Backgammon Game Basics
If you don't know how to play Backgammon then here is a beginner's introduction to the game explaining the basic rules.
Backgammon is a board game for two players, played with two dice each, thirty checkers/markers, and on a board made up of twenty-four narrow triangles called "points". The points alternate in colour and are grouped into six triangular points on each quarter of the board. Each quarter of the board is known as a player's home board, outer board, and their opponent's home board and outer board. The home and outer boards are divided by a ridge down the centre of the board called the bar.
Player's points are conventionally referred to by their position number starting at one in the player's home board, which would also be their opponents outermost 24 point, going up incrementally as you move along and around..
Starting a Game
The initial positions of the players markers at the start of a game are two on each player's 24 point, five on each player's 13 point, three on each player's 8 point, and five on each player's 6 point. This can be seen in Fig 1 below.
To decide who goes first, each player rolls a single die with the highest going first and taking the two dice values rolled as the values by which they move their markers in their first turn.
Players then take turns at rolling their dice and moving their markers around the board. The object of a game is for players to move all their markers to their home-board. One player moves their markers in a clockwise direction around the board while the other moves in an anticlockwise direction. Players may move their marker from its current point to a subsequent point in sequence around the board by counting along the points by the value of numbers rolled with the dice. Players may move 1, 2, 3, or 4 markers in a turn depending on the dice values thrown and the player's choice of available moves. For a move to be allowed the destination point must have no more than one of the opponent's markers on it. Players may have any number of their markers on a single point.
For example, if a player rolls a 2 and a 5 with their dice, they may move one marker 7 points or two markers each moved 2 points and 5 points around the board. However, should a player roll a double the moves are doubled so they may move one, two, three or four markers a total of 4 times one of the die's values. For example, if a player rolls double-5 they may move 1 marker by 20 points (4 x 5), 2 markers by 10 points each(2 x (2 x 5)), 3 markers with two moved 5 points and one moved 10 points (2 x 5 + (2 x 5)), or they may move four markers 5 points each (4 x 5).
If a point only has one marker on it then the other player may move their marker(s) to it and send it to the bar which is marked down the middle of the board. Once a marker has been placed on the bar then the player must start moving it from the beginning of the board to bring it back into play and move it around to their home-board. A player may not make any further moves until all their markers on the bar have been brought back into play.
To bring a marker back into play from the bar, the player must roll a value corresponding to a point in their outer-board that has no more than one of their opponent's markers on it.
Once a player has moved all their markers around the board and in to their home-board they start to bear-off. Bearing-off is the removal of markers from the board and out of play. The way players do this takes a little bit of thought to understand the rules but once you understand it it makes perfect sense. Players bear off a marker by rolling a dice value that corresponds to the point number it is on. So if a player rolls a 6 they may remove a marker on the 6-point. If there are no markers on the dice's corresponding point number they must move or remove a marker from the highest possible point number that they have a marker on. So if they roll a 6 and there is no marker on the 6-point they must move any marker on their 5-point, and if there are none there they must remove a marker on their 4-point, and so on. And so, for example, if a player rolls a 3 but has no markers on their corresponding 3-point they must move a marker 3 points from any markers situated on a higher numbered point. Once a player has removed all their markers from their home-board they have won the game.
Once you've learnt the basic rules you can move on to further rules relating to gambling, the doubling cube, and more.
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