Tuesday, April 21, 2009

LT250: Special Edition of Lost Reveiw

As you probably know, LOST is doing a clip show this week, so it seemed like a good time to offer a special edition LOST REVIEW post of my own.

LOST REVIEW: Backgammon

We are aware that games are a running theme on LOST. The first game mentioned on the show was in the Pilot episode, Part 2, when Locke finds a backgammon set. John is sitting on the beach playing alone when Walt wonders by to see what he is up to. For reference sake, this is followed by Jin trying to share some fish he caught with Claire which makes her baby kick for the first time since the crash.

Keep in mind that the LOST REVIEW section of the posts is an attempt to re-analyze the show in search for a common theory. Our current leading hypothesis is that the island is a supercomputer. The second strongest hypothesis is that LOST is about religion (or the struggle of science versus religion).


Here is how this analysis works: Backgammon is a board game. Games can be played on a computer. Therefore, LOST is about a computer.

Or…backgammon is a game of two players where as Locke describes “one side is light, and one side is dark”. Light and dark describes a scientific concept. Therefore, LOST is about science.

Or…backgammon’s light versus dark is a common religious theme expressed as good versus evil. Therefore, LOST is about religion or philosophy.

See how it works? We are looking for the total weight of evidence to lead us to our final conclusion. Continuing our thought process then, light and dark could be a reference to “off or on” which describes the binary language of a computer. Score another point for the Supercomputer Hypothesis.


John Locke describes the game to Walt as a “two player game”. So what was John doing playing it solitary? Is this a point for the Religion/Philosophy Hypothesis then? Consider that a future episode will be entitled “Solitary” in which Sayid struggles with his human nature to torturer or not to torture.

Kate is also playing the game by herself in “Left Behind”.

Computers are great for gamers in that the computer often plays the role of an opponent. This is accomplished by the programmer writing a sort of artificial intelligence routine to act as the competitor. Score another point for the Computer Gang.


Locke tells Walt that the game of backgammon is over 5,000 years old and compares this to being “older than Jesus Christ”…another reference for the Religion Supporters.

Side note: Am I supposed to be keeping score?

Locke’s timestamp reference of backgammon seems to allude to the Egyptians because they hold the record for the oldest games known to historians. To be fair, we need to add to our list an Egyptian Hypothesis and mark one hash mark next to this candidate!


Many believe the oldest game known to man and invented about 5,000 years ago would be the Royal Game of Ur.

The game Locke was referencing could also be Senet. They both originated around the same time and both are predecessors of backgammon. Both games are race games which means players are trying to get their pieces from one end of the board to the next. This seems to signify Life and the journey of birth to death.


Personally, my research leads to be belief that John’s reference was to Senet. Here is one piece of evidence:

You can quickly see why I think this is the game. The hieroglyphics in the image is part of a painting found in a tomb in Egypt. The player at the table is moving pieces that appear more like Chess than the actual board game at first glance. Lord knows we’ve seen Chess on LOST.

Notice too that Nefertari is playing solo.

The game’s official translation means “the passing game”. It was played with dice in the shape of pyramids. The game supported the Egyptians belief in Fate and Determinism. It was believed that a successful player was under the protection of the god Ra. See why I think was the game John was referring to?!

Because of the close ties to religion the game board was often buried in the grave as assistance to the deceased to make their way through the afterlife. The game is referred to in the Book of the Dead.


Similar games include Mehen. This happens to be the serpent god who protects Ra during the nighttime underworld. Little is known about this game but what does exist suggests another type of race game. A group of programmers attempted to decipher a set of rules and a shareware version exists.


Another closely related game is called Hounds and Jackals. The jackal image is often used to depict the god Seth (ah, another LOST connection). Seth joined the highest depiction of gods on the Serkh alongside Horus (the falcon shaped image).

Notice the falcon image on the above carving. The blocks that the falcon stands on depicts the entryway this king must use to pass through the afterlife. Gee, is that a snake?

As you are most likely aware of Hounds is a correlation to Cerberus – the guardian dog of Hades. This brings us to Vincent, the dog. However this might best be saved for another LOST REVIEW. For now, let me continue on one final thought process…

A writer of a book called the “Daughters of the Hounds” states that the hounds are extraterrestrial (score one for you Alien Theorists). The term the author uses is Ghouls.


A ghoul is a mythological creature found in Sayid’s culture. It dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. Can you say “the island”? It is often found in the desert (Tunisia anyone?). It is a shape shifting creature that can take on any forms (like Walt or Alex?), but often takes the shape of a dog (Here boy!).

The belief is that a ghoul can be brought back to life (Where in the world is Christian?) by a witch or demon to do some task. Ghouls are described as preferring to eat the flesh of young children (who did the Others kidnap for the Tail Enders?). Ghouls are said to be bound to obey the person who brought them back to life (keep this in mind down the road). It is said that the only way to kill a Ghoul is by fire which will turn them into white ash (what was that spread around Jacob’s cabin?).



Ok, this research thread ran a little long…but I found it very interesting. The search for a theory sort of ended up this way:

Egyptian – dozens of points
Supercomputer – five points
Religion – about as many as computer references

The conclusion we can draw is that no theory is disqualified, but many have gained additional weight of evidence. This LOST REVIEW seemed to support religion and Egyptian culture the strongest.


And remember when this section began I reminded you that the backgammon scene with Locke and Walt was immediately followed by Jin giving fish to Claire? Well it turns out that another name for a ghoul is “jinn”. Jinn is a supernatural creature (good or evil) which possesses free will. The term is found in the Bible and the Qur’an. The Qur’an story involves an evil jinn which refused to bow down to Adam when ordered to do so.

Man, I love this show!



I have been working on my best guess to the riddle, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” Check back on Thursday this week for the answer!

If you enjoyed this special edition of TIDBITS, please take a second to click on one of the ads to share your appreciation with me. And leave a comment if you have some follow-up ideas to share!


1 comment:

BG fed. said...

Thanks for an enriching post. Though I've never watched Lost (or any other TV series from the last decade for that matter), as a backgammon expert I had somethings to say about the Lost-backgammon connection