Russian Backgammon

In Fun
Relationship: Child of im/migrant

I was not born in Uzbekistan, yet I know so much of it. One essential item that comes to mind when reminiscing about the stories of Uzbekistan is the classic board game of Narde, also known in America as extended backgammon. When my great-grandfather's estate was repossessed and burned to the ground by the Soviets, all that was left was this attached backgammon board. My connection to my heritage was established with my grandfather's half-charred board for in our intensive matches I would learn more of the hardships many had to leave a place once called home. In Uzbekistan and amongst Bukharian Jews in America, one was revered for their exemplary prowess in the game. Interestingly, there was no such thing as a simple game; each round brought an insightful challenge and required intense concentration. Here in New York, it is common to see elders meeting outside and challenging each other while participating in multiple conversations. My grandfather immigrated to NYC for this reason. These games were a means for many Bukharians to keep traditional values and for spreading local news and gossip. My grandfather rumored that many great arrangements, especially marriage, were established over a few rounds. It was a pastime that many would claim to "wake the aging brain" and provoked full concentration. I truly believed in that too. Growing older, my weekly visits to my grandfather continue to include us playing with this board for several hours. I still lose most of the time.

Place(s): Uzbekistan
Year: 1998

– Emanuel Khaimov

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant