The Game of Kings3M Company – 1973 – 2 Players
Backgammon, another entry in the 3M Bookshelf Classics series, has existed for over five thousand years. It is a race game, having elements of both skill and luck.
The game is played on a field with 24 “points” or spaces; 12 on each side of the board. 15 disks each of two colors are placed on the points in a specified starting pattern. The object of the game is for each player to get all of their disks to their “inner table”; the six points closest to them. Once on the inner table, the pieces can be removed from the board.
Pieces move according to the roll of two dice. The player moving can move two disks, each the distance shown on one die, or they can move one disk the total distance shown on both dice. If doubles are rolled then each die may be used twice.
Any number of disks of the same color can be on a single point. If a point has two or more disks on it then disks of the opposite color cannot land on that point. If only one disk is on a point then an opponents disk can land on that point. In this case, the original disk is sent to the “bar”, the area between the two sections of the board. A player with pieces on the bar cannot make any moves except to move the piece from the bar back into play.
The first player to get all of their pieces off the board is the winner.
Backgammon has a near perfect balance of skill and luck. Moving some pieces leaves others vulnerable to being sent to the bar and savvy players will leave some pieces behind to attack their opponents with. But, a bad roll of the dice can destroy the best laid plans.
The combination of luck and skill has led some to consider Backgammon a game of gambling. Indeed, a standard part of all Backgammon games is the “doubling cube” which is used by the players to double the stake involved in the game.
The 3M version of Backgammon is adequate for playing the game but isn’t as high of quality as some of their offerings. The board is somewhat flimsy and comes in two pieces; the pieces are held together by a plastic clip (which becomes the bar). Still, Backgammon is a fascinating game and it is good to see it included as part of the 3M Bookshelf Classics line.