Forum Archive : Variations

Fevga (or Moultezim)

From:   Igor Sheyn
Date:   4 May 1995
Subject:   Re: Greek Backgammon
Google:   3oan8n$

> Does anyone know the rules of a popular backgammon variant played in
> Greece?

OK, here's the attempt to put down a complete set of rule for the game
called feuga in Greek.

Equipment: Backgammon board, 15 checkers for each player, 2 pairs of
dice ( we play it with 1 pair, but let's keep it to bg as close to
possible )

Initial checkers setup: Each player has all of his checker on the same

      24 23 22 21 20 19  18 17 16 15 14 13
       1  2  3  4  5  6   7  8  9 10 11 12

Direction: Both players move counter clock-wise. Using numeration
above, O moves from 1 to 19-24 quater, which is his home. X moves
from 13 to 24 and then continues 1 to 7-12 quater, which is his home.

Goal: Bring your men home and bear them off as in backgammon.

Main difference from backgammon: Hitting is not a part of a game,
hence the point is considered made when there's only 1 checker on it
(no blots and slotting in this game).

Various aspects: the initial point for each player ( 13 for X, 1 for O
in the setup above ) is called "head". A player is allowed to move
only 1 checker from his head per roll. If he can't obey this rule on
any given roll, he can't play his roll fully. Exception: if your 1st
roll of the game is 6-6 or 4-4, you're allowed to play 2 checkers off
your head, 1/7(2) with 6-6 and 1/9(2) with 4-4.

Priming: there's one restriction on building a 6prime. You can build a
6prime only provided there's at least one opposing checker ahead of
your prime. E.g., if you want to build your prime from 1 to 6 as O, X
has to have at least 1 checker anywhere from 7 to 12. This rule is to
prevent trivial strategy of building 6prime right in the beginning and
then just rolling it home.

Gammon: Gammon is counted in same way as in BG. Backgammons do not
count (as far as I know).

Cube: No cube is used (this can be easily fixed though).

If u have any questions or if u think I left smth out, please let me

Dean Jameson  writes:

> Isn't there another variant that starts out with all men on points 1
> and 24 respectively and the opponents move in opposite directions?

Actually, the game Igor describes is more commonly considered a Turkish
variant (known as moultezim), although I don't doubt it's played in
Greece, too (as feuga).

Ed describes what is usually called Greek backgammon (plakoto).  An
interesting discussion of both games, with lengthy strategic analyses,
can be found in "Backgammon Games and Strategies" by Nicolaos and Basil
Tzannes (A.S. Barnes & Co., 1977) (probably out of print).  A third of
this book is devoted to regular backgammon, called "hit" or "portes"
("doors" in Greek) by the authors.  Unfortunately, their understanding of
standard BG is fairly primitive, somewhat tarnishing the credibility of
their strategies for the other two games, but I'm not at all qualified to
judge the latter.  Of the two, I think moultezim is more interesting, as
do the authors, who call it "the purest of backgammon games."  As they put
it, "Maturity, they [Middle Eastern BG players] say, starts with plakoto
and reaches its peak with moultezim."

Of course, they grossly underrate the complexity of the regular game,
considering it "not challenging enough for the mature player."  Not
surprisingly, their advice on how to play it well is extremely weak.

Nevertheless, both variants discussed are worth looking into.  Although
quite different in structure, they share the common characteristic of
having all men start on the point farthest from home, and so take two or
three times as long to play as the regular game.  They require a fair
amount of long-term strategic thinking (and a fair amount of patience) in
order to play well.  Plakoto, IMHO, tends to be boring, because if one
player can trap one of his opponent's pieces in its starting table, the
game is essentially over unless the trapped player can equalize with a
similarly far-from-home pin.  Usually, he can't.  BTW, a computer version
of this game is included in the backgammon module of Software Toolworks'
"Games People Play."

Moultezim is usually more interesting, I think, and it's fun to see every
point on the board occupied by a piece (one man is a point--there are no
blots).  Many games devolve into prime v. prime battles, with the prime
closest to home obviously having the advantage.  Games where both players
have managed to scatter their pieces in all four quadrants can be
fascinating, as it's not always easy to tell who's winning (except,
perhaps, to a very experienced player).

The Tzanneses are certainly right in lamenting that these variants aren't
better known outside the Eastern Mediterranean.

Dean Jameson
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