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It was so popular with soldiers in the Christian army that playing it for money became subject to strict rules—betting was only allowed for the knightly class and above, and even they had restrictions.
King John liked to play tables with some of his court, and they even placed some modest bets. Unlike Caligula, King John seems to have played nice and fair, noting his payouts in his book of daily expenses when he lost.
If the nobles enjoy something, commoners will follow suit if they can afford it, so backgammon spread across social stratification.
Regardless, the game was ubiquitous. Man, that takes me back to struggling through Middle English courses in college. Worth every penny. The final snag preventing full cultural acceptance of tables appears to be its classification as a game of luck, rather than one of skill, since it uses dice, and that makes it sinful, I guess?
There is luck, sure, but it is indeed a game of skill because I suck at it. But then I consider how many layers of clothing Elizabethans wore all the time, and you know what?
Maybe backgammon was a sport back then. Variants commonly alter the starting position, restrict certain moves, or assign special value to certain dice rolls, but in some geographic regions even the rules and directions of the checkers' movement change, rendering the game fundamentally different.
Acey-deucey is a variant of backgammon in which players start with no checkers on the board, and must bear them on at the beginning of the game.
The roll of is given special consideration, allowing the player, after moving the 1 and the 2, to select any desired doubles move.
A player also receives an extra turn after a roll of or of doubles. Hypergammon is a variant of backgammon in which players have only three checkers on the board, starting with one each on the 24, 23 and 22 points.
The game has been strongly solved , meaning that exact equities are available for all 32 million possible positions.
Nard is a traditional variant from Persia in which basic rules are almost the same except that even a single piece is "safe".
All 15 pieces start on the 24th wedge. Nackgammon is a variant of backgammon invented by Nick "Nack" Ballard  in which players start with one less checker on the 6-point and midpoint and two checkers on the point.
Russian backgammon is a variant described in as: " In this variant, doubles are more powerful: four moves are played as in standard backgammon, followed by four moves according to the difference of the dice value from 7, and then the player has another turn with the caveat that the turn ends if any portion of it cannot be completed.
Gul bara and Tapa are also variants of the game popular in southeastern Europe and Turkey. The play will iterate among Backgammon, Gul Bara, and Tapa until one of the players reaches a score of 7 or 5.
Coan ki is an ancient Chinese board game that is very similar. Plakoto , Fevga and Portes are three versions of backgammon played in Greece.
Together, the three are referred to as Tavli. Misere backgammon to lose is a variant of backgammon in which the objective is to lose the game.
Tabla is a Bulgarian variant of Backgammon, played without the doubling cube. Other minor variants to the standard game are common among casual players in certain regions.
For instance, only allowing a maximum of five checkers on any point Britain  or disallowing "hit-and-run" in the home board Middle East.
Backgammon has an established opening theory , although it is less detailed than that of chess. The tree of positions expands rapidly because of the number of possible dice rolls and the moves available on each turn.
Recent computer analysis has offered more insight on opening plays, but the midgame is reached quickly. After the opening, backgammon players frequently rely on some established general strategies, combining and switching among them to adapt to the changing conditions of a game.
A blot has the highest probability of being hit when it is 6 points away from an opponent's checker see picture. Strategies can derive from that.
The most direct one is simply to avoid being hit, trapped, or held in a stand-off. A "running game" describes a strategy of moving as quickly as possible around the board, and is most successful when a player is already ahead in the race.
As the game progresses, this player may gain an advantage by hitting an opponent's blot from the anchor, or by rolling large doubles that allow the checkers to escape into a running game.
The "priming game" involves building a wall of checkers, called a prime, covering a number of consecutive points. This obstructs opposing checkers that are behind the prime.
A checker trapped behind a six-point prime cannot escape until the prime is broken. Because the opponent has difficulty re-entering from the bar or escaping, a player can quickly gain a running advantage and win the game, often with a gammon.
A "backgame" is a strategy that involves holding two or more anchors in an opponent's home board while being substantially behind in the race.
The backgame is generally used only to salvage a game wherein a player is already significantly behind. Using a backgame as an initial strategy is usually unsuccessful.
For example, players may position all of their blots in such a way that the opponent must roll a 2 in order to hit any of them, reducing the probability of being hit more than once.
Many positions require a measurement of a player's standing in the race, for example, in making a doubling cube decision, or in determining whether to run home and begin bearing off.
The minimum total of pips needed to move a player's checkers around and off the board is called the "pip count". The difference between the two players' pip counts is frequently used as a measure of the leader's racing advantage.
Players often use mental calculation techniques to determine pip counts in live play. Backgammon is played in two principal variations, "money" and "match" play.
Money play means that every point counts evenly and every game stands alone, whether money is actually being wagered or not.
The format has a significant effect on strategy. In a match, the objective is not to win the maximum possible number of points, but rather to simply reach the score needed to win the match.
For example, a player leading a 9-point match by a score of 7—5 would be very reluctant to turn the doubling cube, as their opponent could take and make a costless redouble to 4, placing the entire outcome of the match on the current game.
Conversely, the trailing player would double very aggressively, particularly if they have chances to win a gammon in the current game.
In money play, the theoretically correct checker play and cube action would never vary based on the score.
In , Emmet Keeler and Joel Spencer considered the question of when to double or accept a double using an idealized version of backgammon.
In their idealized version, the probability of winning varies randomly over time by Brownian motion , and there are no gammons or backgammons.
To reduce the possibility of cheating, most good quality backgammon sets use precision dice and a dice cup. Online cheating has therefore become extremely difficult.
In State of Oregon v. Barr , a court case pivotal to the continued widespread organised playing of backgammon in the US, the State argued that backgammon is a game of chance and that it was therefore subject to Oregon's stringent gambling laws.
Paul Magriel was a key witness for the defence, contradicting Roger Nelson, the expert prosecution witness, by saying, "Game theory, however, really applies to games with imperfect knowledge, where something is concealed, such as poker.
Backgammon is not such a game. Everything is in front of you. The person who uses that information in the most effective manner will win.
Walker concluded that backgammon is a game of skill, not a game of chance, and found the defendant, backgammon tournament director Ted Barr, not guilty of promoting gambling.
Early Muslim scholars forbade backgammon. Enthusiasts have formed clubs for social play of backgammon. A backgammon chouette permits three or more players to participate in a single game, often for money.
One player competes against a team of all the other participants, and positions rotate after each game. Chouette play often permits the use of multiple doubling cubes.
Backgammon clubs may also organize tournaments. Large club tournaments sometimes draw competitors from other regions, with final matches viewed by hundreds of spectators.
Winners at major tournaments may receive prizes of tens of thousands of dollars. Starting in January , tournament directors began awarding GammonPoints,  a free points registry for tournament directors and players, with GammonPoint awards based on the number of players and strength of field.
The first world championship competition in backgammon was held in Las Vegas , Nevada in Tim Holland was declared the winner that year and at the tournament the following year.
For unknown reasons, there was no championship in , but in , Tim Holland again won the title. The competition remained in Las Vegas until , when it moved to Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
In , Lewis Deyong, who had promoted the Bahamas World Championship for the prior three years, suggested that the two events be combined.
By the 21st century, the largest international tournaments had established the basis of a tour for top professional players.
It moved from the upper to middle classes and was popular among the younger generation as well. Tournament purses soared into 6 digit sums and its popularity was widespread throughout the US and Europe.
The 's however saw a decline in popularity again mostly among the younger generation likely due to the advent of video games and the excitement to young minds that they can provide.
Interest in learning the intricacies of the game was as strong as ever for the players that remained and was bolstered by the invention of computer backgammon which could not only provide a decent opponent but more importantly they could save hours of time by performing rollouts of positions giving players a deeper understanding of the game.
The computer revolution continued in full force as Gerald Tesauro of IBM wrote software which could teach itself how to play backgammon using Neural Networking creating a world class player in TD-Gammon.
FIBS First Internet Backgammon Server was created in by Andreas Schneider and hosted on an academic computer in Sweden for free. Over players with internet connections could be found playing at any one time with the ability to save matches, watch matches and compare playing strengths via a rating system.
Backgammon History B ackgammon is the oldest board game known to man and dates back many thousands of years in history.
The Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires are all known to have played a version in some form and it has been played in hundreds of different countries around the world from ancient times to this day.
The ancient game of Backgammon evolved over thousands of years into the game we know today. The exact rules of Senet are unknown and have been lost in history, but it is thought to have involved many of Backgammon's playing principles.
Dated to BC, the find was of a rectangular board made of ebony with sixty markers made from turquoise and agate, and ancient dice.
The board is illustrated with an engraved serpent coiling around itself twenty times, producing 20 slots or "points" for the game, instead of today's Other wooden boards have been found in the royal tomb of the Ur al Chaldees, the centre of Sumer, which have been dated to about BC along with dice and are known as The Royal Games of Ur.
Backgammon has been associated with aristocracy and the ruling class throughout its long history. The Roman game of Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum is thought to be a descendant of Senet and is known to have been played on a similar board consisting of 3 x 12 rows of "points", with dice.
Around the 1st-century AD one of the rows of points was dropped from the game and by the 6th-century it became known as Alea or Tabula Latin for tables.
A wooden board and checkers were recovered from the wreck of the Regalskeppet Vasa among the belongings of the ship's officers. Edmund Hoyle published A Short Treatise on the Game of Backgammon in ; this book described the rules of the game and was bound together with a similar text on whist.
In English, the word "backgammon" is most likely derived from "back" and Middle English " gamen ", meaning "game" or "play".
The earliest use documented by the Oxford English Dictionary was in From Wikibooks, open books for an open world.
History [ edit ].