkers have made it there. After all your men are in the home board you may bear them off according to the numbers on the dice you throw. You must use your entire roll so if you roll a 5 and have no checkers on the 6pt or 5pt, you must take a checker off of the next highest point with checkers on it. If you roll a 5 and have no checkers on the 5pt but you do have a checker on the 6pt, you must move the checker on your 6pt five spaces to the 1pt. You do not have to bear a checker off if you have another legal move which can be useful when your opponent is on the bar or still owns a point in your board. If your opponent hits a blot while you are bearing off, you must enter that checker and bring it all the way around back to your home board before you can continue to bear off checkers. The first player to bear off all 15 checkers wins the game.


Backgammon is played for an agreed stake per point. Each game starts at one point. During the course of the game, a player who feels he has a sufficient advantage may propose doubling the stakes. He may do this only at the start of his own turn and before he has rolled the dice.

A player who is offered a double may refuse, in which case he concedes the game and pays one point. Otherwise, he must accept the double and play on for the new higher stakes. A player who accepts a double becomes the owner of the cube and only he may make the next double.

Subsequent doubles in the same game are called redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the number of points that were at stake prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he becomes the new owner of the cube and the game continues at twice the previous stakes. There is no limit to the number of redoubles in a game.

The Jacoby Rule

Gammons and backgammons count only as a single game if neither player has offered a double during the course of the game. This rule speeds up play by eliminating situations where a player avoids doubling so he can play on for a gammon. The Jacoby rule is primarily used in money games

The Crawford Rule

If you are playing an n-point match and your opponent is ahead of you, if he gets to n-1 points according to the Crawford Rule you are not allowed to use the doubling cube in the following game.

The Holland Rule

In post-Crawford games the trailer can only double after both sides have played two rolls. It makes the free drop more valuable to the leader. The Holland rule is rarely used.

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