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Famous Backgammon Players


Backgammon, which is also one of the oldest board games in history, has been played by a long list of famous people throughout the years, and some of these were even spotted in the Roman and Byzantine empires. Emperor Zeno, in fact, knew the game as Tabula during the fifth century. However, many hundreds of years after that its popularity kept on increasing and during the 60s it started to become a big hit in America. The one responsible for this, to a large extent, was Prince Alexis Obolensky, who promoted it across the country and was the cofounder of the World Backgammon Club.


In modern times, many famous politicians, actors and socialites have shown to be fond of this game. In fact, John Edgar Hoover was one of its renowned fans and there is a famous picture of him playing it along with his FBI agents in Miami in 1937, more than two decades before Obolensky introduced it to the jet set. A fun fact is that Leonardo Di Caprio, who portrayed Hoover in the homonymous film directed by Clint Eastwood is an avid player of this game, just as Tobey Maguire and Mick Jagger are.


In addition to actors, sports stars that are also into backgammon include Paul David Magriel Jr., who was previously a poker player that had several notable finishes in poker tournaments. These two games can be easily played on the web nowadays – for the first one, players can find the best online freerolls on PokerNews, whereas for the second one they can find all the info they need in our website – which makes it increasingly easier to spot players that are good both in poker and backgammon. Golfer Sam Torrance also mentioned his love for this game in an interview held with the Independent in 2007 and tennis stars Tim Henman and Andy Murray – the latter currently ranked number one by the ATP- used to play backgammon together when they were not hitting the ball on the court.

It comes as no surprise that a game as old as this one has so many followers from different branches: it is allegedly one of Ted Turner’s hobbies, and Thomas Jefferson played it on his –scarce- free time. Also, provided that since the 20th century it turned into a common board game found in many households, a lot of people became acquainted with it and some of them continued to play it later on in their lives. A few more names we can add to this list are those of actor Joaquin Phoenix, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, baseball player Ken Caminiti, Madonna, Omar Sharif, Nicole Kidman, Alice in Wonderland’s author Lewis Carroll, director John Huston and actress Kate Hudson, who has in fact stated that the only two things she’s competitive at are backgammon and poker.

Another celebrity that plays backgammon is Matvey Natanzon is, with the only difference that this Russian is in fact famous for being the best backgammon player in the world (he was named number one in 2007), and he is commonly known under his pseudonym Falafel. So yes, that is how far this game has gone: it now has celebrities of its own. Famous Backgammon players





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