How to Play Backgammon
To play Backgammon you need to start by finding someone else who also wants to play with you because this is a two player game and then you need to set up the board. There are four sections of the board including the player’s home board and outer board also the opponent’s home board and outer board, both separated by the bar in the middle. Players must sit facing opposite each other with the home board appearing on the right quadrant closest to the player. The outer boards are therefore on the opposite site of the board (on the left). Altogether there are 24 points around the board where the pieces can move along.
To start with, there should be a total of 15 pieces (aka checkers) and these need to be laid out as follows: 5 pieces on your 6-point, 3 pieces on your 8-point, 5 pieces on your 13-point and 2 pieces on your 24 point. Your 6-point and 8-point position will always appear on the near sides, the 13 and 24 points will appear on the opposite side and the 24 point will be the furthest point from player. The aim is to then move your checkers around the board in the direction of your home board. The starting roll determines which player gets to go first, so you both need to roll just 1 dice. The player with the highest number will start. For example if you roll a 4 and your opponent rolls a 3, you will get to start.
Don’t forget that you can double the stakes whenever it is your turn thanks to the doubling cube. Your opponent doesn’t have to accept this but if he doesn’t he must forfeit the game and will lose by the original stakes. It’s possible to keep on doubling the stakes but it’s generally never done more than 3 or 4 times in most games. If you are a beginner it’s not worth worrying about how to use the doubling cube until you have really familiarised yourself with the more basic rules.
Now that you are ready to roll the dice, give the dice a couple of shakes in the dice cup (if you are using one) and then roll them into your home board area. The value of each dice will then show you how many moves can be made by one or more of your pieces. For example, a 4 and a 3 being rolled means that you could potentially move 1 piece by 4 spaces and then by a further 3 spaces, or you could move 1 piece 4 spaces and another 1 of your pieces by 3 spaces. Remember that the aim of the game is to get all of your pieces in your home board before you can start taking them off from the board and into your tray. This is also known as bearing off. The pip count is the total number of points that a player needs to move his pieces home and then bear them off.
You can only move your pieces to an open point on the board and this is quite simply a point which does NOT already contain two or more pieces. In other words, you can only move your pieces to a point which has just 1 piece, or to a point which has no pieces whatsoever. If you happen to roll a double at any time (for example a 2-2 or a 4-4), you’ve earned yourself two extra moves (of the exact same values). If you can’t move anywhere because your opponent’s pieces are blocking your points, you will lose a turn. This is why you should always try and use as much strategy as possible to try and block your opponent by strategically placing your pieces around the board.
You need to try keeping your pieces safe by avoiding having just 1 piece on a point, so the best thing to do would be to keep at least 2 pieces on 1 point as often as possible (much easier to do in the early stages). To win, you need to be the first player to clear your pieces from the board and into your tray. When you are ready to bear off, simply roll the dice so that you can start moving your pieces one at a time and into your tray. The numbers you roll must be exact or higher than the number of spaces needed to remove each piece from the board. Maximum points can be earned if you manage to bear off all of your pieces before your opponent has managed to get any of his pieces in his home board.