Backgammon: Rules Print

Modified on: Mon, 14 Dec, 2020 at 6:30 PM

The Board

Backgammon is played by two players on a board with 24 triangles that are called points. There are 30 checkers, 15 white and 15 black, of which each player chooses a color. The board consists of four quadrants: the player’s home board and outer board and the opponent’s home board and outer board. The checkers are always moved counterclockwise from the opponent’s home board to the player’s own home board.

Backgammon Board

Rolling the Dice

At the beginning of the game both players roll a die each (one black and one white) to determine who goes first. The numbers rolled also count as the first moves for the player with the highest number. When rolling the dice the numbers rolled represent two separate moves. For example, if the player rolls a 3 and a 5, they can move one checker 3 spaces and another checker 5 spaces ahead. Or, they can move one checker 3 spaces and then 5 more spaces ahead. If the player rolls doubles, they earn two extra moves. For instance, if the player rolls double 2, they can make four moves of 2 points each.

Rolling the Dice 1

Rolling the Dice 2

Moving the Pieces

The checkers can be moved to a point without checkers, a point with one or more of the player’s own checkers or a point with no more than one of the opponent’s checkers on it. At least two checkers are needed to block a point, but the players can move as many of their checkers as they want to a single point and stack them up.

Hitting a Blot

A point that is occupied by a single checker by one of the players is called a blot. If a player hits a blot, the checker of the opponent is placed on the bar in the middle of the board. The player whose checker is on the bar cannot move his other checkers until they return the checker from the bar to the opponent’s home board. In case a rolled number cannot be executed, the player loses the turn and has to try again on their next turn. Additionally, the sum of both dice cannot be used to choose a space.

Winning the Game

The first player to bear off all of their checkers, i.e. moving the checkers into their own tray, wins. The players can only start bearing off once all of their checkers are on their home board. Checkers are borne off by rolling both dice and moving the pieces into the tray. If the number on the dice surpasses the number of moves, the checkers can still be placed in the tray.

For every game won in the online mode the player receives three points for the leaderboard.

Playing More Than One Game

Backgammon can be played as a series of games with players competing to win a set number of points, after which the player with the most points at the end wins.

Each game game starts with a value of one point. When a player feels they have an advantage in a game, they can choose to offer a double before rolling the dice—effectively doubling the value of the game.

The doubling cube keeps track of the current stakes of the game.        

The opposing player can turn down the offer but concedes the game by doing so and pays one point. In case the opposing player accepts the offer, the value of the game doubles, e.g. from 1 to 2, from 2 to 4, or from 4 to 8. When a player accepts a double, they take control of the doubling cube and are the only player who can make the next offer of a double.

Exception: When the leading player comes within one point of winning the match, the following game is played without a doubling cube. This one game without doubling is called the Crawford Game. After the Crawford game, the doubling cube is back in play again.

Different Winning-Conditions

If a player bears off all fifteen of their checkers before their opponent does, then they have won the game, but not all wins are created equal. The opponent can lose in one of three ways.

A Regular Loss: This happens if the winner bore off all of their checkers first while their opponent was trying to bear off their checkers. The opponent will lose only the value on the doubling cube.

The Gammon: If the winner bore off all of their checkers before their opponent bore off any of theirs, the loser is gammoned and loses twice the value on the doubling cube.

The Backgammon: If the winner bore off all of their checkers while their opponent still had checkers on the bar or the winner’s home court, then the loser is backgammoned and loses three times the value on the doubling cube.

You can download our mobile version of Backgammon here: Backgammon by LITE Games


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