Backgammon on this Day

Backgammon is a game which probably appeared in England as early as the 10th century.

It is played on a board which opens up to form two equal compartments, each containing two 'tables,' consisting of six long triangular 'points' colored alternately black and white, and numbered.

Each player calls one side of the board his 'inner table' and the other his 'outer table.' One player has 15 white pieces and the other 15 black pieces, similar to draughtsmen.

At the start, white has two men on black's one-point, five on black's twelve-point, five on his own six-point and three on his own eight-point; while black places five men on his own six-point, three on his eight-point, five on white's twelve and two on white's one.

Each player throws two dice and moves any man the number of points corresponding to the number thrown. He may move one man for all the pips on the dice, or move two men, one in accordance with each die; but he cannot move one man the full distance if it is impossible to move in two stages according to the pips of each die.

Each player moves his men from his opponent's inner table over his opponent's outer table, into his own inner table. A man can only be played to a point which is either vacant or occupied by one or more or his own men or only one of his adversary's.

A player getting two men on a single point is said to 'make' that point. A single man on a point is known as a 'blot,' and if the opponent plays to it he hits a blot,' 'takes up' the man hit and places it on the central bar where it stays until it can be played again on to the opponent's inner table on a later throw.

While it is on the bar its owner cannot play any of his other men, nor may he move it from the bar until he throws a number corresponding to a vacant point or a blot on his opponent's inner table.

If a player throws two equal numbers he scores a doublet and plays double his throw.

When a player has moved all his men into his inner table, he is allowed to 'bear them off' (remove them from the board). Each throw entitles him to move a man or men within his own table or to lift men from the points corresponding to the number thrown.

If a player who has begun bearing off throws a number with no man on it, he must move if this is possible. But if he throws a number which he cannot move and from which he cannot bear off, he bears off from the highest point - that is, if he throws a six and the six-point Is empty he may bear off from five.

The first player to bear off all his men wins the game.