Backgammon Review
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Players: Two
Playing Time: Ten minutes per round

If you like games that combine a lot of skill with a lot of chance, go to the toy store and pick yourself up a backgammon board. You might have seen people in the coffee shop playing this ancient pastime, but probably not – it's just not a very popular game in America. After playing a few rounds, you will wonder why not.

The rules are very easy. Each player sets up his 15 pieces according to the general set-up plan. The board is divided into four sections, each with six gates. Now, these gates are all very important, but the most important ones are your six home gates where you want to advance your pieces to. Take special note of the two lonely pieces at either end. They start out in the enemy's home section, the farthest pieces away from home. Like all the other pieces, they must advance through perils to get to their home. When all a player's pieces are in the home section, then he may begin to take these off the board.

Easy enough, but here's the catch: you cannot move a piece into a gate that is occupied by two or more of your opponent's chips (the gate is then “closed”). However, if your opponent has the misfortune of only one chip in that gate, you may land on it and send the piece into limbo (strategy tip ONE: Leave no piece naked in a gate). In limbo, the player must roll the piece back onto the board, starting again in the section that is furthest away from his home gates – the enemy's home, in fact. Rolling back onto the board might be tricky, for if the opponent is a clever adversary, he has closed some or even all of his gates (strategy tip TWO: Closed gates in the home area are a good thing). Remember, you cannot move to a gate that has two or more of your opponent’s pieces in it. If a piece is in limbo, the player must get it back on the board before moving any other piece.

The game continues until someone has won five rounds. If you manage to get all your pieces off the board before your opponent gets even one off, you claim a backgammon and receive two points towards your required five. You are also free to enjoy the humiliation you have caused your adversary.

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