The game of backgammon is over 5,000 years old, which makes it one of the oldest board games in history. It was first created by people living in the Middle East at the time, but today it’s played all over the world.
If you ever saw what a backgammon game looks like, you might have been confused as to what the rules are. In fact, it’s hard to tell what the rules are just by looking at how the game’s played. But don’t worry—you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. Nevertheless, you will need some sort of a tutorial to understand the basics of backgammon, and that’s where we come in.
Also, if you don’t own a backgammon board, you can play the best free backgammon game online instead. But first, you should read the following guidelines carefully and learn how to play backgammon with your friends. Let’s start!
Backgammon is a two-player game played on a board containing 24 narrow triangles called “points”. The points are separated into four quadrants of six, with a bar in the middle.
Each player starts with 15 checkers. Checkers come in two different colors–usually, one player has white and the other one has black. One player moves his or her pieces in a clockwise direction while the other player starting on the opposite side of the board moves counterclockwise.
The quadrant that you will be moving towards is called your home board (bottom right or bottom left depending on your position), and the board adjacent to it is your outer board.
In order to start, each player will need to put all of his or her checkers on the board. Start by putting five checkers on your 6th point, three checkers on your 8th point, five checkers on your 13th point, and then put your last two checkers on your 24th point. The opponent will put their checkers in an exact mirror image of yours.
To learn more about how the points are numbered, take a look at this awesome beginner backgammon tutorial.
Moving the Checkers
Each player receives two regular dice with six sides that he or she throws to indicate the moving of the pieces. So, for example, if you roll a four and a two, you will get to move any of your checkers for a total of six times. You can move one checker six times, or you can move one checker four times and another one twice. Remember that you can only move the checkers in one previously determined direction towards your home board. The goal is to reach the end of your home board with all 15 pieces.
To indicate who starts first, both players will throw dice at the same time. Whichever player gets the higher number, he or she moves first by a total number of two dice combined. For example, if you get a three and your opponent rolls only a one, you will get to move your pieces three times and then once more. If both players roll the same number, the throwing of the dice repeats.
You can land a checker on any point that is empty or that has only one of the opponent’s pieces. You can’t land your piece onto a point that has two or more opponent’s checkers.
If you land a double, let’s say double twos, the total number of your moves will double as well, so you will get eight moves instead of four in this case.
Hitting Opponents and Bearing Off
If you land on a point where the opponent only has one checker, you will send that checker to the bar. The opponent will then have to roll the dice to put his piece on the bar back into the game, beginning from his starting point. The opponent cannot re-enter the game unless he or she rolls the number that puts them on a point where they can actually land —they cannot land on points where you have two or more pieces at a given time.
As we mentioned before, the goal of a backgammon game is to finish the board with all of your pieces. Once you get near the end, you will hope to roll a number that exceeds the last point. You can only finish with one piece at a time and only if all of your pieces are in your home board. That is called bearing off.
Whichever player removes all of his or her checkers first wins the game.