This game is always played by two opposing players. The game is played in real time. You can find information about multiplayer games here: How do multiplayer games work?
When opening a new round of backgammon, you can specify various options. First, you specify the stake and limit for your game and select one of the five game variants: Backgammon, Tavli, Portes, Plakoto or Fegva.
You must also specify the game mode here. If you select the “Quick game” option, the playing time for each turn is shortened to 10 seconds. The Blitz game option is available for all selectable backgammon variants except Tavli.
Additional modes include the single game, where a single round of classic backgammon is played, and the match, which is played for a specified number of points (3, 5 or 9).
The board comprises 4 boards that are divided into 6 triangles (“fields”). The player always has the “outer board” to his or her left and the “home board” to his or her right. Players each receive 15 white or black checkers, which are placed on the triangles in the starting position appropriate for the respective variant at the start of the game.
The game variant also determines in which direction the checkers must be moved towards the home board. The respective direction of play is shown by a black arrow on the left-hand side of the board. 2 dice decide how many fields you may move your checkers per turn.
How to play
You move your checkers using the mouse. Click on a checker using the the left-hand mouse button and hold it down until you have moved your checker to the desired triangle.
When rolling the dice, the numbers are not added together. Instead, you can decide if you want to make your move with 1 or 2 checkers. It is up to you which number you use to move a checker. If the dice both show the same number in your turn (“doubles”), you can multiply this number by 4 and move forward by the corresponding number of spaces.
Checkers may only be placed on open fields. This means that you may only move to fields that are not occupied by your own checkers or an opponent’s checkers.
Additional rules of the game depend on the variant and selected mode.
Game modes in detail
If no other mode is selected, the default setting is a single round of backgammon in the classic version. To begin, each player gets a time bonus of 2 minutes for their playing time. The stopwatch starts running as soon as it is a player's turn. If the player completes their turn within 20 seconds, then they will receive a time bonus for the next turn, so their time will be increased again to the initial level of 2 minutes. However, should the player take more than 20 seconds, the player receives no additional bonus time for their next go.
The pace of this game is much quicker. Unlike in the single game, each player receives just 30 seconds at the beginning of the game and the playing time per turn is shortened to 10 seconds. If a player needs more than 10 seconds for their turn, then they will not receive a 10-second credit for their next turn.
In a backgammon match as many rounds as are required are played until one of the players achieves the set number of points. As with the single match the time limit is 2 minutes and the maximum turn time 20 seconds.
In match mode special rules are used with regards to loss of connection: Should there be a loss of connection to the server in the game, the computer assumes the role of the missing player. If the player does not restore the connection, the computer will play the game to the end. As of the end of the game, the player who had lost the connection has 2 minutes to click on the “Next” button to play again in the next round. Failing that, the backgammon match is abandoned. The following points rating applies:
- If the computer wins the game, the victory will not count.
- Should the other player defeat the computer opponent, he/she receives the appropriate number of points.
Special functions & help
In some backgammon variants, the doubling cube doubles the winner’s score. A player can never use the doubling function twice in a row. Should a player use the dice, his/her opponent can either “Take”, “Re-double” or “Pass”.
- With “Take” the proposed opponent’s score is accepted.
- With “Re-double” the opponent’s double is countered by re-doubling and the cube rotated to 4.
- With “Pass”, the player quits voluntarily and his/her opponent wins the game.
Playing a beaver
In backgammon, there is also the possibility to use the strategic move “Beaver”. This means that the player who has just “Re-doubled” keeps hold of the doubling cube and forces his opponent to accept it or give up.
The rule is applied in match mode: If a player reaches the match point, i.e. a point before winning the game, his/her opponent may not use the doubling cube in the next game. In subsequent games, the doubling cube can be, depending on the game mode, reused as usual depending on the variant chosen.
This is where the dice are shaken by the computer. The “automatic dice” function is a special option in the Blitz game mode that will save you precious time.
If it is foreseeable that the opponent's checkers can no longer endanger the outcome of the game, the game can be transferred to the computer using the "Automatic completion” function.
In the game players can remove an opposing player whose turn it is if they exceed the specified time limit. The action "Kick Out" can be selected when the time on the right next to the board has reached “0:00”. In case of a player being kicked out, the computer will take over and play for the removed player until the end of the game.
In general, we distinguish between two main variants: backgammon and Tavli. The 3 other variants, Portes, Plakoto and Fegva, are derived from the Tavli variant.
In this variant, the players move in the opposite direction towards their “Home board”.
For the first roll, each player only uses one die. The player who rolls the higher number begins. He or she may advance his own checkers by the number he/she rolled and by that of which his opponent rolled. After the opening roll, the dice are rolled normally.
If a checker is moved to a field that is only occupied by one opponent's checker, the opponent’s checker is removed. The captured piece is placed on the “bar” in the middle of the board and must be played into the outer board of its owner again. The player concerned may only move his or her other checkers once he has played the checker on the middle bar back in to the game.
Once you have played all of your checkers into your home board, the bearing off begins. For this, you roll as usual and then remove each checker at a time from the game board to the discard pile.
If you manage to bear off all your checkers without your opponent having beared off a single checker, you will win “Gammon”. If your opponent has at least one checker on the bar, the winner has achieved “backgammon”.
Tavli is a version of backgammon which consists of 3 rounds. The aim of the game is to bear off your own checkers as quickly as possible. Each of the three rounds has slightly different rules and starting setups. The differences give rise to different game strategies, which is what makes Tavli exciting.
In addition, you can also start a game with the specific rules of Portes, Plakoto or Fevga; this gives you the option of choosing between five possible game variants.
Round 1: Portes
The rules of Portes differ only slightly from the classic backgammon rules. The game begins with the starting positions for Portes, which are the same as those for backgammon.
At the start, each player rolls one die. The player who scores the higher number begins. The player now rolls both dice again to move.
The winner gets 1 point for a normal win and 2 points if the opponent still has all of his/her checkers on the board.
There is no “Backgammon” (3 points) and no doubling cube.
Round 2: Plakoto
The first fundamental difference with Plakoto is the starting position that the checkers are placed in at the start of the round:
[[image starting position Plakoto]]
From your point of view, all 15 checkers will be placed to the far right on the furthest field of the home board. Those of your opponent will be placed directly opposite to the far left on the furthest field of his or her home board.
Another difference is that individual opposing pieces are not removed, but blocked. If you have placed your checker on a field where one opposing checker is placed, your opponent cannot move that checker again until you move your checker on, releasing his/her checker. As long as your checker blocks an opponent's piece, it is protected and cannot be blocked itself. You may place as many of your own checkers on a field where you have blocked an opponent's stone. As in the normal backgammon game, fields with 2 or more opposing stones cannot be entered. You cannot begin bearing off your checkers until all your checkers are back on your home board.
With Plakoto, there is also another way to win: If you block an opponent's stone on the opponent's starting field, you will win but only if you do not have any pieces left on your starting field. If you have checkers on your own starting field at this point, the game is continued until either your mother checker is blocked (draw) or until you have moved all of your pieces away from your starting field.
Round 3: Fegva
In the third round of Tavli, the checkers of each player are set up diagonal to each other.
From your point of view, all the checkers lie to the far left on the first field of the outer board and your opponent’s checkers lie to the far right directly opposite the furthest right-hand field of your home board.
The direction of play is also important in Fegva: both players play anti-clockwise.
In Fegva, a checker is neither beaten nor blocked. A checker may only be moved to a completely empty field. This allows primes, i.e. 6 checkers of the same colour covering 6 consecutive fields, to be formed quicker than in the other variants. Primes can not be overcome by the opponent, since the range of a die is a maximum of 6 fields, as long as you corner your opponent quickly in this way.
The order in which checkers are moved is important in this variant. Your first checker must pass the starting point of the opponent before you can move to the next checker.
A player may not block all 6 fields in his own starting area. If a player manages to place all of his checkers on the field before an opponent's prime, then the opponent must clear a field of his prime in his next go and let the player pass.
End of the game
The single round is finished as soon as a player has placed all his or her checkers in the rack, thereby winning the game. In match mode, the player who wins is the one who achieves the specified number of points first.
At end of the game the winner gets 1, 2 or 3 points, depending on how well he or she wins:
If the loser has all of his checkers on the backgammon board and at least one in the outer board, the winner will receive 3 points (backgammon).
If the opposition still has all stones on the board (Gammon), then 2 points are awarded.
All other wins will be rewarded with 1 point.
If a player gives up, the victory is considered a “Gammon” if they are at least 60 points in arrears to the other player and have also not beared off a single checker. The computer only accepts a “Gammon” if player A answers the question positively “Do you really want to give up a Gammon?”, and Player B has accepted the withdrawal.
If player A plays a “Beaver”, then he/she holds on to the doubling cube after re-doubling.
For the points classification, this means the following: Player A offers player B the doubling cube, he/she takes it and sets it to double the previous points. If player A now gives up, player B wins and gets twice the points scored for a win. However, if player A accepts, the doubling cube is set to 4 and remains with Player B.
Next to the playing board, a box shows the current doubling potential of the doubling cube. The maximum multiplier is 64.