Backgammon Setup : How to set up a backgammon board

One of the recurrent questions for people who want to play backgammon for the first time is : how to set up a backgammon board ? Obviously, this doesn’t apply when you play backgammon online, because the software set up the board for you. But if you just bought your first backgammon set or just found one in your attic and wonder how it works, you are reading the perfect article. Backgammon Rules is going to tell you all you need to know about the backgammon setup and how to set up the backgammon pieces on your board. 

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What does compose your backgammon board? 

A backgammon set is often presented as a suitcase. Once you open it, you need to find inside several accessories in order to be able to play the game.

backgammon checkers dice
Backgammon Dice and Checkers on a Board

First you need what is called the checkers. As backgammon is a 2 player game, you need to have a set of 15 checkers of different colors for each player. The movement of the checkers on the backgammon board is determined by a roll of two dice. Thus you absolutely need a pair of dice to play backgammon.

You can have one pair of dice for each player, but you can also share one pair with your opponent. The rules say that the dice shouldn’t be thrown by hand, but vigorously shaken in a cup before being thrown. Thus, any good backgammon board set contains 2 cups inside. 

The last thing that you need is another special die, known as the cube or videau. This die is used to double the stakes of the game while playing. It requires a bit more knowledge of the game. If you have it good, if not, it’s not such a big deal.

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How is the backgammon board designed?

You will find 24 triangles on your backgammon board. Those triangles are known as points, and represent the place the checkers can be moved on. In the middle, separating the board in half, you have what is called the bar. This is where your checkers go when they are hit by your opponent.

The 24 points on the board are divided in 4 parts of 6 points each. When facing the board, the  area composed of 6 points on the bottom right is your home. This is where you need to bring all your checkers. The area of 6 points located opposite to your home (the top right) is your opponent home.

In your home (also called inner board), the point the most at the right is your first point, followed by your 2nd, 3rd, 4th point and so on. For your opponent, the same principle applies symmetrically. This is because you are going to move your checkers clockwise, while your opponent is moving them counterclockwise.

Starting position of your checkers on your backgammon board

Before starting any backgammon game, your 15 checkers have to be placed as follows :

  • 5 checkers on your 6 points ;
  • 3 checkers on your 8 points ;
  • 5 checkers on your 13 points ;
  • 2 checkers on your 24 points.
Backgammon board starting setup
Backgammon board starting setup

Your opponent has to place his checkers symmetrically to yours.

Obviously, nothing stops you from having your board setup in an opposite way. What we mean is your home board can perfectly be in the area from the 7th to 12th points on the picture above. As long as you have a good amount of checkers on the good points, you are fine. Some players prefer the way we just showed you, some others prefer to play opposite. We all have our preferences, but our advice is to be comfortable with any backgammon board setup to avoid scratching your head the day you play somebody who set up the board differently.

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1 Comment

  1. Do you know the reasons or the history behind why the pieces are setup they way they are? It seems at least somewhat arbitrary to me. Thank you.

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