Backgammon evenings to be trialled over winter

Keen and would-be backgammon buffs can look forward to getting a monthly fix of the ancient board game from Friday of next week, when the first of four regular get-togethers is held at Raglan Old School Arts Centre.

There has been plenty of interest, local enthusiast Dermot Murtagh told the Chronicle, so he has taken the initiative and booked a regular space at the old school in Stewart St for players to meet over the winter months.

It’s just for fun, he says, and something different people might like to try among the social mix of movies at the old school and cafe dining. And players who have let their interest lapse may be inspired to take it up again, he adds.

Dermot describes backgammon as a very simple game of luck, although fellow players reckon it’s 70 percent skill and 30 percent “the way the dice rolls”.

Each person in the two-player game has 15 checkers (or men) that move between 24 triangles (points) according to the roll of two dice. Pairs play a series of games – called a match – to decide which player progresses to the next round.

Dermot says that while a “basic level” of backgammon will be played, what’s called a doubling cube may be introduced some Friday nights to speed up match play and to provide an added challenge.

Backgammon is one of the world’s oldest known board games, dating back to archaeological discoveries in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) nearly 5000 years ago.

It caught some local attention a couple of years ago when enthusiasts from clubs around the country came to Raglan for a weekend tournament, playing on tables set up in Volcom Lane.

Another weekend tournament – Backgammon by the Sea – is now planned by the Waikato club for the end of October, for “novices and experts” alike.

*All players welcome to backgammon at the Old School Arts Centre, last Friday of the month at 6.15pm. Free social event starting July 30. Bar available.