7 Rules of Backgammon That You Need to Know ...


In order to play the game, you need to be familiar with the rules of Backgammon. Backgammon is a favorite pastime of any Greek family. In mine, we play for competition and a calm afternoon. These are some rules of Backgammon you need to know before you start playing Backgammon.

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Setting up

The first rule of Backgammon is how you set up the board. Each player chooses a color, for example black and white, and then places their pieces around the board. The two sides of the board have twelve long triangles, totaling to twenty-four slots. Slot one of your color should be in front of your opponent. Starting in a corner in front of them and moving clockwise, place 2 white tiles on the first slot and 5 white pieces on the twelfth spot. Then as you continue counting in that clockwise movement, place 3 white tiles on the seventeenth slot and 5 white pieces on the nineteenth slot. These last two tile slots should be on your side of the board. Each stack of pieces should mirror the other side, so where the white pieces are there should be the same amount of black tiles.

Note, if you don’t have a backgammon board, you can play backgammon online, where the board is automatically set up for you. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about losing any pieces and can play anywhere. 


Clockwise and Counter-clockwise

One player will play the game clockwise and the other will play it counter-clockwise. Once you get used to playing this game, you may have a preference. Personally, I like playing counter-clockwise. If you are playing clockwise, then your 2 pieces in slot one should start in the far left corner. Your pieces should move in a clockwise horse-shoe shape. If you are playing counter-clockwise then your 2 pieces in slot one will start in the far right corner and move in a counter-clockwise horse-shoe shape.



The goal of the game is get all your tiles off the board. Holding onto the imagery of playing in a horse-shoe shape, you will want all your pieces to end up on the opposite side, which is the tale end of the horse-shoe, in comparison to its start with your 2 pieces in slot one. You need to get all your tiles in that quarter of the board before you can take them off. Once they are in that quarter of the board, you can roll the die and take off tiles that correlate to the numbers rolled.



Start by rolling two dice. Each die serves as a movable number. Say you roll a 5 and a 6. You can move one tile five slots. Either continue moving that same one six more slots or, if you prefer, you can switch it up and move a different tile six slots. You can land on your own pieces. If your opponent has at least two tiles on a slot, you cannot land on it. If they have one tile on the slot, you can land on it and knock them into the center. In order for your opponent to be able to move, they must roll an open slot number and move their tile from the center to the quarter where their 2 tiles in slot one began. You can move the pieces in any order, so it’s not required that you play the tiles in slot one before you move any others.



Rolling doubles is great! You get to move double the amount of each dice. If you roll double 6s, you can move 4 pieces six slots. Or you may choose to move 2 pieces twelve slots or 1 tile twenty-four slots. If you roll doubles when all your pieces are in the final quarter and you are taking them off the board, you can take four tiles off.


How to Win

The winner of the game gets all their tiles off the board first. Once they are in the final quarter or edge of the horseshoe, you begin rolling and removing the tiles from the board. If you have started to take pieces off the board and your opponent lands on one of your tiles, knocking it into the center, you cannot move any other pieces off the board until you remove that tile from the center and make your way from the start of the horseshoe to the end.


My Tips

You never want to leave your tiles unstacked if you can help it. Your opponent cannot land on a slot if two of your tiles are there. If there is only one, they can knock you into the center and make it challenging for you to win. My suggestion is to make sure your tiles are always doubled if you can. Also, I always run into difficulties if I don’t remove the 2 tiles in slot one early on in the game because they get cornered. Make sure to play those pieces at your earliest convenience.

Backgammon is a fun game to play with family and friends. If you want a more visual explanation of how to play, check out tutorials on YouTube. How long have you been playing Backgammon?

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