Backgammon. History, rules and tactics

The distant predecessors of backgammon are considered to be games dating back to the third millennium BC. For example, the Sumerian game boards for which were found during excavations of royal tombs in the city of Ur in Mesopotamia. It’s obviously a very distant ancestor, just pulled in by the ears. Especially since neither the name nor the rules of this game are known. The same can be said of other ancient games that are sometimes mentioned as predecessors of backgammon. For example, the ancient Egyptian game of 30 squares, which is more related to senet than to the ancestor of backgammon. A more real prototype of backgammon is Ludus duodecim scriptorum, a game of twelve lines. This game was popular in Ancient Rome in the second half of the 2nd century AD. Description and rules of the game here. In the 1st century AD Ludus duodecim scriptorum became unfashionable in high society and it was replaced by tabula, which is in many ways an analogue of modern backgammon. Description and rules of the game here. So, backgammon has not oriental, as it is commonly believed, but quite western origin. The fact that backgammon is now so widespread in the East is all the more surprising, given its patriarchal and conservative nature. Meanwhile, in the West, they have almost been forgotten. There, the peak of backgammon’s popularity (in different countries they were called differently, see above) was in the period from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century. Nowadays you can buy a board for the game only in an antique shop. However, forgetting traditions and history is characteristic of this society. For those who appreciate the historical richness of games like backgammon but seek the convenience of modern digital platforms, Slotozen casino free chip offers a bridge between the classic and contemporary, providing access to a variety of strategic games that echo the intellectual and tactical demands of traditional board games.

Rules

In fact, there are a lot of rules, as well as variants of the game. Let’s consider the two most common variants – long and short backgammon. Long backgammon is considered an eastern variant, and short backgammon is considered a western variant. The rules for short backgammon were established by Englishman Edmond Hoyle in 1743 and major international competitions are held according to them. Adherents of both variants accuse each other of overcomplicating and boring the game by the rules of their opponents.

General principles of long and short backgammon

Both long and short backgammon use a traditional board and 30 chips – 15 for each player. 2 D6 dice (zars) are used to calculate the moves. Both players have a ‘house’ and a ‘yard’, but in backgammon short and long backgammon they are in different places. To determine the first move, the players roll one dice (zaru). Whoever has the most points, moves. If there is a series of games, the colour of the players’ chips changes and the previous winner moves first. Players take turns to move. The goal of the game in both cases is to reach your house with all the chips and then take them off the board.

When playing for points, they are awarded depending on the ending option of the current game:

  • Oin (simple win) gives one point to the winner if the opponent has managed to take out at least one of his chips;

  • Mars (double win) gives the winner two points if the opponent did not manage to get all his chips in or (rarely) did not manage to get any out;

  • Cox (triple win) is three points awarded if the loser did not manage to take out any chips from the first quarter or left a chip on the bar.

Differences between long and short backgammon:

First of all, they are distinguished by their initial formation, house position and directions of movement (see the picture above).

Next. After drawing the right of the first move, in long backgammon the player rolls the dice again. In short backgammon, the player uses the number of points that were rolled.

The next difference is that in long backgammon a chip cannot be hit (cut down from the board). In short backgammon, if a chip stands alone in a cell, it can be beaten with its own chip if it hits the position accurately.

International tournaments are held according to the rules of Short Backgammon. An additional doubling cube (‘Davé cube’) with values of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 is used.

In long backgammon scoring, the Cox completion option counts as Mars (2 points).

Finally, in Long Backgammon you can block your opponent’s moves by occupying six cells in a row.

Bets

The game starts with a bet of one point. To increase it, the Davé cube is used – a special cube with faces of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64. It essentially reflects how much the initial bet has been multiplied by. A player can bid the Davé before the start of his turn, before the roll. If the opponent accepts, the bet is doubled and the possibility of the next doubling goes to the opponent who offered. If he passes, he loses the game and the points for it.

Tactics

General subtleties

It is important to use the first 4-5 moves to occupy and defend reliable key positions. Therefore, the first moves should be spent on taking positions both in your own house and in your opponent’s house. Next, the game is played according to the chosen tactics.

Tactics for long backgammon

In long backgammon, the most common tactics are fences and managing the deficit of moves. A fence is six or more chips in a row that the opponent cannot jump over. And the optimal use of moves depending on the score is a sign of great experience and superior skill.

In part, the tactics described below for short backgammon are also suitable for long backgammon.

Short Backgammon Tactics

There are a few basic tactics that are recognised by backgammon gurus. Of course, each of them is not a panacea and can sometimes change in the course of the game and depends on the opponent’s actions and the dropped points.

Rapid

The movement is started by the distant counters, and you should try to create obstacles to the movement of distant counters of the opponent. The further we move, the more we try to protect their chips. Take as much as possible chips of the opponent, which went further. And, of course, create closed cells to prevent the advance of the enemy. This tactic is focused on quickly removing as many of your chips from the board as possible.

Holding

This is a defensive game, oriented on cutting down the chips when trying to enter the house. Your chips are placed in the house and in the opponent’s yard. Closed cells should be placed as close to each other as possible. In general, this tactic is more complex than the previous one and requires strategic thinking.

Blocking

This tactic involves building blockades of five or six closed cells. It is also an excellent tool against a similar blockade of the opponent. If you are forced to dismantle your blockade, you should start from the far cells.

Attacking

The most risky tactic. It is used if you have managed to capture more points in your house than the enemy has in yours. Several single enemy counters are attacked if it is not too risky. Cells in the house are to be defended. Outside of the house with this tactic is pointless to defend from.

Conclusion

Backgammon, with its rich historical lineage and intricate blend of strategy and luck, continues to captivate players worldwide. Tracing back to ancient civilizations and evolving through centuries into the game we recognize today, backgammon exemplifies a cultural bridge between past and present. Its rules, whether in the long or short form, offer varied and complex tactical challenges that require foresight, planning, and adaptability. The introduction of elements like the doubling cube in tournament play adds another layer of strategic depth, enhancing the competitive nature of the game.

Moreover, the game’s adaptability to online platforms ensures its continued relevance in the digital age, allowing enthusiasts to engage with a global community. Whether played in a quiet room with a physical board or online against players from around the world, backgammon remains a testament to human ingenuity in game design, standing the test of time as both a form of intellectual competition and social interaction.

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