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While not a comprehensive set of full or international
game rules, these should get you started and introduced to the game, have
Backgammon is a game for two players, played on a board consisting of
twenty-four narrow triangles called points. The triangles alternate
in color and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each. The
quadrants are referred to as a player's home board and outer
board, and the opponent's home board and outer board. The home and
outer boards are separated from each other by a ridge down the center of
the board called the bar.
A board with the checkers in their initial position.
An alternate arrangement is the reverse of the one shown here,
with the home board on the left and the outer board on the right.
The points are numbered for either player starting in that player's
home board. The outermost point is the twenty-four point, which is also
the opponent's one point. Each player has fifteen checkers of his own
color. The initial arrangement of checkers is: two on each player's
twenty-four point, five on each player's thirteen point, three on each
player's eight point, and five on each player's six point.
Both players have their own pair of dice and a dice cup used for
shaking. A doubling cube, with the numerals 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64
on its faces, is used to keep track of the current stake of the game.
Object of the Game
The object of the game is for a player to move all of his checkers into
his own home board and then bear them off. The first player to bear off
all of his checkers wins the game.
Direction of movement of White's checkers. Red's checkers move in
the opposite direction.
Movement of the Checkers
To start the game, each player throws a single die. This determines both
the player to go first and the numbers to be played. If equal numbers come
up, then both players roll again until they roll different numbers. The
player throwing the higher number now moves his checkers according to the
numbers showing on both dice. After the first roll, the players throw two
dice and alternate turns.
The roll of the dice indicates how many points, or pips, the
player is to move his checkers. The checkers are always moved forward, to
a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:
A checker may be moved only to an open point, one that is not
occupied by two or more opposing checkers.
The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves. For example,
if a player rolls 5 and 3, he may move one checker five spaces to an
open point and another checker three spaces to an open point, or he
may move the one checker a total of eight spaces to an open point, but
only if the intermediate point (either three or five spaces from the
starting point) is also open.
3. Two ways that White can play a roll of
A player who rolls doubles plays the numbers shown on the dice
twice. A roll of 6 and 6 means that the player has four sixes to use,
and he may move any combination of checkers he feels appropriate to
complete this requirement.
A player must use both numbers of a roll if this is legally possible
(or all four numbers of a double). When only one number can be played,
the player must play that number. Or if either number can be played
but not both, the player must play the larger one. When neither number
can be used, the player loses his turn. In the case of doubles, when
all four numbers cannot be played, the player must play as many
numbers as he can.
Hitting and Entering
A point occupied by a single checker of either color is called a blot.
If an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is hit and placed
on the bar.
Any time a player has one or more checkers on the bar, his first
obligation is to enter those checker(s) into the opposing home
board. A checker is entered by moving it to an open point corresponding to
one of the numbers on the rolled dice.
For example, if a player rolls 4 and 6, he may enter a checker onto
either the opponent's four point or six point, so long as the prospective
point is not occupied by two or more of the opponent's checkers.
If White rolls
a checker on the bar, he must enter the checker onto Red's four
point since Red's six point is not open.
If neither of the points is open, the player loses his turn. If a
player is able to enter some but not all of his checkers, he must enter as
many as he can and then forfeit the remainder of his turn.
After the last of a player's checkers has been entered, any unused
numbers on the dice must be played, by moving either the checker that was
entered or a different checker.
Once a player has moved all of his fifteen checkers into his home board,
he may commence bearing off. A player bears off a checker by
rolling a number that corresponds to the point on which the checker
resides, and then removing that checker from the board. Thus, rolling a 6
permits the player to remove a checker from the six point.
If there is no checker on the point indicated by the roll, the player
must make a legal move using a checker on a higher-numbered point. If
there are no checkers on higher-numbered points, the player is permitted
(and required) to remove a checker from the highest point on which one of
his checkers resides. A player is under no obligation to bear off if he
can make an otherwise legal move.
bears off two checkers.
A player must have all of his active checkers in his home board
in order to bear off. If a checker is hit during the bear-off process, the
player must bring that checker back to his home board before continuing to
bear off. The first player to bear off all fifteen checkers wins the game.
Backgammon is played for an agreed stake per point. Each game starts at
one point. During the course of the game, a player who feels he has a
sufficient advantage may propose doubling the stakes. He may do this only
at the start of his own turn and before he has rolled the dice.
A player who is offered a double may refuse, in which case he
concedes the game and pays one point. Otherwise, he must accept the
double and play on for the new higher stakes. A player who accepts a
double becomes the owner of the cube and only he may make the next
Subsequent doubles in the same game are called redoubles. If a
player refuses a redouble, he must pay the number of points that were at
stake prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he becomes the new owner of the
cube and the game continues at twice the previous stakes. There is no
limit to the number of redoubles in a game.
Gammons and Backgammons
At the end of the game, if the losing player has borne off at least one
checker, he loses only the value showing on the doubling cube (one point,
if there have been no doubles). However, if the loser has not borne
off any of his checkers, he is gammoned and loses twice the
value of the doubling cube. Or, worse, if the loser has not borne off any
of his checkers and still has a checker on the bar or in the winner's home
board, he is backgammoned and loses three times the value of
the doubling cube.
The following optional rules are in widespread use.
Automatic doubles. If identical numbers are thrown on the
first roll, the stakes are doubled. The doubling cube is turned to 2
and remains in the middle. Players usually agree to limit the number
of automatic doubles to one per game.
Beavers. When a player is doubled, he may immediately
redouble (beaver) while retaining possession of the cube. The original
doubler has the option of accepting or refusing as with a normal
The Jacoby Rule. Gammons and backgammons count only as a
single game if neither player has offered a double during the course
of the game. This rule speeds up play by eliminating situations where
a player avoids doubling so he can play on for a gammon.
The dice must be rolled together and land flat on the surface of the
right-hand section of the board. The player must reroll both dice if a
die lands outside the right-hand board, or lands on a checker, or does
not land flat.
A turn is completed when the player picks up his dice. If the play
is incomplete or otherwise illegal, the opponent has the option of
accepting the play as made or of requiring the player to make a legal
play. A play is deemed to have been accepted as made when the opponent
rolls his dice or offers a double to start his own turn.
If a player rolls before his opponent has completed his turn by
picking up the dice, the player's roll is voided. This rule is
generally waived any time a play is forced or when there is no further
contact between the opposing forces.