Backgammon is one of the oldest two-player games ever created. The object of the game is for a player to remove all his pawns from the game board. To do this, he must roll a pair of dice to move his pawn in a horseshoe-shaped path towards his goal field until he can get rid of them all. If you want to know how to play this fun game of backgammon, the first thing you should know is how to set up a game board. Check out step one to quickly find out how to set up this board game.
Method 1 of 2: Setting Up a Common Backgammon Board Game
Step 1. Understand the backgammon board game
It is important to understand the basics of the backgammon board game before starting to place your pawns on the board game. Here's everything you need to know to start setting up the game board (explanation from the side of one player):
- The game board has 24 narrow triangles called dots.
- The triangles on the game board have alternating colors and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each.
- There are four quadrants: the goal field and the player's outfield, and the opponent's goal field and outfield.
- The goal field of the player is in the right quadrant which is located close to the player (this quadrant is located on the left for the opponent).
- The two goal areas are located opposite each other. The outer planes, which are located in the left quadrant, are also opposite each other.
- The triangles on the game board are numbered from 1 to 24. Point 24 is the point farthest from each player, located on the far left of the opponent's playing field, while point 1 is the far right point on the player's playing field.
- The game points for each player are numbered in opposite directions. A player's 24 point is a 1 point from his opponent, a player's 23 point is a 2 point from his opponent, and so on.
Step 2. Give each player fifteen pawns
It would be easier to set up a game board if each player set up his own pawn. Each player should have a pawn of a different color than his opponent. The pawns of this game are usually white and brown or black and red, although this is not a problem as long as there are two different colors for the pawns.
Step 3. Have each player place two pawns on his 24 point
This point will be the "furthest" point from the goal field, on the far left of the opponent's goal field. When the players set up their pawns on the game board, they must each always place a pawn as a reflection of the other. If this doesn't happen, check the setup rules again.
Step 4. Have each player place five pawns on his 13 point
Point 13 will be on the same side of the board as point 24, which is the rightmost point from the opponent's side. While you can actually set up your pawns in any order, it helps to set them up in a logical direction, to mimic the way your pawns will move across the board when you're trying to achieve a win.
Step 5. Have each player place three pawns on his or her 8 point
The 8 point will be on the same side of the game board as each player's goal area. This point is quite close to the player's goal field.
Step 6. Have each player place five pawns on his 6th point
These pawns are placed on your goal field. Keep in mind that each player has their own numbering system, so the pieces don't overlap.
Step 7. Play the game
Now that you've got your backgammon board set up, you're ready to play the game! Although the rules of the game are a little more complicated than they appear here, here are the basics you need to know to start playing:
- The goal of each player is to move all of his pawns into the goal field, then start removing them from the game board. The first player to get rid of his pawns from the game board wins the game.
- Each player rolls two dice during his turn. Each number on the dice shows how many dots each pawn can move.
- The pawns always move from the same direction, namely from the opponent's goal field, through the two outer fields, and move towards the player's goal field.
- Pawns can only move to open points. An open point is a point that is not occupied by a pawn, occupied by the player's own pawn, or occupied by only one opponent's pawn. A player cannot move his pawn to a point occupied by two or more opponent's pawns because that point has been temporarily "owned" by the opponent.
- The opposing side should try to keep the pawns safe. To keep the pawns safe, try to move them so that each vertex has at least two pawns on it. If you only have one pawn at a point, your opponent can occupy that spot and remove that pawn from play (a spot occupied by only one pawn is called a "spot"). You must start the pawn from the opponent's goal area.
- If a player rolls both dice and gets the same value, then he can move the pawn according to the number of the dice four times. So if you get two dice with a value of three, then you can move any pawn as far as three points four times (the moved pawns can be different).
- After a player has successfully moved all his pawns to his target field, then he can start "removing" his pawns from the game board. This is called "getting the pawns off the board".
- To do this, you must roll the dice to get the value that corresponds to where the pawn is. For example, if you have two pawns at point 5, and your dice rolls are five and three, then you can remove one pawn from point 5, then move the other pawn three points to point 2, or move another pawn on the target plane. If your dice roll exceeds the required value, you can move the pawn (backward) to point 1, but in the end you still have to get a dice of one to remove the pawn from the board.
Method 2 of 2: Setting Up the Backgammon Board for More Game Variations
Step 1. Setting up a backgammon board game
To play a variation of this game, each player will place a pawn on the dots according to their numbering as follows: two pawns at point 24, two pawns at point 23, four pawns at point 13, three pawns at point 8, and four pawns at point 6. You can think of this as setting up a traditional backgammon game, except that you "borrow" one piece from point 13 and another piece from point 6 to move to point 23. Apart from the placement of the pawns, the rules are the same as for a typical backgammon game..
Step 2. Setting up the hyper-backgammon board game
To prepare the board for this game, each player only needs three pawns. Each player must place a pawn at point 24, point 23, and point 22. After that, you're ready to play this fast and exciting version of backgammon. Apart from the number and position of the pawns, the general backgammon rules still apply.
Step 3. Setting up the "long-gammon" board. For this game, each player places all fifteen of his pawns on 24 points. Apart from these unique differences, all other general backgammon rules still apply.
Step 4. Setting up the game board for the Dutch version of backgammon
Preparation for this version of the game is the easiest of all! The game starts with all the pawns off the board, so you don't have to do anything. Although the end of the game is the same, namely removing the pawns off the board, the game starts when you roll the dice to "put" your pawn into the opponent's goal field. In this game, your opponent cannot jump over your pawns unless he has put all his pawns on the game board.
- It is useful to study the backgammon board game in more detail and see some pictures to help you in setting up the board game.
- Once you understand how to set up a backgammon board, be sure to learn how to play backgammon.