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Is there a free backgammon game which allows you to play against a friend even if you are on different computers (in different cities). Not hot seat where you are on the same computer.

I wouldn't mind it if it is an online game (i.e. a website vs an actual application) so long as it is for free (some games are free only against a bot but require you to "buy chips" to play against a human).

I'd need it to work on both Windows and Linux.

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One way to play remotely with a friend is to both log onto FIBS, the First Internet Backgammon Server. It's free, and you can choose who to play (you don't have to accept matches from strangers). There are numerous client programs for connecting to FIBS from any major platform, though most of them are quite old.

For Windows only, GreedyGammon does what you are asking for. As of this writing, it is actively maintained. It allows online play against an opponent of your choice (who is also using the same program on their end). It doesn't rely on a common, central server (and cannot be used as a FIBS client), which has advantages and disadvantages.

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