The basics of backgammon

Starting with this blog post I will be discussing the basics of backgammon. One of the most recognizable board games in the world is backgammon but surprisingly, not many people know how to play the game. Hopefully, by discussing the very basics of the game more people will understand how backgammon is played and that the strategies are very akin to poker. I play online poker and so playing poker all the time strengthens your backgammon game and vice versa. And from there it could be possible for backgammon to really get into the mainstream just like chess.

Backgammon is a board game designed for two players. The game is played on a board that has twenty-four narrow triangles called points. The triangles are coloured alternately and are also grouped into four quadrants that contain six triangles each. The quadrants are more popularly known as the player’s home board and outer board and the opponent’s home board and outer board. The home board and outer boards are separated by a ridge right down the centre of the board. This ridge is called the bar.

Points in the game are numbered for either player. This starts at the player’s home board. The outermost point is the twenty-four point. This is also the opponent’s one point. Each player possesses fifteen checkers of his own colour. The preliminary arrangement of the checkers are: two on each player’s twenty four point, five on each player’s thirteen point, three on each player’s eight point, and on each player’s six point, five checkers.

Both players also get their own pair of dice as well as a dice cup that they will use for shaking. A doubling cube that has the numerals 2, 4 ,8, 16, 32, and 64 is used as a way of keeping track of the current stake of the game.

The game  only has one objective – to move all of your checkers into your own home board and then bear them off. The first player that is able to bear off all of their checkers will win the game. Starting a game of is quite simple. Each player throws a single die. This action will determine who gets to make the first move to play and the numbers that will be played. If the throw of both players resulted in equal numbers, then both players will roll again until they roll different numbers. The players that throws the higher number no moves his checkers based on the number showing on both dice. After this first roll the players will throw the two dice and will alternate their turns.

The roll of the dice also indicates how many points or pips the player is going to move his checkers. The checkers are always moved in one direction – forward – to a lower numbered point.

There are some rules that apply to playing:

* A checker may be moved only to a point that is open, that is, one that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers.

* The numbers represented on the two dice thrown actually represent separate moves. Let us say, for example, that a player has rolled a 5 and a 3. He may move one checker five spaces to an open point and then another checker three spaces to an open point. Or alternatively, he may move that one checker a total of eight spaces to an open point.

But he can only do this if the intermediate point (either three or five spaces from the starting point) is also open. The play of backgammon strongly resembles that of poker when looked at in terms of gambling. Cash games at poker sites are full of bets, raises and folding and this is what basically happens with a doubling cube.

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