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Simple backgammon rules

Last updated on May 10, 2024

This Deluxe Backgammon post is another in our series for beginners. The goal was to create a concise set of backgammon rules that would fit on a single page. A PDF version of the backgammon rules is available for download below.


The board is set up as shown below. The black checkers move counter-clockwise from the 24-point towards the 1-point.  White moves in the opposite direction.

Backgammon setup. Simple backgammon rules.

Starting the game

To start each player rolls a single die. If the same number appears on both dice, they must be re-rolled. The player with the higher roll goes first using the rolled values. Subsequently, the players take turns rolling dice and moving their checkers. A player can only move their checkers to a point that is not already occupied by two or more of the opponent’s checkers. A player can use the number on each die to move two different checkers or they can choose to use both dice numbers for a single checker’s move. Players must always move both numbers rolled if it is possible. If only one move is possible, the higher roll must be used. When the dice have matching numbers, it is known as a double. The player rolling a double gets to make four moves, instead of two.


If a player moves their checker to a space that is occupied by only one of the opponent’s checkers, this is called hitting a blot. The opponent’s checker is removed from the point and placed on the bar in the middle of the game board. The opponent must attempt to re-enter the checker on the bar on their next roll. No other plays are possible until the checker is re-entered. If a player’s checker is blocked from returning to the board on a roll, the player’s turn ends. There is no limit to the number of checkers that can be sitting on the bar.

Doubling cube

The doubling cube is a specific game piece that can be used prior to a turn to increase the stakes. Before a player begins their next turn by rolling the dice, they can propose to increase the current stakes of the game. It’s up to the opponent to accept or take the increased stakes. If a player accepts a double, then they own the cube. They are then the only player able to offer the next double.


To win the game, a player must move all 15 of their checkers into their home board and then begin bearing them off. If a checker is hit and sent to the bar during the bearing off process, that checker must return to the home board before any more checkers can be borne off. The winner is the first player to bear off all 15 checkers.


  1. Lance Lance

    I found this post to be very helpful. I have been playing backgammon for years, but have never been able to understand all of the rules. This post has clarified a lot of things for me, it is written in a simple and easy to understand manner. I can already see my backgammon imrpoving.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Lance, I’m pleased you found the page helpful. Check out the Playing Guides in the link at the top of the page for more hints. Otherwise, look at these Intermediate Backgammon Tips. Thanks for commenting, Jason

  2. Alan Alan

    I have printed out the Backgammon simple rules PDF and carry a copy inside my backgammon set. Being just a single page is really useful. When I am teaching a new player I simply pass them the page to quickly read. It really helps to fast track new players.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Alan, that is a good idea, printing out the Backgammon simple rules PDF. So many times when we are out playing backgammon in local pubs and cafes, people stop and ask about the game. Usually, they remember backgammon from their childhood and can’t remember the rules. I carry copies and hand them out when asked. Hopefully, that will get them interested in playing backgammon again. After all, backgammon is not hard to learn. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jason

  3. Lucy Lucy

    I found this post to be very helpful. I have been playing backgammon socially for years, but have never been confident with the basic rules. This post has clarified a lot of things for me.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Lucy, thanks for commenting. Please check out our Deluxe Backgammon playing guides. Now you understand the rules, these guides will really help you to improve your backgammon. Thanks for commenting, Jason.

  4. Marina Durante Marina Durante

    Nice and concise, very helpful, thank you. I was given a Manopoulos backgammon set for my recent birthday, which I thought was an odd gift at the time, since I have never shown interest in the game. However, now I know the rules of backgammon and have begun to play with friends, I’m absolutely loving it! A great game, you have so many twists and turns, I’m addicted!

  5. Ted Ted

    I found this article to be very useful. I have been playing backgammon for decades and this is the best summary of the rules of backgammon I have seen. I have laminated the simple backgammon rules pdf and carry it with me in my backgammon set. It is really useful to hand to first time backgammon players, they can normally learn the basics in about 5 minutes by reading the page.

  6. Yoni Yoni

    I haven’t played backgammon for years, but recently got back into the game with friends playing socially once a week in the local cafe. It is a great game, but my backgammon knowledge needed some refreshing. The Deluxe Backgammon website has been a great help in getting back into the game.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Yoni, we are pleased that Deluxe Backgammon has helped you get back into the game. Take a look at our Intermediate backgammon playing guides. Hopefully, that will give you an edge over friends when playing backgammon in the cafe. Thanks for commenting, Jason

  7. Syed Syed

    I recently introduced backgammon to a friend of mine who had expressed a longstanding interest in learning how to play. He has been asking a lot of questions about backgammon, most of which I have been able to answer.

    Lately, he asked about a situation in backgammon where winning becomes physically impossible, meaning you’re unable to roll the dice in a way that allows you to win.

    I explained to him that this scenario generally only happens during the bearing-off phase of backgammon. In specific instances where you are significantly behind and cannot roll sufficiently high numbers or doubles, it becomes extremely difficult to catch up and secure a win.

    This is correct, yes?

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Syed, you are correct, if both players are bearing off and contact has been broken. For example, imagine you have 5 checkers in your home board and your opponent has 2 checkers on their one point. It is impossible for you to win, even if you roll a double six, you can only bear off four checkers and they are guaranteed to bear off both in their next roll. If contact has been broken, than in theory you will always have a chance of winning, how ever slight that might be. You show a good understanding of backgammon and well done for introducing a new player to the game. Be sure to introduce your friend to the Deluxe Backgammon playing guides. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jason

  8. ken ken

    Great post! I enjoyed learning the backgammon rules and found it useful as a beginner. Any tips on how to improve my backgammon?

  9. Xavier Xavier

    Great breakdown of the backgammon rules! As a beginner, I found this post very helpful in understanding the basics of the game. Looking forward to practicing and improving my skills. Thanks for the informative post!

  10. Ian Ian

    Thanks for breaking down the backgammon rules in a clear and concise manner! As a beginner, I really appreciate the effort you put into making this post. I’m looking forward to learning more about backgammon and improving my skills. Great job!

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Ian, glad the simplified backgammon rules were useful. Try this post for tips on how to improve your backgammon. Thanks for commenting, Jason

  11. Clare Clare

    I’m definitely interested in learning more about backgammon and your rules explanation is very helpful. I can’t wait to try playing it out for myself. Thanks!

  12. Nathan Nathan

    Great post! I must say, I’m very new to backgammon and this post has been incredibly helpful in understanding the basic rules. I’m excited to start playing and improving my skills. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Nathan, there are plenty of guides on this website for improving your backgammon. Please take a look at our Backgammon Playing Guides page. Thanks for taking the time to comment and please enjoy your backgammon, Jason

  13. Rich Rich

    Loved the straightforward and easy-to-follow instructions! I’ve always wanted to learn how to play backgammon but was intimidated by the rules. Your post made it so much clearer, thanks for sharing!

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