Playing board games or cards at the banya has a long and rich tradition and both bring together and appeal to a wide range of people. There’s no better way to pass the time in between time in the steam room and board games can enhance the health benefits of visiting the banya.   

Why not play some chess, backgammon or draughts on your next visit to The Bath House? They are a fantastic way of keeping your brain active and your friendships lively. 

Board games are more than just a fun way to kill a few hours with friends.  Other than providing great entertainment, they have numerous cognitive and mental health benefits.

Chess, backgammon and draughts can help you:

To improve cognitive skills

Tactical games are exercises for your brain and give it a solid workout. Board games require concentration, focus and problem solving skills. They result in stable brain activity, strengthen our neural connections and benefit the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which are responsible for the development of memory and comprehending complex points of view. This is one of the reasons boardgames can reduce the likelihood of dementia or Alzheimer’s.  The combination of banya and board games doubles the benefits.  

To have a great time with entire family

Board games are also a great way to entertain your children when you are at the banya. Instead of neutralising them with an iPad or phone during your session, why not play a game with them? Board games can have significant benefits for children’s brain development and you will enjoy your time at the banya more as well.   

To achieve a natural ‘high’

You get a natural rush after you emerge from the steam room and plunge in cold water. The process stimulates blood flow and energises your entire body. Board games can do something similar to the mind, so the two are a good fit.   

To sustain friendships and meet new people

Banya is an inherently social activity and most people visit with friends or family.  Board games promote connection between people so the combination will enhance your friendships and help you make new ones. Board games at the banya keep you social.  

To keep your blood pressure in check

The release of endorphins derived from play can help reduce anxiety, stress and improve your mood.  Another parallel with the banya.  

A note on backgammon

The oldest backgammon board was found in Asia Minor and dates back to 5000 BC, and an analogue of this game was found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun who lived in the 15th century BC. Although backgammon has its roots in the East, the rules of modern backgammon were established in 1743 by the Englishman Edmond Hoyle. The name “Backgammon” is derived from the English words “Back” and “Game” and refers to the fact that a checker that is hit must go back to the beginning.

In the former USSR, however, backgammon is sometimes played differently. In the most common version (known as “long nardy”) all 15 of your pieces start on the right hand side of your opponent’s board and must be moved around to your home board before you bear off. Both players race in the same direction and blots cannot be hit.  Bear this in mind if you challenge someone to a game at The Bath House. 

Ask our bar staff for chess, backgammon or draughts next time you are at The Bath House.