A History of the Game – Part Four

by Jana Bohrer

Backgammon reached Western Europe in the 11th century, first appearing in France.

In 1254, King Louis IX was forced to issue a decree prohibiting his court officials from playing when it was discovered that they were frittering away all their work time in houses of ill repute practicing dice mechanics.


Other innovations of the period include the first use of the magnetic board and dice combination set imported directly from China by Marco Polo Enterprises. This set was made widely available to players, and was marketed by late night town criers as:

Guaranteed to Produce the Roll You Need When You Need It! With No Shock Warrantee! For the Low, Low Price of ᵮ12.95 (florins) With Free Shipping and Extra Remote Control IF YOU ACT NOW!! (Batteries not invented.)

The first European depiction of such a set may be seen in Steen’s painting:

“WTF-Double Sixes AGAIN?!”



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