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Backgammon: more FAQ

Last updated on November 10, 2020

Beginner’s guides. How to play backgammon.

We’ll answer some questions that come up a lot that haven’t been covered in the other discussions on backgammon basics. You might think that some of these questions are strange as they talk about animals and other odd terms. Other questions are practical things that relate to backgammon and its game play but all them are still part of backgammon basics.

Why are there beavers and raccoons in backgammon?

Beavers and raccoons aren’t actual animals in backgammon. These terms refer to optional rules for the cube action occurring in the game. If one player doubles, and the opponent accepts the double and decides their position is good enough, they may immediately redouble while retaining possession of the cube. This immediate redouble without giving up the cube is called a beaver.

The doubling cube.

Raccoon is another optional rule similar to beaver. If a player beavers, then in games which allow raccoons, the opponent (the one who offered the original double) can re-double on the beaver, and then gain the cube again. Games which allow raccoons often become high stakes games very quickly. This is because when a raccoon is offered, the doubling cube is at least 8.

Playing beavers and raccoons is optional. It should be agreed between players beforehand whether or not they are playing by this rule.

What is the backgammon Jacoby rule?

The Jacoby rule is another optional rule in backgammon, but is more common among games in money play. This rule was promoted by Oswald Jacoby and was named after him. The idea behind this rule is to avoid a time-consuming backgammon game by waiting for one player to get a gammon rather than doubling for a single point. The Jacoby rule states that gammons and backgammons will not give the extra points if a double has not been accepted by your opponent. The Jacoby rule is a rule used in tournaments to keep the game interesting.

How do automatic doubles work in backgammon?

This is another optional rule in backgammon. If both players throw the same number on the first roll of a game, the stakes are doubled. The doubling cube is turned to 2 and stays in the middle. Players usually agree to limit the number of automatic doubles to one per game. For example, if two automatic doubles have occurred putting the cube up to 4, the first in-game double will be for 8 points.

What is the Crawford rule in backgammon?

The Crawford rule is not an official backgammon rule, but it is routinely used in tournament match play. The rule is designed to make match play more equitable for the player in the lead. If a player is 1 point away from winning a match, that player’s opponent will always want to double as early as possible in order to catch up. Whether the game is worth 1 point or 2, the trailing player must win to continue the match. To balance the situation, the Crawford rule requires that when a player first reaches a score 1 point short of winning, neither player may use the doubling cube for the following game, called the “Crawford game”. After the Crawford game, normal use of the doubling cube resumes.

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