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sorry, Florin, you CAN talk about a proper way

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Thursday, 2 March 2017, at 4:10 a.m.

In Response To: Observations on the Boston Open (Florin Popa)

Not only can we talk about a proper way to roll the dice, but unless we define, very clearly, what is proper, then we have disagreements as to what someone should do when rolling the dice and what is and is not a proper roll. Now, there are those, like you, who think it's simple and obvious, but what you think is simple and obvious and right is not, necessarily what someone else might think.

Also there are those who say, and have said for years, "we need to keep the rules simple and just let people use common sense," or "let's not worry about it and leave it up to the tournament director," or, "we've played backgammon just fine with the rules we have for many years, why change things now."

To all of these arguments I have always maintained that WE HAVE had problems with this for many years and it would be a very simple thing to eliminate MOST of the problems by making it clear what is expected when rolling the dice (and making all other rules as clear as possible too).

When Jeb and Chuck and I presented our recommendations (after literally years of study and many hours of work), I think we covered this area (and others) very well, and I can't understand for the life of me why the USBGF and others who have been presenting rules since have decided to go back to writing rules that are less clear and more ambiguous.

Again, we can and should define what a proper roll is so that you and I and others and different tournament directors don't argue about it or each interpret the rules their own way.

Having said that, here is what we recommended:

"5.5. Dice Rolling Dice handling must be consistent with the generation of random rolls. When cups are in use, both the shake and the toss are important, required randomizing components. Dice should be shaken vigorously at least three times, up and down, before rolling. The dice should be released well above the surface of the board (at least 3-4 inches) to allow the dice to clearly fall and then bounce or roll before settling. The dice cup should not hit the surface of the table during the toss, and fingers should not be in contact with the dice or near the opening of the cup after the dice leave the cup. If a player does not believe his opponent is following this protocol, he should nicely remind his opponent of this rule. If the player does not improve his rolling, the TD should be called. The TD may caution the player, he may require a baffle box or dice tube be used, or he may appoint a monitor and penalize further infractions. The appropriate penalty for continued infractions is to allow the opponent the choice of whether to allow the roll to stand or make the player roll over. Continued infractions may result in penalty points. The TD may go so far as to designate a roller for one or both players."

Yes, that's a lot of words to describe how dice should be rolled, and we also believe it is important to state what should happen if a player believes his opponent is not following the rules. As you can see above, our first recommendation is to alert your opponent nicely and see if you can work things out without an argument and without calling the director. (How can you agree on proper rolling if it isn't clearly defined in the rules?) Only if there is a disagreement, or if either player is unsure of the rules and would like clarification, should the TD be called.

And of course, the main reason I have been such a strong proponent of baffle boxes is that most of the concerns about rolling are resolved when you use the box. (Along with other advantages that have been discussed many times.)

What really gets me is when someone refuses to use the baffle box and then does not shake or roll his dice properly, or continuously rolls too hard and throws the dice on the floor. If you are not going to use a baffle box, the least you can do is roll properly. And the least we should do is define what "properly" means.

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