Backgammon Jargon

A Glossary of Backgammon Terms

BACKGAMMON TERMINOLOGY
by Michael Strato

A

Accept a Double: To take an offer of the doubling cube and agree to continue playing the game for twice the current stakes.

Ace: The number 1 on a die.

Ace Point: The 1 point in a player’s home board.

Ace Point Game: A late-game situation where a player has checkers on his opponent's 1 point (Ace Point) and is waiting for a chance to hit a blot his opponent might leave during the bearing in or bearing off stage of the game.

Acey-Deucey: A variant of backgammon that has been played by sailors in the U.S. Navy since the early 1900s.

Action Play: A move intended to provoke an exchange of hits.

Advanced Anchor: A game begins with an anchor on the furthest point (24 point). In the very early part of the game, rolls like 6-6 or 5-5 are blocked from escaping. Therefore it is considered good strategy to own a higher anchor, such as on the 21, 20 or 18 point from where a big double can escape and from where you have better chances of hitting blots in the outerboard quadrants.

Ahead (in the race): A player is considered to be “ahead” in the game when he has a lower pip count then his opponent.

Anchor: A point protected by two or more checkers in or around the opponent’s home board. A “High Anchor” is when a player owns the 21, 20 or 19 point, or even the 18 point (Bar Point) while a “Low Anchor” would be one made on the 24, 23 or 22 point.

Annotated Match: A recorded match that includes the commentary of an expert - usually published in a book or on a website.

Anti-Joker: A very bad roll. Examples: 1) a roll that fails to hit an opponent’s blot at a crucial moment in the game, more so when the odds were in your favor to hit; 2) a roll that forces you to open vital points and expose blots are likely to be hit; 3) a roll (such as 6-6) that fails to bring your checkers down from the bar.

Attacking Game: A game in which repeated hits are made in an effort to secure vital points while keeping an opponent’s checkers on the Bar. Also known as Blitzing Game.

Automatic Doubles: In money game play, and if the players have agreed to allow “Automatics”, if the players roll the same number to start the game the value of the cube is automatically doubled from 1 to 2 and the cube starts in the middle on 2. Players usually limit automatic doubles to one or two per game.

Automatics: Same as Automatic Doubles.

B

Backgame: When a player fails to escape his back checkers or is well behind in the race, he can revert to a backgame strategy. This involves securing at least two points in the opponent’s home board, hoping to force an opponent to leave a winning shot late in the game.

Backgammon: In addition to the name of the game, a backgammon win scores three times the current stakes in the games. If Player A bears off all his checkers and Player B still has one or more checkers in Player A’s home board, Player A wins triple the value of the current game. See also Gammon – which is a double game.

Baffle Box: A receptacle that sits on one side of the board and is used to randomize dice rolls. A player drops his dice into a hole on the top of the box and they tumble down angled slats of wood inside the box to roll out onto the board from another hole at the bottom.

Bar: The raised vertical strip down the middle of the board that is used to place checkers that have been hit.

Bar Point: A player’s 7 point just next to the bar. It is important to try and make your 7 point early in the game because it blocks your opponent from moving forward with a roll of 6-6.

Bear In: To bring checkers into your home board.

Bear Off: The final stage of a game in which you take checkers off the board.

Bear On: When you have a direct shot at a blot you are said to be threatening or “bearing on” the checker.

Beaver: A feature used in money game play (or chouette). For example, if you are doubled to 2 by an opponent, and you believe you are in an as good or better position, you can accept the double and say “Beaver” to automatically re-double to 4. Unlike a regular double, if the opponent accepts the Beaver, the doubling cube stays on your side of the board where you maintain control of it.

Behind (in the Race): A player is considered to be “behind” in the game when he has a higher pip count then his opponent.

Big Play: A daring play when there is probably a better move to make, usually done with hopes of gaining a more productive scenario in the long term.

Blind Hit: A shot from the bar that hits an opponent’s blot in the outfield.

Blitz: To blitz is to attack and hit your opponent’s blots repeatedly, especially in your home board, in an effort to keep him on the bar hoping to make the points in your home board and close him out. Blitzes are usually attempted at the beginning of a game and can lead to gammon or even backgammon wins.

Block: To restrict the movement of an opponent by making points in front of his checkers – points that hold them back and keep them from running or escaping.

Blockade: To build several consecutive points in a row in an effort to form an impassable wall thus preventing your opponent’s checkers from escaping.

Blocking Game: A game focused on building several consecutive points in a row that will obstruct your opponent’s checkers from escaping.

Blot: A single checker alone on a point is called a blot. Blots are in danger of being hit and sent back to the Bar.

Blot-Hitting Contest: When players exchange a series of hits in an attempt to gain key points on the board.

Blunder: A big error by a player, one that looses him a large amount of equity in the game.

Bold Play: To make a daring play by leaving one or more blots exposed to an attack - blots that are very likely to be hit.

Bot: A backgammon programs such as GNUbg or Snowie is called a robot player – bot is simply an abbreviation of the word robot.

Boxcars: A roll of 6-6 – also called Boxes.

Break: To move one of two checkers off of made point.

Break a Prime: A prime is a blockade consisting of several consecutive points you have made in a row. Breaking your prime is to move checkers that open gaps in the blockade.

Break Contact: When the players have moved all their checkers past each other, no further hitting is possible and the game becomes just a race.

Break One’s Board: When you have made all the points in your home board and now begin to remove checkers from them.

Broken Prime: A full prime is when you own six consecutive points in a row – if for example you have only five of the six points made, and the missing point is one that leaves a gap or hole in your prime, you have what is called a “broken prime”.

Build a Board: To build points in your home board.

Builder: One or more checkers that are in range of making a vacant point or one that you have slotted with a checker.

Bullet-Proof: When a player is very lucky and repeatedly avoids getting hit.

Bump: To hit a checker.

Bump and Pass: To hit an opponent’s blot and then use the remaining part of roll to continue with the same checker to a point of safety. Same as Hit and Pass or Pick and Pass.

Bury a Checker: When you move a checker deep into your home board where it will no longer be of service in building points or hitting your opponent’s blots, the checker is considered “dead”. For example, if your 1 and 2 points are already made and you move an additional checker onto one of those points, you are said to “bury” the checker.

Busted Backgame: A failed attempt at carrying out a backgame. Timing is very important in a backgame, you need to hold at least two points in your opponent’s home board and wait for a chance to hit while building a strong home board of your own to contain any checkers you might hit. If your timing is knocked off by a number of big rolls that force you to open home board points or leave a point in your opponent’s home board, you will have a “Busted Backgame”.

Button Up: To move a blot to a point where it will be safe.

Bye: A free pass to the next round in a tournament bracket.

C

Calcutta Auction: Some backgammon tournaments have what is called a “Calcutta Auction” whereby at the start of a backgammon tournament, players bid on a player (or a group of players) and the money offered is pooled together and paid out at the end of the tournament to those “owning” winning players.

Candlesticks: When you have many checkers piled up on just a few points of the board.

Cash a Game: When a player doubles knowing the cube will be refused, he said to “cash” the game for its current value.

Cat’s Eyes: A roll of double 1’s.

Centered Cube: The position of the cube before any players have doubled - it starts halfway across the board on the bar or in the middle of the tray on one side of the board showing the value of the initial stakes of the game.

Championship Division: A level of competition in a tournament – the Championship Division, also known as “Open Division”, is the top level of competition.

Checker: One of the 30 pieces used as men in the game of backgammon – also called Stones.

Checker Play: To move the checkers according to the numbers rolled on the dice.

Chouette: A fast-paced backgammon variant in which a group of three or more players all play together on a single backgammon board. The two rivals in a chouette are The Box (one player) and The Team (the rest of the players).

Clear a Point: To remove all of your checkers off of a point.

Close a Point: To seal a point on the board by linking two checkers on it.

Close Out: A position in which a player has closed all of the points in his home board while his opponent still has one or more checkers on the Bar.

Cluster Count: A pip-counting technique invented by Jack Kissane.

Cock Shot: To hit an opponent’s blot on his 8 point from the Bar with a roll of 2-6 when only the 2 point is open to re-entry.

Cocked Dice: The dice are said to be “cocked” when the dice do not land flat on the board. If one or both of the dice come to rest leaning against the inner wall of the playing surface, against one of the checkers, or on top of a checker, the dice must be picked up and rolled again.

Coffeehouse: In chouette, this is when one of the players on the Team attempts to confuse the Box by suggesting to the Captain not to double the position, when he clearly knows the Captain will double – it is done hoping that the Box will take a cube he should refuse.

Combination: The two numbers of a dice roll.

Combination Shot: A combination shot is when you need both numbers of your roll to hit an opponent’s checker that is more than six points away.

Combinations of the Dice: Any of the 36 possible rolls with two dice in the game of Backgammon.

Comeback Shot: Hitting an opponent’s blot from the bar. Also called Return Shot.

Comfort Station: The middle point on the board – your 13 point.

Communicate: Keeping your checkers within six pips of each other, where they can be used help each other in your plays; i.e. make points.

Connected Position: A situation in which all your checkers are within a short distance of each other thus making it easier to move your army forward as a group. A connected position gives you better possibilities of making points that block your opponent while creating safe landing points for your own blots.

Connectivity: Keeping your checkers close together so they defend each as they move forward.

Consolation Flight: In some backgammon tournaments, players that lose in the Main Flight get another chance to win money by playing in a Consolation Flight, together with the other players that lost in the Main.

Consolidate: To lower the quantity of open checkers you have (blots) usually just before you intend to double.

Contact Game: A game in which the opponents have yet to move all their checkers past each other and hitting is still possible. Compare with Break Contact.

Contain a Checker: To thwart an opposing checker from escaping by blocking or hitting it.

Control of the Cube: When you are doubled and have accepted, you own or control the cube - only you can double next.

Count the Position: To calculate the number of spaces remaining for each player to bear all his checkers off the board – the totals of which are called the current Pip Count.

Counterplay: The potential for retaliation – the action of changing from a defensive stance to employing offensive tactics.

Counting Rolls: One counts rolls in a position by calculating how many of the 36 possible rolls of the dice do something negative or positive - such as how many rolls will hit a blot or how many rolls make a vital point.

Coup Classique: To win a game from a position that you had very few chances of winning from.

Cover: To unite two blots on a point to prevent them from being hit.

CPW: The abbreviation for Cubeless Probability of Winning – the chance of winning a game without the use of the doubling cube.

Crawford Game: Used in match play, when the score reaches a point where one player is only one point away from winning the match, the following game is played without the use of the doubling cube. If the leader wins the game he wins the match but if the trailer wins, the cube maybe used in all subsequent (post-Crawford) games of the match.

Crossover: The passing of a checker from one quadrant to the next quadrant.

Crossover Count: To calculate how many crossovers you need to get all your checkers to your home board.

Cube: The doubling cube in backgammon with its six sides marked with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64. The doubling cube is used to raise the stakes of the current game.

Cube Action: Any cube decisions such as to double, to accept or reject.

Cube Handling: The skill of making good cube decisions.

Cube Ownership: When a player has accepted a double he said to own the cube and only he can double next.

Cube Play: Any cube decisions such as to double, accept or reject.

Cup: A container used to shake and toss the dice.

Current Stake: The wager in the current game.

D

Dance: When you fail to roll a number that re-enters you from the Bar. Also called Fail, Fan and Flunk.

Dead Cube: When the doubling cube reaches a value that will end the match in the current game. For example, in a match of 5 points with the score at 1-1, if one player doubles to 2 and the other doubles back to 4, the game will end in the current game, the cube is dead, and there is no need to double to 8.

Dead Man: When you move a checker deep into your home board where it will no longer be of service in building points or hitting your opponent’s blots, the checker is considered “dead”. For example, if your 1 and 2 points are already made and you move an additional checker onto one of those points, you are said to “kill” the checker.

Dead Number: To purposely play a position in a way that will render unplayable a specific number on a forthcoming dice roll. This is often done in a backgame to keep checkers on a certain point and thus maintain your timing. Also called to Kill a Number.

Decline a Double: To refuse or reject an offer of the doubling cube.

Deep Anchor: A point you own on your opponent’s 1, 2 or 3 point.

Deuce: A 2 on the dice.

Deuce Point: The 2 point of a player’s home board

Dice Combination: Any of the 36 possible rolls with two dice in the game of Backgammon.

Dice: The plural of die.

Dice Cup: A container used to shake and toss the dice.

Dice Mechanic: A player skilled at using underhanded methods to control the dice.

Die: A six-sided cube marked with 1 to 6. Each player rolls the dice on his turn and plays the two numbers that land face up on the dice.

Dilly Builder: A checker that bears on the lower points of your inner board.

Direct Hit: A shot at a checker less than six spaces away which can be hit with just the number of one die.

Disengage: The point at which there is no further contact (hitting) possible and the game becomes a total race.

Distribution: To distribute your checkers evenly over a number of points. When checkers are kept close together and you have spares on most of your made points, your progress around the board is more fluid and you will have increased flexibility when playing the numbers of the dice.

Diversification: To move your checkers to positions that vary the numbers that you will be able to play, thus improving your options on an upcoming roll.

Diversify: Same as Diversification.

Division: One of the levels of competition offered at a backgammon tournament – there is the Championship Division for the expert players, the Advanced or Intermediate for advanced players and the Beginner or Novice Division for the amateur players.

DMP: The abbreviation for Double Match Point.

Double: To offer the doubling cube and play on for twice the current value of the game.

Double Ducks: The roll of double 2’s. Some people say “quack, quack” when they get double deuces.

Double Game: When you win a Gammon – twice the stakes wagered in the current game.

Double Hit: To hit twice with the same dice roll.

Double Jeopardy: The danger that you will have bad rolls on the next two turns.

Double Match Point: In match play, this refers to the last game of a match in which the score, or the level of the cube for that matter, has reached a value that will end the match. Also called DMP.

Double Roll: To roll the same number on both dice such as a roll of 6-6. When you roll a double you play the number four times. Rolling doubles is advantageous in a racing game or when bearing off checkers from your home board.

Double Shot: The possibility of hitting two of your opponent’s checkers on your next roll.

Doubler: Another name for Doubling Cube. Also, the player who is doubling.

Doubles: To roll the same number on both dice - when you roll doubles you play the number four times.

Doublet: Same as Doubles.

Doubling Block: Another name for the Doubling Cube.

Doubling Cube: The cube used in backgammon to double the stakes. A doubling cube has its six sides marked with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64.

Doubling on the Come: To double when you are expecting to get a good roll.

Down: The movement of checkers from your 13 point onto your outerboard quadrant.

Draw: The selection of the pairings for the first round of a backgammon competition. The names of the players are picked out of a hat (or by some other method of randomness) and are listed on a bracket sheet - Player 1 plays Player 2, Player 3 plays Player 4, and so on.

Drop: To pass or reject an offer of the doubling cube.

Dropper: An online player who purposely leaves a game he is losing and to avoid having points deducted from his ranking on the server.

Ducks: A roll of 2-2.

Duplicate: To leave two or more blots on different points where they that can only be hit by the same number. If you duplicate it will reduce the numbers your opponent can hit with.

Duplication: Same as Duplicate.

 

E

Early Game: The initial stage of the game.

Eat: To bear off checkers.

Eating: Bearing off checkers.

Edge of a Prime: The point that is open just before the point where a prime begins.

Elo Ratings System: A ratings system invented in 1960 by physics professor Arpad Elo for the U.S. Chess Federation based on the Harkness Rating System. The Elo formula is also used by backgammon servers and tournament organizations to provide a ranking for their players.

End Game: The final stages of a game.

Enter: To come down from the Bar.

EPC: The abbreviation of Effective Pip Count.

Equity: One’s value in the current game. In the current position it is the total combination of a player’s chances of winning a game, usually expressed as a percentage.

Escape: To run checkers out of your opponent’s home board to points of safety.

Exposed Checker: A lone checker or blot.

F

Fail: When you do not roll a number that re-enters you from the Bar. Also called Dance, Fan and Flunk.

Fan: When you fail to roll a number that re-enters you from the Bar. Also called Dance, Fail and Flunk.

Favorite: The player who is most likely to win. Opposite of Underdog.

Fish: Jargon referring to a weak player who will play anyone for high stakes.

Flexibility: Flexibility is when your checkers are distributed in a way that will maximize your plays on forthcoming rolls.

Flunk: When you fail to roll a number that re-enters you from the Bar. Also called Dance, Fail and Fan.

Fly Shot: To hit a distant blot.

Forced Move: A mandatory move; the only legal play you have this turn.

Free Roll Tournament: A tournament which has a free prize and no entry fee is charged to a player who participates.

Full Prime: An impassable blockade of six consecutive points in a row.

 

G

Game Winning Chances: The chances of winning a game that will be played to its end without the use of the doubling club. Also called GWC.

Gammon: When a player wins a game in which his opponent has not borne off a single checker – the winning player scores twice the stakes wagered in the game. Compare with Single Game (single win) and a Backgammon (triple win).

Gammonish: A game or position that will likely be won as a Gammon.

Gap: Any unfilled spaces in between the points you have made.

Gin Position: To arrive at a position from which you will definitely win the game.

GNU Backgammon: A free backgammon program (also called Bot) developed with neural-net technology, similar to Snowie and Jellyfish.

GNU or GNUbg: The GNU Backgammon program.

Golden Point: The 5 point of either player’s home board.

GWC: An abbreviation for Game Winning Chances.

 

H

Hedge: When two opponents agree to share in some proportion any prize money that one of them will go on to win, regardless of the outcome of their current match in the tournament. If for example, two players are in the final of a tournament and first place pays $8,000 and second place $4,000 they might instead agree that the winner will take $7,000 and the loser will get $5,000.

Hit: To hit a checker. Same as Bump.

Hit and Pass: To hit an opponent’s blot and then use the remaining part of roll to continue with your checker to a point of safety. Also called Bump and Pass or Pick and Pass.

Hit and Split: To move forward with one of your back runners while hitting a blot elsewhere at the same time.

Hit Loose: To hit an opponent’s checker in your home board while leaving your own checker as a blot in its place.

Hit-and-Cover: A roll whose numbers allow you to hit an opponent’s blot with one part of the roll, and to cover a blot of your own at the same time with the other part of the roll.

Holding Game: A holding game occurs when one or both players move their back checkers to an advanced anchor in a home board or other forward anchors in the outfield, and are playing a waiting game to see who will leave be first to leave a shot. Usually the player who is behind in the race will try to set up a holding game. However, there is also the Mutual Holding Game when both players are waiting – a typical mutual holding game scenario is when both players own their 18, 13 and 8 points.

Home: Your inner board quadrant containing your 1 to 6 points.

Home Board: The quadrant to which you must enter all your checkers before beginning to bear them off the board. The home board quadrant contains your 1 to 6 points.

Home Men: The five checkers that start on your 6 point at the beginning of a game.

 

I

Illegal Move or Illegal Play: An impossible play. In live play, this is when a player moves a checker using a number other than what is showing on the dice.

In the Air: To have one or more checkers on the Bar.

Indirect Hit: A hit that requires using both the numbers of a dice roll.

Indirect Shot: A possible hit that will require using both the numbers of a dice roll.

Inner Board: A player’s home board.

Intermediate Division: The mid-level competition in a tournament – the Intermediate Division is for players that have advanced from the Beginner level.

 

J

Jackpot: A single-elimination tournament in which numerous players pay an entry fee and compete for a bigger than normal payout. Usually a Jackpot tournament will see only a few winners. In a 4- or 8-player “mini-jackpot” there will likely be only one winner, while in a 128-player Super Jackpot, such as at the Monte Carlo World Championships, up to 8 players win cash.

Jacoby Rule: The Jacoby Rule is used in money games and states that if there has not been any cube action in the game then gammons and backgammons do not count, the game is scored as a single point.

Jellyfish: A backgammon program (also called Bot) developed with neural-net technology, similar to Snowie and GNUbg.

Jeopardy: A bad position that indicates your playing options on forthcoming rolls will be very limited and potentially dangerous.

Joker: An extremely lucky roll that turns around the game making you the favorite to win.

 

K

Key Point(s): One of several vital points that one should attempt to make at the beginning of a game so as to hinder an opponent from escaping. The key points in order of value are: the 5 point, the 7 point and the 4 point.

Kibitz: To be the spectator of a game.

Kibitzer: One who observes a game or match from a distance - often one who makes comments about what is happening in the game.

Kill a Checker: When you move a checker deep into your home board where it will no longer be of service in building points or hitting your opponent’s blots, the checker is considered “dead”. For example, if your 1 and 2 points are already made and you move an additional checker onto one of those points, you are said to “kill” the checker.

Kill a Number: To purposely play a position in a way that will render unplayable a specific number on a forthcoming dice roll. This is often done in a backgame to keep checkers on a certain point and thus maintain your timing. Also called to Dead Number.

Knockout: A single-elimination backgammon tournament.

 

L

Last Chance Flight: In some backgammon tournaments, players that lose in the Main Flight go to the Consolation Flights and if they lose in the Consolation get one final chance to win money by playing in the Last Chance Flight, against the other players that lost in the Consolation.

Last Roll Position: When you arrive at a position in which the next roll will decide the outcome of the game.

Lead: To be ahead in the race.

Leave a Shot: To expose a checker that is likely to be hit.

Liability: A position that is likely to set you back in the game, either because of bad distribution of checkers or simply just because you have too many blots.

Lift: To pick up a checker and move it to a point of safety.

Lipped Cup: A dice cup with ridges in its interior designed to jiggle the dice as they roll out of the cup.

Loaded Dice: Dice whose numbers have been altered or that conceal hidden weights and are used to cheat in backgammon and other games.

Long Shot: A opportunity to hit that will require a dice roll that has a low probability of coming out. Such as a 6-6 (1 out of 36 chances) or a 6-5 (1 out of 18 chances).

Loose Checker: A checker that is exposed to being hit. Also called a Blot or Loose Man.

Loose Hit or Loose Play: To hit an opponent’s checker in your home board and leave your own blot in its place, thus risking a return shot.

Lose One’s Market: To miss an opportunity to double a position that is a take on this turn but not on your next one because your position will have improved so much that it will be a pass. Therefore you miss, or lose, the opportunity to have won double the current stakes. Same as Market Loser.

Lover’s Leap: To play a roll of 6-5 from your 24 point to your 13 point.

 

M

Made Point: A point you own; made by joining two checkers on the same pip.

Main Flight: The principal competition in a division of a tournament. This is the bracket where all players start – if they win they continue in the Main but if they lose they fall into the secondary competition called the Consolation Flight. Some tournaments also have a Last Chance Flight for players that lose in the Consolation.

Major Split: Moving one your back checkers up from the 24 point to a key point, such as the 20 or 21 point.

Make a Point: To join two checkers together on the same point.

Make One’s board: To have closed all the points in your home board.

Man: One of your checkers. Also called a Stone.

Mandatory Double: A position that you should double at your earliest opportunity. For example, if you just won the post-Crawford game in a 5 point match, and the score is 4-3 in favor of your opponent, you should double to 2 at the very first possible opportunity in the next game.

Market Loser: To miss an opportunity to double a position that is a take on this turn but not on your next one because your position will have improved so much that it will be a pass. Therefore you miss, or lose, the opportunity to have won double the current stakes. Same as to Lose One’s Market.

Match: To play a series of backgammon games up to a pre-assigned number of points. The first player to reach the number of specified points is declared the winner of the match.

Match Equity: One’s value in the current match - the total combination of a player’s chances of winning the match usually expressed as a percentage.

Match Equity Table: A table that shows one’s chances of winning a match based on how many points each player still needs to win the match (the current score).

Match Play: A form of playing backgammon - to play a series of backgammon games up to a pre-assigned number of points. The player first to reach the number of specified points is declared the winner of the match.

Match Winning Chances: A player’s chances (probability) of winning a match – often referred to as MWC.

Men: Your checkers. Also called Stones.

Mid-Point: The 13 point of your board.

Mixed Roll: A dice roll with two different numbers showing on the dice. Compare to Doublet.

Money Game Play: A form of playing backgammon – to play single (1-point) games for a pre-specified wager per game.

Move: To move a checker according to the numbers of a dice roll.

Move Up: To move forward in your opponent’s home board.

Mutual Holding Game: When both players move their back checkers to an advanced anchor in a home board, or other forward anchors in the outfield, and are playing a waiting game to see who will leave a blot that might be hit. A typical mutual holding game scenario is when both players own their 18, 13 and 8 points.

MWC: The abbreviation used for Match Winning Chances.

 

N

Neural Network: The structural design used to develop a program that plays backgammon – a network of computers are trained to play backgammon against each other until they reach a high skill level, often one that is as good or better than that of the best human players.

No Contact: When the players have moved all their checkers past each other and no further hitting is possible and the game becomes just a race.

Notation: A method of producing a record of a match using numbers and special symbols to write down the dice rolls and moves played in a game.

Novice: The lowest skill level in backgammon – a player with very little experience in the game.

Number of Shots: The amount of rolls that hit a checker out of the 36 possible rolls of the dice.

O

Odds: The chances of something happening in the game – such as your chances of winning, hitting or bearing off.

On the Bar: When your checker is hit and is waiting to re-enter, you are said to be “on the bar”.

On Roll: The player whose turn it is roll now is said to be “on roll”.

Open Division: A level of competition in a tournament that is open to all players.

Open Point: A point on the board that is not owned by either player.

Opening Roll: The first move of the game. Also called opening play or opening move.

Otter: To accept a Raccoon and instantly re-double while maintaining possession of the cube.

Out: To move your checkers out of your opponent’s home board.

Outer Board: The quadrant on the board that has a player’s 7 to 12 points.

Outer Men: The three checkers that start the 8 point at the beginning of a game.

Outfield: The outer boards.

Over the Board: Playing a game live, in person, as opposed to playing on the Internet.

Own a Point: When you have two or more checkers on a point, you are said to “own” the point.

Own the Cube: When you have accepted an offer of the doubling cube you possess or “own” control of the cube.

 

P

Partial Prime: A blockade of less than six points – compare with Full Prime.

Pass: To reject an offer of the doubling cube.

Perfecta: The best possible roll at the moment.

Pick and Pass: To hit an opponent’s blot and then use the remaining part of roll to continue with your checker to a point of safety. Same as Bump and Pass or Hit and Pass.

Pigeon: Jargon used by a hustler (shark) to describe a player who is easy to win money from.

Pip: Any of the 24 points or triangles on a backgammon board.

Pip Count: To calculate the number of spaces remaining for each player to bear all of his checkers off the board – the totals of which are called the current Pip Count.

Play: To take your turn and move your checkers.

Playing Safe: To prevent your checkers from being hit by moving them to points of safety.

Point: One of the 24 triangles of the backgammon board – also called Pip.

Point on a Blot: To hit an opponent’s blot with two of your checkers while making the point at the same time.

Position Card: A card used to jot down an interesting position from a game that you would like to analyze at a later time. The card has an image of a backgammon board (minus the checkers).

Possession of the Cube: When you have accepted an offer of the doubling cube you own or possess control of the cube. Same as Own the Cube.

Post-Crawford: The game after the Crawford game.

Precision dice: Dice that have been carefully manufactured to have equal weight on all six sides. Precision dice are usually translucent and have rounded edges, plus the pips on the faces of the dice are flat instead of dimpled.

Premature Roll: To roll your dice before your opponent has finished making his move. In live play the rule is you cannot toss your dice until your opponent has finished his turn by picking up his dice.

Prime: A number of consecutive points, usually four, five or six in a row, that are made with the intention of blocking an opponent from escape. The best prime is when you hold six consecutive points, called Full Prime.

Prime versus Prime: A situation in which both players have built a blockade of several consecutive points in a row - the players strive to maintain the better prime and prevent each other’s runners from escaping for as long as possible.

Primed: When you are blocked in by a prime.

Priming Game: A priming game’s main objective is to block an opponent’s checkers behind a prime.

Probability: The odds or chances of what can happen in a game.

Prop or Proposition: A backgammon position whose possible outcome two players disagree on and therefore they decide to play it out against each other a pre-defined number of games, usually for money.

Pure or Pure Play: To distribute your checkers to points that will give you more possible numbers to fill in gaps in your prime on forthcoming rolls.

 

Q

Quacks: A roll of 2-2. Also called Double Ducks.

Quadrant: One of the four sections of a backgammon board.

Quads: A roll of 4-4.

 

R

Raccoon: To accept a Beaver and re-double your opponent in the same instance while maintaining control of the cube.

Race: The essence of the game of Backgammon - to be the first to run your checkers around the board and bear them off.

Rail: Another name for the Bar.

Rake: A fee charged by a backgammon server for providing the services that enables people to play online for money.

Re-Circulate: To deliberately leave blots you want your opponent to hit so that they are sent to the Bar and back around the board. This timing tactic is used to maintain a prime or to avoid a broken backgame.

Recube: To redouble.

Re-Enter: To come down from the bar and into your opponent’s home board after you have been hit.

Refuse: To reject an offer of the doubling cube. Also called Drop or Pass.

Resign: To surrender the game to your opponent and lose the value of the current wager or stakes.

Response: The second dice roll of a game.

Return Shot: Any possible hits that can be made by an opponent who has just been hit.

Roll: To toss or throw the dice.

Roll a Prime Forward: To move forward a Prime while maintaining its structure, done by using your spare checkers to build new points at the front of the prime.

Rollout: To analyze a position by playing it out many times, either manually or with a computer program.

Roof: Another name for the Bar.

Round: A stage of a backgammon tournament – players are paired in brackets and play each other to see who will advance to the next round.

Run: To move your back checkers out of your opponent’s home board in an attempt to escape.

Running Game: The point in the game when no further contact is possible and the game has become a pure race.

 

S

Safe: To play your checkers in a way that does not leave them as blots.

Safety a Checker: To move a blot to a made point.

Sandbag: Sandbagging is when a player registers to play in a division of a tournament that is much lower than his true skill level.

Satellite Tournament: A tournament in which players compete to win a paid entry to another tournament – for example, if the entry fee for the other tournament is worth $1,000., eight players will pay $125 each to play in the satellite and the winner gets the $1,000-entry to the other event.
Send Back: To hit a checker sending it to the Bar.

Settlement: To agree to end the current game or match for a specific amount of money or points.

Setup: The starting position at the beginning of a game of Backgammon. Each player begins with two checkers on the 24 point, five on the 13, three on the 8 and five on the 6 point.

Shake: To jiggle the dice in cup before rolling them.

Shark: One who plays for money against players of a much lower skill level.

Shift Point: To switch your checkers from one point you have made, to another that may put you in a better position.

Shot: A chance at hitting an opponent’s checkers.

Silver Point: The 4 point, one of the better defensive points in your home board.

Single Elimination: A tournament in which a player must win every match in order to progress towards the final. Usually if the player loses, he is knocked out of the Main bracket and will be sent to the Consolation event.

Single Game: To win the present game for its current value as opposed to winning it as a gammon (twice the value) or a backgammon (triple the value).

Single Shot: A blot that can only be hit with a specific number or checker.

Sit and Go Tournament: A single-elimination tournament that is limited to a small quantity of players.

Slot: To place a lone checker on a point you expect to make on a forthcoming roll.

Slot and Split: To move a blot to a point you expect to make in your home board while simultaneously moving forward one of your back checkers.

Slow Board: In the bearoff stage, this is when most of your checkers are all on high points (i.e. only your 4, 5 and 6 points) thus making it harder for you to win the game.

Snake Eyes: A roll of 1-1.

Snowie: A backgammon program (also called Bot) developed with neural-net technology, similar to Jellyfish and GNUbg.

Solid Prime: Several points made in a row with no gaps in between.

Spare: When you have more than two checkers on a point, the additional checkers are called spares.

Speed Board: In the bearoff stage of the game, this is when all of your checkers are on low points (i.e. on your 1, 2 and 3 points) thus making it easier for you to win the game.

Split: To use half of your roll to move forward one of your back checkers – example, to play a 6 from your 24 to your 18 point.

Stack: To pile up more than three checkers on a point.

Stake: The wager at risk in the current game. In match play, players play for points, and in money play, for a pre-defined amount of money per game. The stake fluctuates according to the level of the cube.

Starting Position: The initial position at the beginning of a game of Backgammon – also called the Setup. Each player starts with two checkers on the 24 point, five on the 13, three on the 8 and five on the 6 point.

Steam or Steamer: To “steam” is go on tilt. A steamer is a player who is losing almost every game, and will start to play wild and foolishly in an attempt to recuperate his losses.

Stone: Another term used for Checker.

Straggler: A checker that has been left behind – usually the furthest blot you have - and one that needs to escape to safety or reach your home board.

Straight Race: When the players have moved all their checkers past each other and no further hitting of checkers is possible and the game becomes a pure race.

Strip a Point: To move your last spare checker off a point leaving it with only two checkers (and no builders) thus reducing your playing options on forthcoming rolls.

Strong Board: To have several points built in your home board thus making it more difficult for an opponent to re-enter a checker that is hit.

Switch Points: To move forward a made point. Example: with a roll of 1-1, to hit a blot on your 4 point with two checkers from your 5 point.

 

T

Take: To accept an offer of the doubling cube and play on for twice the current stakes.

TD: Short for “Tournament Director”.

Throw: To toss the dice.

Timing: The concept of maintaining a specific structure in the current game. Timing is most important in a backgame. It is also essential in a holding game when you want to hang onto key points and avoid being the first to leave a blot.

Too Good to Double: A position in which there is a high probability of scoring a gammon and winning twice the stakes – whereas if you double now, your opponent will simply drop and you win only the current wager.

Trailer: The player who is behind in the score of the match.

Triple Game: A win of three times the stakes in a game also called a Backgammon win.

Turn: The interchange of the players’ opportunities to act in the game such as to roll the dice or double.

Turn the Cube: To offer the doubling cube.

Turning the Corner: To move a checker from an opponent’s outer board past the mid-point and into your own outer board.

Two on the Roof: When two checkers have been hit and are sitting on the Bar.

Two-Down: To play two checkers down from your 13 point into your outer board quadrant.

U

Under the Gun: To have a blot in your opponent’s home board that is in danger of being hit by more than two of your opponent’s checkers.

Underdog: The player who is most likely to lose.

Undoubled Gammon: To win a gammon in a game that has not seen any cube action.

Unstack: To play checkers off of points that have three or more checkers.

V

Volatility: The calculation of how the equity of the current position is likely to swing on forthcoming rolls.

 

X

X-22: The nickname of Paul Magriel, a backgammon champion and author of the famous book “Backgammon” published back in 1976.

 


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