Backgammon's Basic Play

Backgammon is a fast-paced, two-man board game in which players strategically race their pieces to designated parts of the board, then out of the play.

The board

The board is designed with two opposite horizontal rows, each patterned with twelve slender triangles, called points, alternately colored black and white - the same colors for the pieces. These arrays constitute the players' home courts, separated by a horizontal aisle across the board's middle section. All twenty-four points are aimed towards this aisle like upper and lower serrated jaws agape. The length of a point is as long as five lined-up pieces.

Across the vertical center runs "the bar" creating the outer and inner "tables," and splitting the players' courts. The six points on the bar's left comprise a player's "outer table"; the ones on the right make up his "inner table." Because the courts face each other, one player's outer table therefore faces the other's inner.

A court begins with Point #1: the dark rightmost point in the inner table, and ends with Point #12: the light leftmost one in the outer table.

The pieces

The pieces are smooth discs called "stones." Regardless of the pigments used, stones are classified as "white" for the light-colored and "black" for the dark ones.

Each player has fifteen. In starting the game, there would be two opponent stones on a player's Point #1, and five of the same on his #12. Five of his own are situated on #6 and three on #8.

The dice

Two dice are the foundation of all moves. To begin, the players roll one die each to decide who gets the highest number thereby going first and having to chose whether to play white or black.

Two moves are the basic, one for each number on the dice. A double roll sponsors four moves.

The Moves and Basic Play

The white stones move in a clockwise direction; the blacks counterclockwise.

One point could host any number of same-colored stones even if they have to be stacked on top of each other. At least two same-colored stones could "block" a point and cannot be traversed by an adverse one. Six consecutive same-colored blocks is a "prime" particularly difficult for enemy stones to hurdle, but is completely passable to the friendly color.

One stone on a point is a "blot." An opposing stone landing on that same point exiles this blot onto the bar, and is temporarily "captured." The player of this ejected stone re-introduces it immediately in his forthcoming turn on Point #12 of his opponent's inner table.

Each player marches his stones into their inner table where "bearing off" commences. The stones are picked from whichever point indicated by the dice turn after turn until none is left. The first one to bear off all his pieces wins. If the loser fails to bear off any of his stones, he has been "gammoned"; or "backgammoned" if he has a stone left captured or still within the opponent's inner table.