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Online Backgammon Glossary
Your complete Backgammon Dictionary

Just start playing backgammon and have no idea what people you are playing are saying half the time? Been playing backgammon for awhile but still get stuck by some experienced player's mastery of backgammon jargon? If you are looking for a particular backgammon term just click on the letter below and scroll down until you find it.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

C

Calcutta Auction: Prior to the start of a tournament, participants or spectators can often bid on who will win the event. The auction could be based on a bid for one player or sometimes a packaged group of players. The money goes into a fund or pool that is later handed out to those that bid successfully. An Auctioneer goes through the players or groups one by one asking for bids on those players. The person who bids highest for the player then 'owns' that player in the auction and puts the amount bid into the prize pool. The person who 'owns' the player who wins, wins the money in the prize pool. There is usually a 'buyback' option where the player being bought can purchase a share of themselves in the Calcutta Auction. The entire auctioning and bidding process is usually a fun event. Even if you don't win the tournament you may still win money by buying a player in the Calcutta Auction.

Candlesticks (Towers, Railroad Tracks, Stacking): To pile all the checkers on a few already established points. A player who plays too safely by not leaving any blots will usually end up making candlesticks.

Captain : In a Chouette, the player who represents the interests of all the contestants who are playing against the man in the box. The Captain typically rolls the dice and makes all final decisions regarding checker play and gains the opportunity of being the box by winning the game.

Carry : To move a checker.

Cash : To double your opponent when they are in such a bad position that you know that it will be refused allowing you to "cash" in your lead for money or points. It is correct to cash if you are way ahead in a race yet not so far ahead that you will win a gammon.

Cat's Eyes (snake eyes): A roll of double 1's.

Centered Cube: When the cube has not been used to double and remains in the center. Both players have access to a centered cube.

Checkers : The individual pieces of the players army. Each side has
fifteen checkers also referred to as men, counters, pips, stones, or tiles.

Chouette : A game of backgammon composed of three or more players. One player, said to be "in the box", plays against the captain. The fortunes of the other players depend on the fortunes of the Captain. The various partners may consult freely against the man in the box. At the conclusion of a game, the captain's place is taken by the next in order of the contestants on his side, who becomes the new captain. The box
plays for the agreed stake against each of the opponents. Playing a chouette is a fun way to involve several people at once and several lively chouettes can often be found at a backgammon tournament. The Chouette got its name from the french bird (screech owl) that tends to be attacked by all the other birds.

Clean (Clean Play): A legal move. All moves are clean when playing on the computer as only legal moves are accepted or permitted while playing a game of backgammon online.

Clear a Point: To give up an already established point. During the bear off, if you take all of your checkers off of the 6 pt. you are said to have cleared that point.

Closed Board: A situation where one player has made the six points in their home board. If a blot is hit, that checker will not be able to
re-enter the game until the player opens up (breaks) the home board. Your chances of winning a game while you are on the bar against a closed board are usually slim.

Closed out (Shutout): When a checker from the bar cannot re-enter because all of the points in the opponents inner board are occupied.
It is easier to score a gammon if you have at least two of your opponents checkers closed out.

Cluster Method (of pip counting): A way of counting pips developed by Jack Kissane known as one of the fastest pip counters in the backgammon world. Cluster counting involves the mental shifting of checkers into reference positions where the pipcount in known. The Cluster method of pip counting is far easier than trying to subtract from the pipcount every roll.

Cock Shot:
Coming down from the bar with a roll of 6-2 when only the 2 point is open and bouncing out to hit a blot on the 8 point. An example of a Joker (which causes a huge swing in equity) would be a cock shot.

Cocked Dice: Any die (dice) which land illegally on a checker, off the board or in any manner other than flush and flat on the half of the board on the player's right. If cocked dice are thrown the roll can not be
played and the player has to re-roll the dice.


Coffeehouse : Misleading talk to confuse the opponent or cause them to make a decision that would be to your advantage. By pretending to be completely against doubling the box a player may make the box think that the double could be accepted when in fact it is very strong. This type of coffeehouse is usually considered unethical.

Combination Shot: See Indirect Shot.

Combinations of the Dice: The number of possible rolls out of the possible 36 to accomplish a specific objective. There are only 5 combinations of the dice that will allow you to roll a 9. 6-3, 3-6, 5-4, 4-5, and 3-3.

Come In: Bringing a checker back into play, after having been put on the bar. You can only come in on points in your opponents inner board that are not occupied by two or more of your opponents checkers.

Come Under the Gun: To move your back men forward in your opponent's inner board so that they have at least three checkers bearing directly on them. Magriel devotes a section of his chapter on Splitting in his book 'Backgammon' to situations involving coming under the gun.

Comfort Station: A nickname for your midpoint (13 pt.) on which checkers escaping the other side of the board may rest safely. The roll of 6-5 can be used to bring a checker from the opponents 1 pt. directly to the comfort station.

Communicate : See Connectivity.

Connectivity : Having checkers placed so that they are within 6 pips of each other so that they can more easily make points and be protected.
It is important to maintain connectivity so that your opponent can not freely hit a blot without the danger of a return shot.

Consolation Flight: Players eliminated early in the main tournament are eligible to compete in the consolation tournament or flight. If you do not do well in the main flight there is still a chance to win in the consolation flight which often offers prizes as well.

Consolidate : To better organize a loose position by making points and safetying blots. At the end of a blot hitting contest it is important to consolidate your checkers and lock up permanent assets.

Contact : To hit or be hit. If a game has a lot of contact it is said to
be a blot hitting contest.


Contact Game: A type of backgammon game where opposing checkers have not gone past each other and still may hit each other. It is no longer a contact game when it is impossible for either side to have a checker sent back.

Controlling a board (Containment): Having points or checkers bearing directly on a particular board. One of the uses of the midpoint is that it allows you to control your outer board and send back opponents checkers trying to escape your inner board.

Control a Point: Having two or more checkers on a point. It is important to control key points such as the 5 pt. and the bar point.

Counting Pips (The Count, Pipcount): A method of calculating how a player stands in the race by determining the minimum number of pips they will have to roll to remove all the checkers from the board. By comparing their pip count to their opponents pip count, they can determine whether they are ahead or behind in the race. There are
several methods of counting pips such as the Cluster Method developed by Jack Kissane.


Coup Classique: A series of plays that starts with the opponent having only three checkers left on the 2 pt. to bear off and rolling a 1 leaving two of them open followed by the player hitting both checkers and going on to win the game. It takes great patience and timing and often the recirculation of checkers to be able to pull off a Coup Classique but it is one of the most satisfying types of wins in backgammon.

Cover : To place a second checker on an exposed blot of the same color making a point. If you are afraid of being hit it is important to cover or safety your blots.

CPW : Cubeless Probability of Winning- The chances a player has of winning the game if the doubling cube is not in use. At the beginning of Double Match Point, the CPW is 50% assuming the players are of equal strength.

Crawford Game (Crawford Rule): The Crawford Game is used in backgammon match play when someone gets within 1 point of winning the match. On the next game the doubling cube cannot be used. However on subsequent games the cube is again available for use. Named after its inventor John R. Crawford. The Crawford rule was established to reward the player getting to match point sooner by not allowing the trailer to simply double with no cost every subsequent game.

Crossover : When a checker moves from one quadrant of the board to another, or is borne off. It is important to use the numbers on the dice wisely when trying to save a gammon by getting as many crossovers as possible.

Crossover Count: The number of crossovers required to take off all of your checkers. This is often used to help doubling decisions once contact is broken. If you are several crossovers ahead of your opponent late in the game it is usually time to double.

Crunch : When a roll forces you to break up a prime or board by
moving checkers forward in a situation when it is undesirable to do so. If you have poor timing and are too far forward, you will be forced to crunch your board when behind a prime.

Cube (Doubling Cube, Doubling Block): A die-shaped object with a geometric progression of six numbers ranging from 2 to 64. At the
outset of a game, the cube is placed in the middle, and either player has the option of doubling the game. The player who is doubled or redoubled has the option of declining or accepting the cube. If it is declined, they lose the game, if it is accepted, the stakes of the game are doubled. The invention of the cube made backgammon an even more interesting and exciting game.

Cube Action: The decisions made whether to offer, accept, or drop a double. In difficult positions it is common for players to ask each other about their thoughts on the cube action in each position (after the game).

Cube Decision: To decide on a cube action. A single cube decision late
in the match may decide the winner.


Cube Equity: The equity (or winning chances) added to a position due
to ownership of the cube. There are times where it may be unclear as to whether to take a double or not and the cube equity may make the difference.

Cube Ownership: When a player is in possession of the cube (after they have accepted a double) they are said to have 'cube ownership'.

Cup : See Dice Cup.