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Our Backgammon Board

In Brief:

Collaborating with one of the country’s last custom makers of handcrafted backgammon boards, True developed its own celebration of heritage, cork, and the never-ending war between art and science.

The True board is a limited edition. Only 50 will be made. The retail price is $450, but True Members save $100. Click here to buy, or click here to become a member and get a discount code.

I found True chasing a clue to a famous unsolved case.

I found our first backgammon board after my apartment burned up. Sound asleep, I woke to my refrigerator engulfed in flames. After scurrying under the canopy of smoke and out the front door, I watched from the sidewalk as my life’s possessions met the inferno. In the sooty mess was my old backgammon board. A bulky, heavy old ensemble of cork and corduroy that I’d been lugging around since I was a teenager, it was the centerpiece of so many late night wars and lucky rolls.

Shopping for a new board, I could only find cheap plastic sets from China or those touristy, wood-based, mother-of-pearl sets which aren’t all that great because the dice don’t roll. They slide.

Asking around for boards with cork surfaces, I was told about a company called Crisloid. Word was that they had been making backgammon boards since before the war but had recently closed, like so many old New England factories—especially those specializing in heritage products vulnerable to the digital wave.

But none of it was really true. Crisloid had not closed its doors. Led by Jeff Caruso, a relative of the original Crisloid founders, the company was doing much more than surviving. With a skeleton crew in a factory on the outskirts of Providence, Rhode Island, Caruso had reinvented Crisloid to continue producing each board by hand.

On a tour with Caruso, he pointed out the different components of each board—rolls of cork, hardwood, resin checkers—while sitting down in front of tools and machines from the board game golden age of the 1930s. “Every part of these boards are made in house,” he said.

Caruso and the Crisloid team worked with True to design a classic piece capturing our history. The shape of the pins and the contrast between vintage whites and bold yellows embody our roots. The checkers also represent the ultimate battle: the war between art and science, discipline and instinct, method and whimsy.

Our board nods to the scientific approach with brown checkers and classic beige dice. The frivolous, artistic approach comes through in turquoise blue checkers, purple dice and white leather cups.

Jockeying the checkers around our fields, the game is not only about who wins and loses. It’s about the struggle between ideas, style and personal philosophy.