How To Set Up the Board and Play Backgammon

To play backgammon you need two players, a backgammon board, two sets of 15 checkers in opposing colors and two dice.

The backgammon board has four quadrants. Each quadrant has six long triangles of alternating colors, called points or pips.

Each of the two backgammon players has two quadrants on the board. These are the quadrants closest to that player on the board.

The quadrant on the player's right is called the home board while the quadrant to the player's left is called the outer board. The left and right quadrants are separated by the bar.

Each player counts 24 triangles starting from that player's rightmost triangle in the home board, going left to the outer board, and then up and to the right on the opponent's side in a horseshoe shape.

To set up the backgammon board to play, each player places five checkers on the sixth and 13th points, three checkers on the eighth point and two checkers on the 24th point.

Each player will be moving checkers from that player's 24th point to the first. Each player's goal is to move all checkers to the home board to be able to take them off the board through bearing off. The first player to take all checkers off the backgammon board wins the match play.

To start a game, each player rolls one die. The player who gets the higher number will play first. The numbers rolled by the two players will be used by the first player in that first move. In the succeeding moves, each player throws two dice to play.

The player can either use the total number from the two dice to move one checker or use each of the two numbers for two different checkers. If the player chooses to play just one checker, though, each of the numbers have to be allowable for that checker. Allowable moves are those that land on empty points or points that contain just one opponent checker. If there are no allowable moves possible for the numbers thrown by a player, the opponent gets the turn.

A point containing a single opposing checker is called a blot. When a player lands on a blot, it is called a hit. The opposing checker that has been hit is then placed on the bar.

A player who has a checker on the bar cannot move any other checker. The throw of that player's dice will be used to bring the checker on the bar back into play, entering through the 24th point.

A player who has all checkers back in the home board can bear off to remove them from the board. Each number thrown corresponds to a point from which a checker can be removed. Alternatively, the player can choose to use one number to move a checker and the the second number to bear off a checker.

When a player bears off all 15 checkers while the opponent has not yet has not borne off any checker, the player is declared to have won a gammon. This is considered a double win.

If a player bears off all 15 checkers while the opponent has not yet borne off any checker and still has checkers outside the home board or on the bar, then the player is declared to have won a backgammon. This is considered a triple win.