Become a VIP .....appreciate Fibsboard? don't like ads, Y not

Main Menu

In Persian, "Takhteh" means "wood" or better "wooden board" and "Nard" is the same with "Nabard" which means "battle". So "Takhteh Nard" actually means "battle on the wooden board" and that´s how Persians see the essence of the backgammon: a battle!

In 2005, a team of archaelogists unearthed an ebony-made board, two dices and 60 checkers made of stones from the pre-historic site in the "burnt city" in south-eastern Iran. This set is dated back to 3000 BC, and this makes it a century or two older than a similar set found in the anciet city of "Ur", in modern Iraq. In other words, one can claim that "Takhteh Nard" is most probably the oldest recorded game in human´s history.

Dices found in burnt city

During the Achamaneid era, Persians invaded Egypt and conquered it. Later the Greeks, who had been under the constant cultural influence of Egyptian civilization from the beginning of their history, adopted the game and it´s Egyptian name, "Tau" which become "Tavli" in Greek. When Ottoman Turks captured Greece in 14th century, they adopted the game and called it "Tavla" which is exactly the same with the Persian variation. Russians also adopted the game from Iranians and created their own variation : "Narde" or "Nardi". Jews, who love the game, call it "shesh besh". "Shesh" means six in Persian and "besh" means five in Turkish and considering the fact that in oriental countries the best openning move is believed to be 6-5, calling the game as 65 is not too surprising.

In "Shahnameh" which means "The King´s Book" and has been written in 11th century, the great Persian poet "Ferdowsi" credits Burzoe with the invention of the tables game "Nard" in the 6th century. He describes an encounter between Burzoe and a Raja visiting from India. The Raja introduces the game of chess and boasts of it as an Indian achievement, and Burzoe in turn demonstrates Nard, played with dice made from ivory and teak as the Iranian invention that could be counted as equal to chess.

"Takhteh Nard" is very similar to the Western version of backgammon with a few differences:

  • The winner of the opening roll rerolls for his first turn.
  • There is no "hit-and-run" in the player´s home board.
  • There is no doubling cube.
  • Contrary to the widely accepted belief, there is backgammon win in "Takhteh Nard" and is called "sag mars", which means "dog gammon". Thus, the main difference with the Western version, apart from the recently invented (1920s) "doubling cube" is that you can´t hit your opponent´s checker in your board and move the hitting checker, exept for when you are in the bear-off stage.The reason behind this rule is may be that Iranians see the "hit-and-run" move as a cowardly and unfair move which contradicts with the fighting spirit prevailing in backgammon. The effects of banning the "hit-and-run" move is reducing the probabilities of gammons greatly and making the game much more challenging and longer.

    Some popular ideas among Iranian "Takhteh-baz", i.e Backgammon-players, are that they practically hate to make their ace point early in the game, even when they roll a 5-5. recirculating is much loved by Iranian BG players and they never risk to win a gammon when they can win a single for sure, as exchanging a sure good thing in hope of an unsure excellent one is considered a foolish move in the Iranian culture, as the old Persian proverb says: "Serkeye naghd beh az halvaye nesye" which means " the present vinegar is better than future Halva (kind of sweetmeat). The best openning moves in their opinion are 1-1 and 6-5 and with a 2-1 roll, they almost always play 13/11-6/5. They also are aware of the importance of the 5-pt and call it "Khuneye gedayi" or "begging house" as everyone actually begs to make his 5-pt as soons as possible. Yet, most of Iranians value the 7-pt as more important then 5-pt, as they believe that after making their 7-pt, it will be much easier for them to contain their opponent′s checkers because of the 3-pt prime which can be extended later. The Iranian players are usually good at backgames and priming games, but weak at blitzing and racing ones. But the most vulnerable part of their game is cube handling, as there is not such a thing in "Takhteh Nard" and they actually have almost no idea when to double and if ever planning to double, they most probably do it when their market is lost. In one word, they almost stick to the "old school of backgammon".

    Though the ban on "hit-and-run" move combined with the non-existant doubling cube, makes "Takhteh Nard" a hundred times more time-consuming, as a Western player you may find it very bothering in the beginning, but as time goes by, you may get used to it and even find it as interesting and challenging as the Western version!

    Comments: 2 *

    1) Re: Takhteh-Nard
    Comment by Caliman on January 17, 2009, 09:37:17 PM

    Absolutely excellent! Very interesting and informative, resolved an ongoing argument ive had for months! Thank you for this article.
    2) Re: Takhteh-Nard
    Comment by dorbel on January 22, 2009, 11:33:19 AM

    First rate article, interesting, informative and obviously well researched. Thank you.
    You don't have permission to comment, or comments have been turned off for this article.

    Articles in « Backgammon articles »