Gammon Empire - Online Backgammon Rules and Resource

Here at a guide to one of the most fantastic games backgammon you'll find a wealth of information. Our site aims to assist both new players to backgammon as well as those with more experience. This page specifically focuses on the rules of backgammon, if however you use the right hand navigation bar you can read articles about other subjects we've put together that are backgammon specific and related.

Object of the Game

The aim of the game is to try and bring all of your checkers onto your own home board and then to retrieve them from the board, known as bearing off. The winner is the first player to remove all of his or her checkers from the board.

Starting the Game

Each player will be given a dice cup and also two dice. To start the game, both players can roll one of the dice and the player with the highest number gets to go first while using the two numbers from his or her dice and also the two numbers from the opponents dice. If both players happen to roll exactly the same number, another roll must take place to until a starting player is decided upon.

Rolling the Dice

Players take turns in throwing the dice throughout the duration of the game, unless a player is unable to make a legal move. In this case, their move is forfeited. The roll of the dice will reveal the amount of pips a player can move his checkers and a pip is basically the distance between each point.

If the dice are showing the same number, it is called a double (for example 4-4 or 6-6) and when this happens, a player can advance four moves rather than just two. Therefore if the player is to roll a 5-5, he can then move up to as many as four checkers, but an individual move may consist of as many as 5 pips.

Rules of Rolling

  • Dice must be rolled with each other and not separately, plus they need to land flat on the right hand section of the back gammon board. If the dice happens to land outside this section, or they are not flat (known as coked dice), a re-roll is required.
  • Before making any decisions, a player can try out as many moves as he or she wants.
  • When a player picks up the dice, one turn is completed. However, if the play is either illegal or incomplete, the opponent can choose to either accept the play or he can request the player make a legal move. When the opponent then rolls the dice or offers a double up to begin his own play, the roll is presumed to have been accepted.
  • A players' roll is voided if a player happens to roll his dice prior to his opponent having completed his turn by picking up the dice.

Moving the Checkers

The roll of both dice denotes the start of each players turn. The player can then move one or more checkers based on the numbers displayed on his dice. Therefore the numbers on display on both of the dice count for two individual moves.

You can only move a checker to an open point, one that doesn't contain two or more checkers from your opponent. Therefore a checker can be moved to a point if it only happens to contain one of the opponent's checkers. When this happens, the checker is 'hit' and then positioned on the bar (refer to 'hitting and entering' below).

To make sure that single checkers (aka 'blots') don't become vulnerable to being hit, a player can try and 'make a point' by using his roll. You can make a point simply by placing two or more of your checkers on it. You then 'own' that exact point, which means that your opponent won't be able to touch down on it or move a checker to that point.

If it is legally possible to do so, a player is required to use both numbers of a roll (or all four numbers of a double). When it is only possible to play one number, that number must be played. The player will lose his turn when neither of the numbers can be played.

Hitting and Entering

The blot is the single checker on a point. When a player moves a checker onto the blot of an opponent, or happens to touch down on it while moving the combined value of a roll, the blot is hit and must then re-enter into the opposing home table. You won't be able to take any further moves until you have brought the checker on the bar back into play.

Re-entry needs to be made on a point which is equal to one of the numbers rolled by the player and only of that point isn't owned by the opponent. The player will lose his turn if he cannot enter. When a player has more than one of his checkers on the bar, he is required to enter as many as possible and then the remainder of his turn must be forfeited. When his last checker has been entered, any numbers on the dice which have been unused must then be played by moving either another checker or the checker that was entered.

A player is classed as having a closed board when he or she has made all six points in his home board. A player cannot re-enter any checkers into his rival's home board if the opponent has any checkers on the bar. This basically means that he will forfeit any rolls and this will keep happening until the other player ends up having to open a point in his home board, therefore creating a point of entry.

Although a player may forfeit his roll, he won't forfeit his right to double at the start of each turn (if he has access to the doubling cube that is).

Bearing Off

A player can begin 'bearing off' when all 15 checkers have been moved on to his home board. A player can only bear off a checker when the dice they roll matches the point on which a checker is resting on. When this happens, the checker can be removed from the board. The checkers which are removed can never re-enter the game.

Bearing off cannot take place if the player has any checkers outside his home board or on the bar. Therefore during the bearing off process, if a player leaves a blot and this is ultimately hit by his rival, the player must then replace it back in his home board before he can continue removing the checkers (bearing off) again.

In the process of bearing off, players need to remove checkers only from the points which match the numbers that have been rolled on the dice. It is not mandatory to bear checkers off. If a player wants to moves checkers within his home board, he can do so and then if a player ends up rolling a number which is higher than the highest point in which his checker is positioned, he must then apply that particular number to the highest occupied point.

Although the rules clearly state that both numbers must be played where possible, they can be played in either order.

Setting up the Board
Opening Rolls
Doubling Cube
Races and Bear-Offs
Money vs Match Strategies
Backgammon vs Poker
Online Backgammon
Online vs Offline Tournaments

Copyright © 2017 - All Rights Reserved