Backgammon Rules and Strategies

By: Gen Wright


Backgammon is a game that requires skill and a little bit of luck. In a way, it's a little bit like checkers, except that your next moves depend on the value of your dice roll. To win the game, you have to learn to manage your risks. This game is played with just three simple items - a game board, 30 checkers, and a pair of dice.

The game board is where the entire game takes place. On the board, there are 24 points, starting from 1 to 24. Each point is represented by a tall triangle. Two players play on opposite sites during the game. On each side, there is the home board, and the outer board.

The checkers are usually in black and white. So each player will choose a color. The goal of the game is simple - to enable all 15 checkers to reach the bearing (home) point. The first player that accomplishes this goal wins the game. However, the game is setup with some simple rules so that players can vary the way they play the game.

For instance, you cannot move a checker on to a point that has more than 1 checker from the opponent. You can only move the checker to a point that has got no other checkers, or a point that has your own checkers. If there is a checker from the opponent, there can only be a maximum of one. These rules enable a player to defend or attack certain points.

As your play, your opponent will try ways and means to prevent your checkers from reaching the bearing position. Of course, you will do likewise. This gives rise to several well known strategies such as an anchor game, an outfield point game, or a holding game.

You can create anchor points by having two or more checkers in the same point on the opponent's home board. Anchors can be strategically created for different purposes. You can use anchors to hold a position for defense or attack. Anchors are also particularly useful if you wish to prevent your opponent's checkers from reaching a position.

An outfield point is a point that is outside of the home boards. Such a point is less used for attacking but you have a better chance of stopping your opponent.

A holding game sometimes occurs accidentally. You see a holding game when both players have more than 2 anchors or outfield points on both halves of the board. In other words, there are no open points, and both players cannot create open points for fear of being hit. The game appears to be suspended. The holding game continues when a player clears a checker, or when someone rolls a double.

The backgammon game is like a race. When played strategically, you never know if you are going to win or lose. It may appear that you may be losing right from the start, but bear in mind that there are strategies for players to use who are behind in the game. For example, if you find yourself behind in the game, you can choose to adopt a blocking strategy.

Blocking means that you have as many points as possible with two or more of your checkers. Remember that any point with two or more checkers means that your opponent cannot occupy the point. If you have occupied these points one after another, it becomes very difficult for your opponent to advance. Hence, your blocking becomes more effective. You may then make plans to occupy open points to make progress for your own game.

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Learn more about History of Backgammon and Backgammon Game Rules.

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