Backgammon Variations

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Published: 10/06/2012

With a history stretching back thousands of years and adaptations occurring round the world, it’s no surprise that many Backgammon variations exist. In most of these, pieces are moved in the same way as the traditional game. One of the biggest differences is the way the board is set up initially.

Acey-Deucey – In this game, when the 1-2 is rolled, an extra turn is received, turning the worst possible roll into the best. All other rules follow traditional Backgammon.

American Acey-Deucey – Players start with all of their pieces off the board and roll them into the Opponent’s Home Board one by one. It is not necessary to have all pieces on the board before moving pieces from point to point. When a roll of 1-2 comes up, the player get to take the moves, name any doubles and move accordingly, and then roll once again. If the full roll cannot be taken, the player’s turn ends.

European Acey-Deucey – This game begins with all pieces off the board, just like the American version, and the rule regarding the 1-2 is the same, but doubles are treated differently. The player who rolls doubles moves pieces the same as in regular Backgammon, but the numbers on the bottom of the dice are also played twice each. One other caveat applies to bearing off; pieces must be borne off exactly, so a piece on the 4-point, for example, requires a roll of four to bear off, not five or six. Gammons and backgammons do not apply.

Hyper-backgammon – Using the same rules as Backgammon, each player has only three pieces on the game board, one each on the Opponent’s 1-point, 2-point and 3-point. It makes for a hyper-fast game.

Long-gammon - Using the same rules as Backgammon, each player starts with all 15 pieces on the Opponent’s 1-point. Defensive strategies are the key to success.

Misere Backgammon – Also known as “Backgammon-to-Lose,” this game is won by being the last player to bear off all pieces rather than the first. Games are often very long.

Nackgammon – Each player starts with four pieces in the Opponent’s Home Board rather than two. Games tend to be longer, requiring greater skill, as it is more difficult to run four back pieces than two.

Roll-over – The dice make the difference in this variation. Players are allowed to roll the dice a second time if they do not like the roll they get, or force the opponent to roll again. The roll-over option may be used only once per player per game, so timing is everything.

Dutch Backgammon – All pieces start off the board and must be rolled onto the Opponent’s Home Board one by one. A player is not allowed to bump a blot until at least one of his/her pieces has reached the Home Board.

French Backgammon – All pieces start off the board as in Dutch Backgammon. Doubles are treated as they are in European Acey-Deucey, except the player who rolled them gets an extra turn and immediately rolls again.

Greek Backgammon – In the game known as Tavli, three variations are played as a set: Portes, Plakoto and Fevga. Players share one pair of dice, no doubling cube is used and backgammons do not count as three points. Players may roll the dice while their opponent is still moving pieces. This makes the game very fast. Portes is like traditional Backgammon; Plakoto is like Long-gammon but blots can be “pinned” (trapped) instead of bumped; In Fevga, both players move their pieces around the board in the same direction, with all 15 pieces on a single point diagonally opposite the opponent’s pieces to start and Home Boards are diametrically opposed, too. In Fevga, there is no hitting, a single piece can hold a point and blocking is the predominant strategy.

Russian Backgammon – Both players enter their pieces on the same Home Board and race in the same direction to the opposite Home Board to bear off—a true race. Doubles are treated in the same way as European Acey-Deucey.

Trictrac – This version of Backgammon born in France has evolved from a very complex game, with scoring according to positions and movements, into what now resembles the standard game played worldwide.

Published on: 10/06/2012

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