backgammon

Hi I'm dozens and this is a backgammon website.

Backgammon is the best random strategy racing game that is kind of like checkers with dice and gambling.

Backgammon is the D&D of strategy board games. You can strategize and plan ahead all you want, but there's always some uncertainty about the outcome because of the fickle whimsy of the dice.

I am still really new at playing but I am trying to get better.

Check out the News section to see what's new!

Colophon

colophon: [noun] an inscription at the end of a book or manuscript usually with facts about its production.

This site is really neat (to me at least) because it is a single HTML file with absolutely no javascript included. All of the "routing" and the image gallery lightboxes are all done with pure CSS. How cool is that? Be sure to peep the source code 👀

Counting Pips

Counting pips is a way to determine the current state of your game. That is, to know who's ahead, and by much.

All it is is counting up how many spaces aways you are from bearing all your pieces off. This is the number that you have to roll on your dice (the number of "pips" that you need) in order to bear off.

I didn't used to care that much about counting pips, but the backgammon app I use on my phone shows each player's pip count, and I have come around to considering it useful, especially when used in conjunction with the doubling cube. For example, I might confidently accept a double if my pip count is much lower than my opponents.

What I don't currently have in my practice is a way to intuitively know the pip count when playing a physical game.

Here's an observation I made.

      24 23 22 21 20 19       18 17 16 15 14 13
     +------------------------------------------+
     | x                |   |                 x |
     | x                |   |                 x |
     |                  |   |                 x |
     |                  |   |                 x |
     |                  |   |                 x |
     |                  |BAR|                   |
     |                x |   |                   |
     |                x |   |                   |
     |                x |   |     x             |
     |                x |   |     x             |
     |                x |   |     x             |
     +------------------------------------------+
      01 02 03 04 05 06       07 08 09 10 11 12
          

If you count up the pips of each point in your starting position, you get, clockwise from the top left, 48, 65, 24, and 30

      24 23 22 21 20 19       18 17 16 15 14 13
     +------------------------------------------+
     |48                |   |                65 |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |                  |BAR|                   |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |                  |   |                   |
     |               30 |   |    24             |
     +------------------------------------------+
      01 02 03 04 05 06       07 08 09 10 11 12
          

So if you play perfectly, you need 167 pips to bear off. (If you get hit, your pip count will go up again when you enter from the bar.)

It's possible then to keep track of your and your opponent's pip count by subtracting rolls from 167 as you go.

I've kind of wanted to use a notebook and pen while playing anyway to keep track of moves so I can study and reflect on games later. Like they did on Queen's Gambit when playing chess. It would also allow me to keep a running pip count as well.

Glossary

Here's what some words mean

Backgammon
it's a board game
When you win the game while your opponent has checkers in your inner board. Worth 4 four points.
Back game
When you're stuck in your opponent's inner board and trying to catch up
Bearing off
Moving a checker off your inner board
Bar
A loney place of sadness. Should be called jail or something honestly.
Blot
a single checker on a point
Doubling Cube
The die with 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 printed its sides.
A sometimes strategic way of increasing the stakes of a game
Gammon
When you win the game while your opponent has checkers in your outer board. Worth 2 points
Hit
When a blot is sent to the bar
Inner board
The six points in the bottom right corner of the board. Once all your checkers are in your inner board, you can start to bear them off and attempt to win the game. Also called your Home Board.
Outter Bourd
The six points in the bottom left of the board
Point
One of the columns on the board
Prime
When you occupy 2 or more consecutive points, making it harder for your opponent to pass.

News! Subscribe to the feed.

Updates!

My old backgammon board has been getting some more use lately! It has become customary to play a five point match on Sundays over coffee and breakfast. A nice tradition! I lose almost every match!

Also added a section on pip counting

Added some additional rules to Bearing Off because at some point a while back I realized I didn't have a firm grasp on how to do it myself.

Finally, added a colophon because i'm hipster like that.

Site update: added Glossary

Site updates! Added a Glossary page. Made some minor tweaks and updates to Rules.

nihilazo vs. acdw super game awesome job!

Got to watch the end of nihilazo and acdw play today. It was a THRILLA! nihilazo was ahead and I was sure about to take the win, but acdw played a strong back game and blocked off almost his entire inner board, so he made an impressive comeback and had nihilazo on the ropes for a minute there before some good rolls and some smart moves allowed nihilazo to regain his edge. It was really down to the last couple rolls, but once acdw had to give up his defense, there was no way he could win the race, and he resigned, giving nihilazo 4 points on a single game (doubled twice), winning the 3-point match. Nail biter! Rollercoaster! Exciting!

Breaking News: Internet person makes internet backgammon website!

Guess what I played like one game of internet backgammon with my friends and it reminded me how much I like the game that I got obsessed and made a whole website about it and now you're reading wtf how crazy is that!

Okay listen up here's how to play backgammon.

Contents:

  1. Setting up the board
  2. Moving
  3. Hits
  4. Bearing Off
  5. Doubling
  6. Scoring

Setting up the board

There 2 dozen points on the board. They are numbered 1 to 24, clockwise from the bottom right to the top right. It looks like this.

    13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
   +------------------------------------------+
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |BAR|                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   |                  |   |                   |
   +------------------------------------------+
    12 11 10 09 08 07       06 05 04 03 02 01
        

The bottom right quadrant is your "inner board". The bottom left quadrant is your "outter board". The top left and right quadrants are not yours.

To set up the board, put 2, 5, 3, and 5 checkers on points 24, 13, 8, and 6.

I don't know where, how, or when it was decided that this is the correct way to set up your checkers. It seems kind of arbitrary. But that's just the way it is, so get used to it.

    13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
   +------------------------------------------+
   | x                |   |                 x |
   | x                |   |                 x |
   | x                |   |                   |
   | x                |   |                   |
   | x                |   |                   |
   |                  |BAR|                   |
   |                  |   |  x                |
   |                  |   |  x                |
   |             x    |   |  x                |
   |             x    |   |  x                |
   |             x    |   |  x                |
   +------------------------------------------+
    12 11 10 09 08 07       06 05 04 03 02 01
        

Your opponent will set up their places in the same way, from their perspective.

    13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
   +------------------------------------------+
   | x           o    |   |  o              x |
   | x           o    |   |  o              x |
   | x           o    |   |  o                |
   | x                |   |  o                |
   | x                |   |  o                |
   |                  |BAR|                   |
   | o                |   |  x                |
   | o                |   |  x                |
   | o           x    |   |  x                |
   | o           x    |   |  x              o |
   | o           x    |   |  x              o |
   +------------------------------------------+
    12 11 10 09 08 07       06 05 04 03 02 01
        

Moving

Your job is move your checkers anti-clockwise around and off the board, from the top right to the bottom right, before your opponent can bear their checkers off.

The way you do this is rolling two 6 sided dice. You can move one piece twice, or two pieces once.

For example, if I roll a 3 and a 1, I could move one checker from point 8 three spaces, and one checker from point 6 one space:

    13 14 15 16 17 18       19 20 21 22 23 24
   +------------------------------------------+
   | x           o    |   |  o              x |
   | x           o    |   |  o              x |
   | x           o    |   |  o                |
   | x                |   |  o                |
   | x                |   |  o                |
   |                  |BAR|                   |
   | o                |   |                   |
   | o                |   |  x                |
   | o                |   |  x                |
   | o           x    |   |  x  x           o |
   | o           x    |   |  x  x           o |
   +------------------------------------------+
    12 11 10 09 08 07       06 05 04 03 02 01

    3-1: 8/5 6/5
        

You cannot end your turn on a point occupied by more than one of your opponent's checkers.

Hits

If your opponent has a single checker on a point, it is called a blot, and if you land one of your checkers on it, you knock it off the board and send it to the bar! Not as enjoyable a fate as you might think. It is not a happy bar.

You can't make any moves until all of your pieces are off the bar and back on the board.

Your piece must re-enter the board from your point 24, so that it must make an entire circuit of the board before bearing off.

Bearing Off

The first player to bear all their pieces off wins.

You cannot start bearing pieces off until all 15 of your pieces are all in your inner board. i.e., they are all occupying points 1 - 6.

Here are the rules for bearing off:

  1. First bear off checkers from the points shown on the dice.
  2. If there are no checkers on the point rolled, you must make a legal move from a higher point.
  3. If there are no checkers on the point rolled or on a higher point, you must bear off from the highest point that still has checkers.

Doubling

The doubling cube is a new addition to the game, added in the 1920s to speed up play.

What it is: a six-sided die with the numbers labeled 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64.

What it does:

Scoring

There. Now you know how to play backgammon. You're welcome.

Tips for how to play good.

Word of caution: I don't know how to play that good. These are merely some strategies that I try to keep in mind while playing.

Fibs is not lies.

Fibs is the First Internet Backgammon Server. It's kind of wild because I think it's running on some kind of MUD software because of how you can say things and look at people and stuff.

Contents:

  1. Connecting
  2. Settings
  3. Playing
  4. Board
  5. After

Connecting

There are clients for it, but I haven't tried any, because I think it's most convenient to just use rlwrap and telnet and jack into it like rlwrap telnet fibs.com 4321.

Then you'll log in as guest, make a user name and password, and that's it! Now you can play!

Settings

It is annoyingly noisy when you first log in, so you'll want to toggle some settings:

Playing

Now you can invite a friend (or stranger) to play with invite dozens 1 for a one point match with dozens.

When I see your invitation, I'll join with join yourname.

When the game starts, autoroll will be on, so you'll roll automatically. And then you'll move with m for as many moves as you want. e.g. if I roll a 3 and a 1, and want to move one checker 3 moves from point 8 and one checker one move from point 6, then I'd enter m 8 5 6 5. I wish you could instead enter m 8 3 6 1 because that seems more intuitive and easy to me, but you can't, so oh well.

Board

fibs uses a board layout I've never seen before, and it is very disorienting at first.

     1  2  3  4  5  6        7  8  9 10 11 12
   +------------------------------------------+
   | x                |   |                 x |
   | x                |   |                 x |
   |                  |   |                 x |
   |                  |   |                 x |
   |                  |   |                 x |
   |                  |BAR|                   |
   |                x |   |                   |
   |                x |   |                   |
   |                x |   |     x             |
   |                x |   |     x             |
   |                x |   |     x             |
   +------------------------------------------+
    24 23 22 21 20 19       18 17 16 15 14 13
        

So you're racing from 1 to 24, from the top left to the bottom left. They reversed the checkers and also the numbering. Everything is totally backwards!

UPDATE: so turns out the board is only flipped like this if you are Xs. That is, if you go second. If you go first, you play Os, and the board is oriented correctly. That makes the numbering make sense I think: the point numbers are the same for both sides. But I still don't know why the board should be mirrored like this for Xs...

After

After a game, you can review the game with oldmoves . This shows you all the game moves, which you can download and save for later to review them if you want.

Lies are not fibs.

Nor are they truths.

These are truths about my backgammon playing career that I hope will one day be lies.

Games I played

Learn more about backgammon

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