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Publication Date: 2014-02-01

Inspiration

Backgammon by Alexandra Llewellyn

Noted as the oldest recorded board game in history, Backgammon needs neither common language nor culture to play. If you have a board, you can play with anyone once you know the rules. I recently met up with the London based designer, Alexandra Llewellyn to hear a little more about a corner of the luxury gaming market that her designs have conquered.

I wanted to check out a new café in my neighbourhood, Hally's (the new Alexander Waterworth project) on New Kings Road, so it seemed like to perfect time to catch up with Alexandra. I had to admit to knowing nothing about backgammon. See, it takes a pretty piece of kit to lure me into the subject of luxury gaming. With boards as beautiful as Alexandra’s no wonder this game is still so fashionable after nearly 5000 years in existence.

Alexandra knows her subject too, explaining that backgammon has long been associated with the leaders and aristocracy of ancient civilisations including Persia, Rome, Greece & Egypt. A derivative of the game was even found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. Plato describes a form of backgammon noting on its popularity, and the Romans even used it to play a classical version of strip poker.

New rules on the game were published in the US in the 1930’s but there continue to be many variations and many different names, Tavola Reale (Italy), Tables Reales (Spain), Tavli (Greece), Tavla/Shesh Besh (Turkey), Tric Trac (France), Puff (Germany), Vrhcaby (Czech), Swan-liu (China), Sunoroku (Japan), Ssang-ryouk (Korea), and Len sake (Thailand).

Alexandra has designed and launched a collection of backgammon boards, and undertakes commissions on a regular basis. Each board comes with aluminium playing pieces or you can order her semi-precious stone and brass pieces. Every detail is created in close conversation with the client, creating a truly original way to illustrate memories and life achievements. Alexandra works with a team of master craftsman specialising in different techniques and materials, making each unique commission an original to be enjoyed by generations to come.

Alexandra explained to me that she was first introduced to the game by her Egyptian step-grandfather. He would take her off wandering around the streets of Cairo, and soon, not only was Alexandra probably a pro, she eventually started making the boards herself. Her designs are distributed worldwide at Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Talisman in London, in LA, Altal and outposts in Russia & Germany. Alexandra also boasts a growing client list including Sir Richard Branson, Jacquetta Wheeler & January Jones.

Available for private commission, Alexandra's backgammon boards start from £2100.

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