The Backgammon Board Game And Its Long Journey Through Time

If we could travel back in history through our time machine, to view the earliest origins of the backgammon board game some five thousand years ago, we might well find ourselves on the edge of a mud-brick village by the might river Euphrates. Under the shade of a palm tree, two men sit around a roughly carved primitive backgammon board. They discuss in animated terms the first ever backgammon instructions and perhaps express some difference of opinion about how the backgammon setup. If we stay a little longer to observe their play, we would probably recognize some of their backgammon strategy, and perhaps even acquire some valuable tips for improving our own play. Although the stone counters and the bone dice would be strikingly different from the counters and dice we commonly use, and their backgammon board’s divisions would certainly not show the same precision with which our contemporary boards are divided into their twenty four points, it would be amazing how much of the game would be recognizable.

Now what if we could reverse the direction of travel of our time machine, and take these ancient players away from their riverside game and bring them into the twenty first century. While they would certainly be astonished by modern technology, they might be even more astounded to see how their favorite pastime survived all the travails of some five millenniums. The backgammon boards on sale in the games retailers, would no doubt remind them of the game they once played, and even today’s common backgammon set up would have a familiar look to it.

The big question of course, is how would they react to the concept of free backgammon games, with a backgammon download available from a range of Internet backgammon sites? It seems reasonable to speculate that after the initial shock with the amazing technology that makes Internet backgammon possible, they would start to be impressed by how these downloads bring to the screen backgammon sets displayed in 3-D and a variety of colors, presenting an excellent reproduction of the manufactured backgammon sets. With a little further acquaintance with online backgammon, they would doubtless start to appreciate the pleasures of playing backgammon against a sophisticated computer, not to mention the enjoyment to be had from being able to play against opponents from all around the world. If, as seems likely, the first backgammon players were also backgammon gaming enthusiasts, they would be astounded by the amounts skilled players can win on the Internet.

True, it is possible that our imaginary time travelers could find themselves missing the simplicity of the backgammon games that they enjoyed back in their village, when contrasted with the speed and sound of Internet backgammon. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine they would not derive satisfaction from the way their favorite village pastime has become a game enjoyed by millions of people, both online and offline. It would be hard to find a comparable ancient game to match backgammon’s long life and popularity.