Brief Introduction to Backgammon Game
If you haven’t yet heard about Backgammon or played it, you’re certainly missing out on a fun little board game. For the uninitiated, Backgammon is a board game comprising twenty-four triangular pillars known as points. Each player gets 15 checkers (generally black & white, or white & red). The points indicate spaces where players can move their checkers. The board divides itself into two by its central bar. Whenever a player’s checkers are hit, they are placed in this middle section.
Each player’s objective in Backgammon is to be the first player to bear off all fifteen checkers from their starting position. Players take turns in rolling dice and moving checkers accordingly. To begin, each player goes for a single die roll. The player having the higher roll usually goes first; in case of a tie, the players roll one more time. The doubling cube adds an element of strategy to the game, indicating the opportunity to double the game’s value at one point. However, in this piece, we’ll focus on unique situations where your checkers get hit or taken down by the opponent and make a re-entry into the board afterward.
Getting Hit or Taken-Down
A point occupied by a single checker is commonly referred to as a blot. When an opposing checker lands on a blot, it is said to be hit and placed on the bar that runs along the board’s center. If the player has one or more checkers on the bar, the only allowable action is re-enter the same checker(s) back into the opponent’s home board.
The same applies to hitting an opponent’s blot. If your checker lands on the opponent’s blot, the opponent’s checker will be removed from the board and put on the bar. This is called “hitting” your opponent’s blot. Depending on the rolled dice, you can remove more than one of the opponent’s checkers at a time.
How Do You Re-Enter the Board in Backgammon?
During match play, a checker can re-enter the board by rolling the dice and moving it to an open point corresponding to either of the numbers on the rolled dice. For example, if a player rolls 4-5, they can re-enter a checker onto either the opponent’s four or five points, except when a minimum of two opponent checkers occupies the spot. It is essential to note that the specific number required to re-enter should appear on at least one die. You cannot use the sum of both dice to make a re-entry.
If the player fails to find an open point, he forfeits his turn. If a player can enter a few but not all their checkers, they must push for entry of as many checkers as possible and subsequently relinquish the remaining dice rolls. After your final checker has been (re)-entered, you can play any unused numbers on the dice. You can do this by moving either the checker that re-entered or any existing checker on the board.
When your opponent builds a six-prime in the opposing home board, and you still have a checker on the bar, there isn’t anything you can do as you are “closed out.” Since there are no available points to re-enter, you forfeit your dice roll. The checker remains immovable on the bar until your opponent decides to open one of the points on their home board.
If you have managed to close out your home board and your opponent still has at least one checker on the bar, it is a solid opportunity to attain momentum and be ready to bear off. There’s a high chance to win by a gammon or backgammon in such a situation. However, you will need to move carefully as you can still stand to lose from this secure position.
Is double valid if I have a checker on the bar?
Yes, you can double as long as it’s your turn and you’re yet to roll the dice. This also includes turns where you don’t get to roll as you have a checker on the bar and your opposing home board is closed. However, you may need to request your opponent to wait before rolling to consider your double. They may even roll faster since you don’t have a play with the dice.
When the checker has re-entered, can I move my other checkers?
Yes, though it’s possible only when there are no other checkers on the bar. You must first enter all of your checkers from the bar before moving any existing checkers on the board. Nevertheless, once checkers from the bar have re-entered the board, you can use your remaining dice rolls to resume moving any checkers around the board.
Is there a specific limit to the total number of checkers on the bar?
No limits apply to the number of checkers on the bar at any point. While it is common to see one or two checkers on the bar, higher numbers are always possible.