Playing the game

The OBJECT of the game is to move your checkers into your home board and once moving all checkers there, to "bear" them off. The first person to bear off all checkers wins.

Starting





Using the starting position shown above (or the mirror image), each player rolls one die. The player rolling the highest number moves first, using the combination shown on both dice. If numbers are the same they throw again. After this initial throw, players throw alternatively.


Let's say a 5-2 is thrown. You move two-five or five-two. This means you move one checker 5 points and a second checker 2 points. Or you can move one checker all 7 points. If only one or the other dice can be played, then the higher value must be played.

Points

A player can move to a point only when there are no more than one of the opponent’s checkers on the point. Where a player has at least two checkers on a point then they "own" that point.

If there is only one of the opponent’s checkers on a point (a "blot") the player can hit it. The checker that has been hit is returned to the bar and must re-enter on an unoccupied space in the opponent's home board.

Moving

A very important point to note is that where the opponent owns a point, that is, has at least two checkers on the point, the player making a move may count over them BUT the points owned by an opponent cannot be used to "touch down" during the count. For example, your opponent makes the "bar point" with the opening play (see illustration above for description of bar point). You roll a 6-5; you cannot move either of the back checkers as both the points 5 and 6 away from them are owned by the opposition.

To summarise - when moving you can land on:

1. An open space.

2. A point where you have 1 or more checkers.

3. A point where the opponent has only 1 checker.

BUT NOT on a point where the opponent has 2 or more checkers.

Being Hit

If a blot is hit it is taken off the board and sent to the bar you cannot play until you get the hit checker back into play. You are required to re-enter on your opponent's home board. To re-enter you must throw a number of a space on the opponent's home board that does not have 2 or more checkers.

The only points on which you can re-enter are:
A vacant point
On an point that has an opponent's single checker
A point where you have 1 or more checkers

Obviously if your opponent has all points on his home board you cannot re-enter.

Doubles

If doubles are thrown, that is 6-6, 5-5, 4-4 etc, the player doubles the value of the dice in moves. Let’s say you have thrown 2-2. This means that:
any 4 checkers can move 2 points each; or
any 1 checker can move 8 points; or
any 2 checkers can move 4 points each; or
any l checker can move 6 points and any other checker the other 2 points; or
any 2 checkers can move 2 points and any other checker the other 4 points.

The End

The object of the game is to pick up all checkers before your opponent, but you can’t bear them off until you have moved them all into your home board.

Remember that you have 6 points in your home board. Let us say you throw 6-2. You must play a 2 and a 6. This can be achieved by taking a checker off the 6-point and one off the 2-point OR by playing a two from the 6-point and the 6 from the 4, 5 or 6-point. If you don't have a checker on the 6-point you take one off next highest number. If you have nothing on the 2 point you can move any checker towards the l point.

Doubles are played as normal; that is, if you roll 6-6 bearing off, then you pick up 4 checkers from the highest points – even if that means leaving a blot (or two!).

You don't have to bear off checkers if you wish to move within your home board.

If hit while bearing off, you must re-enter on the opponent's home board - and this is the reason why you might not want to bear off checkers. Your opponent might have been hit and is waiting to re-enter so you don't want to expose any point with a single man on it.

From Basic Backgammon