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.