Anatomy of a Backgammon Board: Understanding the Layout


Backgammon is a classic board game that has captured the hearts and minds of players for centuries. Its distinctive layout and design make it instantly recognizable, but understanding the anatomy of a Backgammon board is crucial for both novice and experienced players. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the layout and design of a Backgammon board, highlighting key points and features that are essential to comprehend in order to enjoy and excel at this strategic game.

The Backgammon Board: A Bird’s Eye View

Before delving into the specifics, let’s have a general overview of the Backgammon board’s layout. A Backgammon board is a rectangular, hinged game board that folds in half for storage and easy portability. When fully unfolded, the board comprises 24 narrow triangles, known as points, arranged in two rows of 12. These points are alternately colored, forming a distinctive pattern. The board is divided into four quadrants: the home board and outer board for each player.

Now, let’s dissect the Backgammon board and delve into its detailed anatomy.

The Points and Triangles:

The 24 points are the heart of a Backgammon board. They are divided into triangles, which are the spaces on the board where you move your checkers. Each player has 12 points, and each point contains six triangles, forming a total of 144 triangles on the entire board.

The Bar:

At the center of the board lies the bar, which is not a playable point but serves as a divider between the home board and the outer board. The bar is where checkers go when they are hit or captured.

The Home Board:

Each player’s home board is the quarter of the board closest to them, with points numbered from 1 to 6. It is your ultimate goal to move all your checkers into your home board and bear them off from there. This is where you create primes and establish a strong position for bearing off your checkers.

The Outer Board:

The outer board is the quarter of the board farthest from each player, with points numbered from 19 to 24. It’s the area where you try to establish your defense and prevent your opponent from entering their checkers. It’s also where you hit your opponent’s checkers.

The Checkers:

Backgammon checkers come in two sets, usually one set is light and the other is dark. Each player starts with 15 checkers. These are placed on the board according to a specific setup, with two on the 24-point, five on the 13-point, three on the 8-point, and five on the 6-point.

The Dice:

The Backgammon board features a pair of six-sided dice, used to determine the number of spaces you can move your checkers on your turn. The dice play a vital role in the game, introducing an element of luck alongside strategy and skill.

The Doubling Cube:

Not a physical part of the board, the doubling cube is an essential element of Backgammon gameplay. It’s a six-sided cube marked with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. Players can use it to double the stakes of the game, adding an exciting layer of strategy and risk assessment.

The Direction of Play:

Backgammon is played counterclockwise. Each player moves their checkers from the opponent’s home board to their own home board and eventually bears them off. Understanding the direction of play is crucial, as it impacts your strategy and decision-making.

The Pip Count:

The pip count is the total number of points your checkers need to move to reach their destination. Keeping track of the pip count is vital for planning your moves and assessing your position in the game.

The Bar and Bear-Off Tray:

The bar and bear-off tray are located at the edges of the board, adjacent to the home board. The bear-off tray is where you move your checkers when you start bearing them off the board.

The Jacoby Rule:

In some Backgammon variations, players use the Jacoby rule, which states that gammons and backgammons (winning a game with the opponent having checkers in your home board) don’t count unless the cube has been turned. It’s essential to understand the specific rules of the game you’re playing, as variations exist.


Understanding the anatomy of a Backgammon board is a crucial step in becoming a proficient player. Whether you’re a beginner just starting to explore the world of Backgammon or an experienced player looking to hone your skills, a solid grasp of the layout and design of the board is essential. The Backgammon board’s unique configuration, points, and features come together to create a game that is as engaging as it is challenging. So, unfold your board, roll the dice, and dive into the world of Backgammon with a deeper appreciation for its intricate anatomy.

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