All About Backgammon Equipment (Second part)
We will continue our backgammon equipment journey with the checkers; It is best to buybackgammon checkers with the board, because there must be an exact fit or the board will not play right or close up right.
But after a few years, people do see checkers chip, break, or get lost, and you need to get replacement. It is critical to make sure you get exact measurements for both width and diameter.
It is also important to make sure you get the right color checkers to go with our board not just for aesthetics, but to make sure you don’t have checkers that blend in with the color of the pips so that you might not see a checker.
I happen to like thick, heavy checkers for two reasons:first, if they are thick, it is less likely that the dice will keep landing on top of them causing excessive re-rolling.Second, if they are thick and heavy, it is less likely they will accidentally slide from one place to another if the board or table is hit or knocked into.
Many people, including myself, love the old bakelite checkers they are thick and heavy, but they also have an indentation in the center which makes them easy to move with one finger.They stopped making backelite checkers, so they are hard to find and expensive, but you can find them on Ebay and other sources from time to time.Again, be very careful of the dimensions.
If you play serious backgammon, you must use precision dice.The dice have rounded corners so ensure they roll more and to be sure to give you a fairer, more random roll. They are also perfectly balanced, and the clear ones usually have a marking inside. This marking helps prevent someone coming into a game making a dice switch. And a dice switch, or crooked dice, is something that does happen, and has been caught in both money and tournament play.
Crooked dice can be weighted to give the roller more numbers that he wants, or they could have metal inserts or magnets that would attract to magnets in the board to allow the roller to get better dice.
If you play for big money, you might check the dice with magnets of your own; you might be sure to use NEUTRAL dice and a neutral board, but you are always taking a risk.Even with fair dice, there are dice mechanics and rolling tricks that people have used to get more favorable results.
There are many great cup manufacturers out there. The important thing is to have a cup large enough so that the dice tumble around inside, but not so large that the dice fall out when you are shaking the cup. All good cups should have a lip so that the dice hit and come tumbling and rotating out of the cup when rolled.
Make sure that when you play for fun, tournaments, or money, that your opponent shakes the dice, up and down, at least 3 times, before rolling. Even if the players are honest, I believe in shaking to make sure you don’t get repeating dice.
OTHER BACKGAMMON EQUIPMENT ITEMS
There are many other accessories you may well want to have once you start playing backgammon seriouslly. I personally love a baffle box. It is a box that sits at the end of the board, and you throw the dice into them, and it makes them tumble and rotate before landing on the board. I have two of them, and I use them as often as I can.
I also keep my best boards in a cloth carrying bag to protect the outside of the board.For tournaments, I love to have a scoreboard so that not only do I and my opponent clearly know the score, but anyone who watches will know. Carol sells them for around $30.
I happen to carry a camera with me to take pictures of interesting positions I want to run through a backgammon bot later, but many people mark the positions down on position cards.
I recommend you take some time to look at other people’s backgammon equipment, and then, before you invest in a good board, dice, cups, etc., do a little web-surfing and see what’s out there, but I warn you, if you buy from a stranger on the web, you might well get inferior or damaged goods. If you want to be sure you get quality, and know you can return it if you don’t like it, check out Carol Cole. She’s the Queen of Backgammon Equipment.
Phil Simborg , May 2007