The oldest recorded game in history, Backgammon is a relatively simple game that has reached wide popularity. The origins of backgammon extend into medieval history and its true roots are thought to be in ancient Rome and even Mesopotamia, over 2000 years BC.

Backgammon is a two player board game of strategy comparable to chess where each player must negotiate 15 pieces through 24 pointed sections of the board, aiming to b the first to get all their pieces off the board. The game is based on dice rolling so chance is an element but strategy comes into play with making choices and also with the many variants that exist.

The pieces are scattered and the player must get them from point to point until all of the pieces are on their side of the board. The points are numbered and the pieces can only move from high numbered points to lower numbered points, making a kind of race. The player’s end of the board is called the home board and they must have all their pieces there in order to ‘bear off’, i.e. remove them from play and win the game.

As well as being a fun family game, Backgammon is also played in championships like Chess and sometimes for money. The rules are riddled with additional systems that vary from place to place and often extend the game or make it more strategic. For example a ‘doubling cube’ is sometimes used; a six sided dice with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 on it. This is called upon by a player seeking to double the stakes and adds to the depth of the strategy. Other recognised rules are the Jacoby Rule used more in money play and the Crawford Rule which seeks to make the game more balanced. Strategies used in Backgammon have their own names, such as the Running game, the Holding game, The Blitz, the Backgame and the Priming game. This is typical of the jargon associated with games that have a kind of inner language for serious players. Nevertheless Backgammon remains very popular with casual users and children and has been made into a variety of computer based versions.

By John Gibb
John Gibb is the owner of Backgammon resources
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