In every Greek kafeneio you can see men playing the beloved Greek game of ‘Tavli

‘. It looks a bit like the ‘western’ game of backgammon.
Below is a photo of a recent game here at Neromylos – A phenomenon that hardly ever happens, one player was completely stopped the other from being able to make a move
Tavli means “board” in Greece. It is also the name used for various games played on a backgammon board.There are three games of Tavli commonly played:

  • Portes. This is similar to Western backgammon.
  • Plakoto. A game where one checker can trap another checker on the same point.
  • Fevga. A game of Turkish origin where one checker by itself can block a point.

These games are played one after another, in matches of three, five, or seven points.

The games of Tavli have the following rules in common:

  • Only one pair of dice is used, and they are shared between the players.
  • In the first game, each player rolls one die and the higher number goes first. That player then rolls the dice again to begin his first turn.
  • After the first game, the winner of the previous game goes first.
  • The first player to bear off all his checkers gets one point, or, if the winner bears off all his checkers before the loser has borne off any, he gets two points. There is no triple game.
  • No doubling cube is used.

Pace of play: Tavli is played very quickly. You do not need to wait for your opponent to pick up the dice—you pick them up yourself while he is making his move.

Rolling too early: However, you must not roll the dice while the opponent is still making his move. As long as he has a checker in his hand, or even still has his finger on it, you must wait. If you throw too early, the roll does not count and you have to roll again.