Backgammon Tournaments

Backgammon is Back on Giralda

Nearly 5,000 years ago, table games emerged in Mesopotamia and Persia as players got together, rolled dice, and moved their counters across wooden boards. A few millennia later, Rice Mediterranean Kitchen on Giralda Plaza is the new hotspot for such games, with weekly backgammon tournaments for both “sharks” (experts) and “fish” (novices).

Each Wednesday at 6:45 pm, the Miami Backgammon group enters their names into brackets and does what those ancient Mesopotamians did. For novice “fish,” matches often last multiple games spanning an hour or more. While they’re counting out combinations to decide the best move, the expert “sharks” are moving brutally fast, launching their pieces across the points on the board with blinding speed and precision. The buy-in is $10 for novices and $30 for experts, with each match going to seven points and cash rewards for first and second place.

On the night I strolled into Rice, I felt confident in my abilities, despite having just learned the game during the week prior. I’d defeated all the opponents I could find (including our fearless editor-in-chief in possibly the greatest comeback the game has ever seen), and I had my wooden board ready and a chip on my shoulder. I was, however, unprepared for the sheer length of the tournament, which, for newbies, can run several hours. If you’re going, you’d better love backgammon. As one old-timer told me, “We play well into the night and we don’t stop until we have a winner.”