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Backgammon Set > Backgammon Rules of Play

Understanding the Backgammon Rules of Play

If you are a newcomer to the game of backgammon, there are a few rules and guidelines you must become familiar with. But don’t think this will prevent you from having a good time; even the most frequent backgammon devotees may find that they have some things to learn. Whether you’re trying to improve your performance, or just understand the basic rules of backgammon play, backgammon follows a specific set of guidelines, some of which were instilled centuries ago. Below, we list the basic Backgammon rules of play


The Backgammon Playing Rules Detailed
In backgammon, the playing rules call for the two participants to move all 15 of their pieces (known as “stones,” “disks,” or “checkers”) past their opponents’ 15 pieces.

The playing rules of backgammon allow multiple pieces to be placed throughout the board. Initially, 1.) two checkers are placed on a player’s 24-point location; 2.) three checkers are placed on their 8-point location; 3.) five checkers each are placed on the 13-point and 6-point locations, respectively. Here are some additional details related to backgammon’s rules of play:

  • Backgammon playing rules require participants to each roll the dice; the highest number moves first.
  • Players alternate after each throw, and after the initial toss, two dice are rolled with each turn.
  • Players must move their pieces in opposing (but forward) directions.
  • Backgammon Players start from their own “24-point” marker, and moving towards their “1-point” marker.
  • Opponents can remove each others’ pieces from play throughout the game.
  • If doubles come up, backgammon’s playing rules require players to move twice the number shown (if “2-2” is rolled, the player moves four “2’s” across the board).
  • Players can’t skip their turn; both dice numbers must be played, if possible. If the number(s) can’t be played, backgammon rules call for them to be forfeited.
  • Moving checkers – pieces can be moved to various locations (“open points”), including any vacant spots, and even opponent’s points. Up to two pieces (“closed points”) can be placed on one spot, but that’s the limit – checkers can’t even stop there temporarily.
  • “Bearing off”– this process involves all 15 of a player’s pieces being brought safely home (past the home board’s first point). The backgammon rules of play allow these pieces to be removed. The first player to bear off all of his checkers is the winner.


Players’ Rules Concerning Backgammon’s Variations
There are some variations to backgammon’s playing rules. For instance, one player may bear off all of their checkers before the other player’s beared off even one. Known as a gammon (or “double game”), this enables the winner to receive double the amount of points showing on the dice. If a gammon occurs, and the loser has one or more checkers on the winner’s side, this is known as a backgammon. This rewards the winner with triple the amount of points.

In the game of chouettes, backgammon rules allow 3 players to participate. The player that rolls the highest number is known as the “man in the box”; he or she plays against the other two-person team. Other backgammon playing rule variations include: Acey-deucy, in which players start with no checkers, only to bear them on later.

With hypergammon, players have only three checkers on the board, located on the 24-, 23- and 22-point locations. There is also neckgammon, in which players start with one fewer checker on the six-point and mid-point, and two checkers on the 23 point location.
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