Backgammon is a board game loved by many and is one of, if not the oldest, boardgames still in circulation, it can be traced back nearly 5,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia and Persia. It’s the national pastime of the Greeks and Persians and is loved the world over.
I have always played backgammon with friends and family at home and during the holidays or in the evenings after dinner. I first truly learned how to play the game during my time at sea. When I would play with my fellow Greek crew mates on a daily basis as a way of simply passing the time between ports. It was here where I actually learned how to play the game, as my they found it entertaining that an Englishman thought he knew how to play. It turns out I didn’t, I knew the basics of course, but I didn’t know anything close to what I now know. It’s a game I have never played for money and never will, and the games I have enjoyed the most is when there was nothing on the line but pride.
The best way to describe backgammon in its purest form is a duel, much like a sword fight, between two opponents, It is a game of attacking, parrying, thrusting and reposting. It’s a game where you must react to the dice and your opponent's moves. One where you can be winning one moment, then the game can turn on you, and a winning position becomes a losing position and vice-versa.
The game was best described to me by a Greek Chief Engineer on one of the two cargo ships I interned on. He said in Greek, the game is called Tavli, but he said it's also called “doors”, which is rather an appropriate name for backgammon the game can be just like a set of doors in a saloon from the old Wild West in that it can swing both ways. Don’t get me wrong, the greater your skill and knowledge of the game, as with many things in life, the more likely you are to win. There are times when I will play someone, and within the first few rolls of the dice, I will know whether or not I am likely to win or lose based on certain things I see from my opponent.
Backgammon, in that way, is similar to life as you have to be constantly on your toes and react to what life throws at you that can be unpredictable, much as with a thrown pair of dice, as you make the appropriate actions in order to succeed. There is a level of excitement I get from playing it that other board games struggle to match there is a purity to…