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Backgammon - What is it?

Well, quite obviously it's a game and one you can play online or it wouldn't likely be featured here on Not your fault of course, I wrote the stupid heading after all.

The point of backgammon is to move your pieces off the playing board before your oponent does the same. You roll the dice, move your pieces around the board and eventually out of play. It sounds simple, but it's actually a very complex and competitive game.

In the simplest sense, you roll two six sided dice and move either two pieces (checkers), each the number of pips shown on one of the dice, or move one piece spaces equal to the combined total of the pips shown. If you roll doubles however, treat the roll as if you threw four dice with the same number. So a roll of 4, 2 would mean either moving one piece 4 spaces and one piece 2, or moving one piece 6 (4 + 2), while a roll of 4, 4 would mean moving four pieces 4 spaces, two pieces 8 spaces each (4 + 4 x 2), one piece 4 spaces and one piece 12 (4 + 4 + 4) or one piece 16 spaces (4 + 4 + 4 + 4)!

The trick with moves in backgammon however is the number of pieces on any given point (the spikey looking colored triangle shaped spaces). You cannot finish a move on a point where your opponent has two or more checkers. If they only have one however (called a blot), you can land on it (called hitting) and place it on the center bar. To return a hit piece to play you must roll a number equal to an open point on your openent's home board - a dangerous place to be. Obviously you want to try to protect your pieces by keeping them doubled up when in harms way.

Did I mention that players move in opposite directions? Now maybe you can see where backgammon goes from lucky tosses of the dice to a complex game of skill. For detailed rules, visit our backgammon rules page.

Backgammon - A Brief History

Backgammon finds its roots in ancient Egypt with a game called senet, but has travelled the world and evolving through European and Asian variants. The game goes back thousands of years with modern backgammon finally hitting the scene in the early 1600s.

Called "Gammon" in Scotland, "tric-Trac" in France, "Puff" in Germany, "Tablas Reales" in Spain, "Tavole Reale" in Italy, "Vrhcáby" in the Czech Republic and "Shesh Besh" in Arabic speaking countries, the term "Backgammon" is said to come from either the Saxon "bac" (back) "gamen" (game) or the Welsh "back" (little) "gammon" (battle).

The addition of the doubling cube (double your bet, double your fun) was part of backgammon's popularuty spurt before World War One. Then it trailed off a bit until the 1970s when it surged again. The advent of the Internet and online backgammon lead to another surge through the 1990s and into today where millions of people the world over play online for fun and profit. Click the banner below for one such online backgammon parlor.

Variants of modern backgammon are now played the world over. Visit our Backgammon Games page to learn about the variants and where each is popular.

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