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Discover the History and Culture of Narde, the Russian Backgammon

Backgammon - Narde: A Guide to Two Ancient Board Games

Backgammon and narde are two of the oldest board games in the world, dating back to thousands of years ago. They belong to the family of tables games, which involve moving pieces on a board according to the roll of dice. Backgammon and narde are similar in many ways, but they also have some distinct rules and strategies that make them unique and challenging. In this article, we will explore the history, rules, strategy, and variants of these two fascinating games.


The origins of backgammon and narde are not clear, but they are believed to have evolved from ancient games played in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, and other regions. The earliest evidence of backgammon comes from a board found in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, in present-day Iraq, dating back to around 3000 BC. Narde, also known as nard or nardi, is thought to have originated in Iran or India, and was popular among the Persians and Arabs. Both games spread to Europe and Asia through trade and conquest, and became widely played in different cultures and languages.

backgammon - narde



Backgammon and narde are played on a board that consists of 24 narrow triangles called points, divided into four quadrants of six points each. The board also has a vertical line called the bar that separates the inner and outer tables. Each player has 15 pieces of one color (usually white or black) that move in opposite directions around the board. The goal of both games is to move all one's pieces into one's own home board (the quadrant closest to the player) and then bear them off (remove them from the board).

The movement of the pieces is determined by the roll of two dice. The numbers on the dice indicate how many points a piece can move forward. A player can use the numbers on both dice to move one piece or two different pieces. If a player rolls a double (the same number on both dice), he or she can move four times using that number. For example, if a player rolls a 5-5, he or she can move one piece 20 points, or four pieces 5 points each, or any combination in between.

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Backgammon vs. narde differences and similarities

A player can land a piece on an empty point or a point occupied by his or her own pieces. A player cannot land a piece on a point occupied by two or more of the opponent's pieces. Such a point is called a made point or a blocked point. A point occupied by only one piece of either color is called a blot. A blot can be hit by an opponent's piece landing on it. A hit piece is removed from the board and placed on the bar. A player with one or more pieces on the bar must re-enter them into the opponent's home board before making any other moves. To re-enter a piece, a player must roll a number that corresponds to an open point in the opponent's home board.

The main difference between backgammon and narde is the initial setup of the pieces. In backgammon, each player places two pieces on his or her 24th point, five pieces on his or her 13th point, three pieces on his or her 8th point, and five pieces on his or her 6th point. In narde, each player places all 15 pieces along his or her 12th through 24th points. This means that in backgammon, some pieces are already advanced towards the home board at the start of the game, while in narde, all pieces start from the farthest point.

Another difference between backgammon and narde is the rule of doubling. In backgammon, there is a special die called the doubling cube that has the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on its faces. At the start of the game, the cube is placed in the middle of the board with the number 64 facing up. This means that the stakes of the game are one point. During the game, either player can propose to double the stakes by turning the cube to the next higher number and offering it to the opponent. The opponent can either accept the double and take the cube, or reject it and forfeit the game. The player who owns the cube can propose to redouble it later in the game, and so on. The final score of the game is determined by multiplying the value of the cube by the number of points won (usually one point for a normal win, two points for a gammon or a win where the opponent has not borne off any piece, and three points for a backgammon or a win where the opponent has one or more pieces on the bar or in the winner's home board). In narde, there is no doubling cube and no gammons or backgammons. The score of each game is simply one point.


Backgammon and narde are games that combine luck and skill. A good player must know how to use the dice rolls to his or her advantage, and how to anticipate and counter the opponent's moves. Some general principles of strategy are:

  • Make points: Making points creates a strong position and blocks the opponent's movement. A player should try to make as many points as possible in his or her home board and inner board, especially the key points such as the 5-point and the bar-point (the 7-point).

  • Hit blots: Hitting blots disrupts the opponent's formation and forces him or her to waste rolls on re-entering pieces. A player should look for opportunities to hit blots whenever possible, especially if they are in the opponent's home board or inner board.

  • Escape back men: Back men are pieces that are behind the opponent's home board or inner board. They are vulnerable to being hit and trapped by the opponent. A player should try to escape his or her back men as soon as possible, using high rolls or combinations of rolls.

  • Bear off safely: Bearing off is the final stage of the game, where a player removes his or her pieces from the board. A player should bear off his or her pieces in a safe manner, avoiding leaving blots that can be hit by the opponent. A player should also try to bear off as quickly as possible, before the opponent catches up.

Of course, these principles are not absolute and may vary depending on the situation and style of play. A player must also be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and dice rolls.


Backgammon and narde are not the only tables games that exist. There are many other variants that have different rules and features. Some of them are:




A variant of backgammon where a roll of 1-2 (acey-deucey) gives the player an extra turn with any roll he or she chooses.

Gul bara

A variant of narde where there is no hitting and all 15 pieces start off the board. A piece can only enter from the opponent's 1-point, and can move to any point that is not occupied by two or more opponent's pieces.


A variant of narde where there is no hitting and a piece can be pinned by an opponent's piece landing on it. A pinned piece cannot move until it is unpinned by another piece landing on it.


A variant of backgammon that is popular in Turkey and Greece. It has some differences in setup, movement, and scoring from standard backgammon.


A variant of backgammon that is popular in Egypt and other Arab countries. It has some differences in setup, movement, doubling, and scoring from standard backgammon.


Backgammon and narde are two ancient board games that have a rich history and a loyal following. They are both fun and challenging, requiring luck and skill to win. They are also very versatile, as there are many variants and versions that can suit different preferences and tastes. If you are looking for a new hobby or a way to spend some quality time with your friends or family, you should definitely give these games a try. You might discover a new passion or a hidden talent for these games.


Here are some frequently asked questions about backgammon and narde:

  • What is the difference between backgammon and narde?

The main difference is the initial setup of the piec

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