Tables (board game)

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Tables is a general name given to a class of board games similar to backgammon, played on a board with two rows of 12 vertical markings called "points". Players roll dice to determine the movement of pieces. Tables games are among the oldest known board games, and many variants are played throughout the world.



The ancient Egyptians played a game called Senet, which belonged to the same family of "race games" as modern tables games, with moves controlled by the roll of dice.[1] The Royal Game of Ur, played in ancient Mesopotamia, is another member of the family. Recent excavations at the "Burnt City" in Iran showed that a similar game existed there around 3000 BC. The artifacts include two dice and 60 pieces. The set is believed to be 100 to 200 years older than the sets found in Ur.[2] Though they are all race games they cannot be direct ancestors of backgammon. A more likely ancestor is the gameboard found in Jiroft (Iran) that offers three rows of 12 points each, exactly as the later Roman game of "duodecim scripta".

The ancient Romans played such games. Ludus duodecim scriptorum ("game of twelve lines" or, better, "game of twelve signs") used a board with three rows of 12 points each, and the pieces were moved across all three rows according to the roll of dice. Not much specific text about the gameplay has survived.[4] A later variant, reduced to two rows, called Tabula, meaning "table" or "board", was similar to modern backgammon in that a board with 24 points was used, and the object of the game was to be the first to bear off all of one's checkers. Three dice were used instead of two, and opposing checkers moved in opposite directions.[5][6]

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