The History Of Backgammon Sets
The earliest backgammon sets known to exist were found in archaeological digs in the Middle East. The oldest was discovered in an ancient city located in modern day Iran. Researchers believe the game board to date to around 3000 BC. This makes it one of the oldest board games known to exist.
This specific board was similar in many respects to a contemporary backgammon game. Two dice and approximately 60 checkers were included. However, the exact rules used by the ancient players are not known. The degree of similarity with the modern game is uncertain.
Other artifacts and documents reveal that the game was played throughout the region. Most notably, several boards discovered in the city of Ur also date to the same era. There is also evidence to suggest the game was known in ancient India and Egypt as well.
During the time of the Roman Empire, games similar to backgammon were played in Rome. The exact rules have been lost to history. Numerous boards exist. These also were accompanied with counters and dice. The Roman variant appears to have used three dice rather than two. Most of the surviving boards include 24 points.
The closest ancestors to the modern game can be found in medieval Europe. In France, the "Games of Tables" began in the 11th Century. It quickly became popular with gamblers and travelers.
While today board games are uncontroversial, there was some intense opposition to them during certain historical periods. Within 250 years of their origin in France, the Games of Tables were banned by the King, Louis IX. Similarly, the Church of England outlawed all boards games during the rule of Queen Elizabeth. In those times and places, backgammon sets would have been illegal contraband.
Today, most backgammon boards are two-sided. Many are designed the two halves of a box. This allows for the easy storage of the dice and the checkers while the game is not being played.
Both sides of the board contain 12 points. Each point is a long triangle of one of two colors. The colors correspond to the checkers. Each player selects a different color at the start of the game.
Throughout history, backgammon has been played in many periods, nations and settings. People of all classes, from kings to wandering gamblers, have participated in the game or its ancestors. The games has even been played on the ocean; a board, along with counters and dice, was discovered in sunken hull of a Dutch ship from the 1600s.
Many variants and offshoots of the game have developed over the course of its long history. These include both primarily geographical versions and more strategic differences. One of the more modern innovations to the gameplay was the addition of the doubling cube.
While a doubling cube superficially resembles a die, it is in fact a marker to be placed on the board. The addition of this piece changes the game significantly. Most modern players prefer to play with one, as it makes the game move more quickly and deepens the available tactics.
The doubling cube originated in New York City in the 1920s. While the exact story of its invention remains unknown, the cube first appeared in gaming clubs. Its addition brought an ancient game more in line with modern expectations.