Games: Backgammon

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The Independent Culture
NEXT WEEKEND, the Mind Sports Olympiad gets under way at the Olympia Conference Centre. For all games except backgammon and poker there are very reasonable prizes. The reason that the prize for backgammon is inconsequential is that under British law backgammon is ruled to be a game of chance. Thus it would be illegal to hold a tournament where the reward is financial.

Now backgammon has an element of chance - this is true of any game where dice are used - but it is not like roulette. Over time the better player will defeat the weaker player as night follows day. Major tournaments see the same small group of players winning and being placed consistently. This is because backgammon is a highly complex game. It takes years of study and play to become highly proficient, and then only by combining that with the right temperament and understanding of human psychology can you make it to the very top.

When backgammon was originally classified as a game of chance, much of the information that is now available through bibliography and computer analysis was unresearched. However, with this growing body of evidence available, there is now no logic in the British Gaming Board maintaining its current position.

Over the coming weeks, I will be doing what I can to contact various elements of government to see if a review of backgammon's status is possible. Defining it as a game of skill and allowing major tournaments to be run in this country would be the biggest boost possible for the game in the UK and could lead to us once more developing world-class players.

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