In Bulgaria, Players Enjoy a Backgammon Variation Called “Tapa”

If you go to Bulgaria (an absolutely beautiful country….I was there about two years ago) you might want to play TAPA. Tapa?

It’s a backgammon variation. The word itself means “bottle cap” and it’s an appropriate name because one player is looking to block out the other opponent’s pieces. The movement of the checkers and the objective of “tapa” are same as backgammon, except for one important difference: a blot (single checker) is not taken out when its hit but rather the opponent’s checker rest on top of the blot and by doing that forms a point.

A player can also form points in the usual way by placing two or more of his own checkers in the same slot. If a player leaves a blot in one of his home slots and gets it covered, the players certainly loses a backgammon (unless the opponent has done the same, in this case it’s a tie). A long doublet (5 and 5 or 6 and 6) in the first stages of “tapa” can be useful because the opponent might have some blots in his home slots and the player might be able to cover them.

The closer this happens to the opponent’s home slots the better, because the later the player will free the blot as he’s bearing off. Tapa is definitely a game of strategy. A player will need to utilize strategy when caught close to his own home, he will need to force his opponent to free his blot, by blocking his checkers creating a situation that he will not have any other option to move. If neither of the players gets caught early in the game. Both of them try to move their checkers in almost prime formations.

This will create a situation when the opponents try pass through each other. When I was in the country I noticed that people actually play three games – backgammon, Gul Bara, and Tapa in a row. The cube isn’t used and there are no backgammons, but there are gammons.

These games (or their names) came to Bulgaria from Turkey. I was told that backgammon is probably the most favorite recreation among Bulgarian retirees.

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