When you find something really good, there’s no need to improve upon it. Take the game of backgammon for instance. It’s been around for a long, long time, but the game of backgammon has not changed. No one has created a version with blinking lights, or made it more extreme. That’s because backgammon is easy to learn, fun to play and you can finish a game in just a few minutes. How can you improve on that?

The main objective in backgammon is to move all of your game pieces from one side of the playing board to the other, eventually removing your pieces from the board. If you are the first player to move all of your pieces off the board, congratulations–you are the winner.

On alternate turns, each player rolls two dice. The numbers rolled will determine how many spaces the game pieces can be moved. The individual number on each dice represents each of two different moves. For example, if you roll a 4 and a 3, then you can move one game piece four spaces and the other piece three spaces. You also have the option of moving one game piece seven spaces.

Whenever possible, it is essential that the active player use both of the numbers rolled. When only one number can be used, the player must play that number. If neither of the numbers can be used, play moves on to the opponent. If they roll two many numbers, then the player can move as many spaces as there are available. On each move, a game piece can be moved on to an open point, a point protected by you, or a point with only one of your opponent’s pieces on in.

If you roll a double, you are able to play twice the number shown on the dice. For example, if you roll two threes, then you can move four pieces each three spaces, or you can move one piece twelve spaces.

The game is finished when one player removes all of his or her playing pieces by “counting off”. The loser then determines how many points are lost. If the loser has removed at least one game piece, he or she loses only the value showing on the doubling cube. If, however, no pieces have yet been removed, the losing player is “gammoned” and loses twice the value of the doubling cube. Backgammon occurs when the losing player has not yet taken pieces from the board AND still has pieces in play in the “vertical” area of the board. In this case, that player loses triple the value of the doubling cube dice.

Backgammon rules can seem confusing at first, but it really is a very easy game to learn and to play. The best way to learn is to play with someone who understands the game, and keep a copy of your backgammon rules close at hand.

By Angel Sanchez
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