At a time when technology seems to swallow anything and everything that is old, outdated or lacks modern tech, board games have survived. And I’m not talking about the new board games, with bells and sounds, cards and fake money. I’m talking about the ancient board games, the strategic games that rely mostly on smarts and a hint of luck.
Chess, checkers and backgammon.
These board games have been around for hundreds of years, and their popularity has been high throughout history. But what makes these games special enough to withstand the test of time?
Chess: A game fit for royalty
Kings and queens, knights and bishops. Chess, the ultimate battle of strategy, intelligence and the ability to analyze the game many steps ahead, holds one of the largest playing communities in the world. Roughly 600 million people play this game on a regular basis, testing their wits against friends, foes and even computers. Chess relies mainly on strategic thinking and foresight, with luck playing no factor in the outcome. The result is completely in your hands.
The origin of chess dates back nearly 1500 years ago to regions of India and China. However, the first chess tournaments were played in London in 1851. Since then, chess has become very popular, as tournaments can be as simple as two 10-year-old children playing after school, or as unique as a grandmaster battling against a super-computer designed specifically for chess. And while there are many different approaches and strategies to the game, one thing remains above all – victory alone is not enough, you have to win with style.
Checkers: jump you way to victory
Checkers, in America, or draughts, in England, dates back to the 12th century in France. This simple game consists of circle pieces that may only move in a diagonal, forward way. While there are different types of checkers, with both size of board and quantity of pieces varying, the rules are basically the same. Eat your opponent’s pieces by jumping over them and be the last man standing. Because of the simple nature of this game, there is a lot less strategy needed, compared to chess. However, like chess, this game relies solely on skill, as luck plays no factor. In addition, although checkers doesn’t receive the prestige that chess does, especially regarding tournaments, checkers is nonetheless extremely popular among amateur players.
Backgammon: May the dice be on your side
One of the oldest games known to man, versions of backgammon date back to the byzantine empire in 476 A.D. While backgammon is most popular in the Middle East and Mediterranean region, it has also spread to Western Europe and the United States. This game, unlike chess or checkers, relies on a bit of luck as well as skill, as the player is limited by the roll of the dice. However, while a single game may be decided purely by luck, a series of games with accumulated scores is usually decided by skill, as the luck of the dice eventually evens out over the life of the series. And like chess, a series of backgammon entails a vast amount of strategy. In fact, computer programmers have been studying and developing backgammon strategies and computers to face the world’s best and brightest players.
So, which board game is for you?