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Backgammon is a game for two players, played on a board consisting of twenty-four narrow triangles called points. The triangles alternate in colour and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each. The quadrants are referred to as a player's home board and outer board, and the opponent's home board and outer board. The home and outer boards are separated from each other by a ridge down the center of the board called the bar.
Diagram: A board with the checkers in their initial position. An alternate arrangement is the reverse of the one shown here, with the home board on the left and the outer board on the right.
The points are numbered for either player starting in that player's home board. The outermost point is the twenty-four point, which is also the opponent's one point. Each player has fifteen checkers of his own color. The initial arrangement of checkers is: two on each player's twenty-four point, five on each player's thirteen point, three on each player's eight point, and five on each player's six point.
Object of the Game
The object of the game is for a player to move all of his checkers into his own home board and then bear them off. The first player to bear off all of his checkers wins the game.
Diagram: Direction of movement of Sand's checkers. Aqua's checkers move in the opposite direction.
Movement of Checkers
To start the game, each player throws a single die. This determines both the player to go first and the numbers to be played. If equal numbers come up, then both players roll again until they roll different numbers. The player throwing the higher number now moves their checkers according to the numbers showing on both dice. After the first roll, the players throw two dice and alternate turns. The roll of the dice indicates how many points, or pips, the player is to move their checkers. The checkers are always moved forward, to a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:
A checker may be moved only to an open point, one that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers.
The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves. For example, if a player rolls 5 and 3, they may move one checker five spaces to an open point and another checker three spaces to an open point, or they may move the one checker a total of eight spaces to an open point, but only if the intermediate point (either three or five spaces from the starting point) is also open.
Diagram: Two ways that Sand can play a dice roll of 5 & 3.
A player who rolls doubles plays the numbers shown on the dice twice. A roll of 6 and 6 means that the player has four sixes to use, and they may move any combination of checkers they feel is appropriate to complete this requirement. A player must use both numbers of a roll if this is legally possible (or all four numbers of a double). When only one number can be played, the player must play that number. Or if either number can be played but not both, the player must play the larger one. When neither number can be used, the player loses their turn. In the case of doubles, when all four numbers cannot be played, the player must play as many numbers as they can.
Hitting and Entering
A point occupied by a single checker of either color is called a blot. If an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is hit and placed on the bar.
Any time a player has one or more checkers on the bar, their first obligation is to enter those 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 a player rolls 4 and 6, they may enter a checker onto either the opponent's four point or six point, so long as the prospective point is not occupied by two or more of the opponent's checkers.
Diagram: If Sand rolls a six and four with a checker on the bar, they must enter the checker onto Aqua's four point since Aqua's six point is not open.
If neither of the points is open, the player loses their turn. If a player is able to enter some but not all of their checkers, they must enter as many as they can and then forfeit the remainder of their turn.
After the last of a player's checkers has been entered, any unused numbers on the dice must be played, by moving either the checker that was entered or a different checker.
Once a player has moved all of their fifteen checkers into their home board, they may commence bearing off. A player bears off a checker by rolling a number that corresponds to the point on which the checker resides, and then removing that checker from the board. Thus, rolling a 6 permits the player to remove a checker from the six point. If there is no checker on the point indicated by the roll, the player must make a legal move using a checker on a higher-numbered point. If there are no checkers on higher-numbered points, the player is permitted (and required) to remove a checker from the highest point on which one of their checkers resides. A player is under no obligation to bear off if they can make an otherwise legal move.
Diagram: Sand rolls a six and four and bears off two checkers.
A player must have all of his active checkers in his home board in order to bear off. If a checker is hit during the bear-off process, the player must bring that checker back to his home board before continuing to bear off. The first player to bear off all fifteen checkers wins the game.
Take 12 checkers of the same colour and place them on all of the dark squares of the first three rows in front of you. Your opponent does the same.
How to Play
Choose a player to go frist. On your turn, move any one of the checkers by the movement rules described below. After you move one checker, your turn is over. The game continues with players alternating turns.
Capturing an Opponent's Checker
TIf you jump an opponent's checker, you capture it. Remove it from the gameboard and place it in front of you.
Becomming a "King"
As soon as one of your checkers reaches the first row on your opponent's side of the gameboard, it becomes a King. Place another checker of the same colour on top of it. Not this double-decker checker can move forward or backward on the gameboard.
How to Win
The first player to capture all opposing checkers from the gameboard wins the game!