How to Play Backgammon

Learning how to play backgammon isn't difficult. Today, the game is popular on the Internet and is the subject of international tournaments.

The object of backgammon is to get your game pieces (called checkers, stones or chips) off the board before the other player. Movement is determined by the roll of two six-sided dice.

Getting Started
Each side of the backgammon board is marked with dark and light triangles called "points." These narrow triangles are the path along which the stones travel. Both players start with 15 stones evenly placed around the board. The players move their stones counter-clockwise in opposite direction to get their pieces in the home position.

The Order of Play

  • Both players roll one die to determine who gets first move. The player with the higher roll goes first.
  • The starting player uses the original roll of both dice to make his first move.
  • Each of the two die rolls must be played if possible, either by a single stone or two different stones. Each pip on the die corresponds to a point on the board. A player's stone may only come to rest in one of three positions: an empty point, a point occupied by her own stones or a point occupied by one of her opponents stones (called a "blot").
  • If the player lands on an opponent's blot, the opponent's stone is moved to the center of the board, a raised area called the bar. Once a player's stone has entered the bar, it must re-enter the game starting at the home position. No other moves can be made until all stones are removed from the bar.
  • If the player rolls two dice with the same number, called "doubles," she must play each die twice.
  • You cannot move stones off the board ("bear off") until all stones are in the "home" board, defined as the six points in the quadrant of the board opposite your starting position.
  • Take turns rolling and moving until one player moves all stones off the board.
  • In match play, each game counts as one point.
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