Backgammon Rules

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GameColony offers 3 ways to play Backgammon online:
  • Backgammon Live app for iPhone & Android
  • Browser-based Backgammon
  • Windows-based Backgammon

  • Starting the Game

    To start the game each player rolls a single die. The player with a higher roll makes the first move, using that die roll along with the roll of his opponent. If equal numbers come-up, the server re-rolls until the dice turn-up different numbers. After the first roll, the players throw two dice and alternate turns.

    The roll of the dice indicates how many points the player has to move his checkers. For example, on a roll of four and two, one checker can be moved four points, while another checker can be moved two points (provided that the points are not occupied by two or more of the opponent's checkers). It also legal to move a single checker by the total number shown on the two dice, however, two separate moves should be made according to the numbers shown on each dice.

    Both exact numbers of a roll should be played (or all four numbers of a double - see below) if legally permissible. If only one number can be played, the player must play that number. When either number can be played but not both, the higher number must be played, and if neither number can be played, the player will lose his turn.

    To move a checker, a player would click on it with the mouse, drag it to the destination point and then release the mouse. With a default view, own checkers move counter-clock-wise, while opponent's checkers move clock-wise.


    If the same number appears on both dice known as "doubles ", the player takes twice the usual number of moves. For example, on a roll of 3 and 3 the player has four threes to move instead of two. The four moves can be made by any number of checkers or just by a single checker (if it is legal to do so).

    When double appears if the player can not use all four numbers, he must play as many numbers as he can.

    Blots and Bars

    A "blot" is a point occupied by a single checker. If the opponent's checker lands on a blot , the blot has been "hit" and is placed on the "bar".

    A player who has one or more checkers on the bar must "enter" all of them into the opponent's home board before moving any checkers on the board. A checker is entered according to the number of the rolled dice, provided that point is not occupied by two or more of the opponent's checkers.

    If a player has a checker on the bar and neither of the points is open, he loses his turn. If some checkers on the bar can be entered but not all of them, the player must enter as many as he can, then forfeit the remainder of his turn.

    When the player enters the last checker, he can play the unused numbers on the dice by moving either the entered checker or a different one.

    Moving Checkers

    A checker can be moved to a pip if that pip is empty, or if it only has one opponent's checker, or it has the player's own checkers. If a player's checker is moved to a point occupied by one of opponent's checkers, that opponent's checker is hit and put on the bar. The numbers of the dice requires two separate moves. If a player rolls 6 and 1, he can move one checker by 6 pips and another by 1 pip. Or he may move the same checker by 7 pips if the 7th point is available. A player must use both numbers of a roll or all four numbers of a double if possible. If only one number can be played the player must play it. If either of the numbers can be played individually but not both numbers together then he has to play the higher number.

    Doubling Cube

    Backgammon at GameColony is played for an agreed stake (number of points) per match. Doubling makes sense only if a match involves more than 1 point. Each game starts at one point. During the course of the game, a player who feels he has a sufficient advantage may propose doubling the stakes. He may do this only at the start of his own turn and before he has rolled the dice.

    A player who is offered a double is allowed to refuse, in which case he concedes the current game within a match and lose the current number of points. Otherwise, h e must accept the double and play on for the new higher stakes. A player who accepts a double becomes the owner of the cube and only he may make the next double.

    Subsequent doubles in the same game are called redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the number of points that were at stake prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he becomes the new owner of the cube and the game continues at twice the previous stakes. There is no limit to the number of redoubles in a game.

    To allow yourself the opportunity to double even when no legal moves are available, select the preference option called 'No auto-rolls'. This will have to be done at least 1 move prior to doubling. Using this option will result in confirming all moves -- even those where no legal moves are available.

    Doubling Cube FAQ

    Question #1 2pt Match, if I'm losing the game (and the cube has not been doubled) and my opponent offers to double the cube and I refuse, do I lose the entire Match or is there another game or games played till the point equals 2?
    Answer #1 When you refuse the double here, you are only losing 1 point - same match continues [with the start of a game] with the score 1-0 in favor of your opponent

    Question #2 How do points and cube relate to each other?
    Answer #2 Cube is NOT analogous to points.
    When cube is set to any value [other than initial 64], this value is only meant to multiply OTHER normal gained game points.
    Without the cube, the game within the match can earn 1 point [normal], 2 points [win with gammon] and 3 points [win with backgammon]
    If the cube was set to 2 during the above game:
    * normal [1 point] win in the game will be worth 2 points
    * gammon win [normally 2 points] will be worth 4 points
    * backgammon win [normally 3 points] will be worth 6 points

    Crawford Rule

    If a player comes within 1 point of a match, the next game is a 'Crawford round' and doubling is disallowed for this subsequent game only. The Crawford rule seeks to avoid giving the losing side an unfair advantage of doubling with no risk involved.

    Clarification of Crawford Rule:
    When one of the opponents is within 1 pt of winning the match, the answer to the question whether the doubling is allowed or not allowed depends on whether the 'Crawford round' game was played or not.
    If a player comes within 1 point of a match, the next game is a 'Crawford round' and doubling is disallowed for THIS ONE subsequent game only.
    During the Crawford round, NO doubling is allowed. After the losing side wins that Crawford round game, doubling is again allowed even if the winner is within 1 pt of winning the match.

    Bearing Off

    Once a player has moved all of his fifteen checkers into his home board, he may commence to bear them off (i.e. removing them from the board). A player must have all his 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. 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 required to remove a checker from the highest point on which one of his checkers resides. A player is under no obligation to bear off if he can make an otherwise legal move. The first player to bear off all fifteen checkers will be declared the winner.

    Gammon and Backgammon

    If a player bears off all 15 of his checkers before an opponent has borne off a single checker, such player will win a gammon, or double game.

    If a player bears off all 15 of his checkers before his opponent has borne off a single checker, and he still has one or more checkers in his home board or on the bar, such player will win a backgammon, or a triple game.

    Undoing a Move

    Undoing a move involves dragging a checker (that just moved) from its destination location (pip) back to the source location. E.g., undo the move that involved jumping off the bar, the checker has to be moved back to the bar from the destination pip. To simplify the undo, once you lift the checker that has just moved, there is a little yellow light showing under the source pip where it can be moved in order to undo the move. If the checker is dragged to that source pip, the move will be undone. If the yellow light is not lit, the move cannot be undone.

    We believe that the above method to undo represents the most natural way of undoing the move. For example, if we had a simple 'Undo' button, clicking on it could have been confusing as to which half-move was being undone & at what time.

    Matches versus Point-Games

    At GameColony backgammon, games are NOT played for a fee per-point. Players play standard tournament multi-point matches -- either free or for a fixed $Ticket fee. All matches are played for a fixed number of points: from 1 point to 15 points. Matches can consist of 1 or more games.

    • A win in a game with a Gammon wins the number of points that equals 2 times the value of the doubling cube.
    • A win in a game with Backgammon wins the number of points that equals to 3 times the value of the doubling cube.

    Winning a single game (even with Gammon or Backgammon) does not guarantee a win in a match - it just adds to the winner the points that count towards the current match. E.g., winning the 1st game with a Gammon in a 5pt match with the final doubling cube at 2, adds 2 * 2 = 4 points to the winner, making the total score in the match 4:0. At this point, however, the match is still not won -- 5pt. are needed for a win.

    $Ticket matches are played for a fixed entry fee in $Tickets. In other words, the entry fee is related to the complete multi-point match and it never changes during the match.

    Using doubling cube in multi-point matches is done for a different reason than in per-point play: using the cube raises point-stakes [NOT $ stakes] for a game in progress within a match.

    Independent of how many points the winner of a match got or how many games ended with Gammon or Backgammon, the entry fee that the match was played for is fixed and predetermined at the start of a match. The rating is also not affected by individual games but rather by winning or losing the match itself.

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