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Where Did Backgammon Get Its Name?

Board games have been part of our lives. They become our alternative source of entertainment or recreation especially during rainy days. Perhaps, you have already played some of the popular ones such as chess, scrabble and checkers. However, have you tried playing the popular board game in most casinos?

It is none other than backgammon.

Two players compete in a backgammon match. Each of them throws a dice to find out who will go first and to determine how many counters or "men" will be moved as the game progresses. The use of the dice is believed to be the reason why backgammon is considered to be a form of gambling.

According to historians, the earliest account of backgammon dated back as early as the Mesopotamian Civilization. Boards, dice and counters were dug at Babylon and elsewhere; a board was also found at Ur, the city conquered by the Chaldeans. From Mesopotamia, backgammon reached the other cradles of civilization particularly in Greece, Rome and Persia, (which is now Iran). There were excavated relics in the said places. Some were found in tombs. Others were inside a treasure chest. Thus it gives an impression that backgammon was popular among the aristocrats. As a matter of fact, Plato's Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, (which means twelve-lined game) was thought to be one of the earliest references to backgammon.

Among the Romans, backgammon was called tabula, probably in reference to the board. They also introduced the game in Britain during the 1st century A.D. after annexing the country as a colony of their empire. The name tabula was later changed into its English translation "table." Furthermore, backgammon became the favorite pastime in England up to the 17th century.

However, backgammon also became popular among other countries. In Spain, backgammon was called "Tablas Reales," (which means Regal Tables). The French people called it "Le Trictrac." It was taken from the rattling sound of the dice. Among the German, it was called "Puff."

The popularity of Backgammon also reached the Orient especially the East Asian countries. In China, backgammon was "T'shu-p'u." P'u in Chinese means uncarved block, while Shu means to count. In Japan, backgammon was termed as "Sugoroko."

However, where do we derive its present name?

As mentioned earlier backgammon became popular in the 17th century especially when the Saxons used the terms "bac" and "gamen," (which literally means back and game respectively) to describe how the game was played.

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