Last updated on July 3, 2022
We saw this set in a central London park over the Easter break. It was a glorious sunny day and two middle-aged gentlemen were playing backgammon on a table in the park. We paused to watch them play. It was a dull game, a string of doubles for one of the players turned the game into a one-sided race. The play may have been uninspiring, but the Manopoulos 19-inch Olive Wood Backgammon set was superb.
Before they had a chance to set up for the next game I stepped in and asked about the board. It was a traditional Manopoulos olive wood backgammon set, received as a Christmas present last year. The dice cup received with the board had been lost. The eye-catching quality of this board was its rustic appeal. The grain on the olive wood was simple, without the complex patterns of burl. It was beautifully made, but had a workman-like quality to it. It was practical, but not decorative and that was all part of its charm. When we returned home we deduced that this must have been the Manopoulos Traditional 19-inch Olive Wood Backgammon set.
As noted in one of our other Manopoulos recommendations, it can be difficult to piece together all of the pieces of the Manopoulos puzzle online. It takes a bit of detective work to identify the exact backgammon set, but here is what we have found. The set is hand made in Greece by Manopoulos craftsmen using traditional methods. The cabinet is constructed from olive wood, which is known for being very hard, dense and durable. It is also considered to be a sustainable wood and is not on any endangered species lists.
The playing field is an olive wood veneer with inlaid points of wenge and mahogany. The marquetry technique would have been used to place the points. The furnishings are brass. The two latches on the front of the cabinet are inset and seem too a little too small for the set and might be difficult to work for those with large fingers. The set feels solid and when closed has a Spartan look about it. This is definitely a quality backgammon set, but it is a no-nonsense, unembellished piece.
This quality backgammon set includes 30 olive wood checkers. The lighter coloured set is natural and the darker set stained. They are nicely matched to the colours on the playing field and have the warm tactile, quality of wood that you never get with resin pieces. The checkers did seem to be slightly on the large side for the size of the points, but this is a very minor gripe. The dice in the set we viewed were uninspiring plastic pieces and of course, as we already noted the dice cup had been lost. Online, the set is shown with a single dice cup of an indeterminable material.
The dimensions of this quality backgammon set, when closed are: 7.6cm x 47.6cm x 25.4cm (H x W x D) and when open: 3.8cm x 47.6cm x 40.8cm. The weight is approximately 3kg.
This Manopoulos 19-inch Olive Wood Backgammon set has character. It is an austere piece. There is nothing fussy or elaborate about this quality backgammon set, but that is all part of its charm. You could imagine this piece sitting on the sideboard in some quaint little Greek taverna in a remote fishing village having been played by generations of locals. This backgammon set will only get better with age. Add some quality backgammon wooden dice cups and you have a complete set. Deluxe Backgammon has no hesitation in recommending this set. RRP at the time of writing £139.00.