How to Play Backgammon
Backgammon is played between two players with aim to remove all playing pieces from the board before the opponent does.
Its a game of both luck and skill where playing pieces are moved according to dice roll and needs some level of strategy to block opponents from moving their pieces.
Backgammon is played on a board which consists 24 narrow and long trianlges which are known as Points.
These points alternate in color and are grouped into four quadrants of six points each. These quadrants are known as home and outer board for respective players.
The bottom right quadrant is home to player with white checkers. Top right quadrant is home to player with red checkers.
The points are numbered from 1 through 24. For white, 1 starts at the bottom rightmost point and then increments in clockwise direction.
For red, 1 starts at the top rightmost point and then increments in anticlockwise direction.
The playing pieces are known as checkers and each player has 15 checkers at the begining; two are placed on their 24-point, three on their 8-point, and five each on their 13-point and 6-point.
White checkers are moved from 24 to 1 in anticlockwise direction where as red checkers are moved from 24 to 1 in clockwise direction.
The initial setup of the game is shown in the diagram to the left (numbers shown are for white checkers).
In order to decide which player goes first, at the start both players roll one die each and the player rolling higher number starts first. If they roll the same number, they roll again and again until both players have rolled different numbers. The winning player moves his checkers according to the numbers from both dice.
After the first roll, players roll two dice each on alternate turns and move their checkers accordingly.
Rules for moving checkers
Checkers are moved according to the rules below
- Player can move his checker to any point which has no other checker.
- Player can move his checker to any point which has one or more checkers of his own.
- Player can not move his checker to a point which has two of more checkers of the opponent.
- Player can move his checker to a point which has only one checker of the opponent. A point containing only one checker from either of the two players is called a Blot. This move is called Hitting and after a blot is hit, opponent's checker is removed from that point and placed on the bar.
- If player was hit and has one or more checkers on the bar, he needs to first move the checkers back to a point before he can make any other move. This process is called Entering. Player can only enter the board from his opponent's home quadrant and has to roll number matching to the point in home quadrant to enter from that point. For example, red can enter from white's home and if a 1 was rolled, it will enter at point numbered 1. If a 2 was rolled, it will enter at point numbered 2 and so on. The previous rules are still applicable for entering so player can only enter if the point is empty or has only one of opponent's checkers or has one or more of player's own checkers.
- Player is required to move dice numbers separately and can not move total of the dice numbers directly. For ex, if player rolled 1 and 2 and two spaces (points) from player's checker location are occupied by 2 or more of opponent's checkers but point at third space is open, player can not move directly to third space.
- If player rolls a double (both dice having same number), then he can play each number twice. For ex, if player rolled 2 and 2, he can move 2 spaces four times.
- Player is required to play both dice numbers if it is possible to play (including entering). If player can only play one of the two dice numbers, he is required to play higher number. If player has used one number to enter and second number is still unused, it can be used to play same die which was entered or any other die.
- If player can not play both dice numbers, he loses his turn and turn is passed to the opponent.
- Player can only remove his checkers from the board after all of his checkers have entered his home quadrant. The process of removing checkers is called Bearing off. Player can bear off a checker if it corresponds to the point on which it resides. For ex, a checker at point numbered 2 can be borne off if a 2 was rolled. If player has rolled a number which is higher than the highest numbered point occupied by his checkers and no other move is possible then player can bear off checker from a point closest to the rolled number. For ex, if player rolled 6 but has checkers on point numbered 5 and 4, and can not make any other move, he can bear off a checker from point numbered 5.
- If player is hit during bear off process, he needs to first enter the board from opponent's home quadrant and then bring checker to his home quadrant before he can start the bear off process again.
The first player to bear off all fifteen checkers wins the game.
Some of the rules such as Doubling, Gammons and Backgammons are not used in this online version of the game.
For more information on this game and complete set of rules, refer to wikipedia.