Child's Play

What wise old sage was it that said "start them off young and they'll follow you forever" Perhaps it was a wise old man who played backgammon, as there is a consensus of opinion that the younger players are the better they will ultimately become. But backgammon maybe not quite the game for the under two's, let's face mastering potty training at that age isn't easy. So perhaps when thinking about starting off a child on the backgammon road, it's best to look at other varieties of the game which aren't so difficult to explain or for a child to understand.

Two of the great stalwarts of backgammon Oswald Jacoby and John Crawford have done precisely this developing a form of backgammon that is ideal for kids to play. (Though probably not for the under two's.)

This variation is called Blast Off and is designed for children who have just begun to pick up the basics of the game movements.

The layout is almost the same as backgammon except that each player’s two back men (formerly on the opponent’s one-point) are moved forward to join the five men on the mid-point.

Game play is the same as regular backgammon except you can't hit blots.

So it's mostly a game, based on which player rolls the higher dice. There is some skill involved, mainly in the positions of the men, and where it's best to place them for bearing off. If a doubling cube is used, this can be useful in learning the idea of when or when not to double in racing games.

More details can be found in Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford:

The Backgammon Book.


Not to be confused with Archimedes and his water displacement theory,

"Eureka he cried" (I have found it).

Eureika is a game version of backgammon for children played in the Middle East.

It's a game of pure luck, taught to children to get them familiar with the backgammon board.

The layout: Each player puts three men each on his one, two, and three points and two men each on his four, five, and six points.

Start: Each player rolls one die, and the higher roller plays first. The winner then picks up both dice and rolls them again to play his first turn.

Play: You roll the dice and bear off checkers from the points indicated by the dice roll. It's really that simple, maybe two year olds could learn; no probably it's best for them to stick to their building blocks. The winner is the child who gets rid of all his men first.

More information can be found in:

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