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Backgammon
 

 

 

The History of Backgammon

Backgammon is a hugely popular game nowadays. It's played by two or more people on a specialist board with counters and dice and is believed to be one of the oldest board games in existence. It can be played at home (as long as you have all of the pieces), but it is also a very popular game in both real life and online casinos. At Domino-Play we even have a sister website dedicated to the game. We're going to be looking at the origins of Backgammon and following its journey right up to the present day.

Origins in Mesopotamia

Most people think of chess as being the oldest board game in existence and actually, backgammon was right there with it. Bones were discovered that had been carved into the shape of dice only quite recently. They have been carbon-dated, which shows that some 5,000 years ago people were definitely playing games with dice in Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq.

 

Roman Advancements

Whilst we know for sure that dice were being used at least 5000 years ago, the first evidence of Backgammon itself was around the Roman era. During this time period, there were two games that used a board very similar to the one used in backgammon. These games were called Mancala and Senet. It was also during this period that a game called Duodecum Scripta et Tabulae was played. Drawings have been discovered which showed boards separated into twenty-four points and thirty playing men, just like in modern-day backgammon.  

It has also been found that Emperor Claudius was a keen backgammon player, so much so that there are frescoes of him in his chariot with a backgammon board on the back of it. There is writing to suggest that he had this board specially built to keep him busy on long journeys and that he would often wager huge amounts on games, around $10,000 USD in today's money.

 

The First Mention of Backgammon

 Although pictoral and literary evidence suggests that a game exactly like backgammon existed in Roman times, there was no mention of the actual world until 1645. It's also referenced in numerous works including the Canterbury Tales and Love's Labour's Lost by Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare. Whilst it receives many literary mentions, it appears even more frequently in works of art. Hieronymous Bosch featured the game prominently in The Garden of Earthly Delights, a fantastical work that is to be read in three parts, the center portraying all kinds of human pursuits that at the time were thought of as debaucherous.

 

The Roaring 20s 

For all kinds of things, the 1920s were a period of great advancement, but for backgammon, it was quite the opposite. The United States was seeing a period of great interest in casino gaming. However, owing to backgammon's lengthy playtime and the difficulty in wagering large amounts of money, people were interested in games that were potentially more lucrative. It wouldn't be until 1925 that somebody came up with the idea of doubling and redoubling stakes. This meant that people could wager with much higher amounts, satisfying the wants of the American upper class at the time.

 

Chouette

An event that came just a little later than doubling would make the game even more suited to life in the casino and this was the invention of chouette, multiplayer backgammon. This idea originated in France, where the word translates to owl. This might initially seem a strange translation, but screech owls are often set upon by other birds of their own species, much like the players of backgammon all play fiercely against one another. Chouette meant that casinos could fit more people around a backgammon table and therefore, they had the possibility to make more money. The perfect combination. If doubling had not already cemented backgammon's place in the casino then chouette certainly had.

 

The Advent of Online Backgammon

It seemed that the game had been perfected and continued to be played in the same way for decades. There was a lot of research done on technique, the mathematics of the game, and how to further skills, but the internet would bring a whole new world of possibilities. It took a while for online backgammon to catch on, but the accessibility for all is what made it such a huge success. It's possible to play on many different sites, but VegasSlotsOnline has a comprehensive guide on exactly how to play which can make it a good choice for new players. Whilst the rules of backgammon don't change from site to site, the user interface, the graphics, the music and the overall feel of the game can. This gives online players even more choice than they've ever had before, in this games 5000-year history.

 

 

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