How to Set up Backgammon

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backgammon set up

Backgammon is one of the oldest known board games, with a rich history that spans over 5,000 years. The game’s exact origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it is believed to have evolved from similar ancient games played in Mesopotamia, the region that now includes modern-day Iraq, Iran, and parts of Syria and Turkey.

In the present day, backgammon remains a widely enjoyed game across the world. It is played socially, competitively in tournaments, and online through various gaming platforms.

In this post, we’ll explain how to set up a Backgammon board.

Tools and objective

The objective of Backgammon is to remove all 15 checkers from your home board. Your opponent will be doing the same. You’ll take turns rolling dice and move your checkers around the points closer to your home board. The first one to remove their last checker off the board wins.

To execute your perfect Backgammon set up, you need:

  • 1 Backgammon board;
  • 2 six-sided dice;
  • 15 white checkers;
  • 15 black checkers.

How to set up Backgammon

To start, setting up the board, provide each player with a set of 15 checkers and a pair of dice. Separate the checkers by their color and give a full set to each player. If your backgammon set includes a doubling cube with numbers on it, you can set it aside for now. You don’t need to play with it if you’re just learning the game.

Open the board

Sit across from the person you’re playing with and position the board so that the narrow triangles, known as “points,” are in front of you. The backgammon board consists of two halves separated by the bar in the middle.

Each half contains two quadrants with six points each. The two quadrants on one half of the board represent the players’ “home boards,” while the quadrants on the other half are the players’ “outer boards.” In a traditional game of backgammon, the home board is on the right side for the white player and on the left side for the black player.

Arrange your checkers

Place the checkers on the points of the backgammon board. The points on the board are numbered from 1 to 24 for each player, wrapping around from one player’s home board to the other. It’s important to note that each player’s points are numbered in opposite directions, meaning that your 1st point corresponds to the other player’s 24th point.

Each player should place:

  • 5 checkers on their 6th point;
  • 3 checkers on their 8th point;
  • 5 checkers on their 13th point;
  • 2 checkers on their 24th point.

Arrange the checkers in a flat position, placing them one above the other, rather than stacking them. This arrangement makes it easier to see how many checkers are on the board. Ensure that none of your checkers are on the same points as the other player’s checkers. If there are any overlapping spots with your pieces, find the correct points on the board to move those pieces to, avoiding any conflicts.

backgammon board set up

Backgammon game

The rules of Backgammon are easy to learn. Once you know how to set up the a backgammon board, its time for the games to begin and have fun.

  • Choose the first player. To determine who starts first, each player should roll the dice. The one who rolled the higher number will get to start the game, using the numbers that were just rolled. Once the starting player completes their turn, both players will take their own pair of dice and continue with the game.
  • Move your checkers to a number of points equal to your dice roll. During your turn, move one checker the total number of spaces from your roll or split the movement between two checkers. Choose the checkers and move down the board as long as the destination point has less than two enemy pieces. After your move, it’s the other player’s turn. Rolling doubles lets you roll the dice again. For example, with double 6s, you can move up to four checkers, each six spaces. You must move a checker if possible; if blocked, you lose your turn.
  • Hitting. If one of your opponent’s checkers is solitary and you roll the right dice, you can hit it off the board. This way, you can slow their progress. Set hit checkers on the bar. Put hit checkers back on the board instead of moving on your turn. If you have any checkers on the bar, you can’t move other pieces until you move the hit ones back on the board. Roll the dice and move a checker to open points on your opponent’s home board if the numbers match. Otherwise, lose your turn if the points are blocked or the numbers don’t match.

Race against your opponent to try and get the last of your checkers off the board before they can. Once one player has a lucky dice roll and removes their last checker, they’re the winner!

Backgammon’s enduring appeal lies in its blend of strategy, luck, and skill. The objective is to move all your checkers around the board and bear them off before your opponent can do the same. The game’s strategic depth and the element of chance have kept it relevant and beloved by players of all ages for millennia.

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