backgammon notation magriel

How to Read Backgammon Notation?

Like in chess, it is possible to transcribe a backgammon game using a specific notation. This notation show how the checkers are moving, if one or more are hit , etc. Thus, you can follow a game from the beginning to the end, just by reading it on a paper!

Paul Magriel invented this notation while writing his best seller soberly call : Backgammon. Before him, there were several ways to do it, but he came up with a solution so appealing that everybody adopted it instantly.

This can be confusing for a new player, but after reading this article, you are going to be able to read a backgammon game transcription like you are reading the news.


How does the backgammon notation works?

A backgammon board is composed of 24 triangles called « point ». These points are like coordinates and allow us to know exactly where checkers are on the board.

To transcribe the movement of a checker, we start by writing the roll of the dice, then its starting point followed by a slash and we finish by its landing point.

For instance, if black roll a 6 and a 5 and want to move his checkers all the way to his 13th point, the transcription of the move is :

65 : 24/13.


In this other example, black roll a 3 and a 1 and decide to move two checkers to make his 5th point.

The transcription of the move is :

31 : 8/5 6/5


If a checker is hit during a move, we put a @ on the point that the hit happened.

For instance, in the situation bellow, black roll a 6 and a 2 and decide to hit the lone checker on the 5th points.

The transcription of the move is :

62 : 13/8@


When a checker is on the bar and re-enter the board, the transcription is as follows : bar/point on which the checker enters on the board.

For instance, in the situation bellow, black re-enter both of his checkers by rolling a 2 and a 4.

The transcription of this move is:

42 : bar/24 bar/ 21


When you roll a double and move several checkers to the same point, you don’t need to write down each move individually.

When moving checkers after a double, the transcription is as follows : starting point/ending point (number of checkers you move).

For instance, in the situation bellow, black roll a double 6 and decide to move 2 checkers from the 24th to the 18th points.

The transcription of this move is :

66 : 24/18 (2)


When you start bearing off your checkers, you need to transcribe it as follows : point on which you are taking off the checkers/off.

For instance, in the situation bellow, black bear off 2 checkers after rolling a 5 and a 2.

The transcription of this move is :

52 : 5/off 2/off


Congratulations, you learned how to read the backgammon notation! This will help you discuss backgammon strategy with friends online on forum or social media group.

If you want to practice, this is the transcription of a game between Paul Magriel and Mike Svobodny that you can find in the excellent Bill Robertie’s book « Backgammon for serious players .»

Set up a backgammon board in front of you and try to follow the action until the end. Once it’s done, write the name of the winner in the comment section. Have fun and may the dice be with you!


Black : Paul Magriel

White : Mike Svobodny

1-White 62 : 1/7 12/14

2-Black 21 : 8/7@ 13/11

3-White 62 : Bar/2 1/7@

4-Black 21 : Bar/23 8/7@

5-White 32 : Bar/2 12/15

6-Black 51 : 13/8 6/5

7-White 31 : 2/5@ 2/3

8-Black 31 : Bar/22 6/5@

9-White 55 : Bar/5@ 12/22@ 17/22

10-Black 54 : Bar/20 Bar /21

11-White 32 : 17/20@ 19/21@

12-Black 65 : Bar/20@

13-White 64 : Bar/4 14/20@

14-Black 65 : Bar/20@

15-White 43 : Bar/4 17/20@

16-Black 11 : Bar/24 Bar/23 6/5@

17-White 63 : Bar/3 15/21

18-Black 65 : 13/7 11/6

19-White 53 : 12/20

20-Black 31 : 13/10 6/5

21-White double to 2

22-Black takes

23-White 31 : 12/13@ 19/22

24-Black stays out

25-White 11 : 3/4 19/21 13/4

26-Black 51 : Bar/24 10/5

27-White 55 : 4/9(3) 9/14

28-Black 51 : 24/18

29-White 53 : 9/14 9/12

30-Black 42 : 18/12@

31-White 54 : Bar/4/9

32-Black 65 : 24/18 12/7

33-White 52 : 14/19 9/11

34-Black 32 : 18/13

35-White 64 : 3/13@

36-Black 62 : Bar/23/17

37-White 66 : 11/17@ 13/19 14/20(3)

38-Black 21 : Bar/21 5/4

39-White 43 : 17/21 19/22

40-Black 22 : 8/4 7/3

41-White 52 : 20/off 19/21

42-Black 61 : 23/16

43-White 31 : 19/22 19/20

44-Black 54 : 16/12 8/3

45-White 22 : 20/22(2)

46-Black 63 : 23/14

47-White 65 : 21/off(2)

48-Black 22 : 12/10 14/8

49-White 66 : 21/off(3) 22/off

50-Black 53 : 10/2

51-White 51 : 22/off 22/23@

52-Black 52 : Bar/23@ 7/2

53-White stays out

54-Black doubles to 4

55-White takes

56-Black 53 : 23/15

57-White stays out

58-Black 31 : 8/7 15/12

59-White stays out

60-Black 51 : 12/7 24/23

61-White stays out

62-Black 43 : 23/16

63-Whites stays out

64-Black 44 : 16/4 7/3

65-Whites stays out

66-Black 61 : 24/17

67-Whites stays out

68-Black 31 : 4/1 17/16

69-Whites stays out

70-Black 54 : 16/7

71-Whites stays out

72-Black 43 : 7/4 7/3

73-Whites stays out

74-Black 32 : 7/5 4/1

75-Whites cannot move

76-Black 32 : 5/off

77-Whites cannot move

78-Black 62 : 6/off 6/4

79-White 63 : Bar/9

80-Black 53 : 5/off 3/off

81-White 33 : 9/21

82-Black 63 : 5/off 3/off

83-White doubles to 8

84-Black takes

85-White 22 : 21/off 22/24(2)

86-Black 55 : 4/off(3) 3/off

87-White 41 : 22/off 24/off

88-Black 43 : 3/off 2/off

89-White 65 : 22/off(2)

90-Black 65 : 2/off 1/off

So, who won the game ? To be sure that you did it seriously, precise in your comment the number of checkers left to bear off for the looser.

About the Author: David Ridel

My name is David, I have been passionate about Backgammon for many years now. I play actively live and online to perfect my knowledge and become a backgammon master. It’s a long and difficult process, but I am determined to progress and I hope we will help each other on this website.

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