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Simple backgammon rules

Last updated on September 19, 2020

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.

Setup

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.

Setup

Starting the game

To start each player rolls a single dice. 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.

Hitting

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 at any point in the game 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.

Winning

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.

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