[World Championship tie-in: your opponent chucks his/her queen in. You win the game. Is that lucky?]
It was not terribly cool, but another thing that I did when I was injured was to take up backgammon. There are lots of things I like about backgammon: the aesthetic appeal of the board, the sound of the dice and the retro feel of the game.
But there were, I think, deeper reasons for being drawn to the game. With many backgammon moves, the dice do the thinking for me. Sometimes, of course the various options present a challenging decision. But often choice is limited because there is obviously a right decision that has been determined by the way the dice landed. There is certainly an element of skill, but you devolve the greater part of the game to luck. In that sense, backgammon is the opposite of chess, where the range of options is vastly more sophisticated and the role of chance negligible.
Fifteen years ago I would have laughed at the idea that I would ever derive much pleasure from a game where the result was heavily influenced by the random throw of the dice. But now, handing over such a degree of control to pure chance suits me perfectly. Why? Because I usually play backgammon after dinner, winding down after work. I have made enough difficult decisions for one day and I'm mostly happy for chance to make the remaining ones on my behalf. Backgammon fits the bill: you can enjoy a measure of competition and fun without having to think too much.
... to do with chess Index