When the Dice are Cocked in Backgammon

When something wrong happens to the dice they get cocked in backgammon. Here is what we mean by "cocked" backgammon dice.

We often throw our dice to the right side of the board. We make sure that the dice pieces are flat on the board by the time they stop moving. If anything untoward happens to the dice—like, if any one die (or both) is thrown off the board, or gets past the bar and onto the other side, or does not stop flat on the board—the dice result gets "cocked."

The dice are cocked when an error results from the throw, nullifying the roll and resulting to a re-throw of the dice. A dice roll should be free from interference so that its movement is influenced solely by the force of the dice throw.

No other impediment should cause its slow down or stoppage aside from its natural movement slow down. What numbers they show when correctly rolled dictates the number of points a checker will move, or what checker to bear off.

Bearing off is what's crucial with a backgammon dice roll. The number result from a dice roll can either be for bearing off a checker located on the point corresponding to a die result, or the number of steps a checker can do going to the home board. But all these come to nothing when the dice roll is cocked. The player would have to re-throw the dice.

In bearing off, the highest number result always applies to our checker located on the highest number point—as long as the dice results are not cocked.

For instance, we roll the dice and get a 5-1. And then we have 3 checkers on 4-point and a checker on 3-point. The higher die result does not correspond to our 4-point but we may take a checker off our 4-point.

If we have a 6-4 dice result and our checkers on 6-point have all been borne off (but we have checkers on 5-point), we may use the die result to bear off a checker from 5-point. But this, again, depends on how well the dice were thrown.

For moving checkers and bearing them off everything depends on how well the dice were thrown and how well they stopped on the board.

In the above examples we see how a good move can be overruled by a cocked backgammon dice. Even if a cocked dice result benefits our play, it is disqualified and should be rolled again.