How Backgammon Works

By: William Harris  | 

Backgammon Setup

The basic setup for a game of backgammon. HowStuffWorks

OK, so you have your board and checkers. How do you get everything set up and ready to play? First, you have to arrange your 15 checkers in their proper starting positions. Here's the deal:

  • Five checkers on your 6-point
  • Three checkers on your 8-point
  • Five checkers on your 13-point
  • Two checkers on your 24-point

Notice that the two checkers on your 24-point rest in your opponent's home board and that the five checkers on your 6-point rest in your home board. Because the object is to get all of your pieces to your home board so you can remove them completely from the board, the two checkers on your 24-point have the longest journey to make; the five on your 6-point have the shortest.


Your opponent sets her pieces opposite to yours in a mirror image. In other words, her 6-point checkers will be sitting on your 18-point, and her 24-point checkers will be sitting on your 1-point. She'll also be sending her pieces in the opposite direction. If your home board is located on your right side, you'll be moving your checkers counterclockwise; she'll be heading clockwise. Whichever way you go, the intent is the same: Move the checkers from the higher points to the lower points until you skillfully maneuver all of them off the board and handily defeat your challenger. The accompanying illustration shows the backgammon board with the checkers in the starting position, as well as the direction of play.

Now it's time to start a game.