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Backgammon Rules

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The board

Players start the board game with 15 men each, as shown in Figure 1 (Men are sometimes also called checkers).

Object of the board game

The object of the board game is to get all of your men (if you play black) in the right section of the white player, and the other way around. All of your men need to be placed in the rightmost section, section N. The player who manages to place all the men into section N first wins.

Moving the men

Both players take turns rolling two dice. After rolling the dice, one player can move the men, if possible (later these rules will be explained). The direction in which the player is allowed to move the men is explained in the picture below.

Rules for moving the men

A man can only be moved to an open space: a spot with less than two men of the opponent. If there is one man of the opponent there, the player can knock that man off, and put it back on the bar (the opponent will have to start the board game again). The bar is shown in the picture below.

When your men are on the bar, you need to get them back in the board game if this is possible, according to the rolled dice. (Sometimes this is not possible; your opponent might already have all his men at the other side of the board and there may be two or more men at the place where you want to get in.The player needs to take the men from the bar and put them in the section on the right. After this is done, the men are allowed to move again and you can try to move them to the other side of the board. In the picture below you can see the starting section of the black men (top right). The starting section of the white men is right under there, on line 1 (bottom right).

The plays of the two dice are two independent movements. For example, when a player has 2 and 4, he is allowed to move 6 points with one man, but only if one of the two points in between (2 or 4 points away from his starting position), is free.

When a player rolls the same number with both dice, he or she is allowed to move twice the amount of steps indicated by the dice. For example; when a player rolls 2 threes, he has 4 threes at his disposal.

The player is obliged to use both dice, when this is possible. When only one die can be used, this has to be done. When both dice can be used, but not at the same time, the player needs to play the higher of the two numbers rolled. When the player rolls the same number with both dice, he needs to use as many of the four numbers as possible.

Starting the board game

The board game is played turn by turn, the rolling of the dice is done by As shown in the picture below, White has rolled a six and a one.

White needs to play the six and th one like this: White selects a man and moves it 6 spaces. As shown, there used to be 5 men on top of each other. After White has moved, there will be one play left. White will continue in the following way:

Where there used to be 5 men, there are now 4. F1 used to be empty but now there is one man there. As explained before, there are two dice in the board game and therefore you can move the men twice (unless you threw the same amount of pips (spots on the die face) with both dice which makes it possible to move 4 times). White needs to play the one that appeared on the other die. If White is smart, he will not leave a man to stand alone (1 man), because chances are that that one man will be captured. Instead, he uses his 1-die to move E1 to F1.

White is doing well now, because none of his man can be captured. Since he moved twice his turn is now concluded.

The midgame

The midgame might look like the picture shown below. Of course it could look very different, but this is only an example of what it might look like:

This picture shows that Black is doing better than White: White still has two men in the beginning section and this can cause problems. Judging by this picture, Black will win, but a lot can change during the rest of the board game. During the midgame, the board game is drive by the luck of the dice.

The end of the board game

When all the men of a player are in the end section (utmost right), he is allowed to bear off his men. This is done by taking a man off the board, that has the same point number as the die. When the player rolls a 5, the player is allowed to take a man off of the 5th point of the board. If there are no men on the 5 point, the player is obliged to move from a higher position. When there are no men on any higher position, one man may be removed from the highest position that does have a man on it. When a man is captured during the ending of the board game, the player first needs to get the men back into the end section, before he can continue to bear off his men.

The above picture shows that Black and White need to place only one man into the end section. The rest of the men are already there. White needs to place his men in N1, and Black needs to place them in N2. In section M1, you can see a man with a 6 on it; this means that there are 6 men in M1. To clarify where the men need to go, there is another picture below:

This is when the board game is ALMOST over, and Black can no longer lose.


The best tactic is to prevent men from standing alone. Your opponent can capture them and you would have to start all over again. It is also smart to move the two men from the bar to the other side, as fast as possible. It is fatal to be at the end of the board game and still have two men on your bar. The only way to survive this when your opponent has closed off the board would be to roll very high numbers.

The best thing to do is to bear off al of all your men immediately, and continue from there. When you move the first men even more to the front, you will not have a place left for the other men (which are still on the bar). If you do this, you will lose, because all the men will be standing on their own. Try to avoid this at all cost by moving all the men to the front. During the rest of the board game your moves are determined by the dice rolls.