Tapa is a version of Backgammon played in Bulgaria and Macedonia. It is additionally played in Greece, where it is known as Plakoto. The word tapa implies bottle cap. Some sources say that Plakoto and Tapa are two board games for two players, cousins of Backgammon, in which the playing pieces are moved according to the roll of dice. It is considered that the “Senet” and the Royal Game of Ur are part of their distant ancestors dating back to 5000 years.
This is a game for two players with the game board isolated into four sections, each section containing 6 points marked with colored triangles. There is a pair of playing dice, doubling cube and 30 checkers of two hues, each player has 15 checkers of their assigned color.
The object of the game is to bring all your checkers around to your own home board and afterward bear them off. The first player to bear off all of his checkers wins the game.
The game starts with 2 checkers set on the first point of the opponent’s field. Both players roll one die and the higher number goes first. That player rolls the dice again to start his turn. The step is made according to the roll of dice. In the event that the numbers are the same, the thrown is repeated.
Players toss the dice and move the checkers as indicated by the toss, sticking to the accompanying guidelines:
- Checkers are moved only forward to the section from which they will be born off. You move in the direction as you would in typical backgammon, and your objective is practically the same.
- The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves.
- If you throw double one, two or more checkers can be moved.
- Thrown numbers of both dice are played simultaneously or separately. Player can move one or two checkers on the amount of points equal to the number of thrown dice or more if you throw double.
- You must use both numbers of a roll if possible, or all four numbers in the case of doubles.
- Unlike Backgammon, there is no hitting in Tapa. Instead, if a player lands on a point occupied by a single opponent’s checker, he places the checker on top of the opponent’s checker and traps it.
- If a player leaves a blot in one of his home slots and gets it covered, the players certainly loses a backgammon
- A trapped (pinned) checker can’t be moved. Pinning a checker already used for pinning is not allowed.
After the player has born in all the checkers to his board he starts bearing them off. The taken checker cannot be moved back to the game.
Tapa is definitely a game of strategy. A player will need to utilize strategy when caught close to his own home, he will need to force his opponent to free his blot, by blocking his checkers creating a situation that he will not have any other option to move. If neither of the players gets caught early in the game. Both of them try to move their checkers in almost prime formations. This will create a situation when the opponents try pass through each other.
Tapa offers an interesting turn on traditional backgammon for players who might want a bit of something other than what’s expected. This game has a tendency to be much slower than most backgammon variations. As a matter of fact, the majority of the game would be better off played slower than at a fast pace. Shockingly enough, this variant of backgammon is extremely well known in Bulgaria.