Backgammon Glossary

Just start playing backgammon and have no idea what people you are playing are saying half the time? Been playing backgammon for awhile but still get stuck by some experienced player's mastery of backgammon jargon? Just want to have a few more good sayings at the local chouette? Welcome to the world's largest backgammon dictionary. This backgammon glossary was the best and biggest I could come up with after playing for a few years and scouring books and websites for the meanings to every backgammon word and saying you will come across. For every word I have stated the definition as well as how it might be used in a sentence. Another great feature is that all of the words are cross-referenced and hyperlinked to help you quickly find the meaning of every term.

If you are looking for a particular backgammon term just click on the letter below and scroll down until you find it.



ABT : The American Backgammon Tour. An association of Backgammon players and clubs in the United States that compete in tournaments. I hope to play in several events this year on the ABT. 

Accept a Double (Take): To agree to play for two times the present stakes when your opponent offers to double them. Typically, it is correct to accept a double when you have at least a 25% chance of winning the game. 

Ace Point (Guff): A players 1 pt. It may be unwise to make your ace point early in the game as these checkers are out of action for the rest of the game. 

Ace Point Club: A popular backgammon club in New York City. I have never been to the Ace Point Club but I hear there are some strong players eager for money matches there. 

Ace Point Game (One Point Game): A game when the only chance of winning is if a shot is hitfrom the ace point while the opponent is bearing offWhen well behind in the race it is often a last ditch shot from an ace point game that will win it for you. 

Acey Deucey: A variant of Backgammon popularized in the Navy, also a roll of 1 and 2 on the dice. In Acey Deucey, a roll of 1-2 allows you to move the 1-2, any set of doubles you wish and then you get to roll again. 

Across : See Movement of Checkers. 

Action : The term used by players describing the opportunity to play money games. When a player goes to a backgammon club they may ask if there is any 'action'. 

Action Play : A specific type of play in backgammon to provoke contact used when opponent has escaped the back checkersAn action play is called for when there is little development on your opponents side of the board but they have managed to escape their back checkers and might consist of slotting your opponents bar point. 

Active Builder: See builder. A checker that is completely free to help make another pointIf you have several active builders aimed at a specific point the odds of making that point on a subsequent roll are good. 

Advanced Anchor: An anchor on the opponents 4pt or 5pt ( Golden Point ). 
To avoid being primed, it is important to get an advanced anchor. 

Air Ball: A term from Basketball meaning a complete miss (of a shot ). You have thrown an air ball if you have blots 2, 3, and 5 points in front of you and you manage to roll double 4's. 

Anchor : Having two or more checkers on a point in your opponent's inner board
Every one starts the game with an anchor on their opponent's 1pt. 

Around the Corner: See movement of checkers. 

Attacking Game (Blitz, Wipeout): A position where you hit and attempt to close out your opponent, usually hitting in your inner boardAn attacking game is usually called for when your opponent splits a back man to your 3 pt. and you proceed to roll double 5's pointing on both your opponents blots. 

Automatics (Automatic Doubles): An optional rule in backgammon whereby the cube is automatically turned to 2 if both players throw the same number while contesting for the opening move. Players usually limit these to one per game. You will have to turn the cube to 2 before the game even begins if you and your opponent roll the same number at the start and you are using the automatic double rule. 

Awkward Number: A roll which can not be played constructively and deteriorates a position.When bearing off against an ace point game and your 6 and 5 points are stripped, a 6-5 is a very awkward number causing you to leave two blots. 


>Backgame : A defensive position you are sometimes forced into when you hold two or more points in your opponents inner board. Stronger backgames are when you hold the 1 and 3, 2 and 3, or 2 and 4. When forced into a backgame my favorite two points to own in my opponents board are the 2 and 3 points. 

Back Man (Back Runner): A player's checker in his opponent's inner boardIf you move a back checker to the 13 pt. with a roll of 6-5, you still have one back man to escape. 

Back Position: A defensive position (point) in your opponents side of the board. If you are behind in the race it is often advantageous to own a back position such as the 7 or 9 pt. to put pressure on the opponents midpoint when they try to bring them home. 

Backgammon : The name of the game. Also, the result of a game in which one player has removed all their checkers while the opponent still has a checker in the winner's home board or on the bar which counts as a triple gameLet's play backgammon! You can win a 5 pt. match in one game if you win a backgammon with the cube on 2. 

Backgammon Server: A computer network set up on the Internet by an individual or a company where people can go to play Backgammon. Players log on to the network utilizing a username and password. They may chat and play in matches or tournaments. The server provides the interface, either through downloadable software or an online application with graphical boards, and sends dice rolls to the players. The server also keeps a history of win/losses and ratings. My favorite backgammon server is Gamesgrid due to the high level of play and ease of use. 

Barabino : A roll of 5-4 from the bar used to make the opponents 5-point. Named after backgammon player Rick Barabino who frequently got out of trouble by getting this roll. blitz is quickly nullified by a Barabino since it gives the opponent an advanced anchor. 

Bar (Rail, Roof): The partition separating the inner and outer tables not counted as a space itself.When you hit an opponents checker you typically place it on the bar. 

Barfly : A checker on the bar that has the potential to re-enter and hit a checker in the outfield.You don't have to worry about a barfly when you have more than one checker on the bar unless your opponent rolls doubles. 

Bar Point: The 7 pt or 18 pt, the one beside the bar in the outer boardsholding game usually consists of one or both of the players holding their opponents bar point. 

Battle of Primes: A type of position in backgammon where both players have their opponent's men trapped behind primesThe player with the best timing is the one who will win a battle of primes. 

Bear In: To bring your checkers into your inner board in preparation for the bearoffYou will have a slow board if you choose to bear in all your checkers to the 6 pt. 

Bear Off (throw off, eat, take off, peel): Removing a piece from the inner table according to the throw of the dice. Once you bear off your final checker you have won the game. 

Bearoff : The period of the game where the players are bearing off (taking off) checkers near the end of the game. I once lost a big match because my opponent rolled several sets of doubles in the bearoff. 

Beaver (Binache): An optional rule whereby a doubled player may demand that the stakes be quadrupled instead of doubled, while retaining possession of the cube. This demand must be made before the doubler has thrown. When your opponent offers you a cube where you are actually the favorite to win it is often proper to offer a beaver if they are allowed. 

Bertha : When a player accidentally moves a 6-5 roll from the 24 to the 13 point without having observed that his opponent has secured their 6 and 7 points. A Bertha is an illegal play but will stand if it goes unnoticed by the participants. 

BIBA : The British Isles Backgammon Association. An association of Backgammon players and clubs based in the United Kingdom that compete in tournaments. When you compete in the 'Bright n' Breezy' tournament in Brighton, England, you must have a BIBA membership. 

Big Play (Bold or Strong Play): A bold or aggressive play when a safer yet less constructive play is available. An example of a big play would be to hit loose on your 5 pt. in hopes of making that point on the next roll and securing an advantage even though you could have played the roll without exposing a blot. 

Binache : See Beaver

Black : One of the players in the game of Backgammon, the one using the darker or black checkers. 

Blitz (Wipeout, Attacking Game): See Attacking Game

Blind Hit : A shot from the bar that hits an opponents blot in the outfieldWhen brining in winning positions with your opponent on the bar, beware of the blind shot. 

Block : To form points in front of your opponent to hinder their progress. It is often important to block points 5 and 6 points away from a point your opponent would like to leave to make it more difficult and increase the likelihood of them leaving you a shot. 

Blockade: See Prime

Blocking Game: A strategy in which one or both players base their deployment of checkers on impeding the movement of the opponents checkers. (see Block ). 

Blocking Point: A point that hinders your opponents progress. (see block.) 

Blot : An exposed single checker on a point. Subject to being hit by the opponent. When given the option, it is usually correct to hit a blot early in the game. 

Blot Hitting Contest: A position in which there is a rapid exchange of hits. When both players are playing a very loose game it will often develop into a blot hitting contest. 

Blunder : Moving your checkers in such a way that there was a far better way to do it. Making a very poor cube decision. Making a checker blunder gives your opponent a better chance of winning and will sometimes lead to them offering you a double. It is important to learn from blunders and this site has a great feature called " blunder of the week ". 

Board : The entire playing surface. Also, any of the four quadrants of the board. (i.e.. your inner board, your outer board, opponents inner board, and opponents outer board. In most backgammon tournaments you are required to bring your own board. 

Boardage: The term used when a player has more points covered in their board also known as a "stronger board". Typically you should try to maximize contact if you are behind in the race and have boardage. 

Booby Point: The opponents Bar Point. Escape with both men from the booby point is difficult.The booby point is a liability when your opponent has the better timing. 

Book a checker: Safety a checker by making a point. After slotting it is your goal to book that checker on the next roll. 

Bot (Robot): A computer program, often a neural net, that serves as a backgammon opponent or as a tool for analyzing the checker plays and cube decisions in a backgammon match. The most common Bot players are SnowieJellyfish, and GNUIf you are unsure of the correct play in a certain situation it is often helpful to consult the decision of a Bot. 

Box (in the box, man in the box): In a Backgammon Chouette, the player who is playing against the rest of the contestants. When the Captain wins the game, they become the box for the next game. 

Boxcars (The Boys): A roll of double sixes. It is frustrating when your opponent gets boxcars in a close bearoff. 

Break a Point: To give up a point already owned. When you roll a 6 from an ace point game and can't use that number anywhere else, you have to break the point (the 1 pt.). 

Break a Prime: To open points in the prime. See break a point. 

Break Contact: To bypass your opponents checkers making it a pure racing gameWhen you are well ahead in a race it is important to break contact so you will not be sent back by getting a blot hit. 

Break the Board (break up, crash): To give up points you have established in your inner board. See break a point

Builder : A checker in position to help build important points which need to be made in the next few rolls. You are more likely to make a point with several builders within 6 pips of the point you wish to make. 

Bulletproof : A term used to describe an opponent whose blots frequently avoid being hitI would have won the match if I could have hit one of the shots my opponent left me but they were bulletproof and avoided the hit every time. 

Bump : See Hit

Button Up: To safety a checker by bringing it together with another checker. See Book a checker


Calcutta Auction: Prior to the start of a tournament, participants or spectators can often bid on who will win the event. The auction could be based on a bid for one player or sometimes a packaged group of players. The money goes into a fund or pool that is later handed out to those that bid successfully. An Auctioneer goes through the players or groups one by one asking for bids on those players. The person who bids highest for the player then 'owns' that player in the auction and puts the amount bid into the prize pool. The person who 'owns' the player who wins, wins the money in the prize pool. There is usually a 'buyback' option where the player being bought can purchase a share of themselves in the Calcutta Auction. The entire auctioning and bidding process is usually a fun event. Even if you don't win the tournament you may still win money by buying a player in the Calcutta Auction. 

Candlesticks (Towers, Railroad Tracks, Stacking): To pile all the checkers on a few already established pointsA player who plays too safely by not leaving any blots will usually end up making candlesticks. 

Captain : In a Chouette, the player who represents the interests of all the contestants who are playing against the man in the boxThe Captain typically rolls the dice and makes all final decisions regarding checker play and gains the opportunity of being the box by winning the game.

Carry : To move a checker. 

Cash : To double your opponent when they are in such a bad position that you know that it will berefused allowing you to "cash" in your lead for money or points. It is correct to cash if you are way ahead in a race yet not so far ahead that you will win a gammon. 

Cat's Eyes (snake eyes): A roll of double 1's. 

Centered Cube: When the cube has not been used to double and remains in the center. Both players have access to a centered cube. 

Checkers : The individual pieces of the players army. Each side has fifteen checkers also referred to as men, counters, pips, stones, or tiles. 

Chouette : A game of backgammon composed of three or more players. One player, said to be "in the box ", plays against the captain. The fortunes of the other players depend on the fortunes of the Captain. The various partners may consult freely against the man in the box. At the conclusion of a game, the captain's place is taken by the next in order of the contestants on his side, who becomes the new captain. The box plays for the agreed stake against each of the opponents. Playing a chouette is a fun way to involve several people at once and several lively chouettes can often be found at a backgammon tournament. The Chouette got its name from the french bird (screech owl) that tends to be attacked by all the other birds. 

Clean (Clean Play): A legal move. All moves are clean when playing on the computer as only legal moves are accepted or permitted while playing a game of backgammon online. 

Clear a Point: To give up an already established pointDuring the bear off, if you take all of your checkers off of the 6 pt. you are said to have cleared that point. 

Closed Board: A situation where one player has made the six points in their home board. If a blotis hit, that checker will not be able to re-enter the game until the player opens up ( breaks ) the home board. Your chances of winning a game while you are on the bar against a closed board are usually slim. 

Closed out (Shutout): When a checker from the bar cannot re-enter because all of the points in the opponents inner board are occupied. It is easier to score a gammon if you have at least two of your opponents checkers closed out. 

Cluster Method (of pip counting): A way of counting pips developed by Jack Kissane known as one of the fastest pip counters in the backgammon world. Cluster counting involves the mental shifting of checkers into reference positions where the pipcount in known. The Cluster method of pip counting is far easier than trying to subtract from the pipcount every roll. 

Cock Shot:
 Coming down from the bar with a roll of 6-2 when only the 2 point is open and bouncing out to hit a blot on the 8 point. An example of a Joker (which causes a huge swing inequity ) would be a cock shot. 

Cocked Dice: Any die (dice) which land illegally on a checker, off the board or in any manner other than flush and flat on the half of the board on the player's right. If cocked dice are thrown the roll can not be played and the player has to re-roll the dice. 

Coffeehouse : Misleading talk to confuse the opponent or cause them to make a decision that would be to your advantage. By pretending to be completely against doubling the box a player may make the box think that the double could be accepted when in fact it is very strong. This type of coffeehouse is usually considered unethical. 

Combination Shot: See Indirect Shot

Combinations of the Dice: The number of possible rolls out of the possible 36 to accomplish a specific objective. There are only 5 combinations of the dice that will allow you to roll a 9. 6-3, 3-6, 5-4, 4-5, and 3-3. 

Come In: Bringing a checker back into play, after having been put on the barYou can only come in on points in your opponents inner board that are not occupied by two or more of your opponents checkers. 

Come Under the Gun: To move your back men forward in your opponent's inner board so that they have at least three checkers bearing directly on them. Magriel devotes a section of his chapter on Splitting in his book 'Backgammon' to situations involving coming under the gun. 

Comfort Station: A nickname for your midpoint (13 pt.) on which checkers escaping the other side of the board may rest safely. The roll of 6-5 can be used to bring a checker from the opponents 1 pt. directly to the comfort station. 

Communicate : See Connectivity

Connectivity : Having checkers placed so that they are within 6 pips of each other so that they can more easily make points and be protected. It is important to maintain connectivity so that your opponent can not freely hit a blot without the danger of a return shot. 

Consolation Flight: Players eliminated early in the main tournament are eligible to compete in the consolation tournament or flight. If you do not do well in the main flight there is still a chance to win in the consolation flight which often offers prizes as well. 

Consolidate : To better organize a loose position by making points and safetying blots. At the end of a blot hitting contest it is important to consolidate your checkers and lock up permanent assets. 

Contact : To hit or be hit. If a game has a lot of contact it is said to be a blot hitting contest. 

Contact Game: A type of backgammon game where opposing checkers have not gone past each other and still may hit each other. It is no longer a contact game when it is impossible for either side to have a checker sent back. 

Controlling a board (Containment): Having points or checkers bearing directly on a particular board. One of the uses of the midpoint is that it allows you to control your outer board and send back opponents checkers trying to escape your inner board. 

Control a Point: Having two or more checkers on a pointIt is important to control key points such as the 5 pt. and the bar point. 

Counting Pips (The Count, Pipcount): A method of calculating how a player stands in the raceby determining the minimum number of pips they will have to roll to remove all the checkers from the board. By comparing their pip count to their opponents pip count, they can determine whether they are ahead or behind in the race. There are several methods of counting pips such as theCluster Method developed by Jack Kissane. 

Coup Classique: A series of plays that starts with the opponent having only three checkers left on the 2 pt. to bear off and rolling a 1 leaving two of them open followed by the player hitting both checkers and going on to win the game. It takes great patience and timing and often the recirculation of checkers to be able to pull off a Coup Classique but it is one of the most satisfying types of wins in backgammon. 

Cover : To place a second checker on an exposed blot of the same color making a point. If you are afraid of being hit it is important to cover or safety your blots. 

CPW : Cubeless Probability of Winning- The chances a player has of winning the game if the doubling cube is not in use. At the beginning of Double Match Point, the CPW is 50% assuming the players are of equal strength. 

Crawford Game (Crawford Rule): The Crawford Game is used in backgammon match play when someone gets within 1 point of winning the match. On the next game the doubling cube cannot be used. However on subsequent games the cube is again available for use. Named after its inventor John R. Crawford. The Crawford rule was established to reward the player getting tomatch point sooner by not allowing the trailer to simply double with no cost every subsequent game. 

Crossover : When a checker moves from one quadrant of the board to another, or is borne offIt is important to use the numbers on the dice wisely when trying to save a gammon by getting as many crossovers as possible. 

Crossover Count: The number of crossovers required to take off all of your checkers. This is often used to help doubling decisions once contact is broken. If you are several crossovers ahead of your opponent late in the game it is usually time to double. 

Crunch : When a roll forces you to break up a prime or board by moving checkers forward in a situation when it is undesirable to do so. If you have poor timing and are too far forward, you will be forced to crunch your board when behind a prime. 

Cube (Doubling Cube, Doubling Block): A die-shaped object with a geometric progression of six numbers ranging from 2 to 64. At the outset of a game, the cube is placed in the middle, and either player has the option of doubling the game. The player who is doubled or redoubled has the option of declining or accepting the cube. If it is declined, they lose the game, if it is accepted, the stakes of the game are doubled. The invention of the cube made backgammon an even more interesting and exciting game. 

Cube Action: The decisions made whether to offer, accept, or drop a doubleIn difficult positions it is common for players to ask each other about their thoughts on the cube action in each position (after the game). 

Cube Decision: To decide on a cube action. A single cube decision late in the match may decide the winner. 

Cube Equity: The equity (or winning chances) added to a position due to ownership of the cube.There are times where it may be unclear as to whether to take a double or not and the cube equity may make the difference. 

Cube Ownership: When a player is in possession of the cube (after they have accepted a double) they are said to have 'cube ownership'. 

Cup : See Dice Cup.


Dance (Dancing on the Bar): To fail to re-enter off the barA game can be difficult to win if your opponent strengthens their position while you dance on the bar. 

Dead Checker: A checker deep in your own inner board that can no longer help build a point. It is difficult to close your inner board if you have too many dead checkers. 

Dead Cube (Frozen Cube): This is a term used in backgammon match play when the doubling cube is not further used because the value of the cube is enough for the player to win the match.It is sometimes easier to double an opponent when you know the cube will be dead if it is accepted because you know it cannot be given back to you to double the stakes yet again

Decline a Double: See Drop

Deep : Refers to the one or two point in your inner boardIt is usually unwise to make deep points early in the game unless you are attempting a blitz. 

Deprive yourself of numbers: See Killing Numbers

Deuce Point: The 2 point. 

Dice : Cubes with dots numbered from 1 to 6. Each player takes turns rolling a pair of dice to determine the amount of spaces per move. The dots on the dice are also referred to as pipsA single roll of the dice has the potential to win or lose a game. 

Dice Cup: A cylinder or open-ended box, in which a player shakes the dice and casts them. Dice cups were probably employed in backgammon to reduce the chances of manipulating the dice using sleight of hand. 

Die : The singular form of Dice. 

Dilly Builder: A spare checker that can only help to build a deep point in your inner boardThe only purpose of a dilly builder is to make the 1 or 2 point which are more useful at the end of a game. 

Direct Shot: When a checker can be hit by a number on a single die (1-6). A direct shot will be hit more frequently than an indirect one. 

Disengage : To break contact with the opponents checkers turning the game into a pure race.When well ahead in the race it is wise to disengage. 

Diversification (Diversify): Arranging checkers so that you will have different useful numbers on the following turn. It is better to arrange checkers in a way that whatever number you roll on your next turn, you will have a constructive play to make. 

DMP: See Double Match PointA match that goes to DMP is played just as if it were a one point game. 

Double (give a little present to, cube, turn the crank, up the ante, twist): The process of turning the cube in backgammon. Each double multiplies the preceding stakes by two. While the cube itself has markings only up to 64, theoretically doubling and redoubling can continue beyond this number. In practical play the cube is seldom above 8. A player generally doubles when they feel they have a distinct advantage in the game almost daring their opponent to play on for double the stakes. 

Double Ducks (Ducks, Quacks): The roll of double 2's. Ducks on an early roll are usually played by making the 4 pt. and the 11 pt. 

Double Dummy: Speculating or discussing what would have been the correct move in light of what has been rolled and not what the odds dictated at the time. It is double dummy to try and justify a poor decision by looking at the very next roll, it is the majority of rolls that should be used to make decisions. 

Double Game: See Gammon. Or alternatively: A money or chouette game where an automatic double has to be taken after the first roll was tied. Some players don't play with the automatic double rule that would cause a double game when the roll is tied

Double Hit (Two on the Roof): To hit two opposing blots at the same time. A double hit is a very powerful tempo move as the opponent's entire roll must be used to attempt to re-enter the checkers rather than strengthen their position. 

Double Jeopardy: When an awkward number could appear on either of the next two rolls. Astripped position while bearing off against a good backgame could lead to double jeopardy. 

Double Match Point (DMP): When both players are either one away or two away from the end of the backgammon match. At double match point when two away, the Bots tend to double on the very first roll whereas human players tend to wait for some small advantage hoping for their opponent to drop. 

Doubles (Doublets): Two dice with the same number, which allows you to move twice the amount of the double. Doubles are especially useful during the bear off when you may get to take off 4 checkers instead of only two. 

Doubling Cube (Doubling Block): See Cube

Doubling on the Come: Doubling in expectation of a good roll. Some players like to double when they have a single shot at a checker when if hit, would lead to winning the game even though the odds are against them. 

Double Whopper (also Double Whopper with Cheese): A very big blunder or mistake. When players are discussing errors in checker play they use the term whopper (referencing the Burger King delicacy) to varying degrees based on the severity of the error. 

Doubling Window: The 'window' of opportunity (time) during a backgammon game where offering a double would be advantageous and give you the greatest equity. If you double before the window it is too early and an easy take and if you double after the window it is too late and is a drop. The window is typically when you have 60-75% match winning chancesTo offer efficient doubles in backgammon it is a good idea to get an estimate of the match equity to make sure you are within the doubling window. 

Downside : What you lose if you take a risk and don't succeed. The downside to slotting an important point is that the blot may be hit. 

Drop : 1. To Drop a double ( pass ). 2. To drop a man ( slot ). When there is less than a 25% chance of winning a game it is usually wise to drop a double. Some people like to drop a man from the 6 pt. to the 5 pt. with an opening roll of 2-1. 

Dropper : 1. Someone who tends to drop (decline, pass) doubles even when they should be accepted. 2. A term for someone who leaves in the middle of an online match because they are losing. It is good to offer early doubles against a dropper. Several servers have matches finished automatically by Bots after a certain amount of time to negate the efforts of droppers. 

Drop Point: The point at which it is no longer equitable to take a double. The drop point changes depending on the match score. 

Drop -Take: A situation in a Chouette where one player drops a double while another takes but both share the loss on the dropped cube and the potential wins or losses on the taken cube. A drop-take situation in a Chouette leads to only one cube still in play but two players sharing it and the loss from the dropped cube. 

Duplication : Arranging checkers so that your opponent needs the same numbers to do useful things (i.e.. hit a shot) on the next roll. If you have to leave shots during a backgammon game it is advantageous to practice duplication and leave the shots the same number of pips away from the checkers that can hit them. 


Eating : Another term for Bearing off

Early Game: The first stages of play. The early game of backgammon often consists of battling for key points such as the 5 pt. 

Edge of a prime: The open point directly in front of a primeWhen trying to escape a checker from a blockade it is easiest to do from the edge of the prime. 

Efficient Double: A double offered at a point where it is a difficult decision as to whether it should be taken or dropped. An efficient double is one that comes late in the doubling window but may still be taken. 

Eject : To run with the last checker playing an ace point game to avoid a gammon or abackgammonWhen a player has one checker on the ace point facing the opponents last three checkers on the two point, it is better not to eject because you are guaranteed a shot and possibly a double shot on your next turn as long as your opponent does not roll doubles higher than double 1's. 

ELO : A rating system used by many Online Backgammon to calculate the relative strength of players. Based on a formula developed by Arpad Elo. Knowing an opponents ELO usually gives you a good estimate of how strong of a player they are. 

Endgame : Positions in backgammon where one or both players have begun the bear offTheequity of positions in the endgame can be calculated fairly accurately by many players allowing them to offer efficient doubles. 

Enter (re-enter): To bring a checker from the bar into your opponents home boardWhen you have several checkers on the bar you wish for doubles so that you can enter them all at the same time. 

Equity : Relates to the odds or percentage chance of a player winning a backgammon game or match from a certain position or the value of a certain position. The equity of a position is most often used when trying to figure out whether to offer or accept a double. 

Exposed man (checker): See Blot

Extras : 1. A rule sometimes used in Chouettes when not all of the players offered a double by the box choose to accept it. Any player who refused the double may offer that cube to a player who took the double originally offered by the box as a side bet on the outcome of the game. The extra cube is offered at the same level as the original and payment would be at half the value of the cube. Another optional rule regarding extras is to make the acceptance of extra cubes mandatory. 
The practice of offering extras tends to punish bad cube takes and keep everyone involved in the game. 2. Mandatory extras are sometimes used in money play when the doubler is allowed to give an extra cube at the same level if the original double is taken. The doubler pays the receiver half of the cubes value and the receiver may then use both cubes to use together or separately for future doubles. The use of mandatory extras is for players who like a little more action (aspect of gambling) in backgammon.


Fan : To fail to re-enter after being hit. Sometimes it feels as if the only time you roll double sixes is when you fan from the bar against a 1 point board. 

Fast Board (Speed Board): A bear off position where all the checkers are on deeper points where large numbers are not necessary to bear off and there are no gaps to waste numbers.Usually by the time you get to use the advantage of having a fast board in the bear off, the opponent is already too far ahead in the game. 

FIBS : First Internet Backgammon Server - This was the first backgammon server to allow players to compete against each other over the Internet. There are several different user interfaces you can download for use with FIBS. 

Field Goal: When a player has two men exposed close together and the opposing checker lands between them without hitting one. A field goal is a specific type of air ball. 

Fish : A weak player willing to play for money against a stronger player. Jake Jacobs and Walter Trice wrote a book about matches involving unequal players called 'Can a fish taste twice as good?'. 

Flexibility : Having your checkers arranged so that you can constructively play a variety of rolls on subsequent turns. It is important to have flexibility in the early stages of the game so that you are not forced into making candlesticks. 

Fly Shot: An indirect shot with only a few combinations. Late in the game it can sometimes be better to play very safe rather than leave an unlikely fly shot that loses you the game. 

Forced Move: When there is only one legal way to play a roll. Late in the bear off if you roll a set of sixes and have no checkers on the 6 pt. it is a forced move to take off the next four highest checkers. 

Forward Game: See Running Game

Free Drop: In backgammon match play after the Crawford game when the player in the lead has the option to drop a double without reducing the number of games the trailer needs to win the match. A free drop is utilized when the trailer has an advantage from the initial roll. The free drop offers the leader a little extra equity since they are able to drop a double in a position that gives their opponent a slight advantage. 

Free Drop Vigorish: The slight advantage the leader has after the crawford game because of the option to drop an early double at no cost. This occurs in Post-Crawford games when the trailer has an even number of points to go. If you had to bet on two players of equal ability where one has a free drop, you would be wiser to bet on that player due to the free drop vigorish. 

Freeze a Builder: To bring a checker to bear upon a point held with only two men by your opponent, restricting these men from being active buildersAfter an opponent plays an opening 6-1 by making their bar point it is good to split your back checkers to freeze the builder on your opponents 8 pt. 

Front Position: A collection of blocking/attacking points in your own home boardA good front position is of little use if there are none of your opponents checkers behind it. 

Frozen Cube: See Dead Cube 

Full Prime: Six points in a row held by one player. A full prime is the most powerful position in backgammon as an opponent is stuck behind it until it is broken. 


Gain -Loss Table: A method of calculating equity in a backgammon match to aid in a doubling decision by looking at the match equity of passing the double, taking the double and winning, and taking the double and losing. If the equity gained by taking and winning is 3 times the equity lost by taking and losing, it is correct to take the double. A gain loss table is an easier way to help make cube decisions than to calculate and compare equities for every situation. 

Game : Single: bearing off all of your checkers before your opponent does. Double or Gammon : bearing off all of your checkers before your opponent bears off any. Triple or Backgammon : bearing off all of your checkers before your opponent bears off any, and still has a piece in your inner board or on the bar. If the cube were at 2 during a game of backgammon a single game would be worth 2 points, a double game (gammon) would be worth 4 points and a triple game (backgammon) would be worth 6 points. 

Gammon : A Gammon occurs when you bear off all of your checkers before your opponent has taken off any checkers. If you win a gammon you win twice the number of points that are indicated by the cubeSometimes in match play after a big swing in equity it is correct to play on for the gammon without doubling. 

Gammon Price : The cost of going for a gammon versus winning a single game
Gammon Price = (WG - W) / (W - L) where WG is number of gammons won, W is single wins, and L is losses. In money games, a play should win you twice as many gammons as it gives losses, if not, the gammon price is too high to make that play. At various match scores the gammon price may change dramatically. Going for the gammon often takes a bold play that may lose you the game. When deciding if it is wise to go for the gammon, one must always consider the gammon price. 

Gammon Rate: The percentage of games that will end up in a gammon or backgammonThe gammon rate could be calculated by doing a rollout of 100 games and determining how many of those ended up in gammons or backgammons. 

Gammon Vigorish: The additional equity gained from a position because of the possibility of agammonEven though you may have a 25% chance of winning a game, it may be correct to drop a double when you will be gammoned on 50% of the games that you lose. 

Gammonish : A term used to describe positions that are more likely to end up scoring a gammonfor one or both players. When behind in the match it is usually advantageous to play for more gammonish positions to catch up in score with a win. 

Gap : The space between established points. Usually referred to during Bear OffA gap will cost you half a roll during the bear off if the number rolled is the same as the point that you have the gap on. 

The Girls : A roll of double 5's. Two sets of the girls at the beginning of the game can lead to an awkward position. 

GNU : A backgammon bot much like Snowie and Jellyfish based on the GNU open source project meaning it is free for download by anyone. GNU is thought to be just as strong an opponent as Snowie and Jellyfish and you can play GNU powered bots at Gamesgrid with a membership. 

Golden Point: The opponents 5 pt. The golden point is the best defensive point you can own at the beginning of the game. 

Go Out: Achieve the desired number of points in match play to win the match. There is no need to double your opponent if you will already win enough points to go out without it. 

Going Forward: To attack by building forward points, constructing a prime, and putting your opponent on the barIf you have very little chance of winning a game by going forward it is correct and attempt to win from a backgame. 

Gravita Take: Taking a double you shouldn't take in a high stakes money game, because you don't want to give up the stake you are playing for with the intention of not paying if you don't turn the game around and end up losing. Typically you will only ever get one Gravita take as you will quickly earn the reputation of not paying and likely have to hide from the people you were playing.

Guff (Guffy): See Ace Point. Named after a good player even though they always made the 1pt. earlier than needed. 

GWC : Game Winning Chances in a game of backgammon. 


Half -Roll (Half-Throw): When bearing off, the player about to throw, who has removed one more checker than the opponent, is said to be a half-roll ahead. When there are only a few checkers remaining for each side in the bear off, it is correct to double if you are a half throw ahead. 

Handicap : A concession by which the stronger player accepts a predetermined disadvantage before play begins, so as to help equalize the winning chances for both sides. A handicap for a stronger player may include playing with two less checkers, not being allowed to use the cube, or letting their opponent start off with two rolls at the beginning of the game. 

Hari -Kiri Play: See Kamikaze Play

Heavy Point: A point with more than three checkers on it. The 6 pt. is a heavy point early in the game so you want to use those builders to make points in your inner board. 

Hit (bump, knock off, send back): To move one or more of your checkers to a point occupied by a blot of your opponent putting them on the bar. Hitting a blot in your opponents inner boardmakes a big difference in the pip count. 

Hit and Cover: To hit an opponents blot and make that point with the same roll. When you hit and cover, it is also called 'pointing on your opponents head'. 

Hit and Pass (Bump and Run, Bump and Pass, Pick and Pass): To hit an opposing checker and continue your checker to safety. A hit and pass is an effective way of slowing your opponent down while remaining safe yourself. 

Hit and Split: To split your back runners while simultaneously hitting elsewhere on the board. A hit and split is effective as long as you can't be hit twice by return shots. 

Hit Loose: To hit an opponents blot in your inner board without making the point and leaving it there vulnerable to a return shot. It is often correct to hit loose when you are attempting a blitz. 

Holding Game: A type of game where you hold a point or points in your opponent's inner or outerboard in order to prevent them from safely coming home. A holding game tend to come down to the opponent rolling a 6 on one die and having to run with one man while leaving a blot. 

Holland Rule: In match play, after one player has reached match point, and after the CrawfordRule game has been played, for the next two games neither player may double until two full rolls on each side have been completed. Named after Tim Holland. The Holland rule gives the player with the free drop a greater advantage as it allows them a better look at how the game is going before making the cube decision. 

Home Board (Home): The quadrant of the board to which a player needs to move checkers for the bearoff. Also known as the Inner BoardYou can only bear off checkers once you have all of your checkers in the home board. 

Hypergammon : A variant of Backgammon where each side starts with only 3 checkers. 1 each on the 1, 2, and 3 pts. of the opponents inner board. The winner of a game of hypergammon is usually the person who rolls high doubles first. 


Illegal Play: A play that is not allowed based on the players actual roll. An illegal play is allowed to stand if neither player recognizes it before the next roll. While playing backgammon, one should always be on the lookout for illegal plays. Typically it is an error but some players try illegal plays on purpose to give themselves an advantage. 

Inactive Builder: A checker that could be used to build another point but is currently being used as part of a point. See BuilderA checker on the 8 pt. after making the bar point with an opening 6-1 would be an inactive builder for the 5 pt. 

Indirect Shot: A blot that can be hit only by a combination number using both of the dice. (7 or more pips away). If you have to leave a blot it is better to leave an indirect shot. 

Inner Board: See Home Board

Inside : Refers to Inner Boards

Inside Backgammon : A popular backgammon magazine from the 70's and 80's. It is still possible to get back issues of Inside Backgamon


Jacoby Rule: Players can agree before the game begins that gammons and backgammons will only count as 1 point if the cube has not been doubled by a player during the course of the game. Named after Oswald Jacoby. Practice of the Jacoby Rule forces players to double earlier and speeds up play as very weak positions can be abandoned after a double and the money session can continue. 

Janowski's Formula: A formula developed by Rick Janowski that gives an accurate estimate ofMatch winning chances assuming the players are of equal ability. If D is the difference in scores between the leader and the trailer, and T is the number of points the trailer has to go, the equity for the leader in percentage is: 50 + ((D*85)/(T+6)). Janowski's formula can be used to get an estimate of match equity which can help make doubling decisions. Click here for a page describing match equities and Janowski's formula. 

Jellyfish : A computer backgammon program that uses neural net technology to create a level of play close to top professionals. Available in various versions with the capability of analyzing matches. Jellyfish has a free player version that can be downloaded at it's website. 

Jeopardy : The potential for an awkward rollstripped position may lead to jeopardy against anace point game. 

Joker : Any roll that causes a large shift in the odds of winning the game also known as a hugeEquity Swing. Jokers are part of what makes backgammon such an exciting game as a single roll can completely change the outcome of a game. 

Juice : See Vig. Also the amount of money taken by the house in a transaction. If the juice on a $100 bet was 5%, the house would get five dollars regardless of who wins. 

Junior Whopper: A small blunder or mistake. 

Juxtaposed Bars : This occurs when one player holds their opponents bar point while the other player is trying to bring checkers home from their own midpointWhen there are juxtaposed bars it is a good example of a holding game.


Kamikaze Play (Hari-Kiri play): Breaking points in your own inner board to hit a checker in hope of recirculating them. The kamikaze play is a strategy sometimes used in backgames to preserve timing. 

Kauder Paradox: A rare position in money play where it is correct for one player to Double and also correct for the other player to BeaverThe Kauder Paradox can only occur when doubling gives a player greater equity even though it is still a negative equity which makes it correct to Beaver. 

Kibitz : To watch a match and listen to what is going on. A great way to learn how to play and improve your game is to kibitz a match with two strong players. 

Kibitzer : One who is watching a match. 

Key Point: An important point that gives you an advantage when made. (i.e.. the 5 pt. and the bar pt.). A key defensive point is the Golden Point. 

Kill a Man: See Dead Checker

Killing Numbers: To arrange checkers in a way that does not allow certain numbers to be played on your next turn. If you arrange all your checkers so that you can not play a 6 on the next turn, you have killed sixes. 

Knock Off: See Hit

Knockout: A type of backgammon tournament where you continue to play until you lose and are 'knocked out'. Many clubs offer knockout tournaments during their weekly meetings. 


Last Roll Position: A position where the exact odds of winning can be calculated (usually with the intent of offering or taking a double ) with both players still having a chance to win. In the last roll position where the player on roll has two checkers on the 2 pt. and the other player as two checkers on the 1 pt. it is known that it is correct to double and also correct to take. 

Lead : A racing lead is the difference between the pip count of the two players and a match lead is the difference between the match scores of the two players. The bigger the lead a player has, the greater their match equity. 

Leave a shot: To leave a checker exposed within range of an opposing checker. Sometimes it is necessary to leave a shot so that you have more builders and a flexible position. 

Lock up a point: To make an important pointIt is a distinct advantage to lock up the golden point early in the game. 

Longshot : A roll where the odds are clearly against it (i.e.. 17-1 or 35-1). You typically can not worry about being hit with a longshot as the probability is very low. 

Loose Checker: A Blot

Loose Play : Playing so as to leave several blotsLoose play can turn into very poor positions if several checkers are hit and sent back. 

Losing your Market: When a number is rolled that would cause your opponent to drop a double on the next turn. When slightly ahead in a race a roll of double 6's would be losing your market. 

Lovers Leap: The move of one runner from the 1 pt. to immediate safety on the 12 pt., made possible by the throw of 6-5. The lovers leap is the best way to play a 6-5 on the opening roll.


Main Flight: A term to describe the group of players in a tournament who have not lost a match.At the beginning of a tournament you are competing in the main until you lose a match with typically sends you to the consolation flight. 

Making a Point: Two of a players checkers on the same point 'make it' and close it to the opponents checkers. Making a point or two in you inner board is important if you plan on containing your opponents checkers there. 

Mandatory Double: This occurs when it is correct for the trailer in the match to double in a game because if they lose, the match will be over regardless of whether they double or not. In essence, they have nothing to lose by offering the double. A trailing player has a mandatory double any time after the Crawford Game is played. 

Market : The chances of you winning extra points by offering a double. A Market Gainer would be a sequence of rolls that would allow your opponent to take a double that they previously wouldn't. A Market Loser would be a sequence of rolls that would cause your opponent to drop a double they previously would have taken. A double is more efficient if you turn the cube before you lose your market. 

Match : A series of games played to a predetermined number of points. A typical match in tournament play for beginners is 7 points. 

Match Equity: The chances of a player winning a match. Match equity is a key consideration when making cube decisions

Match Equity Table: A table that gives accurate estimates of Match Equity based on the score of a match and the assumption that the players are of equal ability. If you can memorize a match equity table you will be at a distinct advantage when it comes to making cube decisions. Click here for a match equity table by Kit Woolsey. 

Match Play: A method of play usually used in tournaments whereby the first player to reach a predetermined number of points win the match. Cube handling can be quite different in match play when compared to money play. 

Match Point: One point less than the number of points needed to win the match. If you are one away from winning you are said to be at match point. 

Match Point Game: Any game where one player is at match point

Middle Game: The main body of the game after the opening moves and before either player begins to bear offThe middle game tends to be where stronger players excel as they use their skill to strengthen their position and determine the likely direction of the game. 

Midpoint : Your 13 pt. or your opponents 12 pt. A good strategic point held by both players at the beginning of the game that provides control of the outer board and a place for back checkers to land. Players are typically loathe to abandon their midpoint early in the game. 

Mix it Up: To get involved in a blot hitting contestSometimes when you are playing a weak position it is better to mix it up and hope for something constructive to happen. 

Mixed Roll: Any roll where there are two different numbers on the dice. A mixed roll includes every roll besides doubles. 

Money Game: A game played for money. In a money game the cube can always be used and is not restricted by a set number of points. A money session is a series of money games played for a predetermined number of games, until one player is a chosen number of points ahead, or can be ended when either player wishes to stop. 

Movement of Checkers (down, in, off, out, up, around the corner, across): 1. In- from the bar to opponents home board 2. Up-moving forward within opponents home board. 3. Out-moving from opponents home board to opponents outer board. 4. Down or Around the corner-moving from opponents outer board to players outer board. 5. In- moving from a players outer board to the players home board. 6. Off- moving from players home board off the board permanently in the bear off. 7. Across- Moving from any of the four quadrants to any other quadrants. 

Mutual Holding Game: A game in which both players hold defensive points waiting for the other to be forced out of hit by rolling an awkward number. A mutual holding game typically consists of players controlling the midpoints and bar points and waiting for the other to be forced off of their holding point by timing

MWC : Match Winning Chances. The odds or probability that you will win the match. 


NackGammon : A variation of Backgammon where two checkers are taken off the midpoint and 6 pt. and placed on the 23 pt. causing each player to start with four checkers in the opposing home board. Invented by Nick (Nack) Ballard. Nackgammon is an effective way of practicing playing from behind and maintaining communication between checkers. 

Naturally : To make a point naturally (without slotting or with builders ). Rolling a 3-1 is a way to make the 5 pt. naturally. 

Neil's Numbers: A set of numbers developed by Neil Kazaross to help calculate Match Equitybased on the current match score. The winner's probability of winning is 50% + the lead multiplied by Neil's Number.

Points Trailer Needs 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Neil's Number 10 9 8 7   6     5       4

 to Beirut: Your opponent's bar point (easy to get there but hard to leave). The bar point is a nice anchor and good for a holding game but it can be very difficult to leave if you are ahead in the race. 

No -Brainer: A running game where no further contact is possible and the outcome depends only on the roll of the dice, or an obvious play that requires very little thought to make. A running game is a no brainer because it requires very little thought and the outcome is almost solely determined by the numbers rolled on the dice. 

Non -Contact Game: The race. Both sides have effectively side stepped their opponents checkers and now have the sole objective of bearing them all off. The player ahead in the race prefers a non-contact game. 

Nothing Game: A poor relation of the back game in which you hold several good points in your opponents inner board but have all your other men too far forward in your inner board making it easy for them to re-enter and get around the board. A roll that prematurely crunches your board can turn a backgame into a nothing game. 

Normalized Match Score: The score in terms of how many points are still needed to win the match. (e.g. 1-away, 2-away). The way you make decisions at 3-away 2-away is the same regardless of whether you are playing a match to 5 or 15. 

Nullo Play: Making a play that does nothing positive and is not better than any other possibility. Usually a big errorWhen you do absolutely nothing constructive when you had better options, it is a nullo play. 

Number of Shots: See Shot. The number of times out of 36 that a shot will be hit. 


Off (the Board): Said of those checkers already removed from the board during the bear offTo decide how many rolls it will take to complete a bear off you can look at the number of checkers you already have off. 

On the bar: A checker awaiting re-entry after being hit as a blot. It takes an extremely unfortunate sequence of rolls to be stuck on the bar when your opponent has borne off their last checker. 

One Point Game: See Ace Point Game

On Roll: The player whose turn it is, is said to be 'On Roll'. The player ahead and on roll has an advantage in a race and should consider doubling. 

Open Point: A point that is not owned by either player. The early game is a battle for possession of key open points. 

Opening Roll: To start the game both players roll a single die and the player who rolls the higher number starts first using the numbers on both dice for the 'opening roll'. The most equitable opening roll moves have been calculated by the Bots but you are on your own after that. 

Otter : The acceptance of a Raccoon and offering of another double at the same time while retaining possession of the cubeThe otter is sometimes referred to as one of the 'furry rodents' involved in doubling. 

Outer Board: The points numbered 7-18 and are not a part of either player's home boardWhen your opponent still has checkers to escape it is important to maintain control over your outer board. 

Outfield : The outer boards. 

Outside Prime: A prime consisting of points primarily in the outer board. An outside prime may consist of the 5 through 10 pts. 

Own a Point: To have two or more checkers on a pointWhen you own a point, the opposing player may not land on it. 

Own the Cube: To have the cube on your side of the board after your opponent has doubled you being the only one with the option to double. You gain a bit of equity simply by owning the cube. 


Partner for the Box: An optional rule for Chouettes that have several players. It may be agreed upon to allow the Box a partner to offset any losses. 

Pass : To refuse to accept the cube when doubled by the opponent, thus giving up the game and losing the value indicated on the cube before the double. If you are in a very weak position it is better to pass the double and lose a point then to take the double and lose much more. 

Payoff : The reward for making a certain play (see Upside ) or the collection of winnings from a money game or tournament. There is often a big payoff to a loose hit in your board when your opponent fails to enter. 

Peel : See Bear Off 

Permanent Asset: An asset that will not go away after a good roll by your opponent. A point that will be useful for the remainder of the game is a permanent asset. 

Pick Up: See Hit

Pip Count: The minimum number of pips needed to be rolled to bear off all of your checkers. To get a pip count you multiply the number of checkers on each point by the number of the point and add the totals together. At the start of the game your pip count is 167. 

Pips : 1. The dots that appear on the face of a die, denoting the value of that face. 2. The units of movement e.g. moving 7 pips forward. A roll of 5-1 would allow you to move a checker 6 pips forward. 

Play on: To continue playing the game (in match play ) without doubling in hopes of getting an undoubled gammon. At some scores in match play it is better to play on than give a double and let your opponent re-double you in hopes of getting lucky and winning the match. 

Point On: To make a point on top of an opposing blot. It is much safer to point on an opponent than to hit loose. 

Points : Used in four ways. 1. One of the twenty-four partitions on the board which are usually triangular and individually numbered from 1 to 24. 2. Any of the above defined points on which two or more checkers of one color rest. If two or more are on one point, a player may move more of their checkers to that point. However, the opponent may not move onto any point so occupied. 3. To 'point' on a blot meaning to hit a blot and make the point on the same roll. 4. As in Scoring- The units of scoring are referred to as points. Each game is initially worth one point. 

Position : The general structure of where your checkers are located throughout the board. If you have a strong position you should consider doubling. 

Possession of the Cube: See Owning the Cube

PRAT : A guide to help make doubling decisions. Consists of PositionRace, and Threats.Typically you must be at an advantage in at least two of the three areas of PRAT to offer adouble. 

Pressure : To arrange your checkers so as to directly bear on an opponents blot often forcing them to move it on their next turn. It may be important to make an action play after your opponent has escaped their back men to put pressure on their future movement. 

Prime : When consecutive points are occupied by the same player blocking an opponents men. See Full Prime

Priming Game: A type of game in which the chief objective is to trap some of the opponents men behind a primeA priming game can be difficult to play if you have insufficient timing. 

Progress : The movement of pieces towards and into the inner board and then the removal from it.It is often difficult to make progress against a well timed backgame. 

Proposition (Prop): The same prearranged position to be played over a certain amount of times, most often for money or as a way to settle a dispute most often over a cube decisionIf Player A believes a cube is a take and Player B believes it is a drop, they can play the proposition out many times for money and typically the player most correct will be the one that wins more money.

Pseudo- prime: A prime consisting of only 4 or 5 points. A pseudo prime can be difficult to escape from but it is not impossible like a full prime. 

Pure Play: The style of play that involves putting the checkers where they would be most advantageous even if it means exposing them to shotsA pure play for an opening 2-1 would be to drop a checker to the 5 pt. and another to the 11 pt. 

Pure Race: See Racing Game 


Quacks : See Double Ducks

Quadrant : One of the four divisions of the backgammon table. Each quadrant contains six points.To get an idea of how the game is progressing, one must look at all four quadrants. 

Quads : A roll of double 4's. Early quads are usually used to make the opponents golden pointand the players 9 pt. 


Raccoon : Accepting a Beaver and offering another double at the same time while retaining possession of the cube. Beavers are fairly rare but seeing a Raccoon is even more unlikely. 

Race : The object of the game is to race around the board and bear off all of your checkers.Backgammon essentially boils down to a race with various strategy to win the race thrown in. 

Rail : See Bar

Railroad Tracks: See Candlesticks

Recirculation : Keeping checkers in play by having them hit and re-entering them in your opponents home boardRecirculation is often a necessary element of a well timed backgame. 

Re-Cube Vig (Recube-Vigorish): The added equity attained by possessing the ability to Re-Double if the opportunity arises. There are some cubes you would not accept if it were not for the Re-cube Vig. 

Re-double : After accepting the cube and doubling the stakes of the game, a player can then re-double the opponent, again doubling the stakes. If you accept a double when your opponent is two away from winning, you have nothing to lose with a Re-double. 

Re-enter : See Enter

Reference Position: A position where the equity or chances of winning are known. This position can be used to help evaluate similar positions. Having a few reference positions for various types of games will go a long way in helping you make cube decisions. 

Refuse a Double (Reject a Double): See Pass

Return Shot: The shot your opponent will have back at you after you have hit them. If you hit loose in your inner board, your opponent always has a return shot. 

Rim : See Bar

Roll : To throw the dice, or the numbers thrown. An opening roll of 3-1 is usually used to make your 5 pt. 

Roll Out : Taking a position and playing it out many times to get a better idea of what will typically occur during a game. Bots are often used to do rollouts as they can accomplish this task very quickly and give an accurate estimate of a position's equity. 

Rolling Prime: A special technique for advancing a prime around the board. You can achieve a rolling prime by slotting the next point you want to make and using your extra checkers to make the point. 

Roof : See Bar

Root Number: A particular roll (usually doubles) that causes an inner board or prime to crunchIf you are stuck behind a 5 point prime with poor timing, a root number like double 4's can be disastrous. 

Runners : The two pieces starting on the opponents 1 pt. It is usually an early objective to get your runners moving and escape or establish an advanced anchor. 

Running Game: A strategy whereby a player tries to move their men home as quickly as possible, avoiding blockades and being hit as much as they can. Weaker players have a better chance of winning if they use a running game strategy and avoid contact. 


Safe : A position or play that exposes no checkers to being hitPlaying safe usually leads to poor positions with the potential for awkward numbers. 

Safety a Checker: To move it out of danger of being hitLate in the game when your opponent has a strong inner board it is usually wise to safety a checker rather than allowing a shot. 

Save Gammon: To avoid being gammoned where the possibility of being gammoned exists. The key to saving a gammon is to avoid pip wastage by bearing checkers into the 6 pt. 

Save Numbers: To leave certain numbers available to play on your next roll so that you are not forced to make them somewhere else on the board. When you are playing an Ace Point Game it is often wise to save 6's so that you don't have to leave the 1 pt. prematurely. 

Semi -Backgame: A player who is behind in the count and gains possession of the opponents four or five point, thus hampering the opponent while still trying to run with the other checkers. A semi-backgame is like a holding game. 

Send Back: See Hit

Set -up (Opening Position): The arrangement of the checkers on the board at the beginning of the game. At the beginning of the game, each player's set-up consists of 2 checkers on the opposing 1 pt., 5 checkers on the 13 pt., 3 checkers on the 8 pt. and 5 checkers on the 6 pt.. 

Settlement : An agreement to end the game based on potential equity, rather than put the stakes 'up for grabs' based on a single fortuitous throw of the dice. It is often better to make a settlement when there are large cubes involved rather than let one roll decide the outcome. 

Settlement Equity: The fair value in equity of a game that is given, rather than finishing the game.The amount of points or money that changes hands is usually based on the settlement equity. 

SheshBesh (ShishBish): A Middle Eastern variant of backgammon. 

Shoka : A Joker roll that causes a large decrease in your game winning chances. The word shoka is Australian backgammon slang. 

Shot : An opportunity to hit a blotYou can have either a direct shot or an indirect shot. 

Shutout : When a player with a checker on the bar cannot re-enter because all the points areclosedThe easiest way to score a gammon is to put several checkers on the bar and then shut out your opponent. 

Side Prime: A block of six consecutive points. See Prime

Single Shot Settlement: When one player has a shot that will determine the outcome of the game if it is hit or missed they may offer a settlement. A single shot settlement is worth approximately (.4) X (value of the cube). When people are playing for large amounts with big cubes and don't like the idea of a game coming down to a single roll they will often agree on a settlement. 

Slot : Placing a blot on a point with the intention of making that point on the next turn. The easiest way to make a point is to first slot it and then cover it on the next roll. 

Slot and Split: The often unwise play, where one slots a checker in their own board whilesplitting the back runners. If you slot and split you are usually risking a double hit. 

Slow Board: A Bear Off position where all the checkers are on the higher points meaning it will take a longer amount of time to Bear them all off. A slow board is usually the result of trying to get all your checkers in your home board quickly. 

Small Play: A safe play where another bolder one is available. Weaker players tend to make small plays because they do not yet understand the principles of risk and reward in backgammon. 

Snowie : A computer program that uses a Neural Network to play and analyze matches at a world class level. Snowie is widely known as the best available software for backgammon analysis. 

Snake Eyes: A roll of double 1's. An early roll of snake eyes is typically used to make the 5 pt. and the 7 pt. at the same time. 

Spare (Spare Checker): A checker not needed to own the pointThe third or fourth checker on a point would be a spare. 

Split : To separate two men which are together on a point. It is easier to obtain an advanced anchor if you first split your back checkers. 

Stacking : A style of play where the player plays every checker so as not to expose a blot which usually leads to CandlesticksThe use of a stacking style is the sign of a weak player. 

Stake : The wager of the game, typically money (in money games ) or points (in match play ).This wager is doubled at every turn of the cube. 

Stay off (Stay out): Fail to come in from the bar. See Fan

Staying Back: A defensive strategy leading to playing a back game or holding gameBy staying back you are basically giving up trying to win by going forward. 

Steam : To lose control and patience and be likely to double weak positions and accepting doubles in hopeless positions. Steaming is usually a result of being the victim of an opponents lucky rolls or being well behind in a match or money session and trying to catch up quickly. 

Steamer : One who Steams. 

Straggler : The last checker heading for the inner board alone and vulnerable to being hitWhen you escape one back checker it is usually a difficult task to free the straggler. 

Straight Race: A position where both sides have bypassed their opponent checkers and are preoccupied solely by moving their checkers home and bearing off. Once contact is broken the game turns into a straight race. 

Stripped (Stretched): A position barren of spare men or builders, thus prone to awkward numbers. A stripped position can lead to jeopardy on subsequent rolls. 

Stripped Point: A point without any extra builders

Strong Play: See Big Play

Structural Play: A move that builds an important pointIt is often correct to make a structural play to lock up a permanent asset rather than hit a blot. 

Switch Points: To give up one point to make another. It is often correct to switch points when you get double 1's to hit an opposing block in your inner board to keep them off balance and give you more time to strengthen your position. 

Sydney : When a 1-6 is rolled from the bar entering and escaping a checker, often hitting one on the 7 pt. in the process. A Sydney is an excellent example of a joker. 

Sympathy Flight: See Consolation Flight


Table : A word formerly used synonymously with board

Tailgate : To roll prematurely (before your opponent has picked up their dice). Tailgating is frowned upon in tournament play and the roll does not legally count and must be re-rolled. 

Take (Accept a Double): To agree to receive the cube when doubled by the opponent and continue the game for double the previous stakesTypically you only take a double if you believe you have at least a 25% chance of winning the game. 

Take Off: See Bear Off

Take Up: To hit a blot. 

Tempo : A unit of time in backgammon, or half a roll. By hitting your opponents blot you are taking away a tempo. 

Tempo Move: A move designed to deprive the opponent of a tempoIt is important to make tempo moves when your opponent would other wise be strengthening their position or threatening to attack on the next roll. 

Thorp Count: A formula developed by Edward O. Thorp used to aid in making doubling decisions in positions where contact has been broken (racing positions). Several backgammon servers have a button which will tell you the Thorp count of the current position when you press it. 

Threats : Threats are checkers positioned in strategic locations such that if you were to roll certain numbers, you would gain a considerable advantage. If you have several builders targeted at a certain point then you are a threat to make that point. 

Timing : The position viewed in terms of the general future development of the game or the ability to maintain key points while waiting for a shot. Timing is crucial when executing a backgame. 

The T.P.: A player's 2 pt. The T.P. can be made with an opening roll of 6-4. 

TMP (too many points): A problem that arises when the position is stripped and rolls play awkwardly. It's not good to be at DMP with TMP. 

Too Good: A position that is too good to double as it offers you the chance of scoring a gammonor backgammon if a double is not offered as it would likely be dropped if offered. There are times when you should cash with the cube but there are others where you are too good to double because you can win a gammon. 

Trailer : The person behind in the match. The trailer tends to look for more gammonish positions near the end of a match. 

Trap Play: A play designed to force an opponent off a point leaving a blot if they roll a certain number. A trap play is usually executed to increase the chances of scoring a gammonYou can execute a trap play by opening a point in your prime that the opposing player would have to move a checker to with the right roll and then hitting and containing the blots that they are forced to leave. 

Tric -Trac: A French variant of backgammon. 

Triple Game: See Backgammon

Turn : A players turn usually consists of choosing whether or not to offer a doublerolling the dice, moving the checkers the required amount shown by the dice, and finally picking up the dice which signifies that the players turn is over. A player may only offer a double when it is their turn. 

Turn the Cube: See Double


Under the Gun: See Come Under the Gun

Undoubled Gammon: This can occur in match play by winning a gammon when the cube has not been turned. The game is worth two points. An undoubled gammon is not allowed in money play due to the Jacoby Rule. 

Upside : What you gain if you take a risk and it succeeds. The upside of slotting the 5 pt. early is being able to cover it and own the point if the blot is not hit by your opponent. 


Vig (Vigorish): The small extra possibilities that affect the odds in a given situation. The extra vigorish you obtain with cube ownership is sometimes just enough to take a double. 

Volatility : A measure of how likely the equity of the position can swing either way especially the larger swings and possibilities of a gammon or backgammon. A position with high volatility could have a huge equity swing favoring either player on a sequence of rolls. Volatility is one of the factors considered when offering a double. 


Wash : 1. To switch points and hit an opposing checker. See switch points. 2. To settle a cube in a money game for zero points. He had a double shot to hit the blot for the win, so they agreed to wash the 16 cube

Wastage : The amount of pips wasted during the bear off because of checkers on deeper points. Used to adjust the pip count to get a more accurate idea of how many rolls it will take to bear off all the checkers. When trying to save a gammon it is important not to have any wastage. 

Ways : See Combinations

Weaver : When a move is purposefully misplayed in hopes of tempting an opponent to take adouble on the next turn. When you think your opponent will drop a double you plan on giving the next turn due to your strong position, you may make a weaver that is just effective enough for your opponent to think they have enough of a chance of winning to take your double. 

White : One of the players in the game, playing the lighter colored checkers. 

Whopper : A big blunder or mistake in a checker play or cube decision. See double whopper

Wipeout (Blitz): An aggressive game plan where one side tries to keep their opponent off balance by simultaneously hitting blots and making home board points in hopes of a quick gammon. SeeAttacking play


X-22 : Nickname used by Paul Magriel and the company that publishes his book Backgammon


Yankee Seven : Any 6-1 roll. The Yankee seven can be especially deadly from the bar.