Backgammon could stake a good case for being our oldest known board game with a history going back at least five thousand years. The simplicity of the game and hence the ease in which the backgammon rules can be learned, is a key factor in the game’s continual popularity. Although the backgammon game has developed a number of variants in different regions around the world, the various versions share sufficient in common to allow players who learn how to play backgammon in one country, to be soon able to pick up the rules of the game in another part of the world. Another important factor to take into account is the impact of backgammon gambling. Arguably even more than playing for fun, the draw of backgammon gambling has brought in many new recruits to the game over the centuries and provided motivation for learning the rules well.
When the game first made its appearance on the scene of human leisure, one person taught another how to play by word of mouth, and by observing how experienced players play backgammon. For most of the history of the game this will have been the way new players were inducted. The early players might also have been taught how to make their own backgammon set. This would not have been such a difficult task since all the materials needed could be found locally, such as stones or pieces of pottery for the pieces, and a wooden board into which the divisions of the backgammon board can be carved. The first codification of the backgammon rules was not published until 1743, and so printed materials for learning the game were absent. However, given the fact that most of the world’s population was illiterate, backgammon players included, the lack of books was not an issue.
With the spread of literacy over the last 150 years and the increasing amount of leisure time, new possibilities for learning backgammon opened up. Besides the old method of sons learning from fathers, or learning by watching other players, people began to write books about backgammon. In addition, clubs at school and at meeting places such as popular cafes, starting to appear. These provided many new opportunities for becoming acquainted with the game and learning its strategy. Today, the introduction of backgammon software for playing backgammon online harnesses the latest technology to bring the game to a new audience, as well as broadening the playing possibilities for experienced players. Online backgammon sites provide full information on the rules of the game, and they also offer the chance of gaining valuable playing experience against a sophisticated backgammon computer. Wherever you are located, as long as you have access to the Internet, you can login to one of these backgammon sites and in a short while progress from a novice to an experienced player. There has never been a time in history when it has been easier to learn how to play backgammon.