Turkish Shesh-Besh is a variant of backgammon or shesh-besh. The changes are as follows:

  • Role a 1 and a 2, miss a go
  • Role a 4 and a 5, play any valid double
  • Role a 5 and a 6, move any two pieces to any available space on the board
  • Role a double, play the double and re-roll
  • Role 3 doubles in a row, the black players pieces become the white player’s pieces and vice versa.

This produces a far more interesting game. It allows an experienced player to demolish a newbie, or it allows two experienced players to keep going for up to a full hour on a single game.

The game has to be played much more defensively than standard backgammon. This is because the five and six rule means that any one piece left open could be taken from anywhere on the board. It also means that the game could be won by a player who has not removed a single piece from the board. For example: The black player has not removed a single piece, and the white player has just finished on a double 4. The white player then has to re-roll since he rolled a double. He gets a double 3. He then has to re-roll again. If he then rolls another double, the white player's pieces become the black player’s pieces, and the black player has won.

If two evenly matched players play backgammon, often not much can be found to separate them. This is the main strength of Turkish shesh-besh, since it is much more difficult to play to a narrow victory.

The game is best played on an Arabic-style board, preferably with a narghila and some comfy cushions!

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