Backgammon 101: The Animals

Who would ever thought that animals would be allowed in backgammon? Yes, there are two specific animals used in backgammon (no, they're not used to make your backgammon board or other pieces). These backgammon animals (the beaver and the raccoon) are used in connection with the doubling cube. To understand the concept of these two backgammon mascots we'll have to understand what the doubling cube is.

The doubling cube was a great invention that added to backgammon's action packed scenes. Initially, when it was invented way back in the 30's, the principle behind the doubling cube was to make money (or even more money). It was an innovation that added spice to money play and subsequently became a huge ingredient to tournament play in backgammon.

The doubling cube is that over-sized dice you'll find in your backgammon set. It looks like a die but just a little bigger the two pairs of dice you shake when making your move. It has even numbers on it starting with the number two, then four, then eight, and doubles over and over until you get to 64.

Whenever one backgammon player finds that he has a significant advantage in a match, that player can take the doubling cube, turn it over to the next higher value, and offer to double the stakes of that game. Since the advantage would shift back and forth between the two backgammon players, it won't be uncommon to see the other player offer to redouble the game's value using the doubling cube.

With the addition of the doubling cube, backgammon will never be the same again. A backgammon match just becomes more interesting when doubling cube is in play. There are even games that have been doubled and redoubled over and over. Another exciting additions to the doubling action in backgammon are the backgammon animals.

The backgammon animals are well used in money games. If someone doubles you and, upon inspection, you find that it was a bad double (meaning you're the one with the real advantage) you can immediately redouble the stakes and still retain possession of the doubling cube. To do that all you have to do is say "beaver" when you take the doubling cube, you then turn the cube over to the next higher value.

Here's an added twist - the raccoon then enters. If ever your opponent thinks that you've made a mistake by beavering then he can redouble your redouble by saying "raccoon". You retain possession of the doubling cube but the value of the game has been redoubled once more.

The uses of the doubling cube and these backgammon animals have added a new dimension to money play and tournament play. Just be careful when these backgammon critters come your way.