Forum Archive : Miscellaneous

Backgammon's popularity

From:   Anon
Address:   74444.2174@compuserve.com
Date:   29 September 2003
Subject:   What happened to fern bars and backgammon's popularity?
Forum:   rec.games.backgammon
Google:   5a364a49.0309291821.2f353f63@posting.google.com

I remember the late 70s when fern bars were in and backgammon was

Last week I couldn't find a single backgammon book in the Borders
bookstore and I began to wonder: What has happened to backgammon's

It's not just my limited view, is it?

It seems backgammon is lost in the general public's mind and maybe in
the eyes of former devotees.

Where has the popularity gone?  Is the game not action packed enough?
Is there "more fun" gambling out there in its place?  Was it just a

Ric Gerace  writes:

The ferns died.

Michael Sullivan  writes:

The popularity has waned some, but if anything it's coming back.  It's a
deep strategy game, the kind of game which has never been very popular
on a wide scale.  Like chess, checkers, bridge or poker, most people
know the basic rules, a lot of people play a little, but in most times,
relatively few people play a lot and get good at any of these games.
The 70s were probably somewhat unusual in that BG became a fad.  But it
was never "just" a fad.  A lot of people who don't normally play such
games much, played backgammon in the 70s, just as a lot of the same kind
of people played bridge in the 40s-70s.  But there are plenty of people
who still play.  Get an account on FIBS, Dailygammon, Itsyourturn,
Gamesgrid, etc. and you'll see thousands of people who play regularly
over the net.  In person tournaments are many fewer than 30 years ago,
but there's still a circuit around, and a number of folks who make their
living as professional backgammon players and teachers.

Actually, *serious* backgammon has undergone a major renaissance because
of the interesting AI work that's been done in the last 20 years or so.

The overall standard of play has improved tremendously with the
widespread availability of strong AI backgammon nets.  If a typical
advanced modern player (say someone in the top quintile of ratings on
one of the servers, or who regularly competes in open events) could time
warp back into 1970, they would be playing on a level with the top pros
of the time.  World class players of today are far ahead of anyone who
was playing in the 1970s (including, in a lot of cases, themselves :))

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