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GOALS | RULES | CONTROLS | SCORING | STRATEGY | DID YOU KNOW?

Game Goals

Remove your red pieces from the board before your computer-controlled opponent removes the white pieces.

Game Rules

Skillgammon is a more strategic, skill-oriented version of backgammon. You will be playing red, and a computer-controlled opponent will be playing white. Instead of rolling dice, you will be selecting from up to five different possible dice rolls.

At the beginning of your turn, chose one of the dice rolls displayed in the "Available Rolls" box. When there is only one roll left in this box, five more rolls will appear in the "Coming Next" box. After that final roll is used, these five rolls will move into the "Available Rolls" box and become available to you and the computer-controlled player.

In Skillgammon, there is no concept of doubling, and thus no doubling cube.

There is a time limit of 10 minutes per game.

Otherwise, all the rules are the same as for standard backgammon.

If you are not familiar with how to play backgammon, click here.

Game Controls

Click on any of the available rolls to select them. This choice cannot be undone; once you have picked a roll, you are committed to use it.

If you are unable to use part or all of a roll, a message will be displayed to that effect. Just click to continue.

(Note that you can select an unusable roll, even if there are usable rolls in the "Available Rolls" box. There may be times when this is strategically the best thing to do.)

To move your pieces, just click and drag them. Once you have started dragging a piece, yellow arrows will show you all the legal destinations for that piece.

Note: Click anywhere during the opening introductory screens to skip them.

Game Scoring

Scoring is based on three things: pips, bearing off, and time. (Note: "pips" are simply the total number you need to move to get all of your pieces off the board. "Bearing off" means removing a piece from the board.)

You start the game with 1000 points. Then:

  • Whenever you reduce your pips, your score is increased by that amount.
  • Whenever your opponent's pips decreases, your score is decreased by that amount.
  • Whenever you bear off a piece, your score goes up by 25 points.
  • Whenever your opponent bears off a piece, your score goes down by 25 points.
  • At the end of the game, you receive a time bonus based on the following formula:

    Time Bonus = ( Time Remaining * 800 ) / Time Limit

    You will not get a time bonus if you quit in mid-game.

Game Strategy

Try to form as many blocks (two or more pieces on a point) as possible. This will limit your opponent's choices. The most valuable place to form blocks are in your home court.

Avoid leaving blots (single vulnerable pieces), especially the closer they get to your home court, where being knocked off will lose you a lot of pips.

Look ahead to the other available rolls. Sometimes you can make moves which would be too risky in regular backgammon, but which are safe in Skillgammon because no upcoming roll will result in your being knocked to the bar.

If you find yourself well behind, try to keep pieces in your opponent's home court as long as possible, in order to keep open as long as possible the possibility of knocking your opponent's pieces to the bar.

Did You Know?

  • Backgammon is one of the oldest games in the world. It may have derived from the Indian game of Pachisi, from the Egyptian game of Senet, or from the Persian game of Nard.
  • Over the course of the centuries, backgammon has been known by many names, including Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum (Game of Twelve Lines), and Tabula (Tables).
  • The origins of the word "backgammon" are not known; it may come from the Welsh "back gammon", meaning "little battle", or it may have come from the Saxon "bac gamen", meaning "back game".
  • Cardinal Woolsey attempted to outlaw backgammon in the 16th century, ordering that all backgammon boards be destroyed. In response, many people hid their backgammon sets by turning them into folding boards that could be slipped into a bookshelf. To this day, folding boards are the most popular form of backgammon sets.
  • The use of the doubling cube in backgammon first appeared in the U.S. in the 1920's.
  • Backgammon is known as Tric-Trac in France, Puff in Germany, Tablas Reales (Royal Tables) in Spain, and Shesh Besh throughout the Middle East.

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