Beginners Guide

Let’s start by taking a quick look at some of the things that you can expect to find when you open a backgammon set for the very first time, just to make sure that you have the correct pieces. The main thing is the actual backgammon board and although this can seem a little confusing to being with, it shouldn’t take long to figure out where the pieces go and how they move around the board. Most boards fundamentally look the same, but there is no standard colour or material that they can be made of.

Although the playing board may appear square (or rectangular) in shape, the pieces (which are also known as the ‘checkers’, the ‘men’ or even the ‘stones’) will end up moving around the board, which can be compared to a clock face. So in effect you are playing ‘around’ the table. Unlike in chess where each player occupies one side of the board, you will be utilising both sides of the board, although you will be still sat on opposite sides. Each board will have a total of 30 pieces (15 for each player) as well as two dice per player and also one dice cup to throw the dice. The board should also come with an optional ‘doubling cube’.

You should always move your checkers counter-clockwise, moving from your opponent's home board to your own, making your way around all four sections (aka quarters) of the board. The main objective is to get all of your pieces around to your last quarter of the board (known as the home board) and then ultimately, cleared from the board altogether. You can only start taking pieces from the board (known as bearing off) when all of your pieces are in your last quarter of the board. The player who clears the board first will win the game, usually earning 1 point and the winner is then usually the person who has won 5 games. This can therefore be classed as a race between the two players.

The board is comprised of 24 individual points and players must advance their pieces around these points to eventually get to their home board. The roll of the dice will determine how many spaces your pieces can move. Each dice counts as 1 individual move for 1 piece, so if you throw a 4 and a 2 you could move 1 piece across by 4 spaces and another piece by 2 spaces, or you could move the same piece across by 6 spaces. These pieces need to start in the correct position before the game can begin. For example, to begin with there should be 5 pieces on your 6-point, 3 pieces on your 8-point, 5 pieces on your 13-point and 2 pieces on your 24 point. Your 6-point and 8-point position will always appear on the near sides and the 13 and 24 points will appear on the opposite side, creating a mirror image.


This is a board game, also known as a race game or a dice game which involves strategy, tactics, counting and a little bit of luck.

What is the aim of backgammon?

The aim is to clear your pieces from the board before the other player.

What are the dice for in backgammon?

The aim is to throw the dice to reveal how many spaces one or more of your pieces can move.

Which direction do the pieces (aka checkers) move?

Your pieces will move counter-clockwise, moving from your opponent's home board to your own.

Who wins backgammon?

The player who manages to clear all of his pieces from the board first will win a point and the overall winner is generally the player who wins a total of 5 games, not the best of 5 games.

Which player gets to start in backgammon?

The opening roll will determine which player gets to start. Each player will roll one dice and the player who rolls the highest number will start. If you both roll the same number, you both need to re-roll.

What is the pip count?

The pip count is the total number of points that a player needs to move his pieces home and then bear them off.