Playing Backgammon on ParlorPlay

We assume here that you already know the basics of backgammon. If you'd like to review them, Backgammon Galore has a nice summary of the rules.

You should also know that we use FIBS, a popular public backgammon server, as our game server behind the scenes. Here is a brief introduction to FIBS, its community and history.

Your Web Browser

You need a reasonably modern web browser. Firefox is our favorite but most others work fine. Make sure JavaScript support is enabled. See the FAQ for more about browser compatibility and operating systems.

If you think you have a compatible web browser but lag seems excessive, or things are just not working, it could be that your ISP is doing something clever with normal (port 80) web access. In that case try this alternate entry to ParlorPlay and please let me know what happens.

Getting Started

Click "Play Backgammon" when you are ready to enter the world of FIBS. If you have not stored a FIBS name and password in your profile, then a popup window appears that lets you either enter them now, or sign up for a FIBS login.

After the backgammon window appears, you can minimize or close the original browser window.

The backgammon window (as well as other areas of the site) has "tooltip" style help available for most items, assuming your browser supports that (most do). If you position your mouse over an object for a second or two, a little message will pop up giving more information about that item.

The Players List

On the right side of the window is a list of players, with the player name in the left column and who they're playing with or watching in the right column. Watching is indicated by [brackets]. If a player is not playing or watching then a "(Ready)" status will be indicated if they are ready to accept invitations.

Player names are color-coded by rating. High ratings are bright red, low ratings are bright green, others in between on a continuous scale. ParlorPlay users have their names underlined.

You can mouse over a name to see more information, or click to open a window for private chat and some other actions. Click Filter in the Players menu to restrict the list to desired parameters.

Entries in the right column are blue if the player is ready to play. Click on this to invite, or to watch the game if the person is already playing.

The Backgammon Board

The frame around the game board contains the players' names, scores, pip counts and match length, and an Undo button. If the players have photos then those will appear also. At the bottom there is a text input area where you can enter commands or chat, and to the left of that is a selector for the type of input.

By default your home board (from which you bear off) is positioned on the left, but you can put it on the right by editing your profile.

The menus present various settings and actions. Also if you know the FIBS command for an action, you can type it into the text input area and hit Enter (make sure Command mode is selected!).

Watching a Game

There are three ways that you can start watching a game:

  1. Find the player you want to watch in the players list, and click on the name of their opponent to the right of that name.
  2. Find the player you want to watch in the players list, click on that name, and then click "Watch" in the popup window.
  3. Type the FIBS command "watch <player>" (where <player> is the name of the player to watch) into the text input area and hit Enter.

To stop watching, do one of the following:

  1. Click the Go menu and select Leave.
  2. Enter the FIBS command "unwatch".

Chatting with Others

You can send chat messages to one person, or to everyone who is online, or to others who are watching or playing in the same game as yourself. Of course there are FIBS commands for all of these, but it's usually easier to do one of the following:

  1. Select a talk mode from the drop-down list, type in what you want to say, and press Enter. Before pressing Enter, always be careful that the desired talk mode is selected!
  2. To converse easily with one person, click on that person in the list of players to open up a private chat window, and enter what you want to say into its text input area. Your messages and their responses will appear in the top portion of the same window. If they log out, the window will close.

One interesting player to "chat" with is RepBot, the Reputation Robot. Try opening a private chat window with RepBot and typing "help".

Starting a Game

FIBS supports competitive (rated) play in the form of fixed length matches, or unrated play in the form of "unlimited" matches. We strongly recommend that you play unlimited matches until you become comfortable with the mechanics of the interface.

Please don't try to play before you know how to chat! You will not make friends if you run into a problem and are unable to say anything.

Click the Toggle menu and check your "Ready" state. You cannot be invited to play if it is not checked. Conversely, if you don't want to be invited yet then make sure it's not checked.

To invite someone to play, select a person from the list of players and click on their "(Ready)" indicator. This opens an invitation window that lets you select the type of match and some other options. Choose as desired, and then click OK to send the invitation. If the other player accepts, your game will start, otherwise nothing happens.

If someone invites you to play, you'll see a popup window with a similar set of options. You can choose your own preferences and then accept the invitation. If you don't want to accept, then click the Decline button which will send a "no thanks" message, or just close the invitation window.

Invitations come and go quickly - snooze and you lose!

Playing

A green arrow on the left side indicates whose turn it is to roll the dice or to move. Most FIBS players like to play quickly, so if you're just getting started then it's a good idea to say so and ask your opponent to be patient while you figure things out.

When playing, click anywhere in the board to roll the dice. Click on the dice when you have finished your moves. Click "Undo" if you make a mistake. Moving is done in either of two ways:

  1. Click on a checker with the left mouse button to move it by the left die value, or with the right mouse button for the right die value. Note the green target indicator as you mouse over checkers that can be moved.
  2. Click on and drag a checker to its destination, and release the mouse button.

To double, click the cube.

You are expected to complete each game. Leaving a rated match to avoid a bad score is considered cheating.

Problems

If the game gets "stuck" and you are unable to play when you think it should be your turn, try clicking the "Undo" button to refresh the game state. This is needed on rare occasions due to a bug in the FIBS server.

If you find that your whole FIBS session is frozen, it's likely that network delays have caused your connection to time out. In this case click the Go menu and select Error Recovery to re-establish communication. But if the delay has exceeded two minutes then you will have to log in again.

Quitting

To disconnect from the FIBS backgammon server, you can click the Go menu and select Disconnect, or just close the backgammon window.