Most are familiar with the books
entitled  'Dummies'
I say dummies because this
particular phrase covers a whole library of reference and text books that adopts
the premise of teaching you how to do this and how to do that. It takes the
pretext that the person reading it is in fact a ‘dummy', or not too clever,
therefore the book has been written to satisfy this particular person's ability
in mind. A slightly condescending approach one could say but never the less the
books have sold in their millions, which only goes to prove that there are a lot
of dummies about.
With this thought in mind it is
perhaps a good time to reevaluate the game of backgammon in the same way, with
the ‘dummy' approach to backgammon.
First of all the basics are easy
and should not be considered difficult even for dummies:
The game is played by two
players, across a board, be it on or offline. The board consists of twenty pour
points or long triangles; shaped like spear points. These are separated by a
divide right down the middle called a bar, which divides the home board from the
outer board. The points are numbered from 124, for player one but for player
two the numbers are opposite.
In this case player one home
point is number 1 whilst player two is 24. They both have 15 pieces each, or
stones or chequers or whatever you prefer to call them, but these are the pieces
that are moved, your little soldiers. The players start with two pieces on
their Twentyfour point, five pieces on the Thirteen Point, three on their eight
point, and five on their six point.
There are two other pieces that
you need  the dice and a doubling cube, though not all games are played with
the doubling cube. Oh and you could also use a dice cup if you're playing
offline. The dice is how you move the pieces; the number rolled being the number
of spaces you move with your pieces. How you move them, that is the question!
Take a six and a two; you could move eight spaces, or one two pints forward and
the other six points. The direction is always towards the home board, which is
anticlockwise. All right so far? Why? Because as soon as all the pieces are on
your home board; you start to get rid of them  or bear off.
There is always a chance of an
intermediate roll, which means if the space is empty, or unoccupied by the
opposition pieces, then they can position their pieces there. Should a double be
thrown, then as the name suggests you double your movement; this means four
moves instead of two, and the rule about intermediate points still applies.
Players must move unless it is
impossible to do so. In other words whatever the throw you must try to move
somewhere to accommodate the dice thrown. That could mean the best or largest
movement on the board into a vacant position. However if you can't move
anywhere, you forfeit the turn and the momentum goes to the other player.
This is best described as an open
point and a closed point. A closed point has more than one of the opponent's
pieces on it on it. But a point with only one opposition piece on it is up for
grabs and is called a blot. Hit the blot and that piece goes to the bar until it
is able to be returned to the game. Bar  the divide between the two halves.
Still with it? Good, now we come
to the finale'  bear off. The idea is simple throw the right number and the
pieces on the home board that you would now have accrued are taken off the
board. If you can't move exactly the number thrown, then the nearest highest
point occupied will be the piece moved. Once, all the pieces have been removed,
the first one to do so is the winner.
Those are the basics, but there's
a bit more involved, and that's to do with the scoring. Should the game end and
the opposition has at least one piece off the board, they only lose the point
value shown on the doubling dice. But if they have not been able to bear off a
single piece, then that player is 'Gammoned', and loses twice the point value
shown on the doubling cube. A 'Backgammon' is when the game is lost, first
without any pieces being removed and second, still having pieces on the outer
board. This will involve win points to the value of three times the doubling
cube.
The doubling cube has been
mentioned, and was introduced in the 1920's. It is really the thing that sets
the odds in place for the game. It is the wager tool. Use it or refuse it. That
is the essence of the doubling cube. As it doubles the stake of the players up
to 64 times, getting increasingly more expensive as it passes back and forth
between the players who either accept it or not, that being said, reject it and
you lose.
So these define the real basics
of the great game, and like everything it is really only a beginning. Mastering
it takes dedication and practice and a lot of play, but where better to start
than at
www.play65.com where you can do just that for fun, or for the more
adventurous, for real money. Check out there online school for more indepth
useful hints and tactics.
Happy Gammoning!
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