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Backgammon is a popular ancient board game. It is played with two players (lucky you, we have a computer player to enjoy!). The object of backgammon is to move all your checkers around the board in a clockwise motion and ultimately bear off the checkers from the board. The first player to remove all their checkers is the winner.
Alternate turns with your opponent moving checkers toward your home in the upper right hand quadrant of the backgammon board. Move checkers by rolling the dice. The numbers on the dice refer to how many spaces you may move with one or more checkers. Highlights show you where the checkers can possibly move. If you roll doubles, you get to move each die twice, concluding in four moves for that turn. You may move your checkers onto any Point so long as it is occupied by your checkers, is empty, or has 1 opponent checker. You may not move your checkers onto a Point with two or more opponent checkers. If you land on a Point with one opponent checker, you knock the opponent's checker off the board and send it back to the beginning. The opponent must now roll and move into an empty spot in your home territory to get that checker back into gameplay. They may not move any other checkers until that knocked off checker is returned. Beware though! Leaving your checkers open with only one on a point leaves them open to be knocked off by your opponent as well!
Once you move all your checkers into the upper right quadrant (in the single player backgammon game), you may start bearing off. This means you can place your checkers into the slot on the right, removing them from the board. Whoever manages to do this first wins!
One to three points can be awarded during the backgammon game dependant on where the loser's checkers are on the board when the winner wins. If the losing player has not borne off any of their checkers by the time the winner has won, the winner will achieve 2 points, and is known as losing a gammon. If the losing player has not borne off any of their checkers and has checkers in the opponent's home board (lower right quadrant) or are still knocked off, the winner scores three points, which is known as losing a backgammon. The winner is awarded one point (most common) if the opponent has started to bear off their checkers and/or has all of their checkers out of the winner's home territory.
The doubling cube is a fun option for players who are seasoned backgammon aficionados. Turn this option on or off in the menu at the start of the game. It is a marker, instead of a die. At any time during gameplay a player may before his/her turn propose the game be played for twice the current stake (beginning at 2). The opponent must either accept th doubled stake or resign to defeat immediately (thus ending the game). The option to redouble belongs exclusively to the player who accepted the double. Technically, the game can be doubled up to 64 times the score, but it rarely goes beyond 4. If the "double" is declined, the doubler wins however many points the doubling cube is showing (1 x doubling cube). If the game is played, the resulting score will then be multiplied by the doubling cube number. This little die adds a lot of fun strategy to the game. We recommend trying it on for size!
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.
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.
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.
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 pips, the player is to move his checkers. The checkers are always moved forward, to a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:
A checker may be moved only to an open point, one that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For 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.
If neither 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 turn.
After the last of a player's checkers has been entered, any unused numbers on the dice must be played, by moving either the checker that was entered or a different checker.
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.
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.
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, in which case he concedes the game and pays one point. Otherwise, he must accept the 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. 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.