Excerpted from our Backgammon Games booklet.
According to legend, an Indian sage invented Backgammon to reflect the calendar year. The 24 triangles represent the hours of the day; these are divided into two sides of 12 each, representing the months, and/or signs of the Zodiac. 30 pieces portray the days in a month, two dice for day and night, and the total of seven spots on opposite sides of a die represent seven days of a week, or the planets known at the time.
Backgammon games traveled to the Near East from India, and may have been imported to Europe by the Romans. Emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54) was fond of an early version of Backgammon called Tabula. Emperor Zeno (A.D. 475-81) once had such bad luck playing Tabula that the positions of his men on the board were described a century later by Agathias, a scholastic of Myrine, in Asia. This 6th century record has enabled scholars to recreate the game of Tabula with what is believed a fair degree of accuracy.
Although there are hundreds of books on the modern standard rules and strategies of Backgammon, very few of them mention the wide range of variations. The term "Games within the Tables" once referred to the family of pastimes played on what we call a Backgammon board. "Backgammon" is simply the variant that has ended up as the primary modern survivor of this family. The 13th century "Book of Games" commissioned by King Alfonso X of Spain http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/ contained no less than 15 versions of "Tables" as it was called. During the Middle Ages the church waged a loosing battle against Tables because it often included gambling. However, by the 1700's it had become a favorite of even country vicars and became know by its modern name.
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