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How to Play Backgammon

Updated on November 23, 2009

Backgammon or an earlier version of the game probably originated in Mesopotamia at least 5,000 years ago. A board suitable for the game was discovered during an excavation at Ur of the Chaldees, an ancient Sumerian city. Excavations at Babylon have also yielded boards, dice, and counters. The game was played in ancient Greece and Rome and was extremely popular in 17th-century France and England. The game as we know it, became popular in the United States in the 1920's.

Backgammon a game in which two players move checker-like counters around and off a marked board by alternate rolls of the dice.

The board consists of 4 sections. Each section has 6 wedge-shaped spaces in alternating colors. The two players move their 15 counters in opposite directions along the same course of 18 spaces (3 sections) and then across the 6 points of one's home table, from where the counters are borne off, or removed, from the board. The first player to bear off all of his counters wins. If the loser fails to bear off a single counter, he is "gammoned" and loses a double stake; if, in addi#tion, the loser has one or more counters still in his opponent's home table, he is "backgammoned" and loses a triple stake.

The players sit across the board from each other, moving their counters in opposite directions. With each roll of the dice a player may move either one piece for the total number rolled or each of two pieces the number of points shown on each die. For example, if the numbers 3 and 6 are rolled, a single counter may be moved 9 spaces, or two counters may be moved 3 and 6 spaces respectively. A roll of "doubles" entitles the player to twice the total count of the dice. A counter may not be advanced, however, to a space occupied by two or more enemy pieces. If a player lands on a space occupied by one enemy counter, a blot, his counter remains on the space. The enemy counter is temporarily removed from the board. It is returned to play at the farthest space from home, and its owner may move no other counter until it is re#turned to play.

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