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Will Backgammon survive and is it still popular?

In the late 1970s, clubs, pubs and cafes around Europe and America were bustling with punters playing Backgammon. The sound of dice and casual chatter filled smoky games rooms. Sponsorships and media coverage gave rise to a time of popularity for this ancient game. Now, in 2018, is Backgammon still as popular as it once was? Will it survive into the future, with the rise of video gaming?

Backgammon is one of the world’s oldest games. Boards of a similar nature have been found in 3000 BC, around the same time as the Royal Game of Ur. Backgammon and similar table games have a rich history across many cultures, from China to Greece to Turkey. In Western Europe, Backgammon’s predecessor “Jeux de tables” were played in France in the 11th century. It’s an international game that is still popular in many countries around the world today.

There’s also no shortage of famous faces and names that enjoy a game of Backgammon. Augustus played Alea, an early form of Backgammon, back in the early AD years. Later, Thomas Jefferson became an avid player and even recorded his wins and losses. Past and current celebrities like Omar Sharif, Lucille Ball, Leonardo DiCaprio and more have played Backgammon, and some are even ranked players.

So, what is it that makes Backgammon a timeless game that has survived for thousands of years?

Like all good games, Backgammon is easy to learn yet takes a lifetime to master. It combines elements of math, logic and psychology yet it also contains aspects of luck that give all players a chance at winning. In the short term, it’s anyone’s game, but in the long term, skilled players can pull a profit by using what they know and patiently applying it to get past the variance.

A game of such skill needs information and literature so that people can learn. Backgammon has plenty. This has not always been the case, but now you can find Backgammon strategy online or in books.

It’s also important for any competitive game to have plenty of events and contests to keep players and crowds interested. Though not highly publicized, there are major Backgammon tournaments across the world nearly every week, especially on the two major circuits in Europe and America. There is also a world series held in Monte Carlo each year.

Casual players can find clubs and gatherings near their location like how the card game Bridge keeps its momentum. If you are an avid Backgammon player and there are no games in your area, consider starting a casual get-together of players or a more formal club. Building a community is important for the future of the game.

What Backgammon is missing, however, is the sponsorship and media coverage that it needs to reach the mainstream market. The game had more of both in the 1970s, but that seems to have subsided, so now it’s rare to see a televised event. Tournament attendance is on the rise in the USA and Europe, especially in Denmark and Germany, but the next step would be for major Backgammon games to gain recognition as household events. That would take the game to the next level.





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