Playing backgammon is like playing with history. Backgammon is one of the oldest board games still in existence today, with roots that can be traced way back in the Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Persian civilizations. To increase your level of appreciation of the game, it is important to pay homage to the origins of this one-of-a-kind board game.
Like many games that can trace its past in ancient times, the exact origin of the game remains a mystery. There have been some cuneiform writing among other artifacts unearthed that suggest a version of the game is played during the reign of Sumerian civilization in the present-day Iraq, way back in 3000 B.C. A tetrahedral dice was used in the game called the “Royal Game of Ur” poker pulsa.
Wall paintings and other archaeological finds in Nile valley pyramids also suggest an ancient form of backgammon was also played by the Egyptians aristocrats during the reign of Tutankhamen. It was known as the Senate or the “Game of Thirty Squares” and was played with 3×10, 3×6, and 3×12 boards.
Middle Ages and Asian Origins
One of the most talked about ancestor of modern backgammon is what is known as Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, which means “The Game of Twelve Lines”. Some suggest that the game was derived from the Egyptian version of the Senate game. It was played using a 3×12 board made of leather and 30 markers of two different colors. The game was spread throughout Britain because of the conquests made by the Empire. The game was also known as Tabula or Tabulae, and it has enjoyed immense popularity among Romans, especially with Emperor Claudius. Many considered the emperor to have loved the game so much that it had caused a major gambling mania across the empire during his reign. Sometime during the 1st century, the 3×12 boards were changed into a 2×12 boards, and by 6th century, it was referred to as the Alea, which means “the art of gambling with dice”. Soon, the game is not only spreading across all levels of society in the Roman Empire, but it has also spread across Europe’s high-class society.
Asians also have their experience with the ancient versions of the game. The Persians have their Nard, a game similar to that of Alea. It is played during the 800 AD, using the similar game rules as that of Alea, but using only two dice. Chinese also had their T’hu-p’u developed during the Wei dynasty, albeit it gained its popularity only during the 3rd to 9th century. Japanese also has their version of the game known as Sugoroku, while Indians have their Parcheesi.
The Modern Day
The British among others loved the game the Romans brought to them, and they called it Tables. Soon, other European countries such as France, Germany, Iceland and Sweden began playing the game.
A certain H.J.R. Murray who wrote the book “A History of Other Board Games Other Than Chess” used the term “backgammon” in 1645 when he talked about the invention of a modern version of the well-loved British board game. During this time, North America, has tasted the first round of backgammon through European settlements across the land, and by the 18th century, it was a full-pledged popular board game. One of the historic landmarks of the century was the published book of Edmund Hoyle titled “Treatise on the Game of Back-Gammon” which discusses the origins, history, rules and strategies of the game.
There was no major change that happened to the game except during the early 18th century when some nameless New York player has changed the game forever by adding the doubling cube into the game. This increased the risk and demand of newer strategies, making the game more popular and marketable during the 1920s. It has experienced another wave of decline in player’s interest and was revived between the 1970s and 1980s when tons of materials were written about the board game.
Today, the game has reached popularity that it has never reached before. With the influx of technology in the way people play the game, backgammon can be played by anyone, regardless of whether they are in proximity or they have their boards or not. Today, players can play backgammon with the classic or easy to carry boards and through their mobile phones, PDAs and computers through backgammon software. Today, backgammon still enjoys its popularity despite its long history, and it is expected to flourish in the years to come.
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