History of Backgammon

Tavli (from Greek for Table)

This is the oldest boardgame that we know of and have complete rules for. We find boards for it as far back as 5000 years ago, however rules don’t survive until the Roman empire. Play is almost identical to modern backgammon with three changes.

  1. There is no “doubles” rule.
  2. Pieces start off the board and are brought on in a manner like they are taken off in modern backgammon.
  3. You roll 3 dice.

To Play:

  1. Decide who will go first (roll a die).
  2. Play starts from the left quadrant nearest your opponent and continues in a clockwise circle to the left quadrant nearest you. This means both players are moving in opposite directions at the same time.
  3. The player with the higher number rolls 3 dice and can then move up to 3 pips into play by placing them on the spike with the corresponding number. Second player then plays.
  4. Players can, in future moves, decide whether to move pips onto the board or move existing pips around the board or a combination of the two.
  5. If there are two pips on a spike, these pips are safe but if there is only one, that pip is subject to being bounced if the opposing player rolls a number which can land on the same spike. If a pip is bounced, it goes back to the starting point and must come back into play as if it had never been in play.
  6. You must get all of the pips into your own home quadrant before you start to remove pips.
  7. Remove pips by rolling the dice and removing pips from the corresponding spike. If you have no pips on any spike equal or higher than the number rolled, you may take off a pip from the next highest spike.
  8. Winner is the player who gets around the board and off the fastest.
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