Backgammon vs. Chess: Which Game to Choose?

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If you are looking for some really fun games to play with friends and family, then there are literally thousands to choose from. With that being said, sometimes the best games out there are also the oldest ones. Today we want to compare two of the oldest and most popular games around, backgammon and chess.

Now, both are very fun games to play, and yes, they can be quite difficult too. But with that being said, they really aren’t that similar. What we’re here to do today is to figure out what makes backgammon and chess similar and what the differences between them are.

Let’s help you choose between these two games.

Backgammon and Chess: The Basics

Before we start trying to figure out what the similarities and differences between chess and backgammon are, let’s first figure out what they each are in themselves.

What Is Backgammon?

Backgammon Backgammon is a type of game that involves both luck and strategy. One thing that is interesting to note is that backgammon is one of the oldest known board games in the world. It is thought to have originated in the country of Iran up to 5,000 years ago. Backgammon is a two-player game in which both players have 15 pieces that are called either men or checkers.

These pieces move between 24 triangles or pints on the board, and movement is dictated by the roll of two dice. The main point of this game is to be the first player to remove all 15 of their pieces from the board. Players roll the dice and must then choose exactly how to move their pieces, not only to remove theirs from the board but also to predict and counteract the movements of the opponent.

What Is Chess?

Chess Chess is a very strategy-heavy game that is designed strictly for two players. Chess is played on a board that features an 8 x 8 grid, for a total of 64 squares, which alternate in color between black and white. Both players receive 16 game pieces including the pawns, knights, rooks, bishops, king, and queen, with each type of piece being able to move in a specific way.

This is a turn-based game with each player making one move in his or her turn. Chess is a very old game that is based on the concept of war, or in other words, it is designed to mimic a war-like scenario, with the original purpose of it being to strengthen the strategic minds of officers and generals. The main point in chess is to capture your opponent’s pieces, with the end goal being to capture the king via checkmate.

Similarities of Backgammon and Chess

Now that we know what both chess and backgammon are, let’s figure out what makes these two games similar to each other.

1. They’re Both Very Old

OK, so technically speaking this could be a difference between these two games because they are not the same age, but with that being said, both are extremely old. Chess is thought to be anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 years old, whereas backgammon is around 5,000 years old. So while backgammon is nearly three times as old as chess, they’re both fairly ancient games that have been around for a super long time.

2. They’re Both Two-Player Games

One of the most basic similarities that both of these games share is that they are two-player games. While some people may choose to play in teams of two just for the fun of it, this is really not how these games are designed to be played.

3. Both Involve Strategy

Now, as you will quickly figure out in the section below, one of these games involves a lot more strategy and a lot less luck than the other, but with that being said, both do involve a good deal of strategy. Both games feature beginning, mid-game, and end-game tactics to be followed.

4. Both Are Played on a Board

The other very basic similarity between these two games is that they are both board games, or in other words, they are played on boards, opposed to something like a card game.

Backgammon vs. Chess

Differences Between Backgammon and Chess

Now that we know what makes chess and backgammon similar, let’s figure out what makes them different.

1. Style of Play

The biggest difference between these two games is that they are really two different types of games altogether.

Chess is a 100% strategy-based game that is all about moving your pieces in such a way that you capture your opponent’s pieces, with the end goal being to capture the king via checkmate. On the other hand, backgammon is all about rolling the dice and then moving your pieces in such a way that you get all 15 off of the game board before your opponent.

Chess is designed to simulate a war-like environment, whereas backgammon does nothing of the sort.

2. Boards

Another fundamental difference between the two games is what the boards look like.

In chess, you have a board that features 64 squares or an 8 x 8 grid of black and white alternating squares. The pieces are moved along these squares. On the other hand, backgammon features 12 points or triangles onto which the game pieces are placed at the beginning of the game.

In chess, you move your pieces forward towards your opponent, whereas in backgammon the players move their pieces in a circular manner from one side of the board to another, forming what is essentially a large U-turn.

3. Strategy and Luck

Yet another huge difference between these two games is that in chess you rely 100% on your own strategy and knowledge in order to win. On the other hand, while backgammon does involve a good bit of strategy, it does of course also involve rolling two dice, so there is a lot of luck involved too. Backgammon is half luck, half strategy, whereas chess is all strategy.

4. Pieces and Movements

In chess, you get 16 different pieces of six different types. All six types of pieces can move in different ways. Therefore you need to learn what each of the pieces can do.

On the other hand, in backgammon, there is only one type of piece, and players are differentiated via color. In backgammon, all of the pieces move in the exact same way, or in other words, they’re all the same type of piece.

5. Overall Difficulty

What it really all comes down to here is that because backgammon is partially luck-based, and because the pieces are all the same, it’s not all that hard. Sure, there is still a bit of strategy involved, but with that being said, chess involves no luck at all and pieces that can move in different ways. Therefore chess is a much harder game to play.

6. Tactics

Although backgammon does feature varying tactics for all three stages of the game, or in other words, the beginning, the middle, and the end, chess features way more. There are far more different tactics in chess than there are in backgammon.

Backgammon vs. Chess: Which Game to Choose?

The bottom line here is that chess is the much harder of the two games to play and is better for adults who want something that is really going to challenge them. Backgammon might still be a bit challenging, but it is a whole lot easier than chess and is therefore ideal for beginners and children alike.


Now that you know what the similarities and the differences between chess and backgammon are, you can make an informed decision as to which one of these you will play next.