Backgammon Match

Match play is a format of backgammon where two players compete against each other in a series of games, with the winner being the first player to reach a predetermined number of points. Typically, the number of points needed to win a match is set at an odd number like 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, etc, depending on the forehand agreed rules between the players.

  • In traditional backgammon, played in most Arabic countries and European countries like Turkey and Greece, matches are often played for up to 5 points.
  • In match play, how it is played in international tournaments, each game is played according to the rules of modern backgammon, with the doubling cube being used to increase the stakes of the game. Those matches can go up to 21 points.

In both tournament backgammon and traditional backgammon, the players will continue to play games until one player reaches the predetermined number of points required to win the match.

The Use of the Doubling Cube in a Backgammon Match

  • At the start of each game in match play, the doubling cube is set in the middle and accessible for both players. The game starts with a standard value of 1 for a Single win, 2 for a Gammon, and 3 for a Backgammon.
    If a player feels that they have an advantage, they can offer to double the stakes of the game by turning the doubling cube to 2. The other player then has the option to accept the double and continue playing the game for double the original stakes or to decline the double and forfeit the game, losing the original stakes.
  • If the game continues after a double, the stakes will continue to double each time the doubling cube is turned up to a maximum, whereby the predetermined number of points required to win the match is reached.
  • The winner of the game will then earn a number of points equal to the current value of the doubling cube. For example, if the doubling cube is set to 4 at the end of the game, the winner will earn 4 points towards their total score in the match multiplied by 2 in case of a gammon or by 3 in case of a backgammon loss.
  • The first player to reach the predetermined number of points required to win the match will be declared the winner.

Rules regarding the Doubling Cube in Matchplay

Once one player is one point away from winning the match, the Crawford rule comes into effect.
Under the Crawford rule, the player one point away from winning the match cannot use the doubling cube in the next game. This means that if the trailing player has lost the previous game and is now one point away from losing the match, they are not allowed to double in the next game. This rule is designed to prevent the leading player from winning the match on a lucky roll or by exploiting the doubling cube in a way that would make the match unfair or overly dependent on chance.

Note that the Crawford rule only applies to the game immediately following the game that would have ended the match. If the trailing player wins the Crawford game, the doubling cube can be used again in subsequent games. If the leading player wins the Crawford game, the match is over, and the leading player wins.

Crawford Rule

  • When one of the players reaches the matchpoint, the Cube cannot be used in the following game. For example: If you play a match to 5 points, when a player reaches a score of 4, the cube will not be used for the next game.
  • In case the player who reaches the matchpoint loses that game, then the Cube can be used again in the game after.
John. R Crawford, bridge and backgammon player and inventor of the Crawford Rule.