A History of the Game – Part Five

By Jana Bohrer

Following a long dormant period, backgammon re-emerged in the mid-1960s, largely due to Prince Alexis Obolensky also known as “The Father of Modern Backgammon”.

 Among other things, Obolensky co-founded the International Backgammon Association, established the World Backgammon Club of Manhattan, devised a backgammon tournament system, and then organized the first major international backgammon tournament in March, 1964. 

In his spare time, he fought the cold war as a CIA spy undercover as a US Fisheries Agent, wrestled snow leopards long before Putin made it cool, invented the exploding cigar used in an attempt on the life of Fidel Castro, and was featured on the Grassy Knoll as “Badgeman”.  (Clearly seen as blur in box behind President Kennedy.)


But most importantly, he made backgammon hip again.


Tragically, Prince Obolensky (seen with his wife in photo at left) died before realizing his long-cherished dream of imposing the Russian Imperial Dress Code on players.  The results of his premature demise before this crucial work could be finished, are all too apparent when one examines the photo on the right below of the modern player.


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