Backgammon is a classic board game that combines strategy, luck, and skill, making it a popular choice for tournaments worldwide. To ensure fair play and a level playing field, adherence to backgammon tournament rules is essential. Below are the key guidelines that all players should familiarize themselves with before participating in a backgammon tournament.

Setting Up the Game

The first step in any backgammon tournament is proper setup. Each player starts with 15 checkers, arranged as follows:

  • Two on the 24-point
  • Five on the 13-point
  • Three on the 8-point
  • Five on the 6-point

Players sit opposite each other, and the board is positioned between them. The playing surface must be flat to ensure fair roll of the dice.

The Role of the Dice

The dice play a crucial role in determining a player’s moves. In official tournaments, players must use precision dice and a dice cup to ensure fairness. Here are the guidelines for rolling:

Action Description
Rolling Both dice must be shaken in the cup and rolled out simultaneously.
Legal Roll Both dice must come to rest flat on the board.
Re-roll If a die lands outside the board or on a checker, the roll must be repeated.

Movement and Strategy

Players take turns rolling the dice and moving their checkers accordingly. Here are some movement rules:

  1. Checkers move forward based on the number shown on the dice.
  2. If both dice show the same number (a double), players get to move double the amount (e.g., a roll of double 4 allows for four moves of four spaces each).
  3. Checkers can only move to open points, which are points that are not occupied by two or more of the opponent’s checkers.

Strategic play involves blocking your opponent’s moves while advancing your own checkers toward your home board.

The Doubling Cube

The doubling cube adds an additional layer of strategy by allowing players to increase the stakes of the game. Here are some key points:

  • At any point during the game, a player may propose to double the current stakes.
  • If the opponent accepts, the game continues at the new stakes.
  • If the opponent declines, they forfeit the match, and the proposer wins at the pre-doubled stakes.

Winning the Game

The goal of backgammon is to bear off all your checkers before your opponent does. Here’s how bearing off works:

Bear Off Requirement Description
All Checkers in Home Board Players can start bearing off once all their checkers are in the home board.
Exact Roll Needed A player can only bear off a checker if they roll the exact number needed to move off the board.


Understanding and following these backgammon tournament rules ensures fair competition and enhances the enjoyment of the game. Whether you are a novice or an experienced player, adhering to these guidelines will help you perform your best in any tournament setting.