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A game for two players, Backgammon rules have two variations: Dutch Backgammon and Acey Deucey. The object of this title is to be the first player to remove all 15 checkers (Backgammon pieces) from the board.

One of the oldest board games known in history, it requires both strategy and luck (since it involves the use of dice). While it can be set up within 10–20 seconds, playing time can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as one hour.

Backgammon belongs to the tables family of games, which is one of the oldest types of board games. Suitable for players from age five and above, let’s discuss Backgammon rules and instructions.

Objectives of the Game

In a game of Backgammon, players aim to move all their checkers into their home table (the inner table closest to them), after which they’ll bear them off. Bearing off checkers means moving them away from the board.

The winner of the game is the first player that bears off their checkers.

But achieving the objective requires more than this. Unless Backgammon involves staking, it’s not played appropriately. Thus, in a match, players ultimately aim to win more stakes than their opponent.


Backgammon is played on a specially built board with four tables of six thin points or triangles on each of the tables. Starting from the edges of the board closest to the players, the points are directed inward thereby forming two rows of a dozen points at the opposite side.

There’s a bar bisecting the board, with the two tables on one side called the “home tables” or “inner tables”, while the others are designated “outer tables”.

The conventional rule is to place the inner tables in such a way as to face the greatest light source. Apart from that, the equipment consists of 15 black disks, 15 white disks, two dice, two dice shakers, and a doubling cube.

This doubling cube is a die with the figures, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 inscribed on the six faces.

Backgammon Rules: Gameplay

The game starts with each player rolling a single die; then, the player that has the highest number moves first by making use of the two numbers rolled. In a situation where both players roll the same numbers, the dice are rolled again till they get different figures.

Then, the players alternate turns, rolling two dice at the start of each turn. Ensure the dice are rolled together always and land flat on the right side of the board. If it lands on the checker or outside, roll the dice again.

Moving the Checkers

The following Backgammon rules apply when moving the checkers:

  • The dice roll will determine the number of points the player is allowed to move their checkers. Following the horseshoe path, the checkers will move forward always toward the player’s home board.
  • A point unoccupied by two or more opposing checkers is an open point. While a player is moving a checker, it may land only on an open point.
  • Both dice represent two separate movements. For instance, a player that rolls a 3 and a 5 may move the first checker three spaces to an open point and another checker five spaces to an open point.
  • If a player wants, they may move the same checker twice so long each moves is done onto an open point.
  • If you roll a double, you’ll move the checkers twice using the numbers on the dice onto an open point. For instance, a player that rolls two 5s will move their checkers five points, four times using any combination, and land on open points.
  • As part of the Backgammon rules, a player has to move both numbers they rolled if possible; if they roll a double, they’ll move four numbers.
  • If they can only play one of the numbers due to the fact that there’s only an open point available, such a player has to play that number. In a situation where either number can be played but not the two, then they’ve to play the bigger number.
  • If none of the two numbers can be played, then they will lose their turn. If you fail to play all four numbers when you rolled a double, you’re required to play as many numbers as you can.

Hitting a Blot

These are the points to take note as regards the Backgammon rules that apply to hitting:

  • A blot is an open point containing one opposing checker. When you move a checker onto a blot, the blot gets hit. Then, the opposing checker which has been hit is put on the bar.
  • When there are one or more checkers on the bar for a player, they’ve to first enter them again onto the opposing player’s home board.
  • To enter a checker, you’ll roll two dice and move it to the corresponding point of one of the numbers on your opponent’s inner/home table.
  • In a situation where the checker on the bar can’t enter into an open point, the player will lose their turn with the checker left on the bar. A player isn’t allowed to move any other piece until all his checkers are off the bar.
  • If a player can enter some of their checkers off the bar but not all, their turn is finished.
  • If the checker(s) belonging to you or your opponent has been moved off the bar, any unused number has to be played.

Backgammon Rules for Bearing Off

  • A player starts bearing off immediately all checkers are on their inner table.
  • When a player rolls 1 on a die, they’ll bear off a checker from point one of their home table.
  • When they roll 2,they’ll bear off a checker from point two of their home table, and the game continues in that manner. After bearing off checkers, you’ll remove them from the board.
  • Players aren’t compelled to bear off; if available, they can instead decide to move a checker within their home table. This step is taken for pairing up singlets thwart their capture.
  • When you or your opponent rolls a figure higher than the maximum point allowed for the inner table on which either of you has checkers, the rules allow bearing off the next highest piece.
  • For instance, if you roll a double 5, if you’ve a checker on point five, two checkers on point three, one checker on point two, and one piece on point one, you’d bear off the four highest placed pieces with a checker left on point one.
  • If your checker is captured after starting to bear off, that checker has to enter again at the other side of the game board, and bearing off isn’t allowed to start again until all checkers are staying once again in the home table.


The first player that bears off all checkers becomes the winner of the game. If the opposing player has borne off a minimum of one checker, a single game is won, with the current stake forfeited.

If the opposing player hasn’t borne off any pieces, this is called a gammon, which is worth double the current stake. In a situation where the opponent has one checker left on the bar or within the opponent’s home table, this is called a backgammon, which is worth three times the current stake.

Variations of the Backgammon Rules

There are two variations of these rules: Dutch Backgammon and Acey Deucey.

Dutch Backgammon

Dutch Backgammon is played the same way as Backgammon, but there are two notable differences:

  • In Dutch Backgammon, all checkers start off the game board in hand and all fifteen have to be entered on the opposing player’s home table before any can proceed further.
  • A player isn’t allowed to take an opponents checker until at least one of their checkers has been moved into their home (bearing) table.

Acey Deucey

The Acey Deucey gambling game of Backgammon is popularly played in the American military forces and shares similarities with the first type. The main feature of Acey Deucey is that a roll of a 1 and a 2 is a special throw known as acey deucey. In this variation, the rules are the same way as Backgammon except the following differences:

  • At the beginning of the game, the player that starts also selects the table to enter and the opponent has to enter on the opposite table and move in the opposite direction. Of course, this is only a cosmetic change to the Backgammon rules and has no effect on the game’s outcome in any way.
  • All checkers will start off the board in hand.
  • There’s no need for all checkers to be entered before any other checker can move. This rule is applicable at the start of and during the game.
  • A player who rolls an acey deucey will first move a 1 and a 2 in the normal manner. After that, they select a double from 1 to 6 and moves again, just as if that double has been rolled.
  • For instance, if you choose double 5, you’ll make four moves of five each. Lastly, you’ve the right to make another roll of the dice, which is really a new turn.
  • But if a player can’t move both the initial 1 and 2, then the turns will stop at once with the double and the extra roll forfeited. In the same vein, if all four moves constituting the double can’t be taken, the ensuing additional throw gets forfeited.

Doubling isn’t part of Acey Deucey, and doubling cube isn’t available. But some people play hoping that the stake gets doubled each time an acey deucey is rolled.

This variation on the game also contains a different technique for determining the winnings each match. At the end of the Backgammon game, the losing player has to pay the stake to the winning player multiplied by the number of checkers still left on the board.

Some Optional Backgammon Rules

The following alternative rules are popularly used:

Automatic doubles: This rule stipulates that if identical figures are rolled on the first throw of the dice, the stakes will be doubled. The doubling cube is changed to 2 and is left in the middle. Players normally reach an agreement to restrict the number of automatic doubles to one per game.

The Jacoby Rule: Gammons and backgammons will only count as a single game if none of the two players has provided a double in the game. The advantage of this rule is that it speeds up gameplay by getting rid of instances where a player avoids doubling so they can play on for a gammon.

Beavers: When a player is doubled, they may redouble (beaver) at once while still retaining possession of the cube. The original doubler can accept or refuse as with a normal double.

FAQs about Backgammon Rules

What’s the bar?

The bar is that part of the table where players put checkers after they’ve been hit. The bar is the raised ridge that’s down the center of the game board dividing the inner table from the outer table.

What does the bar-point mean?

It’s another term for the seven-point. The bar-point is the point next to the bar with no checkers on it at the beginning of the match.

Am I allowed to pass when it’s my turn?

No, you’ve to play your roll once there’s any legal way of doing that. If you aren’t able to play all your numbers, you’ve to play as many as possible. Thus, if you throw and can play only three of your four 6s, that’s the step you’ve to take.

In a Nutshell

One of the top classic wooden board games to play with friends, Backgammon rules have two variations which are Dutch Backgammon and Acey Deucey. Both types share similarities with the standard version, but with a few differences. By following the tips in this post, you can learn how to play.

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