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Backgammon: Rules of the game

Backgammon is a board game for two players.

The backgammon board consists of 24 long triangles (also known as points or pips). Six adjacent points constitute a board. Points 1 to 6 are called the home board or home field and points 7 to 12 are called the outer board or outer field.

Each player starts the game with 15 checkers, 2 dice, 1 cup and a special cube called the doubling cube. The players move their checkers around the board according to the numbers on the dice they have rolled.

To win, you must move all of your checkers (also known as men) into your home board, and then remove them from the board. The checkers are moved in a clockwise direction. The winner is the first player to remove (or bear off) his or her 15 checkers from the board.

At the start of the game, the checkers are positioned in the following way:

At the start of the game, you roll a single die at the same time as your opponent. The player with the higher number starts the game using the number on his or her own die and the number rolled by his or her opponent. Should both players roll the same number, the dice must be rolled again.

Moving one’s checkers

The players take it in turns to roll both of their dice. They then move one or more checkers around the board according to the numbers on shown on each of the two dice. For example, if you roll a 2 and a 4, you may either:

- Move one checker 2 points (triangles) forward and another checker 4 points forward.
- Move one checker 4 points forward and another checker 2 points forward.
- Move the same checker 2 points forward and then 4 points forward.
- Move the same checker 4 points forward and then 2 points forward.

Important! You cannot directly move the same checker 6 points forward. You must make the movement in two distinct moves: 4 points and then 2 or 2 points followed by 4.

If you roll a double (e.g. 3 and 3), you move the equivalent of twice the amount shown on the dice. A roll of 3-3 thus allows you to move your checkers four times three points.

Blocked point

A checker is allowed to land on any point that is not blocked. A destination point is blocked if it is occupied by at least 2 opposing checkers.

You are free to land your checkers on:

- An empty point
- A point occupied by one or more of your own checkers
- A point occupied by a single opposing checker

“Hitting” a checker

Landing your checker on a point occupied by a single opposing checker allows you to “hit” this checker, which means that it is removed from the game and placed on the “bar” in the middle of the board.

Re-entering checkers

If you have one or more checker(s) on the bar, you must re-introduce it/them into the game before you can move any of your other checkers. To reintroduce a checker, you must roll a number which allows you to reach a destination point that is not blocked. Checkers on the bar must re-enter the game in your opponent’s home board.

If the numbers you have rolled only allow you to reach blocked points, it is impossible to re-enter the game. Therefore, you must miss your turn and wait for the next opportunity to attempt to re-enter the game.

Removing your checkers from the board

When all of your checkers are in your home board, you must bear off, i.e. remove your checkers from the board.

Bearing off means that you definitively remove your checkers from the game. If one of your checkers is hit while you are in the process of bearing off, you are prevented from removing other checkers until the checker that has been hit re-enters the game and returns to your home board.

The initial stake for a game is 1 point. This point is awarded to the player who is first to bear off all of his or her checkers. However, a player who feels that he or she is in a dominant position in a game may offer to double the stake for the game. His or her opponent may then:

- Pass: the game is conceded and the point is awarded to the opposing player.
- Accept the double: the game continues and the stake is doubled.

NB: The right to redouble the stake belongs exclusively to the player who last accepted a double.

The winner of the game wins the number of points at stake.

There are 3 ways to win:

- By bearing off your checkers before your opponent.
- Your opponent abandons the game.
- Your opponent refuses to accept your proposal to double the stake.

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