Backgammon is a board game for two players in which the playing pieces are moved according to the roll of dice. A player wins by removing all of his pieces from the board. There are many variants of backgammon, most of which share common traits. Backgammon is a member of the tables family. Tables is a general name given to a class of board games similar to backgammon, played on a board with two rows of 12 vertical markings called "points". Players roll dice to determine the movement of pieces. Tables games are among the oldest known board games, and many variants are played throughout the world.
Although luck plays an important role, there is a large scope for strategy. With each roll of the dice a player must choose from numerous options for moving his checkers and anticipate possible counter-moves by the opponent. Players may raise the stakes during the game. There is an established repertory of common tactics and occurrences.
Backgammon is thought to be one of the oldest games in the world with versions played over 5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia.
The ancient Romans played a number of games remarkably similar to backgammon. Ludus duodecim scriptorum ("Game of twelve lines") used a board with three rows of 12 points each, and the checkers were moved across all three rows according to the roll of dice. It was similar to modern backgammon in that the object of the game was to be the first to bear off all of one's checkers. Players threw three dice and moved their checkers in opposing directions on a board of 24 points.
The jeux de tables (Game of Tables), predecessors of modern backgammon, first appeared in France during the 11th century and became a favourite pastime of gamblers. Tables games were played in Germany in the 12th century, and had reached Iceland by the 13th century. By the 17th century, tables games had spread to Sweden. By the 18th century backgammon was popular among the English clergy.
The most recent major development in backgammon was the addition of the doubling cube. It was first introduced in the 1920s in New York among members of gaming clubs in the Lower East Side. The cube required players not only to select the best move in a given position, but also to estimate the probability of winning from that position, transforming backgammon into the expected value driven game played in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Beginning in the mid-1960's, the popularity of Backgammon surged, in part due to the charisma of Prince Alexis Obolensky, Father of Modern Backgammon". "Obe", as he was called by friends, co-founded the International Backgammon Association which published a set of official rules. He also established the World Backgammon Club of Manhattan, devised a backgammon tournament system in 1963, then organized the first major international Backgammon tournament in March, 1964 which attracted royalty and celebrities. The game became a huge fad and was played on college campuses, in discothèques and at country clubs. Stockbrokers and bankers began playing at conservative men's clubs. People young and old all across the country dusted off their boards and checkers. Cigarette, liquor and car companies began to sponsor tournaments and Hugh Hefner held backgammon parties at the Playboy Mansion. Clubs were formed and tournaments were held, resulting in a World Championship promoted in Las Vegas in 1967.
Object Of The Game
The object of the backgammon game is for each player to bring all his or her checkers into his or her home board, and then to bear them off the board. The first player to clear all his or her checkers off the board is the winner.
Game Set Up
The game is played on a board consisting of twenty-four narrow triangles called points. The triangles alternate in colour and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each. The points are numbered for either player starting in that player's home board. The outermost point is the twenty-four point, which is also the opponent's one point. Each player has fifteen checkers of his own colour. The initial arrangement of checkers is: two on each player's twenty-four point, five on each player's thirteen point, three on each player's eight point, and five on each player's six point. Both players have their own pair of dice and a doubling cube with the numerals 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on its faces, is used to keep track of the current stake of the game.
The movement of the checkers in backgammon is determined by the dice rolled according to the following rules: Making the first move: In the beginning of the game a dice is rolled for each player, the player who's dice value is higher will play first, in case the dice are equal the system will keep rolling until the dice are different (this is transparent to the user). The checkers movement is always forward. A player can move his checker only to an open point, a point that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers. The player can either move two checkers two separate moves indicated by each die or he/she can move once checker the sum of both dice. When a player who rolls doubles, he/she can play the number shown on the dice twice. In case there is no legal move according to the dice the turn will be passed to the opponent.
Hitting And Entering
A point occupied by a single checker of either colour is called a blot. If an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is hit and the checker, which was on it, is placed on the bar. Any time a player has one or more checkers on the bar, his or her first obligation is to enter those checkers into the opponent's home board. A checker is entered by moving it to an open point corresponding to one of the numbers on the rolled dice.
For example, if a player rolls 4 and 6, he or she may enter a checker onto either the opponents' four point or six point, as long as the prospective point is not occupied by two or more of the opponents' checkers. If neither of the points is open, the player loses his or her turn. If a player is able to enter some but not all of his or her checkers, he or she must enter as many as possible and then forfeit the remainder of the turn. After the last of a players' checkers have been entered, any unused numbers on the dice must be played.
Once a player has moved all of his or her fifteen checkers into their home board, they can begin bearing off. A player bears off a checker by rolling a number that corresponds to the point, on which the checker resides, and removing that checker from the board. If there is no checker on the point indicated by the roll, the player must make a legal move using a checker on a higher-numbered point. If there are no checkers on the higher numbered points, the player can remove a stone from the next highest point. A player is under no obligation to bear off if he can make an otherwise legal move. A player must have all of his or her active checkers inside the home board to bear off. If a checker is hit during the bear-off process, the player must bring that checker back to his or her home board before continuing to bear off.
The Doubling Cube In Backgammon Rules
Backgammon is played for an agreed stake (or number of points in a tournament play). During the course of the game, when a player feels he or she has a sufficient advantage, may propose the opponent to use the doubling cube (the cube with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 on its six sides) and multiply the agreed stake of the game. The doubling cube may be proposed only at the start of the player's turn and before the dice are rolled. The player who was offered the doubling cube, may refuse. In such case, he or she concedes the game and pays the original stake. If the player accepts the doubling cube, the game continues for a new, higher sum, multiplied by 2. The player who had accepted the doubling offer, becomes the owner of the cube and only he or she may offer doubling cube next. Subsequent doubles in the same game are called redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he or she must pay the current stake (prior to the redouble), and if he or she agree, they become the new owner of the cube and the game continues at twice the previous sum involved, i.e. 4 times the original stake. Redoubles can increase the original wager by up to 64 times.
Gammons And Backgammons
At the end of the game, if the losing player has borne off at least one checker, he loses only the value showing on the doubling cube (the original stake or one point if the doubling cube was not in use). However, if the loser has not borne off any of his checkers, he or she is gammoned and loses twice the value of the doubling cube. If the loser has not borne off any of his or her checkers and still has a checker on the bar or in the winners' home board, he or she is backgammoned and loses three times the value of the doubling cube.