Backgammon is one of the oldest games in the world. In fact, it can be traced back nearly 5000 years!
It began with the ancient Romans who played a game called Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum. That translates as ‘Twelve-lined Game’, which was nearly identical to modern backgammon. The game is still most generally played in the eastern Mediterranean countries. So if you fancy giving it a go but have never played Backgammon before here are the rules:
Basics Of Backgammon
If you want to learn all about backgammon there are some basics to get familiar with. The game of Backgammon is played on a board that is marked out with 24 triangles which are called points. These triangles alternate in colour and are grouped into 4 quadrants which consist of 6 triangles each.
The points are numbered for either player starting in the player’s home board. That is the inner table next to you. The outermost point is the 24 point, which is your opponents 1 point.
You have 15 checkers of one colour e.g. black. The aim of the game is to try and get your checkers into your home board, and then to bear them off the board. If you manage to do this before your opponent gets his or her 15 (e.g: white) checkers off the board then you are the winner of the game. White checkers move in a clockwise direction and black in an anti-clockwise direction on the board.
Setting Up The Backgammon Board
To set up the game you need to arrange the checkers so that you have two on your 24 point, five on your 13 point, three on your 8 point and five on your 6 point. Your opponent has the same setup.
Each player will be in possession of a pair of dice and a doubling cube which has the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 on its faces.
Backgammon is played for a stake, which has been agreed at the start of the game. The doubling cube is used when you feel as though you have a good advantage. You can then make your opponent use the doubling cube to multiply the stake of the game. However, this can only be used at the start of your turn before you have rolled the dice.
The player who rolls the highest dice goes first, and throwing takes place in turn. You can move two checkers with the numbers rolled by the individual dice. Or you can move one checker by the total value of the two dice.
You always move forward, to an open point. This is a point that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers i.e. checkers belonging to your opponent.
It is worth bearing in mind that a point with one or more pieces on it is safe and your opponent cannot land there. However, points with only one checker on (a blot) is a vulnerable checker because if your opponent lands on the point your checker will be taken.
Once you have moved all your checkers into your home board, you begin to bear off. You do this by rolling a number that corresponds to the point on which your checker is sitting. If you roll the correct number you can take the checker off the board. However, if there is no checker on the point indicated by the rolled dice then you must use a checker on a higher number point.
Where it all gets tricky is when, if your checker is hit by your opponent during your bearing off phase then you have to bring the checker back to your home board before you can start bearing off again!
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