Rules of Backgammon

Initial Position

Backgammon has two kinds of initial positions. Here is the mostly used one.

Home (black):
Black's Home Board

Home (white):
White's Home Board

Arrows (black):
Direction of movement of Black's checkers

Arrows (white):
Direction of movement of White's checkers

Little Backgammon-Encyclopedia

Bar: Divides the Backgammon board
Blots: A point occupied by a single checker of either color
Board: The gameboard itself
Crossover: A move across the bar
Homeboard: The quadrant of one's own color
Outerboard: The quadrant opposite the homeboard and fenced off by the bar
Pass: Not accapting a double
Point: One of the 24 narrow triangles
Take: Accepting a double

Object of the Game

The object of the game is for a player to move all of his own checkers in the right direction until they are all in his own home board and then bear them off. The first player to bear off all fifteen of his checkers wins.

Starting the Game

To start the game, each player rolls a single dice. This determines both, the player to move first and the number of points to be moved.

If equal numbers come up, then both players roll again until they roll different numbers. The player rolling the higher number starts moving according to the numbers shown on both dice.


After the first roll, the players roll two dice and alternate turns.

Rolling the Dice
The strictly Backgammon rules stipulate, that each player rolls his dice on the board at his right hand. Rolling must be repeated if:

  • A player did not roll on the board at his right.
  • A dice does not lie horizontaly on the board
  • A player rolls, before the opponent has taken his dice off the board.
  • A player touches a dice before making his move.


A player can move either one checker according the total numbers on both dice, if - and only if - an intermediate point is open or the numbers on the dice can also constitute separate moves to an open point.

As an intemediate point may be occupied by two or more opposing checkers certain moves may not be possible.

For Example: White rolls a 3 and a 4. It's up to white whether to move a checker 3+4 points or 4+3 points or to move one checker 3 points and the other one 4 points.

Attention: Only the following points may be occupied or used as an intermediate point:

1. Points without any checkers.
2. Points, occupied by up to 4 checkers of one's own color.
3. Points with only one checker of the opposing color
(see hitting the opponent)

Special Cases of Moving

In principle one or two checkers have to be moved, according to the numbers shown on both dice. If moving is only possible according to one of the numbers, the player has to choose the higher number and the lower one looses its validity.

Incorrect Moving

If a player has placed a checker incorrectly, the opponent is allowed to demand correction but only if he himself has not rolled yet. If he has rolled already a correction is not possible anymore.

Hitting the Opponent

A player can hit the opponent by moving one checker to a point (even by using it as an intermediate point) which is occupied by one checker of the opposing color. The hitted checker is placed on the bar and has to enter the game again.


Any time a player has one or more checkers on the bar, his first obligation is to enter these checker(s) into the opposing 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 only the second or the third point in the opponents home board is empty and the fifth point is occupied by one opposing checker, entering is only possible by rolling a 2, a 3 or a 5. By rolling a 5, he can even hit the opponent.


If both dice show the same numbers, it is possible to move checkers 4 times, according to this number, by following the above shown rules of moving.

For Example:The number shown on both dice is a 3. One can move one checker 3 points four times or maybe one checker 3 points three times and the other checker 3 point one time. It is also possible to move different checkers 3 points two times or finally move four checkers 3 points one time.


A player can make it more difficult for the opponent by building up a Prime. That means, that that the player places two or more checkers on six points, next to each other. If a player builds up a Prime in his own home board, the opponent, who has checkers on the bar, cannot enter these checkers until the other player breaks up the Prime again.

Bearing Off

A player can start bearing off, if he has moved all of his fifteen checkers into his on home board. If the player rolls a number corresponding to a point with a checker on it, he may bear off, by taking this checker off the board.

For Example:If a player has three checkers on the second point, he must roll a 2 three times to bear off these checkers.

Instead of bearing off, it is also allowed to move checkers at that point of time. This might be important if the opponent has still checkers on the bar.

Attention:If a player is hit while bearing off, he has to stop bearing off until all of his checkers are in his own home board again.

Winning Levels

Simple Form
The first player to bear off all fifteen of his checkers wins the game.

The 'Gammon'
If one player has beared off all of his fifteen checkers while the opponent has not started bearing off yet, the winner gets doubled stake.

The 'Backgammon'
If a player has beared off all of his fifteen checkers while the other player has not even started bearing off and has checkers on the bar or in the opposing home board, the winner gets triple stake.

Good luck!

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