From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
GenresBoard game, race game, tables game, dice game
MovementPortes and Plakoto: contrary; Fevga: parallel
ChanceMedium (dice rolling)
SkillsStrategy, tactics, counting, probability
Compendium game of the tables family

Tavli (Greek: Τάβλι), sometimes called Greek Backgammon in English,[1] is the most popular way of playing tables games in Greece and Cyprus and is their national board game.[2][3] Tavli is a compendium game for two players which comprises three different variants played in succession: Portes, Plakoto and Fevga. These are played in a cycle until one player reaches the target score - usually five or seven points.[4]


Tables games are an ancient family of race games, the best known modern example of which is Backgammon. However, in Greece the most popular form of tables is Tavli, a word which is the equivalent of "tables games". Hence, this is not a single game, but a trio of tables games played to different rules and tactics. These are Portes, Plakoto and Fevga and they are played in that order until a player reaches the agreed target score. The aim in each game is to be the first player to bear off all 15 men or pieces.[4]


Portes is the game that resembles Backgammon most closely. It is a hitting game in which the players may hit enemy blots off the board.[5] The starting layout and rules are as for Backgammon except that:[6]

  • The player who leads re-rolls both dice to start the game. Thus a doublet is possible on the first move.
  • The game may either be won singly, or won double if the loser has yet to bear off a man. There is no equivalent of a backgammon and therefore no triple win.
  • There is no doubling cube.


Plakoto is the second game in the sequence. It is a pinning game in which hitting is not permitted.[5] Key features include:[7]

  • Players may pin a single opposing man in place by covering it with one of their own men, preventing the pinned piece from moving until the covering man is released.
  • Two or more pieces of the same side or a piece pinning an opposing man creates a block for the opponent.
  • Players start with all 15 men on point 24.
  • The last piece left on the starting point is the mother. If she is pinned before moving off, the game is over and the pinning player wins double.
  • There is no doubling cube.


Fevga is the third game in the series. It is a running game in which neither hitting nor pinning are permitted.[5] Thus single man 'makes the point'.[5] It is a game of parallel movement, both players moving in an anticlockwise direction.[8]

Other key features:[9]

  • Players start with all 15 men on point 24.
  • No blocking. A player may not completely block the opponent i.e. in making a move, there must remain at least one possible move for the opponent.
  • No triple game.
  • No doubling cube.


  1. ^ Bronner (2015), p. 1020.
  2. ^ Hinebaugh (2019), p. 49.
  3. ^ All you need to know about Tavli, Greece's national board game at greekcitytimes.com. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  4. ^ a b Papahristou (2015), pp. 33–34.
  5. ^ a b c d Papahristou & Refanidis (2013), pp. 2–3.
  6. ^ Portes at bkgm.com. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  7. ^ Plakoto at bkgm.com. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  8. ^ Fevga at bkgm.com. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  9. ^ Papahristou (2015), pp. 31–32.


  • Bonner, Simon J. (2015). Encyclopedia of American Folklife. London, NY: Routledge.
  • Hinebaugh, Jeffrey P. (2019). More Board Game Education. London, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Papahristou, Nikolaos and Ioannis Refanidis (2013). Opening Statistics and Match Play for Backgammon Games. Thessaloniki: University of Macedonia.
  • Papahristou, Nikolaos (2015). Decision Making in Multiplayer Environments: Application in backgammon variants. Thessaloniki: University of Macedonia. Doctoral Studies Programme.

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