Perhaps one of the oldest board games in the world, Backgammon, though simple and plain, promises hours of fun and challenge. The Wikipedia suspects that the name was derived from the English word “back” and “gamen” or “game”. With the records of similar games being played BC up to 3000 in ancient Egypt, the game maintained its simplicity and class until today. A person can learn the game in just a few minutes but mastering the strategies can take a lifetime.

Over the years, Backgammon has always lived up to its reputation as an upscale game. This game is usually played in the highest of circles with leather-bound ivory sets and chips. Unlike the more popular classic chess game in which pure skill determines the victor, winning in Backgammon is achieved through a combination of strategy and luck as the players race to bring all their chips to their home board. The roll of the dice serves as your luck factor and how you play the shot results is an indication of your skill.

The integrated circuits must be moved from a fixed position all over the edge, counterclockwise towards an edge quadrant and finally to where the integrated circuits are stored on the edge side. Once the dice are rolled, the player decides which of the chips to move. The opponent, who has a mirror image of your setup, will have to move the chips in the opposite direction to the other home board. The trick is not to leave any chips alone in a line this chip may otherwise be diverted from your opponent and sent back to the starting line. Some players play defensive as soon as not ensuring integrated circuit is left alone. A’ another strategy is blocking a few consecutive lines so as to block your opponent’s chips from leaving a certain dial or by forcing them to split two chips into a line. Some play with an offensive strategy of always looking out for a single chip and sending this back to the starting line. A good player performs with a good balance of different strategies.

As the game has grown over the years, gambling and betting has become part of Backgammon’s history. The modern set has a doubling cube that allows a player to raise the stakes if that player feels he is in a good position to grab the victory. Since it is normally played in upper social crusts, the stakes are usually staggering. I would not be surprised if people were really killed by playing this game. The simplicity of the game likewise allowed programmers to create computer opponents with excellent skills. This allowed the Backgammon aficionados to play the game even without a human opponent.

A favorite is the mobile phone version that allows a person to play anytime and anywhere. The skill level of the computer opponent can be adjusted according the skill of the human player ranging from beginner to expert. At a maximum skill level, computer opponents have been know to defeat even the best of human players. Playing against a computer can really grind his playing skills. I wonder what the future holds for this old favorite. After more than 5,000 years and very poor effect, Backgammon will definitely remain and will still be played over the next 5,000 years.