THERE IS ONLY ONE LOGICAL ANSWER TO THIS DEBATE
Posted By: Phil Simborg In Response To: Taking a principled stand on clocks (Jason Lee)
Date: Monday, 26 March 2012, at 11:54 p.m.
In Response To: Taking a principled stand on clocks (Jason Lee)
If everyone wanted clocks in the Open Division, Masters, and Open Doubles, there would be clocks. If nobody wanted them, there would be no clocks. We have a debate because some want and some don’t want.
Some of the people who don’t want clocks state they will not come to a tournament that requires them. Some of the people who do want clocks say they won’t come if they are not required.
Therefore, we have a situation that has only 3 solutions:
1. Require clocks and lose those people who don’t like them, or hope that once they realize they’ve lost the battle that they will have to learn to get used to them whether they like it or not if they want to play in a major tournament, or;
2. Do not require clocks and the people on the other side have to make the same adjustment, or;
3. Have some events with clocks and some without so that some are happy some of the time and some are unhappy some of the time, but no one is happy or unhappy all of the time.
Right now, we are living with No. 3. The OVERRIDING QUESTION IS THIS: What is best, in the long run, for the game as a whole and for the most players?
The answer to that is highly debatable, and a matter of personal opinion, however, IN MY PERSONAL OPINION there is no debate at all.
My first conclusion is that the status quo is bad. Tournaments should be consistent; the rules should be consistent, not only here in the US, or the ABT, but worldwide. There should be a level playing field to determine who wins a backgammon match or tournament, for who wins points and money and recognition. If it is okay to have different clock rules, than why not let tournament directors decide to waive the Crawford Rule; or why not allow doubles on the first roll as they do traditionally in Tavla? For the game to be respected, international, and consistent, there should be a single set of rules that affects the major play of the game and the outcome of tournaments. Yes, I know, some tournaments are Swiss movement, some have double elimination, and some vary match lengths in many different ways. But none of those change how you play a backgammon game or match or the skills that go into the play of the game.
So once you agree with this premise, that ambiguity is bad (it’s also bad that as the debate stays unsettled, more and more people invest their energy in arguing and fighting for the way they want it, and that causes anger and resentment toward people on the other side…people who are good people who love the game but don’t happen to agree on this issue)—once you agree that it should be settled one way or the other, again, I HAVE NO DOUBT, in my opinion, that the rule MUST REQUIRE THAT CLOCKS ARE MANDATORY.
1. Clocks do help assure that tournaments are run in a timely manner. Even a smaller tournament can cause participants to wait around a long time between matches if you have one or two slow players. People point to the Cleveland tournament last weekend. Wonderful tournament…wonderfully run. Between two of my matches I had close to a 2 hour wait. I didn’t know if I should stay around, take a walk, get some food, take a nap…because there was no way to know in advance how long the matches would take. People said it was a small enough event not to matter? Well, Thursday night, which was an even smaller event, I got to the finals of Consolation, and I would have had to start my match at 1:15 AM. This was a small tournament that started at 7PM. Don’t tell me that you don’t need clocks even in smaller events. It is not fair to spectators, family, staff, and mostly to the players not to have a reasonable schedule and not to be able to get to bed at a reasonable time. 2. Clocks add skill to the game. Backgammon is not just a test of knowledge. It is a test of your knowledge and skill. Your ability to apply what you know over the board in competition. And part of the skill is knowing how to use the time on your clock…how to determine when you should take 3 or 5 minutes to make a decision and when not to. Part of the skill is being able to make a decision in a reasonable period of time. 3. Clocks made the game more enjoyable for spectators. If we want backgammon to grow, we need sponsors, spectators, more people watching and interested. Our top players will lose spectators and interest if they can take virtually unlimited time to make moves. It is BAD FOR THE GAME for matches to take too long. 4. Clocks, and a single set of dice, simplify the rules. There are far fewer complications regarding the end of the turn and rolling rules, and a single set of dice is a factor to help reduce the possibility of cheating with changed or loaded dice.
Now, I have heard, I believe, all the arguments against clocks, and to me, NONE OF THEM are valid in comparison with the above. If you “like” to play backgammon slowly and have a lot of time to truly study every move, and that for you, is part of the charm of the game, then by all means, find games without clocks. I know of no major sport or game where the participants are not timed. Time pressure is a part of the fun, skill, and challenge of competition, particularly at the higher levels.
As for those people who will say they will not attend if clocks are mandatory, they will be missed. I know some of those people personally…they are wonderful players and fine people, and I hope, in time, once they see they have lost the battle, they will learn to live with the clock. However, I believe there are even more people who refuse to play without it, and the loss would be even greater if we don’t make clocks mandatory. I don’t even think it should be an option left up to the players….EVERYONE should have to use a clock on every match in the Open, Masters, and Open Doubles, and I hope some day, it will also apply to the Intermediates. Simply give them more time on the clock so it doesn’t create too much pressure.
Sorry if this offends anyone, but in the interest of the game, fair play, and for all the above reasons, it seems very clear to me that clocks must be mandatory.
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