Backgammon Terminology: A Beginner’s Glossary

Backgammon is a game of strategy, skill, and tradition. As with any game, Backgammon has its own set of terminology and jargon that players use to communicate and strategize. If you’re new to the game, understanding these terms can seem like a daunting task. However, fear not! In this beginner’s glossary, we’ll break down the common Backgammon terminology to help you grasp the essentials and navigate the game with confidence.

1. Board

The Backgammon board consists of 24 narrow triangles called points. These points are arranged in two rows of 12. Understanding the layout of the board is crucial for planning your moves.

2. Home Board

Each player’s inner board is called their home board. It’s the quarter of the board closest to them, and it’s where they aim to bear off their checkers to win the game.

3. Outer Board

The quarter of the board farthest from each player is called the outer board. It’s where your checkers start when you’re entering them into the game.

4. Point

A point is a single triangle on the board where checkers can be placed. The board has 24 points in total, each numbered from 1 to 24.

5. Bar

The bar is the center of the board, which divides the two sides. When a checker is hit and sent to the bar, it must re-enter the game from there.

6. Checkers

Checkers are the game pieces used in Backgammon. Each player has 15 checkers of their own color.

7. Blot

A blot is a single checker on a point, making it vulnerable to being hit by an opponent and sent to the bar.

8. Hit

To hit an opponent’s blot means to land on a point occupied by only one of your opponent’s checkers, sending it to the bar.

9. Bear Off

Bearing off is the process of removing your checkers from the board to the home board when you’re in a position to win.

10. Dice

Backgammon is played with a pair of six-sided dice, which determine how far you can move your checkers on your turn.

11. Doubling Cube

The doubling cube is a special die with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64, used to increase the stakes of the game. Players can offer a double, and their opponent can accept or decline.

12. Gammon

A gammon occurs when the losing player has not borne off any checkers and still has checkers in the winner’s home board. It counts as double points.

13. Backgammon

A backgammon is when the losing player has not borne off any checkers and still has checkers in the winner’s home board and on the bar. It counts as triple points.

14. Anchor

An anchor is a point in your opponent’s home board occupied by two or more of your checkers. It serves as a safe point for re-entering hit checkers.

15. Crawford Rule

In match play, the Crawford Rule prevents the leading player from doubling in the game immediately following the Crawford game. It’s often used in tournament settings.

16. Jacob’s Rule

Jacob’s Rule, also known as the Jacoby Rule, stipulates that gammons and backgammons only count if the doubling cube has been used during the game.

17. Hit and Enter

When you hit an opponent’s blot and move your checker to their home board, you must have an open point to enter your checker.

18. Split

A split involves moving one checker from a higher point to a lower point in your home board, which can be a strategic opening move.

19. The Bar Point

The 24-point in your home board is often referred to as the bar point. It’s a critical point for making anchors and blocking your opponent.

20. Bearing In

“Bearing in” is the process of moving your checkers from the bar to your opponent’s home board, usually after being hit.

21. Bar-Off

Bar-off is when you bear off checkers from the bar to your home board, getting them closer to winning.

22. Hitting Loose

Hitting loose involves hitting an opponent’s blot with the intention of immediately re-entering your hit checker to make a new anchor or a point in your home board.

23. Back Game

A back game strategy is when you’re significantly behind in the race, and you focus on creating anchors and points in your home board to slow down your opponent.

24. Race

The race is the phase of the game where both players are primarily focused on racing their checkers to bear them off as quickly as possible.

25. Closing Out

Closing out is a strategy where you’ve established a prime in your opponent’s home board, making it difficult for them to move their checkers.

26. Chouette

Chouette is a multiplayer variant of Backgammon where one player takes on a team of other players.

27. Nackgammon

Nackgammon is a Backgammon variant played without the doubling cube, making it faster-paced and more aggressive.

28. HyperGammon

HyperGammon is a simplified version of Backgammon, played with just three checkers per player and no doubling cube.

29. Match Play

Match play involves playing a series of games, and the first player to reach a predetermined point total wins the match.

30. Money Play

Money play involves playing individual games for stakes, often with each game having its own value.

31. Race to the Ace

In a Race to the Ace, both players race their checkers to their respective 1-points (ace points) to bear off, making it a thrilling endgame.

32. Slots and Point-Making

“Slotting” involves leaving a single checker on a point in the hope of making it later, while “point-making” is the process of creating new points on the board.

33. The Golden Point

The golden point is the 7-point in your home board. It’s considered one of the most crucial points for building a strong position.

34. Split and Slot

“Split and slot” is an opening move strategy where you split your back checkers and slot your 8-point to create an anchor and a point for later use.

35. Early, Middle, and Late Game

Backgammon is often divided into these three phases, each requiring different strategies and approaches.

36. Priming Battle

A priming battle is when both players are creating prime points to trap their opponent’s checkers.

37. Dance

In Backgammon, a dance is when a player continually fails to roll the exact number needed to bear off a checker, leading to frustrating delays in the game.

38. Opening Roll

The opening roll is the first roll of the game, setting the tone for the initial moves and strategies.

39. Timing

Timing refers to the balance of movement between your checkers, ensuring you can respond effectively to your opponent’s moves.

40. Anchor-Game and Blitz

An anchor game is when you establish anchors in your opponent’s home board, while a blitz is an aggressive strategy to hit and block your opponent’s checkers.

41. Checker Play

Checker play involves the actual moves you make with your checkers, such as bearing off, hitting, or slotting.

42. The Cube Action

Cube action refers to the decisions involving the doubling cube, including when to offer a double, accept, or decline it.

43. Dead Checker

A dead checker is a checker that can no longer affect the game’s outcome, often trapped behind a prime.

44. Woolsey’s Law

Woolsey’s Law is a famous Backgammon principle that advises players not to make a point if doing so leaves a blot that their opponent can hit.

45. Bar Play

Bar play involves strategically using checkers on the bar to re-enter the game, make anchors, or hit your opponent.

46. Quads and Sambas

“Quads” is when you roll a double 6, and “Sambas” is when you roll a double 1. These rolls have distinctive names and significant impacts on the game.

47. Recube

A recube occurs when the doubling cube is offered again after a player has accepted the original double. It can lead to even higher stakes in the game.

48. Baffle Box

A baffle box is a device used in online Backgammon to ensure that dice rolls are random and fair.

49. Blitz Board

A blitz board is a game position where one player is aggressively bearing off their checkers, leaving their opponent struggling to catch up.

50. Prime vs. Blitz

“Prime vs. blitz” refers to the strategic battle between creating prime points to trap your opponent and using a blitz strategy to aggressively advance your checkers.


Backgammon is not only a game of skill but also a game of language. As you embark on your Backgammon journey, this glossary will be your guide to understanding the terminology that seasoned players use. With practice and experience, you’ll become fluent in Backgammon’s unique language, allowing you to strategize and communicate effectively. So, set up your board, roll the dice, and immerse yourself in the world of Backgammon, where every term you’ve learned adds depth to the game.

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