Reprinted from the September 25, 1930 edition of The News-Palladium of Benton Harbor, Michigan
By Julia Blanshard
(With some commentary and illustrations courtesy of your humble editor.)
America has a new remedy for boredom this winter.
In addition, it is calculated to help a girl catch a beau, to keep husbands in nights and to prevent children from leaving home. More than that, it’s the smartest thing you can serve guests as a party. Its name is backgammon.
A good old stand-by game for the elite back in the gay 90’s, backgammon has gone modernly 1930, is smartly democratic and threatens the country with a vogue this winter more widespread and contagious than miniature golf.
Society folks on the Riviera and Lido last winter are responsible for the renaissance of this game. Somehow, it seems to answer the modern need for thrill. It combines the chance of throwing dice with the skill of play, which challenges even the most blasé. More than that, while two people play the game – or four in some types of backgammon – as many as four others can look on in the capacity of kibitzers; and we all know how much more Americans enjoy telling folks how to do things than actually doing them, themselves.
(Editor’s note – YOU MEAN BACK THEN THEY LIMITED THE KIBITZERS TO 4!!! WE NEED TO GET A FREAKIN’ TIME MACHINE!!!!!!!!!!)
This summer, backgammon added zest to Long Island weekends and this autumn clubs, hotel and homes are adopting backgammon as one of their chief stocks in trade. Suburban commuters are foregoing their rummy and going in for backgammon while riding to work and home again. Dragging out a backgammon board when a new young man calls is now considered not only a fine way to get a slant on his I.Q., but also to rate him socially. Giving a backgammon party is quite the smartest thing a hostess can do.
All good department and sports stores now carry a multitude of paraphernalia for backgammon parties. Some stores have rigged up separate little backgammon shops where you not only can purchase boards, men and dice, but such party accessories as backgammon sets of linen or crepe paper cloths and napkins for serving refreshments when the game is done. Backgammon china and beverage sets and modernistic smoking things with backgammon figures on them also attest the vogue.
If you would be very, very chic and take to the new game with flair, you can purchase a backgammon table with ebony legs and smartest of inlaid tops designed for the game. Even newer and more modernistic backgammon tables are made with automatic legs (when you shut one you shut all) and tops of gorgeous Chinese red or bright jade green glazed leather tops, with cork inlay for the markers. Most of these are convertible by lifting out the backgammon board and turning it over onto a bridge table if you happen to have a few old-fashioned guests.
There are sets of backgammon men and dice that come as high as $250. There are sets in colored stones. Othe rs come in ebony and white reflecting the classic color for the old fashioned game that is over 100 years of age. No matter what color your men and dice happen to be, you casually refer to them as black and white for this same conventional reason (Editor’s note – You do?! And why “casually”, why can’t I refer to them formally?”)
This revival of an old time game and adapting it to modern use is quite in line with other contemporary trends. Smart new costumes for women have quite a Naughty Ninety note in some of their styles. A new-old elegance is reviving home-hospitality. The old-time waltz thrills now where the quick one-step leaves us cold. Backgammon rightly takes its place as a classic that bears a renaissance. It appears to be about to ride the crest of popularity into becoming the great indoor American sport this winter.