How similar are chess and backgammon?

As chess and backgammon are often grouped together, it is assumed that they are very similar. But how similar are they in actuality? Both games have colourful historical roots in various locations throughout the world. Both have two players and are played on boards with unmarked numbered points. They have strict starting setups and pieces that are identified by the points they occupy. They are intellectual games with championship competitions.

Although chess and backgammon have relatively simple rules, playing well requires paying attention to an opponent's choices and evaluating responses to their moves. The emphasis on strategy has led to the creation of many discussion forums, online schools, and even strategy software being devised.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is where the similarities end. Firstly, chess and backgammon differ as backgammon belongs to the group of board games collectively know as "tabular". These involve dice and so incorporate an element of chance. The tactical play is an amalgam of luck and skill, whereas chess relies solely upon decision.

Another noticeable difference is movement on the board. Both chess and backgammon have restrictions and are reliant on the position of the opponent, but movement in backgammon is linear. In chess, many pieces can move in more than one direction on the board, requiring a multilayered different approach.

The aims of chess and backgammon also differ. Backgammon players trap their opponents to hinder their play, but their ultimate aim is to bear off all their pieces first. The chess player wins by trapping their opponent's king. There is no stalemate scenario available in backgammon, unless requested by the player.

Amazingly, although chess and backgammon have some similarities, the main essence and strategy required in each game differs completely.


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