Artifacts from ancient civilization in the Far East indicate that many popular board games existed in some form and most commonly in the aristocratic society. Dating back thousands of years ago, boards and game pieces from something that resembled the classic board game of backgammon were uncovered in Egypt and Rome as well as discoveries even farther back in time in Persia. A version of the game evolved in 800 AD, again in Persia, and this game very closely represented what we see today with traditional backgammon. It’s rules and moves may appear simple however with each turn, players can quickly change the course of the competition.
The board played on thousands of years ago, as with the board now, has 12 points for each ‘side’ which were said to represent the 12 months in the year. The total combined is 24 points for 24 hours in a day, and 30 playing pieces, whether you call them checkers, stones, chips or men, the number was to signify the days in a month. It’s a game that is rich with symbolism. Historically they would have constructed the boards and pieces using a wood surface. The playing pieces would be molded out of bits and pieces of bones, pottery or simple stones. The first appearance in English culture was back in approximately 1025 AD and names ‘tables’. It rose in popularity throughout the Middle Ages and soon appeared as a favorite past time for those frequenting taverns and pubs. This evolution was due to the Backgammon one on one gaming nature making it easily adapted into a form of gambling. The church and law makers stepped in to prohibit play because of the element of betting and wagering involved.
While the game is fairly simple in terms of its design, the method of play is largely based on standard strategies used since the inception of play. The one element that is out of the players control is still always going to be the roll of the dice. While the component of luck plays a part in the classic game of backgammon, players are still left with a collection of moves to decide upon and this is where the skill and experience will change the face of game play. Unlike some traditional games like checkers and chess, you win when all your pieces are gone!