Print media from years gone by provide a rich history of how backgammon has been played, promoted, and enjoyed over time. These materials can also reveal the biases and prejudices of their day, so they should not be viewed uncritically — nor should the attitudes of publishers in the 1930’s or 1970’s be taken to be those of the NEBC or any current backgammon organization.

Clicking on the article image will take you either to a searchable PDF file that may be viewed in your web browser or downloaded to your computer or tablet for offline reading, or to the online archive provided by the copyright holder. Most popular magazine issues can also be hunted down on eBay or other online sites.

Popular Magazine Features

When backgammon is hot, you can bet it will turn up in a variety of popular magazine titles. All of the titles in this gallery feature a substantial article on backgammon of the day.

Vogue (1929, Sept. 14)

In a two-page article commenting on the rage for backgammon and contract bridge, Frank Crowninshield provides some remarkable detail on exactly how the new invention of doubling and “Scoring by Matches” worked.

The New Yorker (1930, Sept. 6th)

“Tric Trac, Clic Clac” is a Talk of the Town segment name-dropping a variety of aristocratic players including the Grand Duke Dmitri of France, crediting him with the invention of doubling in backgammon.

The New Yorker (1930, Oct. 18)

In “Table for Two,” satirical columnist Ring Lardner turns his gimlet eye on backgammon in an amusing piece that lends detail to our sense of the game’s appeal at the time. The “randomly” selected book that he gently ridicules is The New Backgammon by Elizabeth Clark Boyden.

Vanity Fair (1930, November)

In “The Perfect Backgammon” Julian Jerome delivers an entertaining portrait of backgammon etiquette and satirical player “types” that was swiped and re-published under Clair Boothe Brokaw’s name in the Vanity Fair’s Book of Backgammon.

Harper's Bazaar (1931, Oct.)

In “The Backgammon Boom,” expert of the day Walter L. Richard offers insights into the origins of the two great backgammon innovations credited to the jazz age: doubling and chouettes. See the Chicago Point account of this article’s discovery!

Sports Illus. (1964, May 4th)

An account of Prince Obolensky’s first International’s Backgammon Tournament, held in the Lucayan Beach Hotel on grand Bahama Island.

Playboy (1973, March)

Jon Bradshaw, Michael Laurence, and Tim Holland lay out the basics of the game, convey the appeal it holds for players and offer some practical playing tips.  Includes illustrations of current luxury BG equipment.

New York Times (1974, April)

“The Backgammon Explosion” describes a swanky benefit tournament at the Plaza Hotel and a teasing glimpse of the high-stakes milieu of the private clubs.

Sports Illus. (1974, Sept.16th)

A colorful account of characters and debaucheries at an exclusive 32-player Dunhill tournament held on a New York – Southampton QE2 voyage.

New Yorker (1974, Jan. 1st)

Tim Holland is featured in a Talk of the Town segment, discussing the modern apparel off backgammon. Issue also includes one of six Byford Sweater ads featuring Holland that appeared in various magazines that fall.

Fortune (1974, Mar.)

Fortune magazine reports on high finance participants in the 1974 World Championships, capturing the flavor of the game among the wealthy.

High Times (1977, Jan.)

After some entertaining reflections on the current mania for backgammon, this article takes a deep dive into its deep history, with a focus on the numerological significances and allegorical meanings it held for ancients and moderns.

Gambling Times (1977, July)

“The Eisenberg Affair” by Roger Dionne offers a lengthy profile of World Champion Backgammon and Bridge expert Billy Eisenberg.

New Yorker (1977, Dec. 5th)

Paul Magriel bests George Plimpton . . . blindfolded, as Oswald Jacoby and Barclay Cooke look on.

New Yorker (1978, Mar. 6th)

A lengthy and vividly anecdotal feature recounting the 1978 Amateur Championships in Las Vegas, won by Chico Felberbaum.

Gambling Times (1978, Aug.)

“The King of Backgammon” — A lengthy feature detailing Paul Magriel’s entrance to backgammon and subsequent flourishing in the 70’s milieu.

Sports Illus. (1979, June 4th)

An in-depth feature on Paul Magriel’s “War Against Luck, Disorder, and Chaos.”

Gambling Times (1979, June)

A bonanza of 18 pages worth of backgammon features, including an interesting Editor’s Desk column on rising backgammon popularity, Horowitz & Roman on the opening, backgammon fiction, and a deep mathematical dive by Edward O. Thorp.

Esquire (1980, April)

“The Gospel According to X-22” the second feature devoted to Paul Magriel in a major publication, and explains the genesis of his famous nickname.

Scientific American (1980, June)

Cover story “Computer Backgammon” by Hans Berliner looks at the success of BKG 9.8 in deploying the principles of artificial intelligence.

The Atlantic (1980, July)

“The Cruelest game” provides a description of backgammon’s history and current level of popularity, as well as an anecdotal encounter across the board from Paul Magriel.

Lear's (1989, May.)

In “Gamine of Backgammon” Annabel Davis-Goff provides an entertaining account of what it was like playing with the bigs at the Monte Carlo championships.

Cigar Aficionado (1999, Feb.)

A breathless profile of “Simon Jones,” a notorious “Backgammon Hustler” who travels the world winning vast sums against various fawning victims. A bit much.

New Yorker (2013, May 13)

“The Chaos of the Dice” devotes six full pages to Falafel (Matvey Natanzon) in a colorful portrait of the great player.

Esquire (2019, Apr.)

Writer Dwight Garner enjoys a work-out against Victor Ashkenazi before heading to Monte Carlo and back again. A vivd snapshot of the modern state of the game.

New York Times (2020, Mar. 3rd)

The New York Times devotes appropriate space to the passing of the great Matvey “Falafel” Natanzon.

Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine

Las Vegas Backgammon publication was a deluxe magazine running from approximately 1978 – 1982, published by las Vegas club president Michael Maxakuli.  These issues, provided by Candace Mayeron for scanning, offer a trove of backgammon articles, images, and ads that capture the glamor and avarice of backgammon during the peak of the game’s popularity in the United States, as well as the evolution of tournament practices and game strategy in that period. Another thing they capture: the casual sexism of their day. Women featured on the covers serve mostly as “eye candy” (note that few of them are even pretending to play backgammon) — and some viewers may find some images inappropriately revealing.

The Las Vegas magazine employed an almost comically inconsistent numbering system, but was published on a roughly quarterly basis despite purporting to be a “bi-monthly.” Estimated dates are placed in [brackets]. If you would be willing to contribute scans of earlier Las Vegas newsletter/magazines, or later ones, please contact us.

Las Vegas BG (1978, March)

An editorial addresses legal challenges to backgammon tournaments; Dave Thompson reviews the troubled $1,000,000 World Amateur Backgammon Championship; Paul Magriel gets one wrong in a NYT column.

Las Vegas BG (1978, June)

A scathing review of a 60 Minutes backgammon segment; Bob Ciaffone achieves change in Michigan ‘dice’ laws; copious pictures of local club players; Official Las Vegas Tournament Rules.

Las Vegas BG (1978, [Sept.])

London & Monte Carlo; Backgammon’s Blacklist Book; Backgammon Glossary; Dunes Hotel plans 2nd Plimpton Cup; California Open disappoints; Backgammon Zodiac.

Las Vegas BG (1978, [Dec.])

Missing Man Rule; Too Cool for the Club; Norman Hunter Profile; Chicago Cup review;   Mexico-Las Vegas tournament; Sonne BG catalogue; Club logos; Backgammon Types.

Las Vegas BG (1979, Feb.)

Club Directors get no Love; ABC Title Winner; Hamilton Squash Club BG Ladder; Calgary “Gammon on Ten.”

Las Vegas BG (1979, June)

BG Needs patrons; Park 65 BG Club, NY; NBA Backgammon; Bill Davis on Local Clubs; Boston BSO Benefit; NEBC at 3 Years; Robert Perry profile; Settlement factors; Lewd BG.

Las Vegas BG (1979, Sept.)

Monte Carlo; ‘Pipsqueakers’ Cartoons from Portland; Duo-Gammon; Jim Howe Profile; Kent Goulding match; Owen Trayner Memorial; Flint Club.

Las Vegas BG (1979, Dec.)

Swiss System; BG Needs a Hero; Jacoby on 6- Openings; Kate Watson, Louise Goldsmith Profiles; Puerto Rico ’79; Woolsey on Too Good; Chicago B&W; BG by Fax.

Las Vegas BG (1980, March)

A National BG Organization?; Bill Boyd Profile; BG Machines; Woolsey on Doubling; Marrakesh; More on Swiss; Barr on Calcuttas.

Las Vegas BG (1980, June)

Regional Tournaments; Paul Magriel Profile; BG Publications; Cooke on Cubes; Amateur Status; Glamor in Reno; Robertie Master Points; Ultimate Draw Sheet.

Las Vegas BG (1980, Oct.)

Backgammon legal defense; Monte Carlo Results;

Las Vegas BG (1980, Dec.)

Leslie Stone, Todd Vander Pluym Profiles; Robertie Cube Quiz; Mayeron Rulings; Cooke on Computers; Woolsey Quiz; Michigan Movement Brackets; Chicago Classic; Modified Swiss.

Las Vegas BG (1981, March)

Markowitz, Caverlys Profiles; 5th Plimpton Cup program; Beaver Theory; Miss Lonelyblots; Robertie Wins @ Dunes; Income taxes on Wins; Ward on Recording BG positions; More Michigan Movement; American Giant 32 List.

Las Vegas BG (1981, June)

Expert Panel; Grind Tournaments; Craig Tyndall Profile; BG in Japan; Kit Woolsey Match; BG Bibliography; Electronic Backgammon; Robertie Checker Quiz; US World Team; CJC Featured; Double Elim; Bruce Zembe.

Las Vegas BG (1981, Sept.)

Orrill Martin debacle; Tournament Chouette Rules; Joli Kansil Interview; Maffeo on Chouettes; Ausley’s Laws; Symmetric Doubles; Double-Beaver; Team Tournaments; Boston Black & White; Woolsey Quiz; Record-keeping.

Las Vegas BG (1981, Dec.)

Precision Dice; Muhammad Ali; Gammon-Save Quiz; Chouette Settlements; Oswald Jacoby Profile; NEBC; Lee Genud Wins; Gaby’s Commandments; Match Play Cube Strategy; Kleinman Report on Plimpton Cup; Jacoby on BG History; Woolsey on Pay Now/Later; Friar’s Tale (1734).

Las Vegas BG (1982, Apr.)

Oregon vs. Barr legal case; Woolsey on Crawford plays. This scan is incomplete, including just 12 of 40+ original pages.

GAMMON Magazine

This ambitious but short-lived “national” backgammon magazine was published by Buddy Berke and edited by Sidney Jackson. A paucity of national-brand advertising may have made it difficult to sustain its high production values and cost. Its substance and style is very close to the Las Vegas magazines, including the exploitive cover imagery.

GAMMON (1979, Preview Issue)

The magazine promises a lot in this promotional flyer — including “unlimited access” to a toll-free backgammon hotline!

GAMMON (1979, Preview Issue)

Alfred Sheinwold on Organizing BG; Hugh Hefner Celebrity Profile; American Women BG profile; Cube as a Weapon; Tournament Reports (Acapulco, Pebble Beach, Lucille Ball, Chicago, San Francisco); Club profiles on Pacific Northwest, Turnberry Isle, Mayfair, Cavendish West; “The Man in The Box” Pt.1; PIPS Club; Thorp on Endgames.

GAMMON (1980, Winter)

Ezra Tissona Celebrity Feature; Monte Carlo 1979 in detail; Intermediate Cubes; “The Man in the Box” Pt.2; Robertie Analysis of 1979 WC match; Biorhythms; Skill Levels (Horowitz & Roman); Black & White Chicago Classic; 1979 World Amateur Championships; Duo-Gammon; Various Club results.

Tournament Brochures

The PDF files in this section contain brochures / flyers for various backgammon events in the 1970’s-80s, loosely grouped into batches according to geography or event.  Most were generously provided by avid Los Angeles player Candace Mayeron for scanning.  If you have additional pre-1990 materials you’d be willing to contribute,  please contact us.

Amateur Championships

The Amateur Backgammon Championship, also known as the Plimpton Cup, was open to “non-professional” players who had not won a tournament prize greater than $1000, nor “made a living” playing backgammon. This file includes events held from 1977 to 1985.

World Championships

Before settling down in Monte Carlo in 1979, World Championship events were held in Las Vegas and Paradise island. For a detailed account, see this article in Bill Robertie’s Gammon Press blog.

Black & White Events

Black & White Scotch was a major sponsor of events, promoting their whiskey with backgammon-themed ads in major magazines and providing branded playing equipment and prize money for several years of events often directed by Lewis Deyong.

Las Vegas, Nevada

A variety of flyers for national and local events held in Nevada, including the Grand National and US Open, as well as the Reno El Dorado Classic.

Los Angeles, California

A wide selection of flyers for local California tournaments, mostly in and around Los Angeles, including a nice memento of a Lucille Ball event at Pips.

Caribbean Getaways

A variety of tournament cruises, beachfront events, and North American BG Championships.

North American Events

A mixed bag of brochures from locations in the US and Canada, such as Chicago, Boston, Ohio, as well as the handy ‘Backgammon is Everywhere!’ national schedule.

European Events

A small sample of European tournaments drawing the interest of international competitors.