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Backgammon rules

Below are the standard rules for backgammon, which are used by different backgammon rooms on the Internet. The rules of backgammon are more commonly known as Gammon rules, but in practice it is two words for the same thing. We recommend you print this page and keep it to hand by your PC the first time you want to play online backgammon.

1. How to win

The aim of backgammon is to get all your checkers back to your home quadrant. Then they have to be removed from the board. The winner of the game is the first player to get all his checkers out of the backgammon game.

2. How to start the game

Both backgammon players each throw one die. The player with the highest number starts. The player moves the number shown by the dice, i.e. the total number thrown by both the backgammon player and his opponent. NB: The dice throws are not valid if they show the same numbers. If they do, they have to be thrown again, until they show different values.

3. How to move the backgammon checkers

The 2 backgammon players take turns after the opening throw to throw the 2 gammon dice.

Rules for moving the checkers

  1. Move towards lower values: Backgammon checkers must always be moved forward. In practice this means that you should always move a backgammon checker to a lower value than the backgammon checker is already on. (E.g. a move from point “12” to point “3” on the backgammon board.
  2. Open spaces: One of the most important rules of backgammon is that a point must be open for a player to land on it. Explanation: In practice this means that one of the following situations applies: A point is open when you have one or more checkers placed on the point already. B. A point is open when there are no checkers on the point, i.e. neither your checkers nor those of your opponent. C. A point is open when your backgammon opponent has a maximum of one checker on the point. D. An unlimited number of backgammon checkers can be on one point. There is no limit.
  3. Separate backgammon dice: Both dice have to be considered as separate dice. The 2 separate dice together make one throw. In practice this means that you can use the sum of the backgammon dice for one checker or each die for each checker.
  4. Open spaces must be used: The rule is that should you choose to use both dice for one single checker, then the checker must land on one of the open spaces. (See point 2 above)
  5. Value of the dice is doubled: If both backgammon dice show the same number, such as “55”, you have to move as though there were 4 dice not 2. This is called a “double throw”.
  6. If possible both dice can be used: Both backgammon dice should always, if possible be used in one single throw. If it is not possible to use both dice throws, but only one die throw, do that. If one or the other die can be played, but not both, always play the highest die. The turn passes to the opponent, if none of the die throws can be played.

4. Countdown clock

The aim of the countdown clock is that the backgammon player must not be able to let a game drag out. The countdown clock also ensures that there is a winner.

5. How to get a checker onto the bar

When there is only one checker on a point it is called a “BLOT”. When a checker lands on or between a point where the opponent has a checker i.e. a “BLOT”, the “BLOT” becomes a “HIT”, and the checker is then placed on the Bar in the middle of the backgammon board.

6. Rules on how to get a checker back from the bar into the game

If you have a checker on the Bar, you cannot move any of your other checkers until this checker is back in the game. A “BLOT” has to be made again in the opponent’s inner home quadrant. You do this by moving the backgammon checker from the bar to the point of the triangle in the opponent’s inner home quadrant, corresponding to the numbers shown on the dice. It still applies that you cannot go on to the point occupied by the opponent. The points must be open.

7. How to remove checkers from the game

All your checkers must be in your home quadrant before you can start removing them from the game. Checkers that have been removed from the backgammon board cannot be entered in the game again. If you are hit while removing checkers from the game, and end up on the Bar, you can only remove the checkers again once the checker is back in its inner home quadrant. The checkers are removed from the board from the points that correspond to the numbers shown on the dice thrown. You are not obliged to remove the checkers from the game, but may choose to move them in your home quadrant. When the dice shows a number that is higher than the highest point you have checkers on, you have to remove a checker from the highest point there are checkers on.

8. The allocation of points is called Backgammon and Gammon

Rules for allocating points. The first backgammon player to get all his checkers off wins 1,2 or 3 points.

  1. Normal game: If you are playing a backgammon game where an opponent has removed all his checkers when you have removed your last checker, you win a normal game that gives you 1 point.
  2. Gammon: If your opponent still has not removed any of his checkers, you win a Gammon for 2 points.
  3. Backgammon: If your opponent still has not removed any of the checkers from the game and still has checkers in his inner home quadrant or has checkers on the bar, you win a Backgammon for 3 points.

9. Doubling cube

The doubling cube is used in all games. In backgammon games where there is no doubling, you can as mentioned above in “Allocation of points”, Win 1 point (normal game), 2 points (Gammon), or 3 points (Backgammon). The aim of using a doubling cube is to increase the number of points to be played for. If you are doubled you win 1,2, or 3 points multiplied by the value of the doubling cube. An example: A doubling cube of 2 wins you a Gammon (i.e. 2 points) and then becomes 4 points (2 times 2 =4)instead of the normal 2 points. If the double dice is on 4, you win 8 points ( 4 times 2 points = 8) instead of the normal 2 points for a Gammon.

Once you have decided to double, the next decision to double passes to your opponent and you can retract your doubling decision. Your opponent has 2 options. He can either accept the doubling or drop it. If the doubling is accepted, you now play for 2 points, 4 points (Gammon) or 6 points (Backgammon). If the doubling is dropped the game stops and you win 1 point. If your opponent chooses to accept the doubling, you miss the right to dispose of the doubling cube and the cube is moved to the opponent’s side of the board and the new level on the backgammon doubling cube is placed facing upwards. Your Gammon opponent may at a later stage choose to redouble to 4. If and when this situation arises, you can make a decision on this 4 doubling. If you decide to drop the 4 doubling you lose 2 points (the doubling cube's level) and the game stops. If instead you decide to accept the 4 doubling, the doubling cube is moved to your side again and the 4 side is placed facing upwards. The backgammon doubling cube continues in this way backwards and forwards in a game.

10. Rules for Backgammon Match games.

A match game in backgammon is a game in which you have agreed in advance to play for a specific amount of points. The first backgammon player to reach this number of points wins the match. If you are in a backgammon tournament, then the prize might be to continue in the tournament. If it is just a normal game, one against one, the prize might be prize money.

Edited by Henrik Jørgensen

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