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Understanding the Terms of Backgammon

Author: Neha Agrawal

The game of Backgammon has a language all its own. Though you’re surely familiar with some of the terms of the game, such as checkers, many of the other terms may take a little explaining. There are literally dozens of phrases used in the game.

Some are just slang terms for certain actions, like “Acey-deucey” which is a roll of the dice that gets a 1 and a 2. You don’t really need to know that phrase to play the game, but there are others you certainly do need to know.

Many of them are words you thought you knew, but they mean something different in this game. “Enter” for instance, refers to a piece that was a blot and then sent to the bar. It has to enter the game safely before you can perform any other moves. If you do manage to enter successfully, it is referred to as “coming in.”

The need to enter with a piece is only necessary following a “hit,” which is when one player forces the other player’s piece to go onto the bar. If you get a hit and make a point on the same roll, it’s known as “hit and cover.”

There are also some animals that seem to be part of the game. A “beaver” is a term which describes a player redoubling right after the other player has redoubled. This play could be followed by the “raccoon,” which is a redoubling immediately following a beaver.

If instead of redoubling and redoubling, you decide not to accept the offer and just end the game, that’s known as a “drop.” The correct time to do this also has a term: “drop point.”

There is some romance in Backgammon terminology as well. “Lover’s Leap” refers to an opening move of the game in which the player rolls a 6 and a 5. In the standard move, he sends a piece all the way from point 13 to join his stack at point 24. Of course, he doesn’t want to have too many checkers on one point. That is known as a “candlestick.”

Some of the terms are easy to understand. The 1 on each of the dice is called an Ace, while the 2 is called the Deuce. There are many other terms used in backgammon which probably need explaining. But if you’re new to the game, it probably won’t take you too long to pick up some of the unique backgammon expressions.