Everyone Plays Backgammon in Armenia

Everyone Plays Backgammon in ArmeniaIt is difficult to imagine an Armenian without backgammon. Sure, the age of the Internet has radically changed our way of life, and today’s young people are increasingly hanging out in the online space. But there was a time when almost everybody played backgammon in Armenia, from young to old. However, the middle generation and older people still have not forgotten about the once-popular board game.

Everybody is playing

For us, Armenians, backgammon is not just ordinary entertainment but also a kind of self-expression. Backgammon is played everywhere – at home, in the yard, at a party. You can play backgammon both sitting and standing. A play set is often taken to picnics for playing once before and after eating khorovats (Armenian barbeque).

Backgammon is a logic game and is similar to chess where the flexibility of the mind and the ability to quickly navigate are appreciated. These characteristics are also important when playing backgammon. However, the number of subsequent steps is decided here by dice, which frequently causes various emotions among the players.

Backgammon is in its essence a board game of the people and, without exaggeration, a nationwide game. Due to this, backgammon games are often accompanied by the endless flow of advice from observers. Most of all is valued a “dry” victory with a 6:0 score achieved with three marses (moves giving 2 points). Such a victory becomes a matter of pride. It is hard to imagine, but there was a time when the so-called “Kazagrer” – records of such “dry” victories – were printed and sold in Yerevan.

In the 1960s, backgammon went beyond yards and continued its victorious march throughout the city. In parks, in specially designated areas, people played chess, checkers, cards, dominoes, but backgammon was, of course, the most favorite game of them all. Let us recall, for example, the Komitas garden or the current Lover’s Park where board game centers of Yerevan were located.

Backgammon player statue

In November 2007, in the center of Yerevan, near the building of the Hrachya Ghaplanyan Drama Theatre, a monument appeared to a man playing backgammon. It is called “Backgammon Player.” The statue authored by sculptor Edward Shahikyan is made of bronze. There is a similar monument in the city of Vladikavkaz, Ossetia.

The idea of creating the monument belonged to the production group “Courage” of the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema. At one time, course head Ruben Jaghinyan instructed his students to come up with interesting statues and realize their ideas. One of the students suggested creating several statues dedicated to chess players. From a similar idea, the backgammon player statue was born.

The statue is very characteristic and close in spirit to the people. Without too much pathos, it is in wonderful harmony with the atmosphere of the park. The player sits alone in front of the game board. Everyone can play and take a picture with him. It seems that he really invites you to throw a dice once or twice.

A bit of history

Backgammon is one of the oldest games in the world. Archaeological finds indicate that a game very similar to backgammon was played in ancient Rome in 3rd millennium BC. One of the oldest playing boards was discovered in the territory of modern Iran. It dates back to the 3rd millennium BC.

Backgammon came to Europe from the East after the Crusades. Since the 13th century, backgammon has been one of the most popular games in Europe.

In Western Europe, backgammon began to be called “trictrac” in a French manner. This name was given probably due to the characteristic sound of the dice hitting the board. The modern rules of backgammon were established in 1743 by Edmond Hoyle.

Ruben Shukhyan

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