how to play backgammon

Backgammon Basics and Set Up

Backgammon has been a beloved pastime for thousands of years, captivating players with its unique blend of strategy, chance, and competitive play. If you’re new to the game or looking to brush up on your skills, this guide will help you understand the basics and set up your Backgammon board for an enjoyable gaming experience.

Getting to Know the Backgammon Set

To play Backgammon, you need a Backgammon set. This includes a board divided into four quadrants with 24 points, 15 checkers in each player’s color, two dice, a dice cup, and a doubling cube. The game board is fundamental to learning Backgammon, so take some time to familiarize yourself with its layout. Players move their checkers in opposite directions, following a horseshoe path around the board.

Setting Up the Game

To set up the game, place your 15 checkers on the board according to the standard arrangement. Each player should have two checkers on their 24-point, five checkers on their 13-point, three checkers on their 8-point, and five checkers on their 6-point. Once the checkers are in place, both players roll one die to determine who goes first. The player with the higher roll starts the game.

Rolling the Dice and Moving Checkers

Rolling the dice determines how many points a player can move their checkers towards their home board. Remember, a checker can only land on an open point, meaning it’s not occupied by two or more opposing checkers. If a player rolls doubles, they can move four times the number rolled.

Hitting and Entering

An essential aspect of Backgammon is hitting your opponent’s checkers. If you land on a point occupied by a single opposing checker, that checker is moved to the bar. Your opponent must then re-enter that checker onto their home board before they can move any other pieces.


This adds an exciting element of competition and strategy to the game.

Bearing Off

The ultimate goal of Backgammon is to move all your checkers to your home board and then remove them entirely in a process called bearing off. You can bear off your checkers by rolling a number that corresponds to a point where a checker resides. If you have no checkers on higher points, you can bear off even if the roll is higher than the point where your checker is located.

Embrace the Challenge

Backgammon is not just about luck; it requires skill and strategic thinking. As you play more games, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the delicate balance between probability, risk assessment, and decision-making. This timeless game has captured the hearts and minds of players for centuries, and with practice, you can become a formidable opponent.

For those looking to take their game to the next level, online platforms like Play65, Backgammon-online, Backgammon Studio, and Backgammon Galaxy offer players a community to interact with, different modes of gameplay, and interactive tutorials and strategies. So, grab your Backgammon set, and let the games begin!

Rules and Gameplay

Backgammon is a fascinating and timeless game that combines luck, skill, and strategy. In this section, we’ll delve into the rules and gameplay, providing you with valuable advice to improve your skills and enjoy this classic board game.

Rolling the Dice and Moving Checkers

Each player starts by rolling two dice, determining how many points their checkers can move. You can move one checker the number of points shown on each die or two checkers the combined total of the dice. Remember, checkers can only move to points that are open or occupied by your own checkers. A crucial tip is to always consider your options and choose the best move based on the current board situation.

Hitting and Entering

One exciting aspect of backgammon is the ability to hit your opponent’s checkers. If you land on a point occupied by a single opposing checker, it’s considered “hit” and sent to the bar. Your opponent must then enter the checker back onto your inner board before making any other moves. A smart strategy is to create a blockade of two or more checkers on points, making it difficult for your opponent to re-enter the game.

Bearing Off

The ultimate goal in backgammon is to bear off all your checkers before your opponent does. To start bearing off, you must first move all your checkers onto your inner board. Then, you can begin moving them off the board and out of play. Keep in mind that if your checker is hit during this process, you must re-enter it onto your opponent’s inner board before continuing to bear off.


Patience and careful planning are essential during this phase of the game.

Mastering the Rules

To truly excel at backgammon, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of the rules. The Backgammon rules website is an excellent resource for learning and mastering the game’s intricacies. As you become more familiar with the rules, you’ll be able to develop advanced strategies and outmaneuver your opponents.

Practice Makes Perfect

Like any game, practice is key to improving your backgammon skills. Dedicate time to playing regularly, either with friends or online opponents. As you gain experience, you’ll start to recognize patterns and develop winning strategies. Remember, even the most skilled players had to start somewhere, so don’t be discouraged by initial setbacks.

In the world of backgammon, knowledge is power. By understanding the rules, honing your skills, and learning from your mistakes, you’ll soon become a formidable player. So grab your board, roll the dice, and embark on an exciting journey into the captivating world of backgammon.

Doubling Cube and Stakes

The doubling cube is a fascinating and essential aspect of backgammon that can significantly impact the game’s stakes and excitement. This unique game element resembles a regular die, but it is printed with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. Understanding the doubling cube is crucial, as it allows players to propose doubling the stakes at any point before their roll.

Mastering the Doubling Cube

To make the most of the doubling cube, it’s important to know when to use it. A good rule of thumb is to propose doubling when you have a clear advantage in the game. This could be due to a strong board position, a higher probability of hitting your opponent’s checkers, or an opponent’s vulnerable position.

However, be cautious when using the doubling cube, as ownership changes with each accepted proposal. This allows for multiple redoubles, which can quickly increase the stakes of the game. Keep in mind that your opponent can also use the doubling cube against you, so it’s essential to assess the risks and rewards before making a proposal.

Strategic Use of the Doubling Cube

Using the doubling cube effectively requires a blend of strategy and intuition. Keep an eye on your opponent’s moves and anticipate their potential plays. If you sense that they are in a weak position, it might be the perfect time to propose doubling the stakes. On the other hand, if you find yourself in a vulnerable position, it’s wise to decline a doubling proposal and focus on improving your board position.

Remember that backgammon is a game of chance as well as strategy. Even if you have a strong position, the roll of the dice can quickly change the game’s outcome. Stay alert and adaptable, and use the doubling cube to your advantage when the opportunity arises.

Learning from the Pros

Backgammon has a rich history, dating back to ancient civilizations in Persia, Mesopotamia, and Rome. The doubling cube was introduced in the 1920s and has since become an iconic and defining feature of the game.


Many influential figures, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, and John F. Kennedy, have enjoyed playing backgammon.

To improve your doubling cube skills, it’s helpful to study the strategies of professional players. Observe their games, read their insights, and learn from their experiences. Many resources are available online, such as Backgammon Galore, which offers articles, tutorials, and expert advice on mastering the doubling cube and other aspects of backgammon.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with any skill, practice is key to mastering the doubling cube. Play backgammon regularly, experiment with different strategies, and learn from your mistakes. Online platforms, such as PlayOK and GammonSite, offer opportunities to play against opponents of various skill levels, allowing you to hone your doubling cube skills in a competitive environment.

In conclusion, the doubling cube adds a thrilling layer of strategy and risk to the timeless game of backgammon. By understanding its mechanics, studying the pros, and practicing regularly, you can elevate your game and increase your chances of winning. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the exhilarating world of backgammon.

Strategies and Tips for Winning

Mastering the ancient game of backgammon requires a mix of strategy, skill, and a bit of luck. With over 5,000 years of history, this popular game has captivated players from Ancient Egyptians to Romans and continues to be enjoyed today. To improve your backgammon game, consider these essential tips and strategies.

Opening Moves and Strategies

A strong start can set the tone for the entire game. Familiarize yourself with effective opening moves, such as the running game and holding game. The running game focuses on moving your checkers quickly around the board, while the holding game aims to maintain a strong position and block your opponent’s progress. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting with different opening strategies to find the one that suits your playing style.

Mastering Tactics

Understanding backgammon tactics, such as bearing off and hitting, is crucial to your success. Bearing off involves removing your checkers from the board, while hitting is the act of landing on a point occupied by a single opposing checker, sending it to the bar. These tactics can turn the tide of the game, so be sure to practice them regularly.

Learn from the Pros

Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available from experienced players and advanced strategy guides. Studying their techniques and playing against skilled opponents can help you uncover new strategies and improve your game. Prince Alexis Obolensky, a famous backgammon player, helped popularize the game in the United States, and his legacy lives on through the many players who continue to enjoy the game today.

Online Resources and Practice

Make use of online resources, such as community forums, strategy guides, and computerized opponents, to hone your skills.


The UK Backgammon Federation website offers resources and events for players of all levels. Regular practice and dedication are essential to becoming a proficient backgammon player.

Explore Variants and Challenges

Backgammon can be played in several exciting variants, such as hypergammon and chouette, which offer unique twists on the classic game. Trying out these variants can help you develop new strategies and keep the game fresh and engaging.

Embrace the Mathematical Side

Backgammon is not just about luck; it requires strategic thinking and mathematical analysis. Renowned mathematicians have studied the game and developed sophisticated algorithms to analyze it and uncover strategies for maximizing winning chances. Embrace this mathematical aspect of the game to gain a deeper understanding and improve your skills.

Connect with Fellow Players

Backgammon players often form lifelong friendships through their shared love of the game. Engage with fellow enthusiasts, join clubs, and participate in tournaments to expand your network and learn from others. Remember, the journey to becoming a skilled backgammon player is as much about the connections you make as it is about the strategies you learn.

By following these tips and strategies, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the game of backgammon. Keep practicing, learning, and connecting with fellow players to elevate your skills and enjoy this timeless game to the fullest.

Online Platforms and Resources

Playing backgammon has never been more accessible, thanks to the rise of online platforms that allow players to compete against others from around the world. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the game or an experienced player seeking new challenges, these platforms offer a variety of game modes, including single games, multiplayer matches, and tournaments.

One user-friendly website that offers an enjoyable backgammon experience is Play65. This platform allows players to dive right into the game with a straightforward interface and a welcoming community of players.

For those looking to learn the game and improve their skills, Backgammon-online is an excellent resource. This platform provides interactive tutorials and strategies, allowing beginners to grasp the basics while offering seasoned players a chance to challenge themselves against skilled opponents.

If you’re passionate about the game and want to immerse yourself in cutting-edge technology, Backgammon Galaxy is the top platform. With a point-based leaderboard and customizable timers for real-time challenges, this platform offers an exciting and competitive environment for players of all skill levels.

To further enhance your backgammon skills, consider exploring resources such as Backgammon Galaxy’s annotated games for insights from top players. Additionally, a straightforward and cost-free website like GNU Backgammon can help you practice against an AI or real player opponent, allowing you to refine your strategies and tactics.

The world of backgammon is vast and full of opportunities for growth, learning, and enjoyment. By taking advantage of these online platforms and resources, you can expand your knowledge of the game, connect with fellow enthusiasts, and ultimately become a more skilled and confident player. So, roll the dice and dive into the exciting world of online backgammon today!

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