Standard Rules for Backgammon Match Play

When you play backgammon you will most likely be playing games in a series. The objective of such games is to be the first to get a certain amount of points to actually win a match. This mode of playing backgammon is called match play and is a step forward from single game backgammon.

We'll go over backgammon rules that are used during match play. One particular rule we'd like to go into detail is called the Crawford Rule. You might have an idea what this rule is and how it works. We will go into the details of this rule and give you an example in the process. Understanding backgammon rules related to match play would become your foundation for participating in competitions and tournaments.

The same standard rules in backgammon still apply in backgammon since everything in this game will go back to basics. The only thing you need to remember is that rules such as automatic doubles, the Jacoby Rule, and beavers usually will not be allowed in match play.

In match play you don't only race your checkers all over the backgammon board but you also are in a race against your opponent to reach a certain number of points. The total number of points needed to win a match is often a predetermined and agreed upon amount. The first player who gets to that total wins the match. There is no bonus for going over the predetermined number of winning points.

As stated previously, the Crawford Rule says that if you or your opponent is only one point shy of the total to win a certain backgammon match then the doubling cube will not be in use for next game. The idea behind this rule is to prevent a lot of unnecessary doubling at this stage of the game.

Let's say it's a race to five points to win a match in backgammon. One player plays white and the other player plays black checkers. After three games black gains the upper hand getting four points and white with only one (black wins one game in a double). Since this backgammon match is a race to five points black only needs on more point. The fourth game will apply the Crawford Rule (thus will be called a Crawford Game).

If white wins in the Crawford Game then the doubling cube will be brought back into play. If black wins then the match is over. If the Crawford Rule were not in use white would have doubled in the fourth game unnecessarily since white didn't have that much to lose anyway and would reduce black's advantage to nothing. This rule maintains the value of being one point shy of victory and at the same time gives the trailing player a chance of recovering later without playing so many more games. Understanding these match play rules is an essential preparation for future tournament participation.