Turkish men have a culture of going out to cafés, drinking tea, smoking and playing games. Usually backgammon but chess and rummy get a look in too. In all places we went small clusters of men could be found playing games. In some small towns like Selçuk there wasn’t a spare seat.
So how do you play Backgammon?
The board is 24 alternating black and white triangles (isosceles) with the triangles on the far side of the board are coloured the inverse of the triangle on this side. Starting from your left hand side of the board, both players put 5 tokens on the first triangle, 3 on the fifth, 5 on the seventh and 2 on the twelfth triangle.
Each player takes turns rolling two dice (i.e. 3 & 4). You can move one token the total sum of the two dice (7) or two tokens and assign each die to a token. So one token moves 3 and the other, 4. If you roll a double, then you get four of that number to move.
You can only move your checkers onto an empty slot, a slot with only one of your opponents tokens or a slot that has any number of your tokens. If you land on an opponents lone token; that lone token goes into the middle of the board: the bar.
The goal is to get your tokens off the board. You get your tokens off by rolling the exact number to move them from one of the last six slots off the board. The catch is that you can’t bear off any tokens until all your tokens are in the last six slots.
The game seems simple but the chance element adds sufficient uncertainty to the game to make it complex and repeatable. Consequently you’ll find Turkish men playing the game again and again.