Backgammon takes checkers to the next level, adding speed and strategy to create a board game that's surprisingly complex. Think you can tell your points from your primes? Take our quiz to find out!
Each board features 24 triangles called points that alternate in color.
The points are arranged in four quadrants of six points each. Your home and outer quadrants are the two nearest to you as you play.
Each player uses 15 checkers, for a total of 30 per game.
Each player uses two dice, which must be played using a shaker cup and may never be thrown by hand.
The highest possible number on the doubling die is 64, though some only go up to 32.
With each toss, your dice must land on the right side of the board. If they don't, the throw doesn't count.
In backgammon, your turn ends only when you pick up your dice. Until then, you can move or redo your moves as much as you want.
If you are lucky enough to roll doubles — the same number on each die — you get to make four moves instead of just two.
To determine who goes first in the game, each player rolls a single die. Whoever gets the highest number gets the first turn.
A good backgammon strategy is to aim towards blots — points that are home to only a single checker.
When you make a hit — knock a player's checker off the board — the checker is sent to the bar, which runs down the center of the board.
The winner in a game of backgammon is the first player to remove all of his checkers from the board.
There are three classes of wins in the game. In a "single game" win, a player removes all his checkers before his opponent, but the opponent manages to remove at least one checker.
In a gammon, one players remove all of his checkers before the other removes even one. It's a step up from a standard win.
In a chouette (pronounced "choo-et") one player takes on a team of at least two others. This is a great technique for beginners learning to pick up the game quickly.
In a "backgammon" class of win, one player removes all of his checkers while the other fails to remove any. The losing player must also have at least one checker on the bar.
Betting is written right into the rules of the game. Win a backgammon, and you can expect to triple your winnings.
The No. 5 point is often referred to as the "golden" point because of its strategic significance.
If you have a prime, you control two or more adjacent points, giving you a significant advantage.
If you get six checkers on a single point, your opponent can't pass that point until you move some of your pieces to make room.
If you have two checkers on a single point, your opponent can't land on that point, though he can jump over it.
Doubles are a major advantage in backgammon, and this phenomenon occurs every six rolls on average.
Claudius had a backgammon set built into his chariot to amuse him on long journeys. Fellow Roman Emperor Nero was also a big fan of the game.
The solo player in a chouette is the box, while the captain leads the opposing crew or team.
A single raise of the cube is a beaver; a second raise is a raccoon; and a third raise is known as an aardvark.
Backgammon was dying out by the 20th century, but the introduction of the chouette and the doubling cube during the 1920s helped revive interest in the game.
Backgammon dates back around 5,000 years to Mesopotamia — modern-day Iraq.
The earliest known dice are around 5,000 years old and are made from human bone.
Backgammon was first used in print around 1645, though ancient Roman frescos reveal that the game had spread well beyond Mesopotamia long before the 17th century.
According to "Guinness World Records," the record for most simultaneous backgammon games was set in Turkey in 2011 when 632 people played 316 in a single hour.