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Backgammon — The oldest and greatest of games

Played throughout the ages by royals and nobles of civilizations, Backgammon has earned the title of “The Game of Kings” and thus its’ immense popularity. It is also called “The King of Games“.

The world´s oldest known backgammon board was unearthed in 2004 beneath the rubble of the legendary Burnt City in todays’ Sistan and Baluchistan province in south-eastern Iran. It is made of ebony with playing pieces of agate and turquoise and proves that a variant or a predecessor of the present game was already being played some 5200 years ago!

There is evidence that several thousand years later the Egyptian Pharaohs enjoyed a similar board game, Senet, which may be an ancestor of Backgammon. Boards dating from 1500 BC were found in Tutankhamen's tomb in the valley of the Nile.

The ancient Romans made the game popular under the name of Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, the “game of the 12 lines”. It developed into the “Tabula“ game, which is generally thought to be the direct ancestor of modern backgammon. Archaeologists have discovered ancient Tabula boards in the ruins of Pompeii. The game and its variants spread from Rome to all parts of the world. It was popular during the Middle Ages in almost every region of Europe and in Russia, India and Japan.

Backgammon, as we know, is alleged to have stemmed from a version called “Tables” played in 17th century England. Then a writer Edmond Hoyle codified the rules of play in his Treatise on Backgammon (published in 1743) the first official set of modern rules in existence.

In the 1920s, the invention of the doubling cube in New York City (most likely Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia) upped the stakes. It sparked new interest and excitement in the game and Backgammon gained in popularity in the 30´s.

Modern Backgammon became wildly popular in the 1970s. Mainly thanks to Russian Prince Alexis Obolensky, known as “The Father of Modern Backgammon”, who established the World Backgammon Club in New York City and began to organize the first international backgammon tournaments. The very first international Backgammon tournament took place on Grand Bahama Island in 1964 and attracted almost 50 players and quite a few rich and famous spectators.

Backgammon — A celebrity’s pastime

The list of celebrities who have been enchanted by this game is endless. In the stylish 30´s, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Joan Crawford or Fred Astaire, all played backgammon with a passion.

In the 70´s the game belonged among the stars favourite pastimes. Omar Sharif, Lucille Ball or Mick Jagger really loved to play backgammon and for example Hugh Hefner was also charmed by the game.

Now it is popular again. Today's celebrities play backgammon and let it be known thorough their social net profiles or promote the game by participating or even hosting live tournaments. Among the current celebrities who like to play backgammon are Leonardo DiCaprio, Keira Knightley, Taylor Swift, Pamela Anderson, Tobey Maguire, Lindsay Lohan, Sienna Miller and many others.

Omar Sharif

was a backgammon aficionado since his youth and was a very fine player. Mr. Sharif's name has been used to promote tournaments, books, and other backgammon products, especially in the 1970s-1980s era. (Source: Chicagopoint.com)

Leonardo DiCaprio

smoking a cigar and playing backgammon at the Goal Sports Bar in Los Angeles in 2010. (Source: Chicagopoint.com)

Taylor Swift

is always up for a game. (Source: Chicagopoint.com)

Backgammon — A highly fascinating game

Backgammon is a game of skill with an element of luck from rolling dice. Of course, it is not the main factor. It is a very small element that can encourage “the little guy” and give him a fighting chance…and “the big guy” an Achilles heel. But even while the lucky dice may determine the outcome of a single game, over a series of many games, the better player will gather together the better record and win. Because it IS principally a game of skill and only skill is repeatable!

Any newcomer can easily learn how to play backgammon and understand the fundamental tactics in just a few minutes. It is a game of strategies, and the play improves as a player practices. It can take many years to master the game and all its nuances, but once you have learned the basics and experienced the excitement of this game, you will be fascinated by its magic and backgammon will most probably run in your blood for good.

…after you have learned to play, undoubtedly you will never again be the same person. For after all, you will have become a backgammon player. And that is a very special breed of humanity indeed.

Prince Alexis Obolensky

Backgammon — An abacus game?

The history of backgammon is very interesting, but no less intriguing is the origin of the game's name. Certain passages in literature indicate the name backgammon was first used in the middle of 17th century, although the exact origin of the word is not clear. It may have come from the Welsh words baec (back) and cammaun (battle) or possibly the Middle English words of baec (back) and gamen (game).

There is an assortment of theories and the newest came with a revolutionary explanation of the game's origin and the etymology of the game's modern name. A backgammon aficionado Alexander Auer published on his Facebook profile in March 2018 a theory that the game was derived from an abacus. Within his article, Alexander Auer also detailed the origin and development of the word “Backgammon” with an interesting conclusion:

…A user of a calculation board may have been in contact with players at some point, he will have noticed the relationship, and called from now on the game an ”Abacus Gammon", and I think that this word was then shortened in everyday use to a ”Bac-Gammon“ and finally developed into ”Back-Gammon”…

Alexander Auer

Backgammon today

Modern Backgammon is the most progressive of mind games and is rapidly gaining in popularity, in both the live and online world. A few years ago, it was only possible to play live. Later, computers came on to the scene. Thousands of backgammon aficionados now connect by computer from the privacy of their homes to meet and play with others from around the world via the Internet.

It is clear that mobile devices are prevalent in our world today. Smartphones continue to displace other electronics. Thanks to the continued development of modern technologies and the trend towards smartphones and mobile devices, there is a strong demand for a truly functional and complete Backgammon App, so that players can enjoy the same playing comfort no matter where they are.

GammonSpace App is here for everyone. Join us on your desktop or any mobile device.

Download it here and enjoy the same unique online Backgammon experience that you would at home, wherever you go!

Backgammon — Names and traditional variants

Greece: Tavlim, Plakoto, Doors, Feyga, Giul
Turkey: Tavla, Moutlezim, Gioul
UK: Tables, Backgammon, Gammon
USA: Backgammon, Acey-Deucy
Germany: Puff
Bulgaria: Gioul Bara
Ιran: Tau, Takhte Nard
Scotland: Gammon
France: Tric Trac
Russia: Narde
Georgia: Nardi
Arabic world: Mahbooss
Israel: Shesh Besh
Spain: Tablas reales
Italy: Tavole reale
Japan: Surgocu