Version Française The Origin of Backgammon English Version

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The Compleat Gamester - Cotton Charles 1674, London

The Compleat Gamester: or Instructions - How to play at Billiards, Trucks, Bowls and Chess - together with all manner of usual and most Gentile Games either on Cards or Dice - to which is added the Arts and Mysteries of Riding, Racing, Archery and Cock-Fighting

Now t'Irish, or Back-Gammoners we come,
Who wish their money, with their men safe home ;
But as in war, so in this subtle play,
The stragling men are ta'ne up by the way.
By entring then, one reinforceth more,
It may be to be lost, as those before.
By topping, knapping, and foul play some win:
But those are losers, who so gain by sin.

Games within the Tables

Chap. XXV.

Of Irish.

Irish is an ingenious Game, and requires a great deal of skill to play it well, especially the After-game. It is not to be learn’d otherwise than by observation and practice, however I shall lightly touch hereon.

The men which are thirty in number are equally divided between you and your Adversary, and are thus placed, two on the Ace point, and five on the Sice of your left hand Table, and three on the cinque, and five on the Ace point of your right hand Table, answer’d on the like points by your Adversaries men with the same number ; or thus, two of your men on the Ace point, five on the double Sice, or Sice Cinque point, three on the Cinque point in your own Tables, and five on the Sice point at home, and all these pointed alike by your Adversary.

In your play have a care of being too forwards, and be not too rash in hitting every blot, but with discretion and consideration move slowly but securely ; by which means though your Adversary have fill’d his Tables, but withall blots, and you by hitting him enter, you may win the Game ; nay sometimes though he hath born his men all to a very few.

‘Tis the part of a prudent Commander as he leads out his men to bring them home as safe as he may ; so must you have a care of your men as you are bringing them home that they are not pickt up by the way.

Have a special care that your Adversary double not the Trey, Ace-point with his men, and so make what convenient haste you can to fill up your own Tables, and beware of blotting ; that done, bear as fast as you can.

For an After-game I know not what instructions to give you, you must herein trust to your own judgment and the chance of the Dice, and if they run low for some time, it will be so much the better.

Chap. XXVI.

Of Back-Gammon.

Your men are placed as at Irish, and Back-Gammon differs but very little from it, but in Doublets which at this Game is plaid fourfold, which makes a quicker dispatch of the Game than Irish.

Be sure to make good your Trey, Ace-points, hit boldly and come away as fast as you can, to which end if your Dice run high, you will make the quicker dispatch.

When you come to bearing have a care of making when you need not, and Doublets now well stand you most instead.

If both bear together, he that is first off without Doublets wins one.

If both bear and one goes off with Doublets he wins two.

If your Tables be clear before your Adversaries men be come in, that’s a Back-Gammon, which is three ; but if you thus go off with Doublets it is four.

False Dice are much used at Irish and Back-Gammon for the benefit of entring, wherefore have a special care that you have not Cinque-Deuces, and Quarter-Treys put upon you, you may quickly perceive it by the running of the Dice.

The person that is cunning at play has great advantage of a novice or innocent man, which is commonly by toping or knaping, which by its often practice may be suspected by his Adversary ; then he has recourse to Dice, which runs particular chances for his purpose, which the other being ignorant of, is almost an equal advantage with the former. For example, he provides Dice that runs 6, 5, 4. ‘tis his business to secure those points, so that if he happens to surprize any of your men coming home, as ‘tis two to one but he does, he does without a kind of Miracle win the set.

‘Tis possible sometimes they may make use of 3, 2, which are the low Chances ; but that they seldom do for this reason, the high or forward points being supplied, you must enter if at all upon the low points which keeps you backwards and gives him advantage. The advantage of this Game is to be forward if possible upon safe terms, and to point his men at that rate that it shall not be possible for you to pass, though you have entred your men, till he gives you liberty, having two to one the advantage of the Game.