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How to Play Backgammon

by Raechel Conover

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Backgammon

Backgammon is a two-person game played not only in your recreation room, but also as a competitive activity in social and commercial settings. As a board game, backgammon dates back to England in 1045 when it was called "Tables." Backgammon has been played all over the world, and in 1743 the first set of backgammon rules was drafted. Since then, backgammon has continued to increase in popularity.

Playing Backgammon:

  1. Sit facing your opponent. The board game comes with two different colors of checkers, and you and your opponent must choose which color you wish to play with.

  2. Get to know the board. Notice there are four quadrants to the board, with six narrow triangles in each quadrant. The quadrant on your side to the right of the bar is your home board, and the quadrant directly opposite is your opponent's home board. The quadrant to your left is your outer board, and the quadrant directly opposite is your opponent's outer board. The triangles on the board are numbered. For each player, the No. 1 position is the triangle farthest away from the bar on his home board. Numbering continues around the board, with No. 24 being the opponent's No. 1 position.

  3. Place the checkers. Place two checkers on your No. 24 triangle (your opponent's No.1 triangle). Place five checkers on your No. 13 triangle. Place three checkers on your No. 8 triangle and, finally, put five checkers on your No. 6 triangle. Your opponent will set up his/her checkers the same way.

  4. Roll one die to start. The player with the highest number goes first. On the first turn, each player moves a checker based on the single die roll. After that, each player rolls his/her respective pair of dice.

  5. Bring your checkers home. The goal is to get all of your checkers into your home board, which is the quadrant to your right of the bar. When you roll the dice, move your checkers along the triangles in correspondence with the number on the dice. You can move one checker the number of points shown on one die and a different checker to correspond with the other die, or you can move one checker the total number of points. However, you cannot put your checkers on a triangle occupied by two or more of your opponent's checkers. If you roll the same number on each dice, called doubles, then you move your checkers four times the number. For example, if you roll double threes, you can move one checker 12 triangles, or you can move four checkers three triangles.

  6. Hit your opponent's checkers. If your checker lands on a triangle that is occupied by only one of your opponent's checkers, this is called a hit. A hit can be made by following the number indicated by one or both dice. When you make a hit, your opponent's checker is put up on the bar. Before your opponent can move any checkers on the next turn, he/she must first re-enter the game with the hit checker. To do this, the player must roll a number that corresponds with an open triangle in your home board.

  7. Bear off checkers. The first person to bear off all of their checkers wins. You cannot start bearing off until all of your checkers are in your home board. This means that you remove your checkers in correspondence with your roll of the dice. For example, if you roll a five, then you remove a checker from the No. 5 triangle on your home board. If you roll the dice and there are no checkers on that triangle, then you must move your highest placed checker that number of spaces. If you roll a five and you don't have checkers on the No. 5 or No. 6 triangle, then you would bear off a checker from the No. 4 triangle.

  8. Place stakes. The game comes with a cube. At the beginning of the game, stakes are agreed upon and the cube is placed with the No. 64 side showing. If a player wants to double the stakes before she takes a turn, she turns the cube to the No. 2 to indicate a doubling of the stakes. Her opponent can either accept the raised stakes or deny it and forfeit the game and the stakes. If her opponent accepts the doubled stakes, he owns the cube and can double the stakes again if he so chooses before any turn. Because he owns the cube now, he is the only one who can make the next double. If he does and she accepts the re-doubled stakes, then she owns the cube again. There is no limit to how many times the stakes can be doubled during the game.

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