Guide to SKOPJE

Ses bes or dubara

Two dice, 30 pieces, a bit more free time and fun can go on for hours. As you roll the dice, all carefree and convinced that, despite having bad luck, you ARE the best player in the neighbourhood, you suddenly realize that playing backgammon is more than just a fun game. It is a game that, unlike any other, has the cult status of a national sport, especially here in the Balkans, where it has been played with the same passion for a few millennia.

It doesn’t matter whether you are in a trendy café in Debar Maalo, a tea room in the Old Bazaar, on holiday on Skiathos, shopping in Thessaloniki or spending a weekend in Istanbul, you cannot resist the sound of the dice. Some might say it is the most annoying sound they’ve heard in their lives, but that only comes from those who have never sat down to play just one game of backgammon.

I assure you, only a small number of people think so, and in any case, they must have been in a place where backgammon was played. There isn’t a park here, a restaurant or a yard where you won’t find a duel of outwitting the opponent and proving who is better.

First written documents about backgammon date back to five thousand years BC and were discovered in present dayIran. The game was spread around the globe for centuries, mainly through Roman conquests, and nowadays it is played on every continent in almost all countries in numerous variations.

In recent years, there has been a trend of playing backgammon online, which is hardly surprising considering the popularity of web games, such as the games on Facebook, but also chess, poker or bridge.

Due to big prize funds and world championships there has been an increase in the number of players who, instead of playing with their friends in a relaxed atmosphere over a beer or coffee, are demonstrating their backgammon skills to the world and not only to their neighbours.

A great number of passionate old school players say that the magic of playing face to face is a unique experience that cannot be replaced by clicking with a mouse or keyboard. Still, it does not affect the increasing number of internet players who, in lack of better opponents, are looking for virtual ones and trying their luck with them.

When it comes to earnings, backgammon is high on the list of profitable games, with online poker being number one game to earn a lot of money. This is a recommendation to all the neighbourhood experts who are getting lonely playing backgammon in front of their building, to try it out and, if anything, they might earn some money.

Combining the useful with the pleasant is an imperative and the only thing they might be missing is the magic sound of rolling dice in an attempt to outmaneuver their biggest opponent.

Zoran Zafirovski