Standard Rules on Bearing Off Backgammon Checkers

The theme of backgammon is something like a race. And just like all races there is a finish line that must be crossed. In backgammon your checker has run its course after it has entered into your home board and has been taken off the board. The process of taking your checkers off the home board to finish the said race is called the bear off. We'll look into backgammon rules that involve this closing stage in the game.

Let us now extend the simple definition of the bear off we have above. The bear off is the term used to describe the process of removing your checkers off the board. This term also denotes the final stage of a backgammon game, so to speak. It is also worth mentioning that there are more games that end abruptly without reaching the bear off stage in backgammon. In these instances one player will resign from the game either on his own will or because of a decline to double. This will be handled in our page on doubling and cube action.

Beginners may have a little confusion regarding the difference between a bear off and a hit since both actions will remove checkers from play. A hit takes a checker off the backgammon board and sends it back to the very start of the race making it work its way from the beginning. A bear off takes a backgammon checker and moves it forward to the finish line, so to speak, just past the Ace point or one-point. So, generally speaking, bearing off is good for you in this race while a hit is not beneficial for you.

Bearing off checkers will still follow the backgammon rules on checker movement. You bear off checkers according to the dictates of the dice as if you were moving along the board. You can only begin to bear off when all of your checkers are inside your home board. If a checker gets sent to the bar while you were bearing off then work it through the board first before continuing to bear off.

You bear off checkers as indicated on the dice. If you roll a six you normally bear off a checker on the six-point but if you have no checker on that point but have backgammon checkers on the five and four points then bear off the checker on the higher point, which is the five point. If you can't bear off checkers in a particular roll of the dice then you should instead move checkers closer to the one-point. If you can either bear off a checker or move closer to the one-point it's up to the player to decide which action he's going to take, there is no mandatory bear off rule. That covers the rules on the bear off, which will require some practice for beginners to completely comprehend.