Backgammon is one of the oldest known games. Its origins go back thousands of years to approximately 3000 BC.
Ancient Egyptians played a game similar to backgammon called Senet. Ancient Romans played an early version of backgammon called Tabula. Archeologists have discovered ancient Tabula boards in the ruins of Pompeii.
Backgammon-type games dating back to 1350 BC were found in the tomb of Egyptian King Tutankhamen.
Backgammon in the Middle Ages
The name “backgammon” may have first appeared in the 1600’s. Some historians speculate that the term “backgammon” is Welsh and translates as “wee battle”. Others believe it originated as a variation of the phrase “back game” in reference to how players try to send back each others’ checkers.
In 1745 Englishman Edmond Hoyle, the well known games authority, published “A Short Treatise on the Game of Back-Gammon”. This paper defined the basic rules of backgammon as it is played today.
The doubling cube was added to the game in New York in the 1920’s. The name of the innovator is not known.
Backgammon surged in popularity in the 1970’s. Many of the books currently available on the topic were first published during that era.
In the early 1990’s computer programs were written that could compete with world-class players. Computer programs have become an important training tool for modern players.
Some aficionados believe that the availability of games on the internet may spark renewed wide-spread interest in the game.