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A basic game of backgammon is easy to set up, but it helps to understand the layout of the board and all of its parts before you start laying out your checkers. Backgammon is a fun strategy game with several different variations to help you get tons of use out of your backgammon set. But if you want to know how to play the exciting game of backgammon, the first thing you have to know is how to set it up.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Set Up
- 1Understand the backgammon board. It's important to understand the basics of the backgammon board before you begin to put your checkers on it. Here is what you need to know before you begin to set up your board:XResearch source
- The board has 24 narrow triangles called points.
- The triangles alternate in color and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each.
- The board's four quadrants include player one's home board, player one's outer board, player two's home board, and player two's outer board.
- The home boards are opposite each other. The outer boards, located in the left half (or in the alternative setup in the right half), are also opposite each other.
- The triangles are numbered from 1-24. The 24-point is the point that is further from each player, on the leftmost side of the player's opponent's home board, and the 1-point is the rightmost triangle on the player's home court.
- Each player's points are numbered in an opposite way. One player's 24-point is the opponent's 1-point, one player's 23 point is another player's 2-point, and so on.
- 2Have each player take his or her 15 checkers. It's easier to set up a backgammon board if each player sets up his or her own checkers. Each player should have a set of checkers that is all one color. Checkers are usually white and brown or black and red, but it really doesn't matter as long as there are two different colors of checkers.XResearch sourceAdvertisement
- 3Take two checkers and put them on your 24-point. Since the game is played in a horseshoe fashion, this point will be the "furthest" away from the home board. The 24-point is the closest point to one player on the left side of his board and on the right side for the other player. Keep in mind that as the players set up their checkers, the checkers should always create mirror images of one another.XResearch source
- 4Position five checkers on your 13-point. The 13-point will be on the same side of the board as the 24-point, the rightmost point on each player's opponent's side. If you want to be sure that you are putting them in the right spot, count backwards from where you placed the 2 checkers on the 24-point until you reach the 13-point.XResearch source
- 5Put three checkers on your 8-point. The 8-point will be on the same side of the board as each player's home board, just two spaces away from the central bar. But again, if you want to be sure that you are placing the checkers in the right place, count backwards from where you placed the checkers on the 13-point until you reach the 8-point. XResearch source
- 6Place the five remaining checkers on your 6-point. The six point is right next to the bar for both players but on opposite sides of the board. Count back from the 8-point checkers to be sure that you are placing them in the right spot. These last five checkers will be the only ones that start out in your home board. You can use these checkers to create primes in your home board that may prevent the other player from reentering the board if you hit one of his blots.XResearch source
- 7Make sure that none of the checkers are overlapping. Remember that each player has his own numbering system, so none of the checkers you just placed should overlap. If one or more points has two different players' checkers on it, then you have set up the board incorrectly and will need to start over.Advertisement
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Game Rules
- 1Roll the dice at the start of each turn. Each player rolls two dice during his turn. Each number in the dice roll indicates how many points each checker can move. Each move is separate and the two dice roll numbers should not be added together.XResearch source
- 2Move in one direction only. Checkers always move in one direction, from the opposing player's home board, crossing the two outer boards, and into the moving player's home board. Checkers can never go backwards, only forward. The movement of the checkers resembles a horseshoe.XResearch source
- 3Place checkers on open points only. Checkers can only move to open points on the board. Open points either have no checkers on them, have the player's checkers on them, or have just one of the opponent's checkers on them. A player cannot move his checkers into a point that has two or more of the opponent's checkers on it because that point is temporarily "claimed" by the opponent.XResearch source
- 4Try to protect your checkers from your opponent. Players should try to keep their checkers safe from their opponents. To keep your checkers safe, you should try to move them so each point has at least two checkers on it. If you have just one checker on a point, your opponent can land on it and take your checker out of the game (a point with one checker is called a blot). You'll have to start that checker over from the home board.XResearch source
- 5Learn how doubles work. If a player rolls doubles, then he gets to move the number on the dice four separate times. So, if you roll two 3s, you can move any checker 3 spaces 4 separate times. You can also divide the spaces among different checkers.XResearch source
- 6Bear off your checkers first to win the game. Once a player has all of the checkers in his or her home board, then he can begin to "remove" them from the game. This is called "bearing the checkers off the board." To bear off checkers, you have to roll the dice to get the points the checkers are on.XResearch source
- For example, if you have two checkers on your 5-point, and you roll a 5 and a 3, you can remove one checker completely from the 5-point, and then either move the other checker on the 5-point 3 points over, to the 2-point, or move another checker on the home board. If you don't roll the number of the points the checkers are on, you can move them closer to the 1-point, but you still have to roll a 1 to get them off the board completely.
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Variations
- 1Play a game of Nackgammon. To play this variation of the game, each player will place 2 checkers on his 24-point, 2 checkers on his 23-point, 4 checkers on his 13-point, 3 checkers on his 8-point, and 4 checkers on his 6-point. You can think of this as setting up a traditional game of backgammon, except that you "borrow" one checker from your 13-point and another from your 6-point. Other than the positioning, the rules are the same as they are for regular backgammon.XResearch source
- 2Set up a game of hyper-backgammon. To set up the board for this game, each player only needs 3 checkers total. Each player should place one checker on his 24-point, 23-point, and 22-point. After that, you're ready to play this exciting and fast-paced version of backgammon. Other than the number and position of the checkers, the regular rules of backgammon apply.XResearch source
- 3Play a game of long-gammon. For this game, each player places all of his 15 checkers on his 24-point. Other than this unique difference, all other rules of backgammon apply. Since you are placing all of your checkers at the furthermost point from your home board, expect this version to take a bit longer than regular backgammon.XResearch source
- 4Consider a game of Dutch backgammon. The setup for this version of the game is easiest of all! The game begins with all of the checkers off of the board, so you don't have to do a thing. Though the end game is the same -- bearing off your checkers from your home board, the game starts when you have to roll the dice to "enter" your checkers into your opponent's home board. In this version, you cannot hit your opponent's blots until you have at least one of your own checkers in your home board.XResearch sourceAdvertisement
- QuestionDo I have to roll doubles to escape from the bar?Community AnswerNot necessarily. You can escape from the bar with either doubles or non-doubles provided any of the numbers rolled is an unblocked point in your opponent's home board. If you do roll doubles, you can move up to four of your bar checkers to that point, but if that point is blocked then you have to pass.
- QuestionHow do I get back on the board?Community AnswerOn your next turn, roll the dice and place your piece in the corresponding space in the first quarter of the board. If there are opposing players pieces on the spaces you rolled, you don't get to play and must wait for your next turn to try again.
- QuestionDo the colors of the points vary on some boards?Community AnswerYes.
- QuestionDo I need to roll an exact number to bare the board?Community AnswerIf you roll a number too high to advance any of your checkers forward, you can bear off your furthest back checker. If you just have a gap, like checkers on your 6 and 2 points, then you can only bear off if you roll a 6 or a 2; rolls of 3, 4, and 5 have to be played by moving a checker forward from the 6 point.
- QuestionHow can a beginner improve his or her backgammon game?Community AnswerRead Win at Backgammon and its citations. Then download GNU Backgammon and play it in tutor mode.
- QuestionWhen baring off, can you use both dice added together or do you have to use them separate?Community AnswerYou should use them separately to do it correctly.
- QuestionHow many counters can be on a point?Community AnswerAs many of your checkers as you want, unless two or more of your opponent’s checkers are on the point. In that case, the point is temporarily claimed by the opponent.
- QuestionDo I roll the dice again after rolling doubles in backgammon?Community AnswerYes you roll again if you are able to use all the numbers given in the first double.
- QuestionWhat are the different dice used for in backgammon?Community AnswerFour are used for playing the game and one is used to increase the bet of a game.
- Question"Each player's home board is in the right quadrant closest to the player." This is incorrect yeah? The home board is to the right for one player and left for the other.Top AnswererWhile this is technically correct, the board is generally setup from the perspective of the player whose home board in on their right.
- Once you understand how to set up the backgammon game board, make sure you read about how to play backgammon
- It is useful to read about the backgammon board in more detail and take a look at some pictures to assist you in setting up the board.
Things You'll Need
- backgammon board
- 30 checkers in two different colours (15 of each colour)
- two dice
- two dice shakers (optional: you can roll dice by hand)
- one doubling cube
About This Article
Backgammon setup is simple once you know the layout of the board. A Backgammon board has 24 narrow triangles, called points, that alternate in color and are grouped into 4 quadrants of 6. One half of the board has the home boards for each player, and the other half has the outer boards. The points on the board are numbered, but they’re numbered opposite for each player since players sit across from each other. The outermost point on the opposite side of each player’s home board is 24, and the outermost point on each player’s home board is 1. Backgammon starts with each player placing 2 of their checkers on their 24 points, 5 checkers on their 13 point, 3 checkers on their 8 point, and 5 checkers on their 6 point. Each player’s checkers should mirror each other, and the player’s checkers shouldn’t overlap on any of the points. Once each player’s checkers are on the board, you’re ready to start playing! To learn how doubles work in backgammon, read on!