How to Set Up a Backgammon Board

You'll Be Ready to Play in 5 Minutes or Less

High angle view of a young couple playing backgammon
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For casual backgammon players, it's easy to forget how to set up the board if you play infrequently. Follow these instructions and you'll have it set up and ready to play in no time. Backgammon set up is simple and can be done in 5 minutes or less.

What You Need

  • Backgammon board
  • 30 playing discs or checkers, 15 in each of two colors
  • Two six-sided dice to play the game

Set Up the Board

  1. Set the board on a level playing surface between the two players.
  1. Count the playing discs to confirm that you have the correct number. There should be 15 each of two colors, for a total of 30.
  2. Know your terms. The 24 triangular areas on which the discs are initially placed and across which they move are called points.
  3. The home board is the half that includes both players' home areas (this could be on your left or your right, depending which color you're playing). The other half is the called the outer board. The bar separates the home board from the outer board.
  4. If you're playing a more serious game, you might use a doubling cube, but it has no impact on the initial setup.
  5. Decide which player will use which color.
  6. Place five discs of your color on the point closest to the bar but within the home board on your side. Your opponent should do the same on his side.
  7. Place two discs of your color on the point farthest from the bar and within the home board on your opponent's side. Your opponent should do the same on your side.
  1. Place three discs of your color on the second point from the bar and within the outer board on your side. Your opponent should do the same on his side.
  2. Place five discs of your color on the point farthest from the bar and within the outer board on your opponent's side. Your opponent should do the same on your side.
  1. Alternatively, use a method based on a system of numbering the points. Points are numbered for each player, from 1 to 24, starting in that player's home board.
  2. Discs are placed as follows: five on each 6 point, three on each 8 point, five on each 13 point, and two on each 24 point. If done correctly, neither player will have any discs remaining. 

Tips

  1. Setting up a backgammon board sounds more complex than it really is.
  2. It doesn't matter which side is designated the home board and which is the outer board, but both players' home boards, and therefore their outer boards as well, must be on the same side.