Published on April 10th, 2019
Backgammon is one of the oldest two-player games in the world. It was invented in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago, and it has been enjoyed worldwide ever since.
Part of the reason why this game is so popular is that it is not difficult to learn. Compared to other similar games, it’s more difficult than learning checkers, but it’s much simpler than learning how to play chess.
However, a lot of people still struggle with it due to the lack of good backgammon learning resources. That’s sad because playing backgammon has a lot of benefits. One of them is the fact that it helps you relax and improves your focus, so it’s a great game to play on a wellness vacation, such as one of the Zing Events.
Regardless of the reason why you want to learn to play backgammon, check out our easy tutorial below, organized in straightforward and easy-to-follow steps!
1. Preparing For The Game
First of all, you need to understand the backgammon board — it looks a bit daunting. It consists of four fields: two home boards and two outer boards. Each player has a corresponding home board and an outer board. Each of these has six triangles alternating in color — twelve per each player. They are separated by a bar in the middle.
Players sit across each other and move their checkers from the direction of their opponent’s home board to their home board in a counterclockwise direction, in a horseshoe form. On most boards, the triangles are numbered 1 – 24, so it is easy to keep track of your moves.
At the beginning of the game, each player gets 15 checkers and needs to set them properly on the board. Each player places two checkers on triangle 24, three on triangle 8, five on 13, and five more on 6. Note that if you play free online backgammon game, the computer will do this for you, which makes the game more convenient.
After that, the dice are rolled, and the person who lands a bigger number gets to play first.
2. Moving The Checkers
The checkers are moved around the board by rolling two dice. Each dice corresponds to one move on the board. Therefore, if you roll a 4 and a 3, you can move one checker four times and another one three times, or move one checker seven times. You can move the checkers only to an open point. A closed point is one on which there are two or more of your opponent’s checkers. In all other cases, the point is open.
If you roll the same number on both dice, you will get the right to double your moves. So if you rolled two 5’s, you can move between one and four of your checkers a total of 20 times. However, if you rolled a certain number but there are no open points where you can move your checkers, you will lose your turn and your opponent will get to play next.
3. Hitting And Entering
If there is only one checker on a certain point, that checker is called a blot. You can move your checkers to that point, in which case the blot will be moved to the bar. Your opponent cannot move any of their other checkers until they get all of the checkers from the bar back on the board. That can be time-consuming if there are no free positions.
One of the most important backgammon strategies to remember is to avoid having blots whenever possible. Moreover, try to get out of your opponent’s home board as fast as possible to avoid additional risks.
4. Bearing Off The Checkers
In order to win, you have to bear off your checkers before your opponent does. That means you have to remove all of your checkers from the board first. However, you can only start doing that when all of your checkers are on your home board.
Make sure that there are no blots at this point because your opponent can throw them to the bar, in which case you will have to ride them 24 points back to your home board once again.
The number you roll on the dice corresponds to the point on your home board. So, for example, if you rolled a 5 and a 2, you can bear one checker off point 5 and one checker off point 2.