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WikiProject iconBackgammon has been listed as a level-4 vital article in Life. If you can improve it, please do.
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Former good articleBackgammon was one of the Sports and recreation good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
August 7, 2005Featured article candidateNot promoted
August 9, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
August 11, 2006Good article nomineeListed
October 22, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
April 21, 2007Featured article candidateNot promoted
July 24, 2009Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article


Definition of Backgammon vs. Other Tables Games
A (Purist) B C D E F (Widest)
Backgammon article Modern Official Rules only Modern Official Rules Modern Official Rules and minor variances, e.g. scoring, initial dice roll and doubling cube 2-5-3-5 starting setup 2-5-3-5 starting setup 2-5-3-5 starting setup
Backgammon variants (article or subsection) none Minor variances, e.g. scoring, initial dice roll and doubling cube Variances, e.g. hitting/pinning differences, scoring, initial dice roll and doubling cube Every version with different starting setup
Tables games article Every other version Every version with different starting setup, or hitting/pinning differences Every version with different starting setup, hitting/pinning differences Every version with different starting setup Every version with different starting setup none

I have been considering how to resolve the differences in the discussion between Bermicourt and me. The above table is an attempt to find a way forward. I have set out six difference ways we could define the scope of the articles here. Bermicourt, please would you confirm which of these you would be satisfied with? Onceinawhile (talk) 14:29, 29 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for making the effort to resolve this in a constructive way and for creating the table which offers some structure around which to continue the discussion. I think the first thing to say is that we have both stressed that articles should be based on WP:RS and not on what editors think, individually or collectively. Our role is to try and present what the sources say. In this case it is complicated because there is, on the one hand, a broad but not entirely uniform scholarly consensus, and on the other widespread public beliefs which also varies, but all too often perpetuates myths such as "backgammon is 5,000 years old" which is patent nonsense unless we redefine backgammon as meaning "all board games".
Let me try and summarise what I think reflects the scholarly position together with other WP:RS such as the national backgammon organisations:
  • Backgammon = the game based on the official rules laid down by the WBGF and e.g. the UK and US Backgammon Federations and pretty much as described in the article (although it doesn't state the source for its rules which it should). Fundamental to the game are features like the equipment (tables board, 15 pieces, 2 dice), the starting layout, hitting, contrary movement, the doubling cube and bonuses for gammon and backgammon.
  • Old/Traditional English Backgammon = the game as played in England (and probably elsewhere) until about 1970 as described in the literature.
  • Backgammon variants = Variants that have spun off from the modern game as played in Western countries and routinely described in their literature e.g. Chouette, Nackgammon, Hyper-Backgammon.
  • Tables games = all games played using a tables board (24 points in 4 quadrants). Obviously this includes Backgammon.
The source of widespread confusion is bullet 3. Many sources, including some RS, refer to all tables games as "backgammon variants". This is patently not true since tables games were around centuries before backgammon and is frankly an insult to nations that played at tables (games like Nard and probably many of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern games) before backgammon came along, but my sense is that this should probably be mentioned at both articles.
Returning to the table, my thoughts are that:
  • Backgammon: the article should major on the game that the majority of our English readers would recognise i.e. modern Western Backgammon. It should include a brief historical background so people are aware the game is set in a much older and wider context. It should also cover variants of that familiar game. Old English Backgammon could be here unless it grows into a separate linked article.
  • Backgammon variants: if the main article becomes too large, a separate Backgammon variants article would be sensible.
  • Tables game: the article should offer a comprehensive overview of tables games with a detailed history, typology and geographical survey of the main games in each region.
  • Individual games: these may have their own articles which should not just be a summary of their rules, but cover the rich historical, geographical, cultural and linguistic aspects of these games. This is an important area for future work but probably requires help from nationals where those games are played.
So looking at the table, I'm probably hovering mostly over C. And I've been thinking about your earlier statement about the national games and think that it's perfectly okay to say "Tavli is the national board game of Greece" and then explain the link to Backgammon. And in the tables game article it's okay to say "in many countries the national board game is their local equivalent of backgammon, for example, Tavli in Greece and Cyprus, Tawula in Turkey..." The rest of the article will explore the character of each one.
Those are my initial thoughts - I hope that helps. Bermicourt (talk) 16:37, 29 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am satisfied with C as a reasonable compromise. What I cannot accept is any reliance on the non-WP:RS website to define the games. Some examples:
Onceinawhile (talk) 17:20, 29 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I share some of your reservations about, but they do give references for their rules. Some of them are RS, some are not. For example, Shesh Besh and Takhteh are based on emails and I would want independent RS to verify them. The Tawula references are RS, but not all that recent. I have created a Tawula article mainly using Bell for the rules, although Murray seems substantially the same. The game is called both Tawula and Tavla in English sources and both are mentioned in the lede. We can always move it to Tavla; I think that is more common. Bermicourt (talk) 18:19, 29 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I have made some edits to the Tawula article. I object strongly to the article name, as it is misleading. The name Tawula/Tavli in Turkish is usually taken to mean (modern Western) backgammon. The Turkish Wikipedia article Tavli verifies this, and we can ask Turkish wikipedians if you want further confirmation. This is highlighted by the mistaken photos which were added in to the article, presumably based on their filenames, despite the fact that on close inspection they were not the game being described. Onceinawhile (talk) 21:30, 29 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Another proof:
This link shows all videos on twitter where the tweet includes the word tavla. They are all playing standard backgammon. I did the same for Tawula but because that is an obsolete romanization, there are hardly any relevant hits.
Onceinawhile (talk) 07:37, 30 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've removed the tag in accordance with WP:WTRMT as no discussion was started. However, as the article is based on three historical RS, I've also modified it to describe the game as historical and to say that it may have been superseded by MWB. That latter statement needs citing; I'm only taking your word for it. So perhaps you could find suitable RS which support the argument that MWB is now the national board game of Turkey (and they need to demonstrate that by "Backgammon" or "Tavla" they are actually talking about the game played with modern Western rules and not the local version) and ideally RS that demonstrate Tawula as described in the article is extinct or rarely played nowadays if that's the case. Videos on Twitter and journalistic articles are not generally considered RS, but books or papers by Turkish game authors would be. Bermicourt (talk) 09:08, 30 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Bermicourt, we seem to be talking past each other. I said "I object strongly to the article name, as it is misleading. The name Tawula/Tavli in Turkish is usually taken to mean (modern Western) backgammon."
I did not say: "the game [is] historical and [has] been superseded by MWB", nor that "[the game] described in the article is extinct or rarely played nowadays". We don't have WP:RS evidence about that either way, although I noted that you made an unsourced claim that the game the article describes is more popular than MWB in Turkey.[1] Did you have any evidence to support this?
Onceinawhile (talk) 09:22, 30 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Some more evidence:
These appear to be Turkey's leading Tavla clubs / competitions. You will see that the game is backgammon. Onceinawhile (talk) 09:40, 30 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This discussion has moved to Talk:Tawula. Editors are invited to comment at that page. Bermicourt (talk) 09:56, 30 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Obscure descriptions[edit]

I suspect that the description of the rules will be unintelligible to anyone who doesn't already know the game. For example, it states that: " The points form a continuous track in the shape of a horseshoe, and are numbered from 1 to 24." Huh? The illustrations of actual backgammon boards, and other images online, don't show anything of the kind. The article includes a diagram showing a 'horseshoe' track, with numbers placed against the 'points', but the source for this is not stated, and the 'horseshoe' seems to be a complete invention. 2A00:23C8:7907:4B01:F85A:2758:922A:5E96 (talk) 15:03, 27 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

First rules of Backgammon[edit]

@Mwcc1919: the reason I reverted your good faith edit was because it claimed the first rules of Backgammon were written by Vaughan in 1931. In fact the first known rules were by Francis Willughby c. 1672 and Charles Cotton in 1674. Rules for modern Backgammon emerged in the 19th century and the last major change, the doubling cube was already recorded in several rule sets published in 1930. So I don't doubt the existence of the 1931 rules but they weren't the first. Bermicourt (talk) 09:21, 10 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One clarification: I did not say written, I said published. I am not an expert here but I believe the Laws of Backgammon has significance to the history of the game. Scribner's and Sons published Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the 20's. Their involvement in publishing the backgammon document in 1931 with the prowess of the Racquet and Tennis Club behind it must have some significance to backgammon's evolution. You appear to be an expert. I will leave it to you to include it in the wikipedia history and am happy to send you a copy if you are interested.
Incidentally, there is also lore in NYC the doubling cube may actually have been created at the Racquet and Tennis Club. It was a huge game at the club in the 1920's and remains so to this day. Mwcc1919 (talk) 19:01, 10 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The history of Backgammon is not well understood, even by experienced players and game authors. And, as in other games, rules are published as authoritative when, in fact, they have limited or no authority. A good example in another field are the so-called Official Rules of Card Games, published by the US Playing Card Company since 1887. It's a handy book of general rules for games known in the US, but "official"? Who says? In this case, sets of "Laws of Backgammon" were published from at least 1775 (Hoyle's Games Improved). However, there seems to have been a flurry of activity in the US in 1930/31 to regularise rules between clubs. Thus in December 1930, Vanity Fair published "The Official Laws of Backgammon", a bold claim since the article makes clear that these were just the rules "substantially in force at many fashionable clubs" in places like Philadelphia, New York and Chicago. Shortly thereafter, Walter Richard's Complete Backgammon was brought out in 1931 whose work "is the first to contain the official laws of backgammon just adopted by a congress of the leading clubs."[1] Another bold claim since they were only approved by around 25 of theses clubs, presumably in New York. The rules published by Wheaton Vaughan in 1931 are cited by Jacoby & Jacoby as the basis for their chapter "The Official Laws of Backgammon" in 1973, but also mention that Oswald Jacoby, father of one of the authors, was a member of the original committee, so perhaps a little subjective. A quick comparison of all these "official" laws with those on the websites of the US and UK Backgammon Federations shows that they are all differently worded. I'm not saying Vaughan's "laws" weren't significant in some way. But was their significance local, regional or worldwide? Was it only a way of regularising the rules between a group of clubs that played one another? How were the rules developed that are now issued by the various national federations and which are "authoritative" within their own countries? Bermicourt (talk) 14:34, 11 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ _ (1931) The Princeton Alumni Weekly, Vol XXXI, No. 31, May 1931, p. 786.


For analyzing checker play or cube decisions, the concept of equity is fundamental but I'm not seeing it treated in this article or elsewhere on Wikipedia. A brief definition and discussion would be helpful. Normalized equity and Equivalent to Money Game (EMG) for match play should be included. Jeremy Bagai's article ( could serve as a reference.

I'm not sure where the best place to put it in the article. Thoughts? Mr. Swordfish (talk) 22:40, 27 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That sounds like an aspect of computerised Backgammon which is covered under the section entitled "Software". And if that section grows much more it probably ought to be spun off as a separate article. Bermicourt (talk) 07:48, 28 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
While we now use computer software to compute equity, equity is a basic concept that predates the bot era. As we say in the article:
A doubling cube was first introduced in the 1920s in New York City among members of gaming clubs in the Lower East Side. The cube required players not only to select the best move in a given position, but also to estimate the probability of winning from that position, transforming backgammon into the expected value-driven game played in the 20th and 21st centuries.
In unlimited (money) play, equity is simply the expected value of the position. I think a brief subsection under strategy and tactics would be the right place to introduce it. The software section seems to mostly address the history of backgammon software, not how it works.
In coming days I'll see if I can work something up in my sandbox. Mr. Swordfish (talk) 12:22, 28 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gammon and Backgammon[edit]

@Bermicourt: There's no change in meaning in my edit. The version you restored contravenes multiple MOS entries:

  • MOS:CAPS – no reason to have the conjunctions in all-caps
  • MOS:SPELL09 – it should be "one point", not "1 point"
  • MOS:WORDSASWORDS – "backgammon" and "gammon" should be italicized, not in quotes
  • WP:EPSTYLE – "called" is not encyclopedic.

It also must be emphasized that a gammon and a backgammon, as game results, are mutually exclusive. As-is, the text could be interpreted to mean that a player getting a backgammon gets points for both a gammon and a backgammon. Also, "in the process of bearing off" is too vague as it does not explicitly cover the situation where the loser's last move is to move their last pieces not in their home table into their home table; they can then be said to have begun the "process" of bearing off which is not the definition of a game, which requires at least one stone of the loser's to be born off. Your revert makes no sense and is therefore undone. I'm quite frankly appalled that an editor of your experience would openly and blatantly contravene multiple core style guidelines instead of working to improve the actual text.--Jasper Deng (talk) 10:21, 21 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Jasper Deng: Please try to follow WP:BRD. If your bold edit is reverted, the next step is to discuss, not re-revert - that just risks a pointless WP:EDITWAR. That said, I actually don't have too much of an issue with your changes having had a second look. My comments are:
  • MOS:CAPS - I think the point of the "AND" was to emphasise to readers that both conditions need to be fulfilled. I agree that we are encouraged to do this using italics and propose that as the solution.
  • MOS:SPELL09 – I think that's open to interpretation e.g. "Sport scores... should be given as figures, even in the zero to nine range".
  • MOS:WORDSASWORDS – "backgammon" and "gammon" italicized. Fair enough.
  • WP:EPSTYLE – don't agree that "called" is not encyclopedic and the guidance doesn't say that either. It is a fact that certain feats are "called" gammon, backgammon, etc.
Have you read the sources to ensure your edits don't conflict with what they're saying?
I think we can agree some positive changes if we work together. Bermicourt (talk) 19:52, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don’t need to read those particular sources. I quickly Google searched backgammon and gammon and nothing is wrong with what I wrote. For SPELL09, that exception applies only within a game result. It does not apply to point values for units of scoring:
I would not be so picky if you weren’t restoring the clear WP:BADEMPHASIS, and also since you don’t overall take much issue with my edits now I don’t get your need to try to filibuster here, so I’ve undone your edit again and request you at the least leave the formatting fixes in.—Jasper Deng (talk) 20:05, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm afraid your comment that you "don't need to read sources" is entirely at odds with encyclopaedic editing. Wikipedia is based on WP:RS and it is clearly not sensible to change cited text without checking those sources; otherwise how can you possibly know that your revised text is supported by those sources?
You also might also want to consider whether re-reverting text twice because there is "nothing wrong with what I wrote" is in line with Wikipedia policy on reaching consensus via discussion.
Finally, please avoid personal attacks. Querying an edit and inviting a discussion is not filibustering. And if you don't understand other editors ("I don't get your need...), why don't you ask appropriate questions?
Your approach seems to be "I don't understand your perspective, but I'm right, regardless of the sources and so I'm going to re-impose my edits rather than waste time discussing them." I thought I'd offered some common ground and openness to discussing the rest, so I'm a bit surprised by your reaction considering your clear experience as an editor here. Bermicourt (talk) 20:51, 22 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree the original wording was not great, so I've reviewed the source text and re-written it to a) make it more succinct and b) reflect what the sources say much more closely. I've gone for italicisation, which interestingly reflects one of the sources anyway, and I've removed the the caps and quotes. The word "called" is not used. So I've incorporated 90% of your concerns and hope the result is now an improvement we can live with. Bermicourt (talk) 16:27, 23 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]