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Play Backgammon online

Backgammon is one of the oldest board games. An incredible fascinating game that invites to endless hours of strategic and enjoyable gaming, enjoyed for over 5000 years. Play Backgammon online against the computer or versus a friend:

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This free game opens as a web page. No installation. Mobile friendly.
The online Backgammon game has a low difficulty level and is suited for beginners.
↓ Scroll down for instructions.

How to play Backgammon

A quick introduction to Backgammon for beginners:

To win at backgammon, you first have to move all of your checkers into a part of the board called your “home board” and then remove them one by one before your opponent does the same. While moving your pieces, you kan do all kinds of strategic maneuvers to make it difficult for your opponent and easier for yourself.

Backgammon is a game for two players. There is some luck involved (from rolling dices) but it is usually played in a series of games, and in the end the player that displays superior skill and tactics will win the series by choosing the best moves and by anticipating the opponent’s counter-moves.

Backgammon board

The Backgammon board has 24 long triangles, called “points” (12 on each side in red/white). The points are numbered from 1 to 24.
In the illustration below, the Backgammon board is viewed from the white player’s side (your side), and the points (long triangles) are marked with their values from 1-24:

How to play backgammon - points board

Fig.1 How to play backgammon: The backgammon board with points marked.

Game objective

The objective of the game is to move your pieces (small discs often called “checkers” or “chips”) around the board in the direction of the arrows shown in the illustration below, from the 24-point triangle to the 1-point triangle, and then off the board completely (remove them). The first player to move all his/her checkers off the board, is the winner of the game.

How to play backgammon - moves

Fig.2 How to play backgammon: The movement of your pieces.

BUT you cannot start moving your checkers off the board until ALL your checkers are in your “HOME BOARD”:

How to play backgammon - home board

Fig.3 How to play backgammon: The home board (also called The inner board).

As shown in the illustration, the points 1 through 6 constitutes your HOME BOARD (also called “inner board”). Other parts of the board also have names: The points 7 through 12 constitutes your “outer board”, the 7-point is called “the bar point”, and the 13-point is called “the midpoint”.

Backgammon setup

Each player starts with 15 checkers placed on the Backgammon board as shown in the illustration below. As you can see, you do not start with all your white checkers placed at the 24-point triangle as you might expect. At the start of the game, all your checkers are placed in a determined pattern across the board as follows: Five on the 6-point, 3 on the 8-point, 5 on the 13-point and 2 on the-24 point. Your opponent’s pieces (Red pieces in this online game) will mirror yours, as he sits on the opposite side of the board, and the points on the triangles goes in the opposite direction for him. He will move his checkers in the opposite direction of yours, so his 24-point is the same as your 1-point triangle.

How to play backgammon - setup

Fig.4 Backgammon setup: The starting positions

Backgammon rules

The game begins with each player rolling one dice. The player with the higher number rolled gets to use both dices for the first move.
Each checker is moved separately and can be moved to any point that is not BLOCKED:

When your opponent has two or more checkers on a point, then that point is blocked. (If the point has your own checkers, no checkers, or only one opponent checker, then that point is not blocked, or open.)

A player who rolls two of a kind (both dices show the same number) gets to move double the numbers on the dices.

When moving the same checker with both dice numbers, the intermediate points must be open (not blocked). For example: if you roll a 3 and a 4, you can only move your checker 7 points if point 3 and 4 is not blocked.

A player who moves his checker to a point occupied by only one of the opponent’s checkers (called a “blot”), can “hit” (take) the opponent’s checker and place it on the bar in the middle of the board. When this happens, the opponent is required to return that checker into the game before making any other moves. The checker must be entered back into the game via his/her point 24. If the checker is blocked from being returned into the game, no moves can be made, and the turn goes back to the other player.

Winning the Backgammon game

When you finally have moved all your checkers into your home board, you are able to begin removing them from the board by moving them past the 1-point. This is also known as “bearing off”. The first player to remove all his/her checkers from the board wins the game.
But if one of your checkers is hit by your opponent and placed on the middle bar while you are bearing off, you must move that checker back into the game and all the way to your home board before you can continue removing your checkers.
If a higher number is rolled than you have while bearing off, the farthest checker can be removed.

If a player has no checkers off the board when his opponent has removed all his checkers, it is known as a gammon and is worth a double game.

If a player still has a checker in his/her opponents home board or on the bar and the opponent has removed all his/her checkers, it is known as a backgammon and is worth a triple game.

Backgammon Strategy

Backgammon, while partly a game of luck due to the dice, primarily involves strategic thinking. Understanding the basics of probability, risk management, and positional play is key to becoming a skilled player.

Understand Common Openings: Familiarize yourself with the strongest opening moves. For example, if you roll a 3-1, moving a checker from your 8-point to your 5-point (creating a ‘point’) is often a good strategy.

Balance Safety and Aggression: Avoid leaving blots (single checkers) when possible, but also don’t miss opportunities to advance your checkers or hit an opponent’s blot.

Build a Strong Home Board: Aim to create a ‘full prime’, a sequence of six blocked points, trapping your opponent’s checkers.

Hit and Block: Hitting blots (sending an opponent’s checker to the bar) can set them back significantly, but do this while also trying to block their re-entry.

Plan for Bearing Off: When you’re leading, start moving your checkers into your home board. The goal is to bear off all your checkers first.

Use the Doubling Cube Wisely: In competitive play, understand when to offer a double or when to accept or decline a double offered by your opponent.

Know the Odds: Being familiar with the probability of certain rolls helps in making strategic decisions, like whether to leave a blot or how to block your opponent effectively.

Flexibility is Key: Be adaptable in your strategies. If the game isn’t going as planned, be ready to switch your approach.

Observe Opponent’s Tendencies: Some players are risk-averse, while others take more chances. Adjust your playstyle accordingly.

Stay Unpredictable: Try not to fall into predictable patterns that your opponent can exploit.

Backgammon is a game of skill, chance, and adaptation. The best players are those who continuously learn and adapt their strategies. Whether playing casually or competitively, remember that each game is a new opportunity to apply these tactics and improve your play.

By mastering these tips and tactics, you’ll not only enhance your enjoyment of backgammon but also increase your chances of winning. Remember, practice makes perfect, and each game is a learning experience. Happy gaming!

Backgammon history

The history of Backgammon

Backgammon’s origins can be traced back nearly 5,000 years to the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, particularly in Persia (modern-day Iran). Archaeological discoveries, such as the game of “The Royal Game of Ur” in ancient Sumeria (around 2600 BC) and similar games found in Egyptian tombs, indicate the presence of backgammon’s early ancestors.

Classic backgammon game history

Backgammon from the “Libro de axedrez, dados e tablas” (“Book of chess, dice and tables”, 13th century)

The game evolved over centuries, with variations appearing in different cultures. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was known as “tabula” and “ludus duodecim scriptorum” (game of twelve lines) respectively. The Roman version was particularly popular, and it’s thought that this is where the game began to take a form closer to the modern version of backgammon.

backgammon history

Backgammon from the “Carmina Burana” (“Songs from Benediktbeuern”, 11th – 13th century)

Backgammon in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, the game spread across Europe and the Middle East. It was known as “tables” in England and enjoyed popularity among all social classes. The game underwent further refinement in Europe, and by the 17th century, it started to resemble the modern game of backgammon more closely.


Backgammon from the “Codex Manesse” (book of songs/poetry, 1304-1340)

The 20th Century and Modern Backgammon

The biggest transformation for backgammon came in the 1920s in the United States with the addition of the doubling cube, which introduced a gambling element to the game. This innovation increased the game’s complexity and strategic depth. Backgammon clubs started forming, and the game’s popularity soared.

Today, backgammon is played worldwide, both in casual settings and in professional tournaments. The advent of the internet has also allowed for online play, connecting players across the globe. The game is celebrated for its blend of luck and strategy, its rich history, and its enduring appeal across diverse cultures.

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