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It was not even a month ago that this photo was taken. It was 29th September and about 8.30pm. So it was dark but not cold.

Backgammon

Backgammon

The essentials for this board game is an opponent who has recently enjoyed a pre dinner G and T, also partaken of a  good meal accompanied by a good bottle of Bordeaux Superior ( the empty bottle just visible in the background). Also you need a bottle of brown liquid such as Armagnac or Cognac and then a couple of small glasses which should be regularly filled and emptied at a fairly steady pace. These prerequisites will insure that you are in with a chance of beating your opponent, although they will consider the same applies to them. The mobile phone is so that your opponent can contact members of her family to brag about any successes but in the event of an eventual overall loss it will not be needed.

Oh yes and you will need a backgammon board, dice and counters. These are not 100% essential to the enjoyment of the evening although it does help you take on board the brown liquid slightly more readily and with less of a feeling of guilt.

Backgammon is a very ancient game, no one is really sure where or when it originated. No doubt there were several versions and it could have developed in two or three different areas and then merged and evolved into what it is today. The earliest possible artefact which resembles backgammon comes from the ancient Persian city of Shah-e-Sukhteh which means The Burnt City and that dates back to 3,000 BC. There are many references to games similar to backgammon existing in India and Persia in the 6th and 7th century. Also a similar game could have arisen in Egypt and China.

Lebanese's backgammon board

Lebanese’s backgammon board

It probably arrived in Europe in the ninth century and there are records from Rome, Spain, Germany Holland and France. In 1254 King Louis 1X issued a decree banning the playing of board games including backgammon by officials of his court. The photo to the left is a Lebanese board which I copied from Wikipedia.

The game can be used as a vehicle for gambling as well as imbibing alcohol. The gambling is carried out with a doubling dice where an initial stake can be doubled if one player considers they are potentially going to win. One player cannot repeatedly double the stakes, it has to be alternate, However sometimes as the game twists and turns and fortune or skill favours one opponent or the other then the stakes get doubled several times.

The fortune part comes from the throw of the dice (you throw two dice on each go) the skill comes from how you use the scores to move your counters around the board. Recently a computer programme has been developed which will almost always beat even the very best players.

My wife and I have played backgammon throughout our marriage, normally when we are on holiday. For many years I almost invariably beat her in a best of five contest. In more recent years the tables have turned and now it is more often than not she who wins. In the early days when she lost she normally blamed it on the throw of the dice, and now when I loose I do the same????

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