• Kayla Rosen

What Do You Call Backgammon in Israel?

Backgammon | שֵׁשׁ-בֵּשׁ

Time: 5-60 min / Players: 2 / Age: 5+


Israelis love games. Card games, word games, board games…you name it! We love the thrill, we crave the stimulation, and most of all, we are always ready to have fun!


Vintage wooden backgammon pattern and the dice.

Israelis love games. Card games, word games, board games…you name it! We love the thrill, we crave the stimulation, and most of all, we are always ready to have fun!

Can you guess which game is one of Israel's most popular?

That’s right, Backgammon, or in Israel, commonly known as Sheshbesh. 'shesh' comes from the word “6” in Hebrew, and 'besh' from the word “5” in Turkish, symbolizing the best possible roll to start out the game!


While Sheshbesh has been played for thousands of years, some say dating all the way back to Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), one of the earliest known sources for the game is said to be found in the Talmud, a Jewish Rabbinic text from around 500 A.D! All throughout the Middle East, backgammon is a game of the people, played by all, from children to the elderly, the rich to the poor.


Over time, it has spread rapidly throughout the world, reaching Asia, Europe, and North America. Today, it holds its place as one of the world’s most beloved games that have lasted the test of time!


What’s truly amazing is Sheshbesh’s ability to bring together the people of Israel, all through the experience of a game!

Check out this amazing video of Jerusalem Israelis and Arabs coming together to create some magic!

How to play

As one of the oldest known table games, Sheshbesh involves both luck and strategy. Of the 2 players, each one is given 15 pieces to move around 24 triangles or points on the board. The pieces move according to the roll of the 2 dice, until one player “bears off”, or moves all 15 pieces off of the board, the game's objective.


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