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Backgammon

Backgammon falls under the Board Games category and is a game that I was introduced to when I was a child on holiday with my parents in Greece. Since then I have always found it a great way to pass the time.

Whilst I discovered it back in the 1980’s, backgammon is a board game that has been played for centuries. It is a two-player game where each player has 15 checkers that they move around a board consisting of 24 triangles called points. The points are arranged in a specific pattern, with alternating colors.

The objective of the game is to be the first player to remove (referred to as bearing off) all of your checkers from the board.

To start the game, each player places their checkers on their respective starting points. You and your opponent take turns rolling two dice and moving your checkers. The dice determine how many points you can move your checkers. The movement is always forward in the player’s own direction, and the checkers can be moved to any open point.

The primary goal is to move all of your checkers into your home board, which is the last quarter of the board. Once all of your checkers are in your home board, you can start bearing them off. To bear off, you need to roll the exact number needed to move a checker off the board from the highest-numbered point in your home board. If you don’t roll the exact number, you have to make a legal move using a lower-numbered point.

Backgammon also involves strategy and tactics. Players can block their opponent’s checkers and create points of vulnerability. If a player lands on a point occupied by a single opponent’s checker, the opponent’s checker gets sent to the bar, and it must re-enter the board from the starting point before any other checkers can be moved.

The game continues until one player successfully bears off all their checkers. The winner is determined by the first player to do so, or in some cases, by a scoring system where additional points are awarded based on the number of checkers a player has borne off and the number of points their opponent still has on the board.

Backgammon combines luck (dice rolls) and skill (strategy and decision-making) to create an engaging and challenging game that has been enjoyed by players around the world.

The Origins Of Backgammon

The exact origins of backgammon are not entirely clear, as the game has a long and complex history spanning several millennia. However, it is believed to have originated in the ancient civilizations of the Middle East, specifically in the region known as Mesopotamia, which encompasses present-day Iraq, Syria, and parts of Iran and Turkey.

The earliest precursor to backgammon is believed to be the Royal Game of Ur, an ancient board game that was played in Mesopotamia around 2600-2400 BCE. Archaeologists have discovered game boards and sets of dice that resemble early versions of backgammon in ancient Mesopotamian archaeological sites.

Backgammon’s popularity spread throughout the ancient world, and variations of the game emerged in different cultures. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all had their own versions of backgammon-like games.

The name “backgammon” itself is derived from the Middle English words “back” and “gamen” (meaning “game”), indicating its historical significance as a popular pastime.

Over time, backgammon evolved and developed different rules and variations in various regions. It gained popularity in Europe during the Crusades and was further refined and codified in the 17th century with the publication of rulebooks and treatises.

Today, backgammon continues to be played and enjoyed worldwide, both as a recreational game and as a competitive sport with organized tournaments. Its ancient origins and enduring popularity make it one of the oldest known board games still played today.

Is Backgammon Suitable For Children?

Yes, backgammon can be a suitable board game for children but probably when they are 8 years old or older which is when I was introduced to it. A few aspects of backgammon to consider before introducing your child/children to it:

  • Complexity: Backgammon has simple rules, but it involves strategy and decision-making. Younger children may find it challenging to grasp the strategic aspects of the game, while older children can enjoy the mental stimulation and tactical choices it offers.
  • Math Skills: Backgammon involves counting and basic arithmetic, as players need to calculate dice rolls and move their checkers accordingly. It can help children practice their math skills in a fun and engaging way.
  • Patience and Sportsmanship: Backgammon requires patience, as players need to wait for their turn and adapt to changing game situations. It also teaches sportsmanship, as children learn to accept wins and losses gracefully.
  • Parental Involvement: Younger children may need guidance and assistance from adults to understand the rules and strategies of the game. Parents or older siblings can play with them, offering support and teaching them the fundamentals.
  • Game Duration: Backgammon games can vary in length, depending on the skill level and experience of the players. Younger children may have shorter attention spans, so it’s important to consider the duration of the game and adapt it accordingly.

Overall, backgammon can be a suitable board game for children, particularly those who enjoy strategic thinking and have developed some basic math skills.

It can provide entertainment, mental stimulation, and opportunities for social interaction.

ntroducing the game gradually and adapting it to the child’s age and abilities can enhance their enjoyment and make it a rewarding experience.

Is Backgammon A Cheap Hobby?

Backgammon can be enjoyed as both a casual pastime and a competitive hobby, and the cost as with most hobbies can vary depending on your level of involvement and the quality of the equipment you choose.

For casual players, there are affordable options available. You can find backgammon sets made of durable materials like vinyl or wood at reasonable prices. These sets often come with basic accessories like dice and checkers.

If you’re looking for a higher-quality and more aesthetically pleasing experience, there are luxury backgammon sets available. These sets are typically made of premium materials such as leather, wood, or even exotic materials, and they often feature exquisite craftsmanship. Luxury sets can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Aside from the initial set, backgammon doesn’t require any ongoing costs. The game can be played with standard dice, and replacement checkers are relatively inexpensive if needed.

Furthermore, there are online platforms and mobile applications that allow you to play backgammon for free or at a low cost. This eliminates the need to purchase a physical set and offers a convenient and accessible way to enjoy the game.

To give you an indication of cost – you will find a standard backgammon board for around $50 or, you can buy a really lovely backgammon set from somewhere like Vido for $300 to $400. OR…you can order one from Louis Vuitton for around $15,000 (more below).

Ultimately, the cost of backgammon as a hobby is flexible and can accommodate various budgets. Whether you choose an affordable set or decide to invest in a luxury one, the enjoyment of playing the game remains accessible to players of different financial means.

Where To Buy A Backgammon Board

You can buy a backgammon board from various places, both online and offline. Here are some options:

  • Online Retailers: Popular online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart offer a wide selection of backgammon boards. You can browse through different brands, styles, and price ranges, read customer reviews, and compare options before making a purchase.
  • Specialty Board Game Stores: Local board game stores often carry backgammon sets and other tabletop games. Check your local directories or do a quick online search to find board game shops in your area. They may have a dedicated section for backgammon sets or can order one for you.
  • Toy Stores: Some larger toy stores may carry backgammon sets in their board game or puzzle sections. It’s worth checking out toy stores in your area to see if they have any options available.
  • Specialty Online Retailers: Several online retailers specialize in board games, puzzles, and game accessories. Websites like BoardGameGeek Store, GammonVillage, and The Chess Store offer a variety of backgammon sets in different styles and materials.
  • Antique Shops or Flea Markets: If you’re looking for a unique or vintage backgammon set, antique shops and flea markets can be great places to explore. You might find older, beautifully crafted sets with unique designs.
  • Craft Fairs or Artisan Markets: Local craft fairs or artisan markets sometimes feature handmade or custom-made backgammon sets. It’s an opportunity to discover unique and artistically crafted boards.

When purchasing a backgammon board, consider factors such as the quality of materials, size, portability (if you plan to travel with it), and your budget.

Read product descriptions, reviews, and specifications to ensure you select a set that meets your preferences and requirements.

Remember to check the seller’s return policy and consider any shipping costs or delivery times associated with your purchase.

What Are The Most Expensive Backgammon Boards?

I was curious about what the most expensive backgammon board might be – I’d always played on what I considered to be ‘basic’ boards. As it turns out, you can spend quite a lot on a backgammon board…ready for this?

I found a Vido ‘Vegan Leather’ (is that possible?) beautiful blue backgammon board at for £375. But, that’s not an expensive one…Louis Vuitton (at time of writing) has a Boîte Jeu Backgammon on their website with a price tag of £14,300.00. Hermès offers their Palio Backgammon Board at £6,000.

Luxury backgammon boards vary greatly in price depending on factors such as the materials used, craftsmanship, brand reputation, and exclusivity. While it is challenging to pinpoint the absolute most expensive backgammon board available, there are several high-end options that command premium prices.

Some luxury backgammon sets can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. However, certain limited edition or bespoke sets can reach significantly higher price points.

For instance, there are backgammon sets crafted by renowned luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Aspinal, which are known for their exquisite craftsmanship and use of high-quality materials. These sets often feature premium leather, exotic woods, precious metals, and meticulous detailing. Prices for such luxury brand sets can easily reach several thousand dollars and can even exceed tens of thousands of dollars.

Additionally, some artisans and craftsmen create custom-made backgammon boards that are highly exclusive and tailored to individual preferences. These bespoke sets can involve intricate hand-carving, inlay work, and the use of rare materials, significantly driving up the price.

Ultimately, the most expensive luxury backgammon board available can change over time as new limited editions or unique creations are introduced to the market. It’s advisable to explore luxury retailers, specialty board game stores, and online marketplaces specializing in high-end products to find the most current options and their corresponding prices.

Online Versions Of Backgammon

Now, I’m not an advocate of playing board games online; in my humble opinion, board games should be just that. However, if you love playing backgammon and your usual backgammon buddies aren’t available, playing online can be a good substitute.

Online versions of backgammon are widely available. There are numerous websites and platforms that offer online backgammon games, allowing you to play against other players from around the world or against computer opponents. Additionally, many mobile applications for smartphones and tablets provide the option to play backgammon online.

These online backgammon platforms typically offer various game modes and features, including multiplayer matches, tournaments, different rule variations, and difficulty levels. Some platforms even provide options for chat and interaction with opponents during the game.

To play online backgammon, you usually need to create an account on the platform of your choice. Some platforms offer free play, while others may have premium or subscription options that provide additional features or remove ads.

It’s worth noting that online backgammon allows you to play at any time and from anywhere, providing convenient access to the game without the need for a physical board or opponents in your vicinity. It can be a great way to practice your skills, compete with other players, and enjoy the game in a digital format.

When searching for online backgammon options, you can use search engines to find reputable platforms or explore app stores to discover mobile applications specifically designed for backgammon. It’s recommended to read user reviews, check the platform’s reputation, and consider the features and community size before choosing a particular online backgammon option.

The Rules Of Backgammon

The rules of backgammon are relatively straightforward. Here’s a summary of the basic rules:

  • Board Setup: Backgammon is played on a board consisting of 24 triangles called points. The points are grouped into four quadrants (the board is divided into four areas), with six points in each quadrant. The quadrants are referred to as your home board (where you need to move all your checkers to) and outer board, and your opponent’s home board and outer board. Each player has 15 checkers of their own color.
  • Starting Position: At the beginning of the game, each player places their checkers on their respective starting points. The initial setup is as follows: Two checkers on the player’s 24-point, five checkers on the 13-point, three checkers on the 8-point, and five checkers on the 6-point. The opposing player’s checkers are set up symmetrically on the board.
  • Gameplay: Players take turns rolling two six-sided dice and moving their checkers accordingly. The numbers rolled on the dice determine how many points a player can move their checkers. The movement is always forward in the player’s own direction.
  • Legal Moves: A player can move a checker to an open point (not occupied by two or more of the opponent’s checkers) that is equal to the number rolled on one of the dice or the sum of both dice. For example, if a player rolls a 3 and a 4, they can move a checker 3 points and another checker 4 points, or they can move a single checker 7 points.
  • Hitting and Re-Entering: If you land on a point occupied by a single opponent’s checker, your opponent’s checker is hit and placed on the bar with your checker taking its place on the same point. The hit checker must be re-entered into the opponent’s home board before any other checkers can be moved. To re-enter, the player must roll a number that corresponds to an open point in the opponent’s home board.
  • Bearing Off: Once a player has moved all of their checkers into their home board, they can start bearing off. To bear off, a player must roll the exact number needed to move a checker off the highest-numbered point in their home board. If a player cannot make an exact move, they must make a legal move using a lower-numbered point.
  • Winning the Game: The objective is to be the first player to bear off all their checkers from the board. The player who successfully bears off all their checkers first wins the game. In some scoring systems, additional points are awarded based on the number of checkers a player has borne off and the number of points their opponent still has on the board.

These are the fundamental rules of backgammon. There are additional rules and variations, such as the use of doubling cubes, tournament rules, and specific match formats. However, the basic rules outlined above provide a good starting point for playing the game.