I’ve been thinking a lot about backgammon recently. Ok, correction: I’ve been thinking a lot more about backgammon recently. To be specific, I’ve been thinking of the terminology which is used and, to be frank with you, it’s coming up short – and don’t call me Frank.
Now, I know there’s more pressing issues in the world such as climate change, terrorism and Donald Trump’s hair, but backgammon really needs to do something about this terminology thing. And I mean, now.
Yes, I know Michi (and Nono) has done a wonderful job in injecting some colour into the body of this game with his tigers and his falcons, but this has only whet my appetite for more exotic and flamboyant terms which we can revel in and then shout across the board whenever the chance may arise (not recommended at tournaments).
Even though I have not been a commentator myself, I have a sneaking suspicion that commentators get a thrill from saying “double tiger”. Maybe, I’m wrong. But unless I’ve got a tin ear, it sounds a whole lot of marvellous better than “hitting twice in the inner board”.
More poetry, please. More lyricism. Words are important and take my word for it, I’m an English teacher. Words not only excite players but they excite other people – who aren’t players yet – to the game. Ok, enough about excitement and backgammon, it’s starting to sound weird.
Basically, we’re falling behind here, guys and gals. Look at chess. Bloody chess. Smug bastards with their own Netflix series and their panoply of cool things such as the Benko Opener, the Budapest Gambit and the Hedgehog Defence. Damn, I thought benko was something they ate out of boxes in Japan. Now compare backgammon. Ladies and gentleman, we call this the 2-1 opener. Now turn your eyes to the 6-4 split. Yawn. I need a lie down. Even bingo does better than this. How about we call the 6-4 split the ‘Straddle’, and the 6-4 run the, erm, ‘Flying Squirrel.’ We could even call a hit from the bar, the “Rooftop Ninja.” You’re welcome!
Look, it took me all of five seconds to come up with those terms, so go easy. Basically, I’m sure with all our collected backgammon experience and knowledge, not to mention our penchant for the colourful and eccentric, we can do better. A lot better. Don’t leave it all to Michi. No man is an island – which is obvious really: how could a man be a body of land surrounded by water? Waaait.
Joking aside, I wonder if this is a left-brain right-brain thingamajig. Meaning that because a lot of backgammon players are so annoyingly good at maths, they’re not so hot on the creative stuff which is what we need right now.
Also, on a final note, how many milliseconds did it take for someone to come up with the word “gammon” for a double game? Did they just look at the box and go, erm, “it’s almost lunch, let’s just lose the ‘back’ part.” Marks out of 10? 3 at best. Good job they didn’t have any longer on their hands otherwise we’d be calling single games “mons”. And talking of mons, come ons! It’s TIME to be creative. We all watched Tony Hart and Rolf Harris (don’t lie) when we were young, so time to put down your 501 backgammon problems and get the old creative juice maker going. Whizz yourself up a nice backgammon shake and then please share your recipes on a postcard and send them to me. I’ll be expecting them.