Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why Not Backgammon?

Why isn't backgammon televised? I can understand why chess is not televised, or is televised rarely. The strategy of chess is fascinating and there are even some interesting personalities. However, chess, like poker before hole card cams, is basically unwatchable. A half hour or more can go without anything happening at all (this happens in soccer too, but at least there are a lot of people running around to distract viewers). In addition, the players are generally immobile and quiet, which is not good television. Plus, the finer points of the game are difficult for the average viewer to grasp.

Backgammon is a different story. Many of today's poker pros, like Gus Hansen and Paul Magriel, are top backgammon players. Backgammon can also be played for huge sums of money, and the amount of money at stake can even change with the strategic application of the doubling cube. Also, backgammon is highly accessible, as a brief primer on the rules can make it easy to understand for everybody. Additionally, there is constant action, one player or another is always on move, and while finding the correct move can be difficult, the options are usually somewhat limited. Finally, backgammon can be played online, both for money and for free, so people can watch the action and then jump in themselves.

I am only a casual backgammon player, but I'm ready for the World Backgammon Tour. Steve Lipscomb, are you listening?

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