Backgammon Stage: Playing a Roll

In backgammon, the topic of playing a roll has its own run of the mill questions. But some of these ordinary queries have become hot issues because many players have different interpretations on what's legal and what's not. Keep in mind that pip moves on a dice roll are derived from either the dice combination or from each die separately. Frequently asked questions about playing a roll concern which moves are allowed given more than one alternative in tricky situations. Given this fact, the following scenarios have rules that pre-empt other alternative moves at the cast of the dice.

One tricky scenario is when the number on each die represents a legal move while their combination doesn't allow a legal play. If you can use only one number after the dice is cast, is it allowed for you to pick which number to use?

You have no choice but to move using the higher number on this roll. For example, you roll a three-six but you can only legally play either the three or the six and not the combination of both. You have to move six pips because that's the higher number from your dice roll.

Another question is if there's an order in which each die is played. Generally, there's none, except when we get to the tricky question later on. If the dice combination represents a legal move whether or not you start with one die or the other, you can use the numbers in any order as long as you play them both. When the combination is legal, the combination should be played.

So here's the tricky question: If starting with one die will allow you to use the other die (therefore use the combination) but starting with the other die will not, how can you play this roll?

You should use the dice combination. You have to play both numbers in a roll when it's possible to do so. Playing one number first so that the other number couldn't be played is not allowed in backgammon.

In backgammon, playing a roll is not subject to personal interpretation. While there are uncommon circumstances posing simple but tricky questions, there are pre-emptive rules to playing a roll. Like, if each number on a die represents a legal move but not both, you should use the higher number. If after the dice roll, depending on which number is played first, it seems that you can opt to use one and not the other or you can opt to use both. The latter pre-empts the former and the dice combination should be played.