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Backgammon Variants

Russian Backgammon

Russian Backgammon is a true race, with both players moving their checkers in the same direction and bearing off from the same table.

Setup: All checkers start off the board. Both players enter their fifteen checkers into the same starting table, move them around the board in the same direction, and bear them off from the same finishing table.

Object: The first player to bear off all of his checkers wins the game.

To start: Each player rolls one die and the higher number goes first. That player may use the numbers just thrown or he may roll both dice again to begin his first turn.

Entering checkers: You enter a checker by placing it on a point in the opponent's home board corresponding to a number rolled. For example, if you roll 6-3, then you enter one checker on the opponent's six-point and one checker on his three-point. Once you have entered one or more checkers, you may use subsequent rolls to move those checkers forward, to enter more checkers, or both.

You must enter all of your checkers before you can make any other move.

Movement: The roll of the dice indicates how many points, or pips, the player is to move his checkers. The following rules apply:

• A checker may be moved only to an open point, one that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers.
• The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves. For example, if you roll 5 and 3, you may move one checker five spaces to an open point and another checker three spaces to an open point, or you may move the one checker a total of eight spaces to an open point, but only if the intermediate point (either three or five spaces from the starting point) is also open.
• You must use both numbers of a roll if possible. If you can play one number but not both, you must play the higher one.

Doubles: Rolling doubles is especially valuable. This is what happens:

• First you play each number twice. For example, a roll of 6-6 means you have four sixes to use.
• Then you play the complement of the roll. The "complement" of a number is its difference from 7. (Opposite faces of a die total 7.) For example, if you rolled 2-2 and played four 2's, you also play four 5's (2 + 5 = 7).
• Then you roll again, and if you get another double you play it as described above and get to roll yet again.

If you are unable to use any part of a roll, you lose the rest. For example, suppose you rolled 4-4, and could only play three of your 4's. Then you are not allowed to play any of the 3's on the other side of the dice, and you do not get to roll again.

If you roll doubles while entering your checkers, you enter four men for the one side of the dice. The reverse side of the dice are not played while you still have additional checkers to enter. However, if you have four or fewer checkers to enter and are able to enter all of them with a roll of doubles, then you are allowed to continue with your turn, playing the reverse side of the dice and rolling again.

Hitting: A checker sitting alone on a point is called a blot. If an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is hit and placed on the bar.

Any time you have one or more checkers on the bar, your first obligation is to reenter those checker(s) into the opponent's home board. The same rules apply as for entering checkers at the start of the game.

Bearing off: Once you have moved all fifteen of your checkers to the finishing table, you may begin bearing off. You bear off a checker by rolling a number that corresponds to the point on which it resides, then removing the checker from the board.

If there is no checker on the point indicated by the roll, you must make a legal move using a checker on a higher-numbered point. If there are no checkers on higher-numbered points, you must remove a checker from the highest point that has a checker.

Since both players are bearing off from the same table, it often happens that one player is hit during the bearoff. A hit checker must be reentered and brought around the board again before that player can resume bearing off.

Scoring: The first player to bear off all his checkers wins the game and scores one point. If the loser has not borne of any checkers, the winner scores two points. Or if the loser has not borne of any checkers, and still has a checker off the board, on the bar, or in the entry table, then the winner scores three points.

There is no doubling in this game.

Differences from Backgammon
 All checkers start off the board. The winner of the opening roll has the option of rerolling for his first turn. Both players enter in the same table and bear off from the same table. A roll of doubles is played twice, first using the numbers showing on the top of the dice, then using the numbers on the bottom of the dice. Then the player gets to roll again. (This rule does not apply during the initial entry of checkers.)

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