Narde: The “Battle On Wood”

As a backgammon enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the game variation called “Narde”.It’s a lot like the classic backgammon game, but is more commonly played in Russia and Kazakhstan. Each player gets 15 checkers, but with a twist.

First of all, the players move in the same direction. If you’re Player A, you go from 12 to 1, proceed to 24, and then on to 13 and out of the board. Player B starts at 24, moves towards to 13, on to 12, slides to 1, and then off the board.

Second of all, Narde has no hitting. One checker, and you’ve got a point.

Third of all, doubles aren’t quite greeted with the same cheers of enthusiasm. It’s They’re not even considered special: you move your checker as the roll indicates, and not the privileged four times.

Fourth of all, it’s mostly a game of chance, with players casting a prayer that they don’t get blocked by a six point prime.

Narde was first developed in 800 AD, probably from Persia—an ancient civilization in Southwest Asia. Since the game required a wooden board, the Persians named it Nard, their word for “wood”. Variations of the name include Nardshir, Nardeeshir, and Nard-i-shir. A more poetic name was “Takhteh Nard” or “battle on wood”. :

For the Persians, the Narde board symbolized the year, with one marker corresponding to the mounth, and the 24 points symbolizing the hours in the day. Of course, the 30 checkers represent the 30 days in a month, and the 7 faces of the day represent the days in a week. What about the contrasting colors? Night and day.

Nard entered Europe through Italy or Spain, while the Arabs spread it towards Asia.

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