A Guide to Online Backgammon
Backgammon is one of the most well-known board games ever created, but how many of us actually know how to play it? In the digital age, backgammon can be played at new online casinos with help of a laptop, mobile phone, or tablet just as on a traditional board, but it tends to be pretty intimidating for newcomers (like chess). Still, it’s not actually as complicated as it may appear at first once you give it a try. In this guide, we’ll explore the history of backgammon, the differences between playing online and offline, as well as some key strategies to help improve your chances of coming out on top.
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The Beginnings of Online Backgammon
The traditional game of backgammon is believed to date back thousands of years – even as far as 3000 B.C. – outdating chess, another of the world’s most iconic board games. From this primitive beginning, backgammon went on to become popular throughout Europe, and survived multiple attempts to outlaw it, which birthed the concept of folding boards (for more subtle storage).
Backgammon eventually emerged as a hit in America, becoming hugely popular in the early 20th century. The internet’s development allowed designers to create online backgammon games, as well as software to analyse games for future reference. The first real-time play between online competitors started in 1992, with the First Internet Backgammon Server, and online backgammon has continued to become more widespread since. Various websites offer the classic game to players from all over the world today, catering to fans of all experience and skill levels.
How is Online Backgammon Different to Offline Backgammon?
As with any game available both on- and offline, different backgammon players have their own preferences. Being able to hop online and play a few goes of your favourite game is a major advantage of today’s technology, but it’s not for everyone. The most significant difference between online and offline backgammon is convenience: you have access to online games 24/7, whether you want to play against someone else or the software itself. This is ideal for fans who work unusual shifts or who lack fellow players in their social circle. The social aspect of playing backgammon is obviously affected when going online. You no longer get to sit face to face with your opponent, and so are unable to read their body language or movements. The pleasure of making conversation might be retained through online chat, but some people prefer face-to-face interaction.
Another big difference? Online backgammon tends to keep track of your pip count, whereas you need to do this yourself in offline games. While writing it down is one solution, other players may be prone to forgetting, disrupting the flow of the game. Online games will monitor movements too, so illegal ones will be detected. In offline backgammon, it’s up to players to record the fairness of their own choices – which may lead to cheating or taking advantage of other players’ inexperience.
How Do You Play Online Backgammon?
Backgammon revolves around two players’ attempts to remove all of their own checkers (just one of several names for the playing pieces) from the board, before their opponent removes theirs. Players can block and hit each other’s checkers as play goes on, leading to more strategic play and careful consideration. Both sides of a backgammon board features 12 long triangles (or points), and are numbered 1 to 24. Generally, players will start with 15 playing pieces arranged at specific parts of their board (two on the 24th triangle, three on the 8th, and five on the 13th and 6th).
Players then start to position their checkers along the board after rolling the dice: they will move playing pieces based on the number rolled, with players taking turns until their checkers are taken off the board entirely. If a player were to roll a 4 and a 1, they would need to move one playing piece four points ahead, and another just one. Once all pieces are in a player’s own area, they can start to remove them based on the numbers they roll (for instance, getting a 5 on a die would allow you to take a checker from the 5th point, a 2 from the 2nd point etc.).
In new online casino games, checkers move somewhat faster than they do in offline games, and the setup stage is much quicker (with difficulty levels, checker colours, and other options available for customisation). Dice-rolling is typically performed by clicking on virtual dice. Multiple variations of backgammon are available online, including Hyperhammon and Acey-deucey.
Online Backgammon Strategies
Here are a few strategies to help boost your chances of winning a game of online backgammon or two!
• Take advantage of a higher pip count. When you find yourself leading ahead of your opponent, break away from any blocking checkers as soon as you can. Likewise, if you’re behind your opponent’s pip count, concentrate on making your own home board as strong as it can be – you may well have time to start moving later on.
• When it comes to removing pieces from the board, don’t waste rolls moving checkers when you can ‘bear off’ one instead. Focus on clearing your home board first!
• As you get used to online backgammon’s rules and flow, experiment with the doubling cube. This replaces the normal dice, and is a tad bigger, featuring 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. You should read up on this first, but adding a doubling cube can make for more exciting stakes and speed gameplay up.
• Be careful when blocking your opponent’s playing pieces – make sure you aren’t leaving your own exposed. Blocking can be incredibly effective when done at the right time, but don’t let this make you complacent either; use every opportunity you can to bring your checkers closer to bearing off.
We hope this guide has helped whet your appetite for online backgammon! It’s a fun, fast, exciting game which has stayed so consistently popular with good reason, and countless sites allow you to play for free, regardless of how experienced you are. Give it a try, and you may discover a whole new passion!