Step-by-Step Beginners Guide to Backgammon

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Backgammon is, if not the oldest, then definitely one of the oldest table games around. However, despite its impressive longevity, it remains one of the most complicated table games to grasp.  

Backgammon has been in existence for a very long time.  Archaeological excavations in the region of ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) have unearthed artefacts used for playing this board game that date back to over 5,000 years ago.  Backgammon is a member of the tables family of games, which is the oldest class of board games.

What is Backgammon?

Backgammon fall into the group of strategy games, like chess and checkers, that sees two opposing players locking their horns with one another.  The primary objective is to get all the checkers from your side to the other side of the board before your opponent manages to do the same.

How to Play Backgammon?

Setting up the board for a game of backgammon is straightforward.  The board is divided into four equal quadrants and 24 pointers.  Each pointer is numbered from one to 24 (i.e. there are 12 pointers on each side of the board).

Additionally, each player gets assigned a dice cup, two dices and 15 checkers, which are either black or red.  Two checkers are placed on point 24, three go on point eight, and five are added on top of point 13.

To commence the game, each player rolls a single dice, and the player with the highest score will make the first move.  After that, each player will roll two dices for each round of their play.

The amount on each dice will indicate the checker moves.  For example, if your dices roll on one and five, you can move each checker per one of the dice numbers, or you can move one checker according to the dice number total (e.g. move one checker ahead by one and the other by five, or move a single checker forward by six).

Each checker can also be moved twice.  All movements follow a horseshoe pattern from quadrant one, which is the beginning side, to the opposite side.

Additional Backgammon Rules for Beginners

A unique move in the basic version of the game is the doubles move.  This move comes into effect once a player rolls a double number on the dices, allowing the player to repeat the same step twice.  For example, if a player rolls two and two, they are allowed to move one checker twice and repeat that four times.  Alternatively, they can move all four checkers twice, although this can be done only once.

A player’s checker cannot land on the opposing pointer if the opponent has two or more checkers on it.

Winning at Backgammon

By applying the right strategy, a beginner can win the first time they play.

One of the most common backgammon strategies is the hitting strategy.  This strategy impedes the opponent by delaying the moves of their checkers.  When you land your checker on the opponent’s pointer that has only one chip on it, you can “hit” it.  This will allow you to move their checker to the bar located in the middle of the backgammon board.  Try not to leave any of your checkers alone to prevent your opponent from hitting them.

Should you end up having one of your checkers on the bar, you won’t be able to move any additional checkers until one of the pointers becomes vacant.  This move is known as re-entering.  Should you not be able to proceed, you forfeit a turn.  Your best strategy would be to have a clear space in the first quadrant as soon as possible to prepare for any setbacks that you might experience during gameplay.

The winner is the player that manages to get all 15 of their checkers to the opposite side of the board and then gets all their checkers off the board before the opponent can do the same.  The player who achieves this first is the official winner of the game.

Although backgammon is no longer that popular in land-based casinos, there’s been a resurgence of the game on online gambling platforms.  Give it a try and see how far your luck takes you.

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Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Besides polishing his SEO skills, Bojan has a penchant for creative writing. With over half a decade of experience in the online gambling industry under his belt, his written take on the latest news from the Canadian and global gambling industries is an indispensable source of information for the CASINOenquirer team. Bojan’s primary goal is to ensure that players get a superior experience through the top-notch content that he shares.

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