Forum Archive : Miscellaneous

What is backgammon?

From:   David C. Oshel
Address:   dcoshel@pobox.com
Date:   18 August 1997
Subject:   Re: How do you play backgammon
Forum:   rec.games.backgammon
Google:   5t9t4q$4t42@odie.mcleod.net

Backgammon is an ancient pagan game which embodies the ages-old conflict
between forces of Light and forces of Darkness.  Fifteen checkers
advance around the board, going from triangular point to triangular
point according to the cast of two dice.  They are opposed in their
advance by fifteen checkers marching in turn in the opposite direction.
A single checker on a point, which is one of the 24 triangular landing
places which, together with the bar and tabletop, comprise the board (or
"tables"), is at risk, and may be forced to start its march over if an
opposing checker lands on that point.  (Some ancient versions of the
game merely immobilize the blot, instead of sending it back.)  When all
fifteen checkers, or "stones" according to players from another
tradition, are within the last six points, they may bear off, or leave
the playing area.  The first player to bear off wins.  All the rest is
parochial detail, quickly learned.

Backgammon is a sucker's game when played for money.  There are only two
kinds of players, sharks and fish.  It is the business of the sharks to
educate the fish who think they are sharks.  Less-well-trained
biologists may object that all sharks are fish, but in fact the division
between the bony fish and the cartilaginous sharks, skates and rays is
so ancient that such objections can be dismissed outright as mere
rationalization or bragadoccio.  If you have bones in your body, you are
a fish.  If you can roll six when you need six, especially when using
precision dice and a baffle box to lull your prey into that comfortable
sixth sense of false security, then you are a shark.

David C. Oshel                 dcoshel@pobox.com
Cedar Rapids, IA, USA          http://pobox.com/~dcoshel/
"Tension, apprehension and dissension have begun." - Duffy Wyg&, in
Alfred Bester's _The Demolished Man_
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