Some old sources suggest that doubling was already a practice in Eastern countries in a predecessor of the game from which backgammon likely originated.
In 1925, Grand Duke Dimitri of Russia introduced the doubling feature in backgammon as we know it today after having played Tric Trac, a popular backgammon variant, at the prestigious Travelers Club in Paris. Tric Trac had been played in Paris for centuries and involved doubling bets during the game. After moving to New York from France, Grand Duke Dimitri introduced doubling in traditional backgammon in clubs in New York, where backgammon was played regularly.
Initially, the iconic Doubling Cube was not yet used to keep track of the number of doubles. This invention came only a few years later. The person who invented the Cube is unknown.
Today, almost 100 years later, the Doubling Cube remains a crucial element in the game and is used in all professional and international backgammon tournaments worldwide.
The Doubling Cube in Backgammon: Understanding the Rules
In Backgammon, the Doubling Cube is an essential element that adds a strategic dimension to the game and can significantly increase the stakes of a match or cash game.
The doubling cube is a six-sided die marked with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 and is used to increase the stakes of the game. The use of the doubling cube is part of modern backgammon. In traditional backgammon, the Cube is not part of the game.
How to use the Doubling Cube with Backgammon?
Once the game is underway, either player can propose to double the stakes by offering the use of the doubling cube. If the other player accepts the offer, the doubling cube is placed in the middle of the board with the number 2 facing upwards, indicating that the stakes have been doubled. The player who accepted the double then becomes the owner of the doubling cube and has the option to double again at any point during the game.
If a player declines the offer to double, they forfeit the game and lose the current stake. If a player accepts the double, they must continue playing as usual, but the game’s stakes are now doubled. For example, if the current stake was $10 and the doubling cube is used, the new stake would be $20. If the player who offered the double wins the game, they win the doubled stake. If the player who accepted the double wins the game, they win the original stake plus the doubled stake.
Rules and Additional Rules with Doubling in Backgammon
Here are the most commonly used rules regarding the use of the Doubling Cube in Backgammon:
Automatic Doubles Rule in Backgammon
The stakes are automatically doubled if identical numbers are thrown on the first roll. The Doubling Cube is turned to 2 and remains in the middle. Players usually agree to limit the number of automatic doubles to one per game. Players can offer a double on their turn to increase the stakes further.
The Jacoby Rule in Backgammon:
In money games, Gammons and Backgammons count only as a single game if neither player has offered a double during the course of the game. This rule eliminates situations where players avoid doubling so they can play on for a gammon.
The Crawford Rule in Backgammon:
The Crawford rule in Backgammon states that the doubling cube cannot be used in the next game once a player is one point away from winning the total match.
Beaver Rule in Backgammon:
In backgammon cash games or chouette play, a beaver is an optional rule that allows the player who has just been doubled to re-double immediately while keeping control of the doubling cube. This means that instead of accepting the double and ending the game at the current stake level, the player can increase the stakes even further by proposing a re-double. This is a high-risk, high-reward move, as the opponent can then choose to either accept the new higher stakes or decline and forfeit the game.
Raccoon Rule in Backgammon:
The raccoon rule is an optional rule in backgammon that can be used in conjunction with the beaver rule. It allows the opponent to immediately redouble after a Beaver without forfeiting their option to redouble again later. If the opponent still thinks they are the favorite after accepting the initial redouble, they can immediately turn the doubling cube to 8. The cube does not change hands with these redoubles and must be made immediately after the initial double has been accepted, without any intervening dice rolls or checker moves.