Internet Backgammon: how to play

Backgammon is a popular two-player board game with pieces called stones. The deceivingly simple goal? Move all your stones off the table first. Now you can play this game against other people over the Internet.

Show all

To start a game

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click Internet Backgammon.

    (Don't see it? Check Where are my games?)

  3. Click Play.

    If your computer is connected to the Internet, the game will start. If not, you'll be prompted to connect. Internet Backgammon works only if you're online.

To customize the game's appearance

You can select different pieces and boards.

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click Internet Backgammon.

    (Don't see it? Check Where are my games?)

  3. Click the Game menu, and then click Change Appearance.

  4. Make your choices, and then click OK.

To chat with your opponent as you play

Internet Backgammon has two dozen text messages you can use for letting an opponent know what's on your mind.

  1. To make sure chat is turned on, click the on button under Chat in the lower-right corner.

  2. In the lower-left corner, click Select a message to send, and then click one of the pre-written phrases.

Picture of Internet Backgammon
Internet Backgammon

Internet Backgammon: rules and basics

The object

Be first to remove all your stones from the board.

The board

Backgammon is a two-person game played with pieces called stones. Each side—Brown and White—starts with 15 stones.

Stones are placed on a board consisting of twenty-four narrow triangles. The triangles—called points—alternate color and are arranged into quadrants of six triangles each.

Points on each side are numbered 1 to 12. The board is divided by a center partition called the bar.

To the right of the board, you'll see a pip count. This is the total number of points you must move your stones to remove them from the board (called bearing off in backgammon). The pip count starts at 167 points.

To bear off your stones, you'll have to move them all counterclockwise from the 1-point at the upper-right corner of the screen to the 1-point at the lower-right corner of the screen.

How to play

Moving stones

To decide who goes first, each player clicks the Roll button to throw a single die. The player with the higher number wins. Players then alternate turns, each rolling two dice.

The numbers determine how far you can move your stones. For example, if you roll a 4 and a 2, you can move one stone four points counterclockwise—then move either the same stone or a different stone two more points. (If you roll doubles, you can play the numbers on both dice twice, moving up to four stones.)

To move a stone, click it, drag it to a new point, and then click again to release. Windows won't allow illegal moves. When you hover over or click a stone, solid diamonds appear next to points where you can legally move it.

You can move a stone across enemy-occupied points. But your stone can land only on points containing either your own stones or fewer than two of your opponent's pieces. A point with two or more enemy stones is closed and off limits.

If a closed point allows you to use only one roll, you must play the higher number. If neither roll is possible, you lose your turn.

Bearing off

To start removing (or bearing off) stones from the board, you must first have moved all 15 stones into your home table—the six points in the lower-right quadrant of the board. You bear off a stone by moving it off the board to the right.

Blots

A point occupied by a single stone is called a blot. If your opponent's stone lands on your blot (or hits it in game lingo), that stone is banished to the bar. If you have stones on the bar, you must move them back into play before you can move any other pieces.

If all 6 points on your opponent's home table are closed, you're stuck on the bar. You'll have to wait until your opponent creates an open point.

Scoring

Each game has a value of 1 point. You can increase the value of a game by doubling. When you click the Double button, your opponent must either accept the double or resign.

If your opponent accepts, your opponent is then free to double again. If you accept, the right to use the Double button returns to you. This can continue until players reach the maximum 64 points. The changing game value is tracked by the doubling cube on the right of the board.

If you've borne off all your stones before your opponent has borne off any stones, the game is called gammon. You receive double the game score.

If you've borne off all your stones before your opponent has borne off any, and your opponent has a stone on the bar or in your home table, the game is called backgammon. You receive triple the game score.

Resigning can impact your score in various ways, depending on how you do it. If your opponent offers to double the score and you choose to resign, your opponent wins whatever points were at stake prior to the offer.

If you resign in the middle of play by clicking the Resign button, you must concede a certain number of points to your opponent.

Tips and hints

Give 'em a nudge. Is your opponent intentionally stalling, or slowing down the game hoping to make you quit? Watch for the Nudge button to appear. By clicking it, you'll force the other player to make a move, or be disconnected from the game.

Closing time. Close your 5-point and 7-point as quickly as possible. If necessary, use the stones on your opponent's 12-point to help. Next close your 4-point, then any additional points on your home table.

Protecting blots. When moving a stone out of your opponent's home table early in the game, get it as near as possible to your opponent's 12-point. Moves to the 9-point or the 7-point should be avoided, as they make the blot too easy to hit.

Splitting runners. You can split the two stones (called runners) on your opponent's 1-point early in the game. But it's generally advised to leave them alone early in the game unless they can hit a blot or be moved together. This could happen by rolling 6 and 6, or 4 and 4, for example.

Creating primes. Hit a blot on your 5-point, even if you have to leave a blot, with the expectation of covering it on your next move. This can lead to a series of six adjacent closed points (called a prime)—a barrier that puts you in a strong position to win.

Watch pip counts. The pip counter tracks how many points you must move to bear off your stones. If your count is much higher than your opponent's, you might want to play more aggressively than if your pip count was lower.

Figure your end game. If your opponent offers to resign, you can refuse and try to get a gammon, which will double the points shown on the doubling cube.