Neil Kazaross Exhibits Terrific Sportsmanship
Posted By: Phil Simborg In Response To: Neil Kazaross Exhibits Terrific Sportsmanship (Paul Weaver)
Date: Monday, 1 February 2010, at 2:32 p.m.
In Response To: Neil Kazaross Exhibits Terrific Sportsmanship (Paul Weaver)
The only thing as admirable as good sportsmanship is acknowledging it in others. The rules of backgammon, in many areas are well-defined (others need improvement), but the practical application is a gray area. How strict should we be with each other if someone doesn't hit their clock, fondles the cube, accidentally forgets to pick up a checker to win the game, picks up their dice while moving them when they clearly were still thinking about their move, etc. etc.?
There are some who believe that the letter of the law should be enforced because we are supposed to know and abide by the rules going in and that's how we should expect others to treat us, and their are others, like Neil, who don't want to win that way and believe in keeping the game on a more friendly plane.
Good sportsmanship is just another word for "ethics" and it is always going to be a gray area no matter how you define the rules and standards of play, and it will always be up to the players and directors to determine when strict enforcement of the rules is not really fair or appropriate.
In it's glorious wisdom, the newly-formed USBGF has COMBINED the Rules and Ethics Committee FOR JUST THIS REASON--to provide clearer guidelines to deal with the fine line fine line between the rules, the "intent" of the rules, and what is and is not "good sportsmanship." I think everyone will be impressed with the extremely distinguished list of people on the committee, and I know you will see some excellent guidelines in this area in the future.
I personally have absolutely no problem strictly enforcing rules on my opponent as they are written, and completely accept that from my opponents without any resentment toward them if I accidentally do something stupid that costs me, AS LONG AS IT IS IN KEEPING WITH THE INTENT OF THE RULES AND WITH THE OVERALL GOAL OF FAIR PLAY AND GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP. And if Neil had not corrected you, no knowledgeable player would fault him in any way...it's not his job or responsibility to make sure his opponent plays properly, particularly a very experienced one who should know better. But it sure is nice and it surely creates the kind of atmosphere we would all like to see at backgammon events. We are not just competitors, we are friends, and we do want to keep this a gentleman's and woman's game.
Here is one way I draw the line. In a match yesterday, my opponent won the opening roll, but I got mixed up and thought I did, so I quickly moved the 6-1 and picked up my die and then, so did he. Then we both realized the error mistake. The rules say the play stands. But the more important rule of fair play should take precedence over the strict rules of the game. It was my quick, improper action that confused my opponent to pick up his dice. No way would it be fair for me to take that roll. If someone else argued that they should get that opening roll, and if I was asked to rule, I would overrule them in this situation.
If, on the other hand, my opponent makes an illegal move to my advantage and I did nothing to create confusion, under the current rules I will accept it. (I know if I made the error, I expect and ask no mercy from my opponent.)
But there are exceptions. Last month in a match, someone spilled a glass of water next to us. Play was interrupted to clean it up, we got back to our game, and my opponent picked up his dice before finishing his move. Anyone who takes advantage of that would not be welcome in my club.
Another exception: when I play Eric Johnson, a Chicago Player who has very poor eyesight and often misreads the dice--I agree that he and I will always play legal moves and I help him read the dice.
Bottom line, and what I hope to promote, is that fair play and good sportsmanship should always trump strict rule enforcement.
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