Backgammon is Beautiful-A Thought by Paul Magriel

by Jana Bohrer

I was trolling the internet today for images of backgammon and came across an article Sports Illustrated did on Paul Magriel in 1979.  It’s a wonderful read and you can see the whole article here.

A Gamesman’s War Against Luck, Disorder And Surface Chaos

But I wanted to share one quote of Magriel’s in particular:

“I’m always at war with luck and disorder.  I’m always trying to impose my will over the randomness of the dice, over what seemingly has no structure.  I may be sounding sort of melodramatic, but what I’m trying to do in backgammon is create order out of chaos.  I guess in a psychological sense, I’m trying to make sense out of the world.  People think there’s so much luck in backgammon.  But that’s very unfair.  They think there’s not that much to the game.  That’s totally false.  Backgammon is much, much more difficult, much more complex, much deeper than anybody can imagine.  The dice create the surface chaos, which is always riling things up, but there are patterns underneath the surface that involve advanced, beautiful, non-obvious, non-trivial ideas.  It’s my job to uncover these patterns.”


3 thoughts on “Backgammon is Beautiful-A Thought by Paul Magriel

  1. Really enjoyed the link. I’d be fascinated to read a book about backgammon that covers all the points touched on here: the history of the game, how it’s developed, the psychology of the game and of probability in general. Maybe even the order/chaos stuff! Something other than the “what moves to make” texts available. Anyone know of anything like this?


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