History of Backgammon

We know that Backgammon is quite possibly the oldest game in the history of civilisation and according to popular belief this game has roots dating back more than 5,000 years. Backgammon was supposedly was first played in Ancient Mesopotamia, which is modern day Iraq, and evidence (in the form of dice made from bones) has been found in this area to support the claims.

The backgammon board that the game is played is just as old as the game itself. Ancient Roman frescoes have also been found depicting groups of people sitting around playing the game. Many of the wealthiest people of the day would spend hours playing and quite often there was big money at stake.

However, it is not clear whether all games were played for money. It is quite likely that people also enjoyed playing for fun, just like today. To find the exact date when backgammon first appeared would be an impossible challenge, but we can safely say that along with games like Chess and Go, this is certainly one of mankind’s oldest games.

As we travel through the ages, we can see that backgammon gradually continued to spread in popularity throughout the Middle East, Europe and even further afield (as far as Asia and the Americas). This game was not just popular with the royalty of the day. It was also popular with generals, soldiers and common people.

The word Backgammon is a relatively new word which first showed up in the mid-1600s. This word likely derives from ‘back’ and ‘gamen’ (game). By the time the 20th century arrived, the game was now enjoyed by almost all walks of life and in every corner of the world, but it apparently began to lose its appeal because many gamblers had grown impatient with how long some games could last.

This all changed at some point between the First World War and Second World War when some clever person introduced the doubling option which was instantly welcomed and made certain that this game would not be forgotten to history. Although the ingenious doubling cube didn’t speed up the average game time, it did mean that gamblers could now double their stakes.

Over the past 100 years countless books have been written about backgammon and you can now purchase a board at numerous stores. Although backgammon boards today are fundamentally the same, there are many different induvial designs available and they can be made from many different materials. In the 21st century we can enjoy playing this game either at home or at one of thousands of land-based gaming venues which host the occasional backgammon tournaments.

Backgammon players today can also now choose between playing this ancient game either from their desktop or laptop computer or from their smartphone or tablet device at hundreds of perfectly secure gambling portals. The United States Backgammon Federation (USBGF) was organized in 2009 to popularise the game even more and it is likely that this game will be just as popular in a few hundred years from now.