How to Play Backgammon for Beginners

People have played Backgammon since the Mesopotamian era. It’s one of the most popular and one of the oldest board games played globally. With that in mind, there's no time like the present to learn how to play.

If you love board games and you’re interested in learning how to play the time-honored game of Backgammon, we're here to help. In this article, you will learn:

  • The object of the game of Backgammon
  • Backgammon board setup
  • How to play Backgammon
  • Basic Backgammon rules
  • How to win a Backgammon game
  • Where to practice playing Backgammon online

Are you ready to get started? Continue reading to learn more.

Getting Setup to Play Backgammon

Backgammon is played by two people sitting opposite each other. It requires a backgammon set that includes: a backgammon board, 30 checkers (15 per player), four dice (a pair of dice per player), a dice cup (to shake the dice), and a doubling cube.

To get the board in starting position, both players must place two checkers at their 24 point, three checkers at the 8 point, five checkers on the 13 point, and five additional checkers at the 6 point. It’s important to note that your side of the board and your opponent’s side of the board have different numbering systems.

Backgammon Terms to Know Before Gameplay

Here are a few basic terms you should know before you begin gameplay:

  • Checker - The game pieces each player uses to move around the backgammon board.
  • Point - There are 24 points of play on a backgammon board.
  • Middle Bar - The bar used to place checkers in the middle of the board.
  • Home Board - Each player has their own home board, comprising six points at the bottom right of the board.
  • Outer Board - The six points to the bottom left of each player.
  • Doubling Cube - A little larger than a regular die, the doubling cube has the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 printed on its faces. It is used to keep track of the stakes within the game.

Every backgammon board comprises four quadrants with six triangle points each. They include your home board, your outer board, your opponent’s home board, and your opponent’s outer board.

The Object of The Game of Backgammon

The goal of backgammon is for each player to move their checkers around the board in a clockwise direction. You move checkers by rolling dice. The number you roll is the number of points you can move (with a few exceptions).

Your first objective is to get all of your checkers to your home board. Your next objective is to be the first player to clear their checkers off the board. You can include blocking your opponent’s checkers as a goal as well.

How Do You Play Basic Backgammon?

Each player begins the game by rolling a single die each. The person with the high number can use two dice for their first move. If a player rolls a double number with the pair of dice, they get a double move. For instance, you can move two points two times if you roll a double two.

Each checker is moved forward independently. They can be moved onto any point that your opponent does not block.

A point is blocked if your opponent has two or more checkers occupying the point. However, a point is accessible if: - It doesn't have any checkers on it, - There is only one of your opponent’s checkers on it, or - It’s occupied by one or more of your checkers.

If you move one of your checkers onto a point occupied by one of your opponent’s checkers, your opponent’s checker is moved to the middle bar. They must move that checker before they can make any other moves.

Basic Backgammon Game Rules

  • Players in backgammon alternate turns.
  • Your turn is forfeited if you can’t make a legal move after rolling the dice.
  • If you roll a higher number than the spaces you need to move your checkers from the board, you must remove the checker that’s farthest away.
  • If one player's checkers are all out on the board when their opponent removes all of their own checkers, it’s called a Gammon. It’s worth two games.
  • If one player has checkers in their opponent’s home board or on the bar when their opponent has removed all of their checkers, it’s called a backgammon. It's worth a triple game.
  • Once a player moves all 15 of their checkers onto their home board, they can begin bearing off. That means that if they roll a number that corresponds to a point on the home board, they can then remove that checker from the board.

How to Win a Backgammon Game

Winning a game of backgammon is simple. You must first move all of your checkers to your home board. Then, you must clear your checkers off your home board. Whoever removes their checkers from the board first wins the game.

Is Backgammon Easy To Play?

Backgammon has survived for thousands of years because it’s fun, competitive, and easy to play. With enough skill and luck, you can start winning at backgammon today.

Why Did The Catholic Church Ban Backgammon?

Over the centuries, the Catholic church has banned many games. In the sixteenth century, backgammon was the target. The Catholic church mandated that all backgammon boards be burned and destroyed.

However, many people continued to play in secrecy. The foldable Backgammon board was invented during this time, most likely for easier hiding.

Is There Any Strategy To Backgammon?

There are lots of strategies to win at backgammon. A few of the most common approaches include:

  • Priming - Build a wall of checkers that cover consecutive points to block your opponent
  • Running game - Moving your checkers to your home board as soon as possible
  • The Blitz - Trying your best to land on an opponent’s points to move their checkers to the bar

Generally, it’s best to diversify your strategy depending on your opponent and familiarity with the game. The more you play, the better you will become.

Where to Practice Playing Backgammon Online

Are you ready to put your new skills to the test? Check out Backgammon Blitz on your phone today. You can practice your newfound backgammon skills in the single-player version or compete with backgammon enthusiasts around the world in head-to-head games.

Get started now to compete with real people and earn real rewards, or check out some of the fun card games we have available online.

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