Paul David Magriel Jr. (July 1, 1946 - March 5, 2018), was a professional backgammon player, poker player, and author based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He passed away smiling in his sleep on March 5, 2018. He was loved and respected by millions. His 1976 book, Backgammon, was often referred to as the Bible of Backgammon. I knew him for 65 years. We were in grade school together.
Backgammon, in one form or another, is the oldest game in the history of mankind. It is over 5,000 years old, but before Paul Magriel, nobody really knew how to play.
Millions of players were just guessing when they played. But Paul changed all that.
He was everyone's teacher, and he brought scientific methodology to the game. He was a mathematician who taught at the graduate level. But when he won $20,000 in one night, he gave up teaching math. He waged a war against luck and disorder.
Paul was also a great chess player. He won the New York State Junior Chess Championship at the age of 19. But when he saw a backgammon board, his interest in chess waned. "My father was an art dealer and collector, very visual, and when I saw the backgammon board I was struck by the geometry of it all, the simplicity," he once told me.
- Blake Fleetwood
"The heartfelt grief that so many in our community have expressed at Paul Magriel’s death is testament to how deeply he was loved. I would like here to do my part–not in mourning him, but in explaining just who I think he was." – Bob Wachtel, PhD, backgammon author, chess master
"He was respectful, intelligent, humorous, humble, and witty, along with several eccentric traits that made him very loveable." – Joe Russell, world champion and chairman, USBGF
"There is no way to describe in a few words what Paul Magriel meant to backgammon and to the people who knew him and loved him." – Bill Robertie, author, 2x backgammon world champion
"The term genius is overused but I would say that the term correctly describes Paul. Like many people with his sort of mind, he occasionally had trouble coping with the real world but without him the modern game of backgammon would not be what it is today." – Chris Bray, professional backgammon player, author
"Paul was a dear friend and advisor. He was a brilliant individual and a compulsive teacher - surely no better teacher at any level on any subject ever existed." – Malcolm Davis, author and player