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Many of the main characters of the show are part of a game like backgammon being played between Jacob and his nemisis. This can be seen because Jacob and his nemisis represent the two different colored sides. Jacob's is white, and his nemisis' is black. (This idea of black and white against eachother in a game of backgammon was first brought up by John Locke.) They are both playing a game like backgammon with the characters by each of them trying to get the characters to a certain "side of the board." Jacob is trying to get people to get on the island, while his nemisis is trying to get other people to get to the island first. This is why we see Jacob trying to affect and manipulate other people to eventually get them to the island, or back to the island. Both of them manipulate people and greatly affect what they do, trying to get them to "the other side of the board." Each of the "players" is trying to move different people, light and dark. Each person has one side to move to the island. The smoke monster may be either Jacob or his nemisis' way of taking in people or "pieces" when they get them to the island, and keeping them there. One reason for them to be playing this game is if they have become bored by day to day life, after living for such a long time.
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- The "two players, one is light and one is dark" quote could refer to concept of Good & Evil, as that is the traditional archetypical portrayal of those forces.
- Walt uses his special powers to win the game by influencing the roll of the dice, either consciously or subconsciously.
- This may be a reference to the Kurt Vonnegut short story entitled, "The Barnhouse Effect" . This story involves a professor that discovers how to manipulate traditionally chance-related events such as dice rolls using his thoughts. In a parallel to Einstein's concern over indirectly beginning the age of nuclear warfare, Barnhouse goes into hiding (from the U.S. military who want to use him as a weapon) while secretly teaching a protoge (the narrator of the story) the technique.
- The two small pieces, light and dark, represent the two children among the main survivors, Walt and Aaron, one of whom is black and one of whom is white, and those two children will be used by opposing sides as pawns in a climactic struggle.
- A game of backgammon is essentially won by dealing with events effectively; to succeed, a player must make the best of what moves are made available to them by a random throw of the dice. In season one (where backgammon is especially prevalent), the focus is very much on a similar theme, but on a much larger scale; survival on the island is largely down to making the best of new, strange, and fluid situations.
- Skilled players choose from the available moves, as dictated by the dice roll, with several factors in mind. One of the most important concepts in backgammon tactics is to maximize the number of probable future good moves for yourself while minimizing those of your opponent. Despite a player's skill, however, it is possible that the random throws of the dice will make it impossible for the better player to win. For example, Walt is able to beat Hurley despite Hurley's greater experience in the game - since Walt always gets exactly the roll he needs "to move ahead", it does not matter how skilled Hurley is at making good moves improbable for Walt.
- Checkers in the backgammon game and crash survivors have analagous goals: to get off the board or island, respectively. There are numerous situations that prevent backgammon checkers from leaving the board which may be analagous to the problem of leaving the island:
- the pieces must first move to the "home board"
- once on the home board the right number must be rolled to move off
- the way to the home board may be blocked by opposing pieces
- if any checkers have been "bumped" by the opposing side, no checkers may move or leave the board until the bumped checker returns.
- Some other parallels:
- Two or more pieces standing on the same point cannot be bumped: "Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1"
- Walt's innate ability to always "get the roll he needs to move ahead" in the game is therefore quite interesting. Have all the correct but improbable events happened in order to enable he and his father to leave the island?
When Jacob touched Jack, John, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and Sayid he was selecting some of his players/checkers for the game of backgammon he and his nemesis are playing. If this is the case then he may be able to become them and manipulate their actions when it is his turn in the game. When we saw Widmore and Ben saying you know I cannot kill you because I cannot change the rules, it wasn't Ben and Widmore but Jacob and his nemesis assuming their forms at one particular point in that game of backgammon that we were seeing.
- Like Backgammon, Chess is centered around black and white.
- Chess is generally considered to be the ultimate game of strategy.
- One of the most common strategies in chess is sacrificing one piece for another
- There are very very specific rules in chess about how a piece may move, how a piece may kill another piece and in what capacity. There are many cases in Lost of one player referring to the "rules", notably when Ben's daughter gets killed and Ben says something like "He broke the rules"
- The most important piece in chess is the King. Yet it is impossible for a King to kill another King in chess. The other pieces - many of which are called "pawns" – have to make the moves and do the metaphorically killing. Earlier in the series, Ben never kills anyone. He only orchestrates the killings, including giving Said a "hit list" once they get off the island. After Locke supplants Ben as "leader", this changes. In "The Incident", Locke doesn't kill Jacob, Ben does after Jacob refers to a "technicality."
- Chess allows a complicated way for pieces to change its identity/"destiny". If a pawn is able to advance to the opponent's back row, it returns to the game as a new piece of the player's choice.
- Three-dimensional chess (by adding a Z-axis) is a common chess variant. The prevalent theme of physics and time travel opens up the question of 4D chess, with time as the fourth axis.
- Locke's demonstration of this game could be symbolic of the sinister plot of the DHARMA Recruiters which led to all of the castaways arriving on the island.
- It seems to me now after rewatching this and seeing the finale that this is clearly a reference to Jacob's enemy finding his loophole to kill Jacob.
- Correct. But such a game can be played by both players. The outcome may depend on which player is able to think a few steps ahead of the other player.