Standard Rules of Backgammon
permission, from Backgammon Galore,
1 - Setup
Backgammon is a game for two
players, played on a board
consisting of twenty-four narrow triangles called "points".
The triangles alternate in color and are grouped into four
quadrants of six triangles each. The quadrants are referred to
as a player's home
board and outer board, and the opponent's home board and
outer board. The home and outer boards are separated from each
other by a ridge down the center of the board called the bar.
"BACKGAMMON BOARD" :
1 & 1a. A board with the checkers
in their initial position.
An alternate arrangement
is the reverse of the one shown here, with the home
board on the left and the outer board on the right.
The points are numbered for either player starting in that
player's home board. The outermost point is the twenty-four
point, which is also the opponent's one point. Each player has
fifteen checkers of his own color. The initial arrangement of
checkers is: two on each player's twenty-four point, five on
each player's thirteen point, three on each player's eight
point, and five on each player's six point.
Both players have their own pair of dice and a
dice cup used for shaking. A doubling
cube, with the numerals 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on its
faces, is used to keep track of the current stake of the game.
2 - Object of the Game
The object of the game is move all your checkers into your
own home board and then bear them off. The first player to
bear off all of their checkers wins the game.
||Figure 2. Direction of movement of
White's checkers. Red's checkers move in the opposite
3 - Movement of the Checkers
To start the
game, each player throws a single die. This
determines both the player to go first and the numbers to be
played. If equal numbers come up, then both players roll again
until they roll different numbers. The player throwing the
higher number now moves his checkers according to the numbers
showing on both dice. After the first roll, the players throw
two dice and alternate turns.
The roll of the dice indicates how many points, or
player is to move his checkers. The checkers are always moved
forward, to a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:
1) A checker may be moved only to an
point", one that is not occupied by two or more opposing
2) The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves.
For example, if a player rolls 5 and 3, he may move one
checker five spaces to an open point and another checker
three spaces to an open point, or he may move the one
checker a total of eight spaces to an open point, but only
if the intermediate point (either three or five spaces from
the starting point) is also open.
3) A player who rolls doubles plays the numbers shown on
the dice twice. A roll of 6 and 6 means that the player has
four sixes to use, and he may move any combination of
checkers he feels appropriate to complete this requirement.
Two ways that White can
play a roll of
4) A player must use both numbers of a roll if this is
legally possible (or all four numbers of a double). When
only one number can be played, the player must play that
number. Or if either number can be played but not both, the
player must play the larger one. When neither number can be
used, the player loses his turn. In the case of doubles,
when all four numbers cannot be played, the player must play
as many numbers as he can.
4 - Hitting and Entering
A point occupied by a single checker of either color is
called a "blot". If
an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is "hit" and
placed on the bar.
: To land on a point occupied by an opposing
blot and put the "blot" on the bar.
single checker sitting alone on a point where it is
vulnerable to being hit.
Any time a player has one or more checkers on the bar, his
first obligation is to "enter"
those checker(s) into the opposing home board. A checker is
entered by moving it to an open point corresponding to one of
the numbers on the rolled dice.
example, if a player rolls 4 and 6, he may enter a
checker onto either the opponent's four point or six point, so
long as the prospective point is not occupied by two or more
of the opponent's checkers.
of the points is open, the player loses his turn. If a player
is able to enter some but not all of his checkers, he must
enter as many as he can and then forfeit the remainder of his
If White rolls
with a checker on the bar, he must
enter the checker onto Red's four point since Red's six
point is not open.
After the last of a player's checkers has been
unused numbers on the dice must be played, by moving either
the checker that was entered or a different checker.
5 - Bearing Off
Once a player has moved all of his fifteen checkers into
his home board, he may commence "bearing
off". A player bears off a checker by rolling a number that
corresponds to the point on which the checker resides, and
then removing that checker from the board. Thus, rolling a 6
permits the player to remove a checker from the six point.
"Bearing off" :
"Bear Off" -
To remove a checker from the board according to a roll of the
dice after all of your checkers have been brought into your home
"Bearoff" - The last stage of the game during
which checkers are borne off.
If there is no checker on the point indicated by the roll,
the player must make a legal move using a checker on a
higher-numbered point. If there are no checkers on
higher-numbered points, the player is permitted (and required)
to remove a checker from the highest point on which one of his
checkers resides. A player is under no obligation to bear off
if he can make an otherwise legal move.
A player must have all of his
active checkers in his home board in order to bear off. If a
checker is hit during the bear-off process, the player must
bring that checker back to his home board before continuing to
bear off. The first player to bear off all fifteen checkers
wins the game.
and bears off two checkers.
6 - Doubling
Backgammon is played for an agreed stake per point. Each
game starts at one point. During the course of the game, a
player who feels he has a sufficient advantage may propose
doubling the stakes. He may do this only at the start of his
own turn and before he has rolled the dice.
A player who is offered a double may
"refuse a Double", ( Refuse a Double : To
resign the game at the current stakes after the opponent offers
a double rather than continue play at twice the stakes)
in which case he concedes the game and pays one point.
Otherwise, he must "accept the double" ( Accept a Double : To agree to continue playing a game at twice
the previous stakes after the opponent offers a double)
and play on for the new higher stakes. A player who
accepts a double becomes the owner
of the cube and only he may make the next double.
Subsequent doubles in the same game are called
"redoubles" ( Redouble : A double other than
the first double of a game. Only the player who last accepted a
double may redouble).
If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the number of
points that were at stake prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he
becomes the new owner of the cube and the game continues at
twice the previous stakes. There is no limit to the number of
redoubles in a game.
7 - Gammons and Backgammons
At the end of the
game, if the losing player has borne off
at least one checker, he loses only the value showing on the
doubling cube (one point, if there have been no doubles).
However, if the loser has not borne off any of his checkers, he is
and loses twice the value of the doubling cube. Or, worse, if the loser has not borne off any of his checkers and
still has a checker on the bar or in the winner's home board,
he is backgammoned
and loses three times the value of the doubling cube.
A completed game of backgammon in which the losing
player has not "borne
off" any "checkers".
A gammon is also called a "double
game" because the winner receives twice the value of the
1) A game played
with dice and checkers on a board consisting of twenty-four
points, in which each player tries to move his checkers home and
bear them off while preventing the opponent from doing the same
thing. See: the Rules
2) A completed game of backgammon in which the losing player has
not "borne off" any "checkers" and still has
one or more checkers on the "bar" or in the winner's
"home board". A backgammon is also called a "triple
game" because the winner receives three times the value of
the "doubling cube".
8 - Optional Rules
The following optional rules are in widespread use.
doubles. If identical numbers are
thrown on the first roll, the stakes are doubled. The
doubling cube is turned to 2 and remains in the middle.
Players usually agree to limit the number of automatic
doubles to one per game.
2) Beavers. When a player is
doubled, he may
immediately redouble (beaver) while retaining possession of
the cube. The original doubler has the option of accepting
or refusing as with a normal double.
3) The Jacoby
Rule. Gammons and backgammons count
only as a single game if neither player has offered a double
during the course of the game. This rule speeds up play by
eliminating situations where a player avoids doubling so he
can play on for a gammon.
9 - Irregularities
1) The dice must be rolled together and land flat on the
surface of the right-hand section of the board. The player
must reroll both dice if a die lands outside the right-hand
board, or lands on a checker, or does not land flat.
2) A turn is completed when the player picks up his
If the play is incomplete or otherwise illegal, the opponent
has the option of accepting the play as made or of requiring
the player to make a legal play. A play is deemed to have
been accepted as made when the opponent rolls his dice or
offers a double to start his own turn.
3) If a player rolls before his opponent has completed his
turn by picking up the dice, the player's roll is voided.
This rule is generally waived any time a play is forced or
when there is no further contact between the opposing