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Backgammon Play Sites

Copyright © 1996-2009 by Tom Keith

There are many sites on the Internet where you can play live backgammon with other players from all over the world. Here are the most popular places to play. Most sites feature a ratings system. For more information on how ratings work, read this article by Kevin Bastian.

Some sites offer play for money. Playing for money can be fun, but you should be careful. Play only for modest amounts, especially against people you don't know. And remember the House takes a cut of the winner's proceeds.

The term "client software" in the listings below refers to special software you must download to your computer before you can play. Usually sites that require you to use their client software will run only on Windows computers. (FIBS is an exception; it has client software for a variety of platforms.)

Other sites use Java to implement the client interface. Java-based sites can be used from any type of computer as long as you use a Java-enabled web browser such as Netscape or Internet Explorer.

   First Internet Backgammon Server (FIBS)
DEVELOPER: Andreas Schneider.
COST: Free.
DESCRIPTION: The longest running server and a popular site. You can play backgammon or just watch. The usual style of competition is match play. A ratings system ranks players based on their performance. There are regular tournaments to participate in.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: You can access FIBS directly through telnet, but it is more pleasant to use one of the graphical client front ends. Third-party client software is available for most platforms.
DEVELOPER: Cyberarts.
COST: Guests play free. Members pay $79.95 per year, $24.95 per quarter, or $12.95 per month.
DESCRIPTION: A popular site among top players. Gamesgrid was inspired by FIBS but has added a number of advanced features. You can save and review games, for example. In addition to regular backgammon, you can play hypergammon, Nackgammon, and propositions. Advantages of membership: Members are rated, can play matches longer than 3 points, upload their picture, play against the house bots (computer players). Money settlements are supported with an E-jackpot account.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: Download custom software from GamesGrid's site.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows 98 or better or Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.
DEVELOPER: Goto Informatique.
COST: Three months free, then $34.95 per year.
DESCRIPTION: Netgammon is another popular server based on the FIBS model. The server is located in France and instruction is provided in both French and English. A feature of the system is the computer player CyberGammon.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: Download custom software from Netgammon's site.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Windows NT.
  MSN Games by Zone.com
DEVELOPER: Microsoft.
COST: Free. (Registration required.)
DESCRIPTION: A very popular site with many gaming rooms, ladders, and tournaments.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Internet Explorer 4.0 or later or Netscape Navigator 6.0 or later.
  Yahoo! Games Backgammon
COST: Free. (Registration required.)
DESCRIPTION: The game rooms are loosely organized by skill level. The skill levels are beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Social rooms are for players who prefer a more casual experience. Ladder rooms are for people who want to play on the ladder system. You may choose to watch or play games at any level.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Java-capable web browser such as Internet Explorer 4.0 or later, or Netscape 4.0 or later.
  Vinco Online Games
COST: Regular membership is free. Premier membership is $19.95 for six months.
DESCRIPTION: Backgammon, Narde, Longgammon, Hypergammon, Nackgammon, Tapa, and Acey-Deucey. Gold membership features rated play and no banner ads. Games are archived and available for searching and browsing. Money play available.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: Download custom software from VOG's site.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Internet Explorer 4.0 or later. Windows 95 or later.
DEVELOPER: Backgammon developed by Seth Tapper.
STARTED OPERATION: 1997 as PlaySite; merged with iWin.com in 2005.
COST: Free.
DESCRIPTION: Beginner and advanced game rooms. Regular tournaments. Registered players are rated.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Java-capable web browser such as Internet Explorer 3.0 or Netscape 3.0 or higher.
COST: Free.
DESCRIPTION: Head-to-head competition for fun or for cash. Compete in ladders or in tournaments for prizes.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Java-enabled browser such as Netscape 4.0 or later or Internet Explorer 4.0 or later.
COST: Guests play free. Members pay $39.95 per year.
DESCRIPTION: Variations include regular backgammon, Nackgammon, Hypergammon, and LongGammon. You can save games for importing into Snowie or Jellyfish. Optional time-limited games.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: Download custom software from GammonSite's site.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows 95 or later.
COST: Free.
DESCRIPTION: Watch or play backgammon. Games are rated. If you drop connection for more than 3 minutes you lose the game (and the associated ratings points).
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Java-enabled browser.
COST: Free. (The House takes a percentage of the stakes in games played for money.)
DESCRIPTION: Great graphics and realistic sound. Hardware random dice generator. Play for fun or play for money. Snowie monitoring and Snowie settlements of unfinished games. Five languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: Download custom software from TrueMoneygames's site.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows 95 or later.
COST: Membership is Free. (The House takes a percentage of the stakes in games played for money.)
DESCRIPTION: Features backgammon and acey deucey. Realtime player-vs-player action in a 3-D environment with live customer support. Players can wager between $5 to $1000 per game.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: Flash custom software. Can be downloaded for free from their splash page.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Flash 5 or higher.
COST: Free.
DESCRIPTION: ParlorPlay is an interface to FIBS. You are actually playing on FIBS through the ParlorPlay site.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Any of the following systems: (1) a PC with Windows 98, XP, 2000 or similar, (2) a Linux box or other Unix-like system, or (3) a Mac with OS 8-9 or OS X. Also a browser capable of running JavaScript, such as Mozilla or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
DEVELOPER: Logic Empire
COST: Free + rake on real-money games.
DESCRIPTION: Nice graphics and nice user-interface. Each player has a rating. You can play for fun or for real money. Play65 offers matches, tournaments, event-tournaments, and free tournaments—where you can win real money for free. Watch games and chat with the players. You can deposit/withdraw with all credit cards and PayPal.
For more information, read this Review of Play65.
CLIENT SOFTWARE: Download the software from their site.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows 98 or better.
  Club Games
COST: Free + rake on real-money games.
DESCRIPTION: A no-download, flash-based skill games server with no membership fees. Play for real money. The site currently offers backgammon and dominoes. You can get GNU game analysis of each game played. For more information, see this post.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Any web browser. Requires Macromedia Flash.
DEVELOPER: JD Lucky Skill.
COST: Free.
DESCRIPTION: BackgammonMasters is a backgammon game for new and advanced players to play against each other online. With simple-to-use features, chat options, clean graphics, sit & go tournaments, and Hyperbackgammon.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Win95 or later, 400MHz CPU or faster, 64MB RAM or better.

Play Online against the Computer

If you just want to practice your game, here are some sites where you can play online against the computer.

   Motif Plays Backgammon, by Tom Keith.
Java applet that plays a good game of backgammon. Motif has an easy drag-and-drop interface, it's lots of fun, and it's the strongest player in this list.
  JavaGammon, by David Byrum.
Great graphics and sound in this Java applet that plays backgammon, acey-deucey, reversi, and checkers.
  Inertron Backgammon, by Jim Preston.
Another Java applet that plays backgammon. Use the applet as a game board to play against a friend, or play against the computer. Not a strong player, but it loads and runs quickly.
  HC-Gammon, by Demo Lab.
This backgammon program learned to play through a technique called "hillclimbing."

Turn-based Sites

If you don't want to commit the time to playing a whole match at once, you can play just a few moves a day using one of these turn-based sites.

   Richard's Play by E-mail Server, by Richard Rognlie.
Play backgammon, deadgammon, hypergammon, moultezim, Nackgammon, plakoto, or grandgammon by e-mail.
  DailyGammon, by Jordan Lampe.
You sign up for one or more matches (most people have several matches going simultaneously) with other players on the site. When you log in, you complete a series of moves (move sequence) in each of your matches, and the server records your moves. Later, your opponent will log in and respond to your moves.
You don't have to be online at the same time as your opponent. Spend as little as a few minutes a week actually making the moves, though most players make a move every day. No special software required; works with WebTV.
Spread your games out over days, weeks, or months. Nothing to install. Low graphics for fast page loads. Games are stored forever so you can review them later.


Here are some other places you can get information on where to play online.

   Places to Play Online Against Real People,
by Gregg Cattanach.
   Online Play Sites,
by Mel Leifer.
   Selected Postings from Rec.Games.Backgammon,
compiled by Tom Keith.

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