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History of Backgammon


Together with games like Chess and Go, Backgammon remains one of the oldest games in the world. Some records show that this game could be up to 5,000 years old and that it was more than likely born in Iraq.

The ancient Romans, including figures such as Nero and the Emperor Claudius, both apparently enjoyed playing the game for vast amounts of cash and numerous frescoes also illustrate this game being played throughout the ages.

The mention of Backgammon also appears in the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer and during the times of the Crusades, lower ranking soldiers were prevented from playing because this game became such a hit.

It is still not clear exactly where the name ‘backgammon’ derived, but records dating back to 1645 clearly have this word in print and some have suggested that the two words ‘back’ and ‘gamen’ (game), from Middle English, may have been where this name came from.

The gambling factor in backgammon was popularised in approximately 1925/26 and it was at this period in history when doubling was introduced. Big money tournaments were frequently hosted throughout the 1970s and these events attracted some big names, celebrities included.

In the 1990s and thanks to the pioneering work of people such as Dr Gerry Tesauro from the IBM Laboratories in White Plains New York, advances in playing practice and theory were made possible and also thanks to an application known as neural network theory. Computers inevitably paved the way for the development of backgammon programs such as Snowie.

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