It’s past midnight and here I am on XG trying to work out at what match scores to double when holding both five points. I probably should have gone to bed ages ago, and prepared for real work i.e. the English lessons I have to teach tomorrow. Nevertheless, here I am, virtually moving blots around to determine cube actions.
I’m glad we’re talking about this. I mean, I tried to bring this up in the pub the other night and was met with something between a glazed expression and a pitying look that seemed to suggest that I need help. However, all was not lost. “So, what’s a blot again?” one mate asked. And that was all it took.
Soon we were actually talking about blots. Me and two friends who had never played backgammon in their lives. This was the time that I wish I had a travel board with me! Nothing a scrap of paper, a biro and a pocket full of shrapnel can’t solve though.
It was basic but after a pint they understood the small but significant difference between a blot and an anchor. Another pint and we went into sitting on the bar – an opportune time! Then there was some talk about direct and indirect shots, and a rather celebratory atmosphere as they juggled numbers. Heck, I would have even done shots had I been 18 and wanted to throw up in the morning.
So, there you go. When people say they don’t like backgammon, you can usually translate this to mean: I don’t have the foggiest about this game. Most people who dislike it don’t even know what it is. Bit like racists. Never spent a day in their life having a conversation with someone who is a different colour to them.
Now, backgammon is anything but racist – 15 black and white checkers, hello – but the point remains. I know I’m preaching to the converted here but doesn’t it just baffle your box when someone has an opinion about a game they know sweet caroline about?
Yes? Great. So, that goes back to what I was saying. Start talking about backgammon unashamedly in the pub, in the garden centre, at the doctor’s – and then when you get the glazed, pitying response, wait and see what happens. Hell, you might have the whole waiting room talking about blots and anchors. Or maybe not.
But it’s a start. And that’s what we need to grow this beautiful game. Rather than backgammon being seen as some sort of cult of anoraked geeks who walk around with oversized suitcases, let’s talk about it and through talking about it make it cool. Because it is cool, right? Right?? Please tell me I haven’t wasted the last eight years of my life for nothing.
Maybe one day we’ll see a Netflix series about backgammon, and then the world will catch up, and soon everyone will be talking about blots and anchors, double tigers, falcons, beavers, ostriches, lover’s leaps, boxes – and the world, if only for a moment, may just be a better place.*
*Ok, I made the ostrich thing up but I’m hoping Michi may make use of this animal in a future publication.