Object Of The Game
Backgammon is a 2 player game played with 15 checkers per player and a pair of dice. In the beginning of each game the checkers are set up to a specific starting position (please see the illustration). The players take turns rolling the dice and moving their checkers according to them around the board. To win the game a player has to bring all 15 checkers into his home board and then bear them off. The player who has all his checkers off the board first wins the game.
In match play the players play to an agreed number of points. Then doubling becomes an important factor of the game. At the beginning of each game the stake is one point and the doubling cube is available to both players. During the game either player may offer a double to his opponent. The opponent then has the choice of either refusing the double (and losing the current game with the single point), or taking the double and continuing playing for doubled points. A player who accepts a double becomes the owner of the doubling cube. Only the owner of the cube may offer subsequent doubles.
The winner of the match is the first player to win an agreed number of points. Each game in the match is worth the value of the cube multiplied by the type of win (single, gammon, or backgammon) Most matches are played with the Crawford rule. In Crawford game the first player to reach match-point (to be one point from winning the match) is not allowed to use the doubling cube during the following game only. Such game is called the Crawford round. For example, with a score of 4 -1 in a 5-point game, the doubling will be disallowed for that round only. If the score becomes 4 - 2, the doubling will be allowed in subsequest rounds
The Rolls Of The Dice
At the beginning of the game each player rolls a die. The player with the higher roll moves first. He has to use the number he rolled and the number his opponent rolled to make his first move. If both players roll the same die, both roll another die to determine the opening roll. After that each player takes turns rolling the dice. For each number of the dice he can move a checker. If both numbers are the same, the roll is called a double. The player can then make four moves.
How To Move Checkers
The players move their checkers towards their respective homes. The roll of the dice lets a player know how many pips each checker can be moved forward. A checker cannot move backwads, it is only allowed to move forward. A checker can be moved to an indicated pip if the pip is empty, or it only has one opponent's checker, or it has the player's own checkers. The opponent's checker is hit and put on the bar, if a player's checker is moved to a point occupied by one of opponent's checkers The numbers of the dice requires two separate moves. If a player rolls 6 and 1, he can move one checker by 6 pips and another by 1 pip. Or he may move the same checker by 7 pips if the 7th point is available. A player must use both numbers of a roll or all four numbers of a double if possible. If only one number can be played the player must play it. If either of the numbers can be played individually but not both numbers together then he has to play the higher number.
If you move one of your own checkers to a point where a single opponent's checker is located, your opponent's checker is hit. A hit checker is placed on the bar. The hit checker can only move from the bar point to opponent's home on the board.
Getting Off The Bar
When a player has checkers on the bar he has to move these checkers first. A player will not be able to make any other move before he has put his hit checkers back into play. A checker can be put back into play by entering into a free point of the opponent's home board. If a player cannot get off the bar because the dice rolled corresponds with the points owned by the opponent checkers, he must pass his turn.
Once a player's 15 checkers are in his home, the player can start bearing off his checkers. The checker that has been borne off cannot be brought back onto the board. The player may bear off a checker from the point according to the rolled die. If there is no checker on the corresponding point that can be borne off, the player must make a legal move from a higher numbered point. If there are no more checkers on higher numbered points he may bear off a checker from the highest numbered point where there is still a checker. A player can always opt not to bear off a checker, provided there is another legal move avalaible.
End Of The Game
The game ends when a player's all 15 checkers are borne off the board. The winner can win single, double, or triple points. The player wins a single point if his opponent managed to bear off at least one checker. If the loser did not bear off any men and all his checkers are out of the winner's home, the winner wins double points. Winning double points in such a manner is called gammon. In backgammon the loser has not borne off any men and has at least one checker in the opponent's home board or on the bar. In that case the winner wins the triple points.