Last updated on April 14, 2021
Beginner’s guide. How to play backgammon.
So, no doubt, this has the potential to be a divisive post. However, if you are here reading this article, it is safe to assume that you enjoy the game of backgammon. We must admit that at Deluxe Backgammon, we are a little bit biased.
The entire Deluxe Backgammon team have played chess and enjoyed the game. However, leisure time is precious and we need to spend those hours in the most enjoyable way possible and that is why we play backgammon.
I was a chess player since my primary school days, mainly playing with friends at lunchtime. I have never been tournament standard player. As an adult I was addicted to the chess app on my smartphone, playing five or six games a day. As I recall the app had eight levels and I slowly began to work my way through them. Each was a challenge and took a hundred or more games per level to conquer. I was also reading books to enhance my knowledge of the game. You would have weeks where the CPU at the new level would dish out a thrashing. Then there would be a couple more weeks where I would slowly get deeper into the game. Finally, after a couple of months of diligent play and practice, I would finally win. A few games later at that level and I would reach a tipping point, where I simply couldn’t lose. After about two years of play on that app I was beating level five and about to start the arduous task of conquering level six. During this period, I played regularly against human opponents and discovered one thing. I would either always win or always lose against specific players.
Skill in chess
I recall one instance where I was playing against an opponent I had always beaten. I rushed a move, lifted my fingers from the piece and felt my heart sink. Instantly I knew that I would lose the game in just three moves. But I didn’t. My opponent completely overlooked the combination that would guarantee victory and played a different move. After he had made his choice, I paused and explained my apparently fatal mistake and asked why he didn’t make the winning moves. He just simply said he only ever looked two moves ahead and hadn’t taken the final step that would have given him the win. At that point I knew, as long as I maintained concentration I would never lose against this opponent because I was analysing several moves ahead of what he was doing. It was also clear to me in games against opponents I always lost against, that they were analysing the game deeper than I was.
With chess, the entire game is laid out before you. The pieces have predetermined moves and nothing is left to chance. The player that can plan furthest ahead with the appropriate strategy and tactics will win. Backgammon is different. It involves luck, according to the rolls of the dice. This adds an element of uncertainty and probability. No two games will ever be the same, and the element of luck plays a major role in the short term. Over time, the player that executes their strategy and tactics better will rise to the top.
So, in chess, you would never expect a rank beginner to take a game from a Grandmaster. In backgammon, it happens frequently. It is part of the charm of the game. The element of uncertainty adds to the attraction to the game. A single lucky roll can turn the tables in an instant. A series of lucky rolls can change the result of a match. Both games have proven themselves to be classics with a long history and a sense of tradition. However, backgammon with the element of luck, makes it much more enjoyable to the social player as there is nearly always the chance of a win with a lucky roll. Both are great games, which have stood the test of time, but backgammon remains the favourite of the Deluxe Backgammon team.
Take out your luxury backgammon set and enjoy a game. The dice rolls may be for, or against you, but in every match, there is a level of uncertainty that will add thrill and excitement to the game. Ultimately, the choice between these two great games will come down to personal preference. Enjoy the game of your choice.