Backgammon Rules: Bearing Off (What Could Be More Important?). The End Game

OK, now to the end game. In previous posts, we’ve talked about various aspects of the game…the rules, as it were.

Now, you’ve played. And so we talk about the end game. Bearing off. Once a player has brought all his men into his home board, he can start bearing off. Men borne off the board are not re-entered into play.

The player who bears off all his men first is the winner. The rule is: a player may not bear off men while he has a man on the bar, or outside his home board. In other words, if, in the process of bearing off, a player leaves a blot and it is hit by his opponent, he must first re-enter the man in his opponents home board, and bring it round the board into his own home board before he can continue the bearing off process.

Get it? In bearing off, you take men from the points corresponding to the numbers on the dice cast. However, you are not compelled to remove a man. You may, if you can, move a man inside your home board a number of spaces equivalent to the number of a die.

If you roll a number higher than the highest point on which you have a man, you may apply that number to your highest occupied point. So, if you roll 6-3 and your 6-point has already been cleared but you have men on your 5-point, you may use your 6 to remove a man from your 5-point.

In some cases it may be advantageous to play the smaller die first before applying the higher die to your highest point. For example, suppose you have one checker on your 5 point, and two checkers on your 2 point. Your opponent has a checker on the ace (one point) and on the bar.

You roll 6-3. You may play the 3 to the 2 point then the 6 to bear a checker off the 2 point leaving your opponent no shots (no blots for the opponent to hit).

The alternative, using the 6-3 to bear checkers off both the 5 and 2 points, would leave your opponent 20 out of 36 ways to hit your remaining blot. Ok…those are the basics. Questions anyone?

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