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History of Backgammon


Backgammon is the oldest known game in history that has been recorded. It is believed all around the world that the game originated in the ancient Mesopotamia. Backgammon was played on a wooden board for a table, stones or small rocks as men, and numbered dice made from either wood, pottery, stones or bones.

The game of backgammon has usually been associated with nobles and the royal people of civilization throughout the history of the game. Among the many backgammon relics found, researchers have found the artifacts to indicate the popularity of the game of backgammon among the aristocrats and nobility of Rome, Greece, Persia, and the Far East.

In the 1st century AD, when the Romans conquered Britain, they brought the game along with them and introduced it to the locals as a game called “Tables”. Most historians believe that the name “Backgammon” derives from the two English Words: "Bac gamen" meaning "Back Game", either referring to the re-entry of men from the “bar”, or the more advanced style of playing the game known as the "Back Game". There is also another version of the name meaning “Wee Battle” coming from the Welsh heritage, but this is not widely accepted or used since there are no conclusive evidence regarding this name and also due to the lack of popularity to the game at that region during those times.

The game was not documented in detail or standard rules written down until 1743 by an Englishman named Edmond Hoyle. This contributed greatly to the popularity of the game and it became well known in many European countries. Although there are several variations to the game at that time, “Tric-Trac” in France and “Puff” in Germany followed the rules put down by Hoyle. These basic rules remained unchanged until the year 1931 where in New York the rules were revised to the rules to which we play the game now.

Today, there are many variation to the game of Backgammon which use the same board and number of men such as: “Kotra”, “Tabard”, “Sixy-Acey”, “Acey-Deucey”, the Greek “Plakot”, the Arabic “Jioul” and the multi-player “Chouette”. The doubling cube was not introduced until recently and was brought mainly to increase the gambling pleasure of the game but as a side effect, increased the ratio of skill in this game of skill and luck which make up the game of Backgammon as we know today.

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