Basic Rules for Playing Backgammon

As simple as backgammon can be, the basic rules for playing backgammon are complicated. The object is to remove all of your pieces from the board before your opponent does. The 24 positions of a backgammon board are called points. Each player has 15 pieces.

Die Rolls In Backgammon

  • Both players roll one die to determine the starting player. The high roll goes first and must use both of the initial rolls for his first move.
  • Both dice must land flat for a roll to count.
  • Each of the die rolls counts as a separate move.
  • If a player rolls doubles (two dice with the same number), each roll counts twice.
  • A player must use his entire roll. If he cannot use the entire roll, he must use the higher of the two die numbers. If he cannot use the higher number, he must use the lower number.
  • If a player cannot use either of his die rolls, he must pass his turn to the other player.

A Moving Experience

  • The numbers on the dice are considered two separate moves. One piece may make both moves or two pieces may make the individual moves.
  • A player's piece may move to one of three different positions: an open point, a point occupied by his own pieces or a point occupied by one of its opponents pieces.
  • If a player rolls doubles (two of the same die), he can move double the amount shown. In other words, a double roll counts as four moves of the same number.
  • As much of the roll must be used as possible, including doubles.

To Hit Or Not To Hit

  • A single piece on a point is called a blot.
  • If a player's piece lands on an opponents blot, the opponent's piece is removed from play and placed on the bar.

Escape From The Bar

  • The bar is the middle strip on the board that separates the inner and outer quadrants.
  • A piece placed on the bar may not re-enter play until it can be entered by a roll of the dice.
  • A player with pieces that are barred cannot move any other pieces until the barred piece is brought back into play.
  • A barred piece can be brought back into play on the player's next roll.
  • The player must enter his barred piece in the opponent's home area.
  • If all points are blocked, (contain more than one opponent piece) a barred piece may not enter and the player must pass his turn.

Bear Off To Win

  • The bear off is the final stage of the game when you can remove pieces from the game.
  • A player may not begin bearing off pieces until all 15 of his pieces are in his home board-the six points in the lower right quadrant of the board.
  • A piece can bear off the board if the die roll matches the point. For example, a piece on the 3 point could bear off on a roll of 3.
  • If there are no pieces on higher points, a piece may bear off with a higher roll. For example if there are no pieces on the 6 or 5 point and the player rolls a 5, he could bear off a piece on the 4 point.
  • If a piece is hit before it bears off, it must return from the bar and go all the way around the board to the home board before bearing off can continue.
  • When one player bears off all pieces, the game is over.
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