Understanding the Rules of Tavli Variants

Backgammon is one of the more popular board games. Aside from the traditional form of the game, there are different variations that are played in various parts of the world. One of them is Tavli.

Tavli is a Greek variation of backgammon that derived its name from the Greek word which means "board." The game has three variations, each with its own set of rules and game play. These games are played in a series of games where player strive to win.

The first Tavli variation is Portes. This has the closest resemblance to Western backgammon. At the onset, the board is set up similar to traditional backgammon. In Portes, the doubling cube is eliminated which makes it a game for fun instead of money. The backgammon is absent. A win by gammon entitles a player to two points while a standard win entails a single point.

In Plakoto, the point of origin of all checkers is different from the regular set-up of the backgammon board. The player begins at his opponent's one point and slowly moves his checkers towards his home board before bearing off. Hitting blots is not allowed as well. In place of the rule, the trapped checker of the opponent stays on a point until the player decides to remove their piece. This brings backgammon to greater heights. If the mother checker is blocked by an opponent, that player forfeits the game and loses a couple of points.

Another Tavli variation, Fevga, likewise demands that players start the game on a certain location on the board. From the space located on the far right of their board, players advance their 15 checkers towards their home board and then ear off. In Fevga, the first checker of a player should cross the starting point of their opponent's checkers before they are allowed to advance their other checkers. Similar to Plakoto, hitting is prohibited and only one checker can occupy a point. A different strategy is required in this game because building primes in more than six points is not allowed. When a checker of the opposing player cannot advance behind a prime, the player who built it has no choice but to advance their checkers.

Despite the differences in rules, there are some similarities among each variation of Tavli. First, they all utilize a single dice and the player who makes the first move is determined by dice roll. The player with the highest roll has the first move. Second, the player who first removes their checkers receives one point. Lastly, all three games are played for fun so the doubling cube is not a requirement. So take your pick and start playing backgammon.