What's in a game? For a young man, who has left his country behind, lost his memory and forgotten his love, the game might be the only way out. This is a story about a Bulgarian boy who grows up to be a German man. After a car accident Alex can't remember even what his name is. In an attempt to cure him from amnesia, his grandfather Bai Dan comes over to Germany and organizes a spiritual journey for his grandson back into his past, to the country where he came from. In changing places, time and transport, crossing half Europe, they play backgammon, the simplest, and yet the most complex of all games. That game leads Alex to the realizations of who he is, and that game is symbolic to the story. Destiny is the dice we hold in our own hands and life is a game on the edge between chance and skill.
The story of Alex, who, with the help of his charismatic grandfather, Bai Dan, embarks on a journey in search of his real self.
- A provincial town in the Balkans, where Europe ends but never begins. A timeless Bulgarian cafe where from time immemorial a group of men have played backgammon
15 September 1976, Socialist Bulgaria. In the backgammon players' cafe, Bai Dan is playing an important game. The moment he rolls the winning number thereby being crowned King of backgammon, his new-born grandson Alex gives a cry in the delivery room ... Providence will intertwine the destinies of Alexander and Bai Dan forever.
At the beginning of the 1980s, Bai Dan's daughter, Yana, his son-in-law, Vasko, and his young grandson, Alex, emigrate to Germany. Back in our time, in 2006, the 30-year old Alex and his parents, also older, are back on the road heading for Bulgaria. In the small provincial town, Bai Dan and his wife Grandma Sladka (pastry) are feverishly preparing for the arrival of their children Their life is suddenly turned upside down by a telephone call. There has been a road accident. Yana and Vasko are dead, and Alex is in hospital. Bai Dan goes off to Germany.
In the German hospital Alex does not recognize his grandfather: he suffers from amnesia as a result of the accident. The medical team rate his chances of recovery as minimal. Bai Dan has no faith in the course of treatment he is undergoing. He begins playing backgammon with his grandson. The initiation into the secrets of the game is also a series of life lessons: about resisting despair and resignation, about the need to be master of one's own fate. Alex gradually begins asking questions about his past...
The parallel story in the past reveals their reasons for fleeing Bulgaria, their ordeals in crossing the frontier illegally and in the refugee camp in Italy.
The throw of the dice in the German hospital is just the beginning of a long, hard journey. Shortly afterwards, Bai Dan drags Alex away from hospital and they both set out for Bulgaria. Their journey through Europe on a tandem is full of humor and sadness, adventures and personal clashes. On an overnight stay at a roadside camping site close to the beach, Bai Dan and Alex happen on a big party full of music and dancing. Alex falls in love with a girl called Franka. They spend a romantic, amorous night on the beach
Bai Dan and Alex arrive at the refugee camp where Alex and his parents spent several months during their flight to the West. Bai Dan feels that it's time for his grandson to continue his journey on his own. For the King of backgammon, "Fate is the die which you hold in your hands... Whatever happens depends on luck and skill.
Alex returns to Bulgaria, to the township which, deep down inside, he is familiar with and loves In the timeless cafe the men are impatient for the long-awaited duel between Bai Dan and his grandson. The intense game of backgammon goes on all day. Through it we see many secrets and much pain, memories of people who have passed on, masterly moves and mystical powers. Alex wins. He is the new King of backgammon. Alex is cured - he has come to understand the past and the present, his real place in the world... A world where salvation lurks around the corner