When in Greece…Play Tavli, a Pretty Cool Backgammon Variant

A friend of mine recently flew over to Athens on business and in one of his quieter moments, asked someone at his hotel if they would care to play some backgammon.

He said he got a good stare out of that from the ‘locals.”

He then found out that the popular board game Tavli was a variant on backgammon and made it a point to learn the basics of the game.

So here goes:

Tavli is Greece’s favorite board game.

It is played in a wooden frame with 30 counters in two different colors (15 counters of each color). The word tavli is used for the game but also for the board that the game is played on.

The players move the counters in specific places inside tavli board, which is split in two parts, according to the dice. The purpose is, in every variation of the game, to move all his counters in specific places and then to gather them out of the game. If the player manages this before his opponent manages to gather at least one of his counters, the winning counts as double win (double game).

If the opponent manages to gather even one counter, then the winner takes only one point. The game usually finishes in 3,5 or more usally in 7 winning points.

The variations of the game tavli that are played by greeks are “plakoto”, “portes” (doors), “feyga” and “gioul”, which is played rarely. The “doors” are same as the international backgammon (but without doublind cube)

If you’re interested in more details, let me know. But look it up online and you might find it’s a lot of fun to play.

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