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Tournament Rules and Guidelines

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Tuesday, 27 November 2012, at 4:37 p.m.

In Response To: Tournament Rules and Guidelines (christian munk-christensen)

The reason it is 12 pages is that we not only more fully describe what the rule is, but also how to apply the rule and what happens when there is a violation of a rule. In the past, these areas have been unclear and interpretations and application varied all over the world from director to director. Our hope is that these ambiguities will largely be eliminated or at least reduced, and that should create fewer disagreements and pain for all.

We also added a Standards of Ethical Practice which provides a general guideline for attitude, good sportsmanship and behavior. Not only will the standards tend to cause more players to behave properly, but it provides standards that tournament directors can point to which allows them to take action (or give appropriate warnings) when people do not behave properly.

As for specific rules, TD's and Federations are, of course, free to choose and modify, but it is hoped they generally will not, so that we are all playing by the same set of rules and standards throughout the world.

Here are some major items we recommend, which we know many people will not like, but there is no rule that everyone will like, and we believe, after over a year of study and discussion, these best serve the game and the players:

1. Legal Moves. We believe this is best for many reasons, and I won't go into this debate as it has been debated greatly, but I will say that for the sake of recorded matches, good sportsmanship (no one will lose a match because he forgot to pick up the checker after someone spilled a drink next to him etc.), and the fact that many of the top players in the game agree to play legal moves anyway, that shows that the players, in general, prefer this rule.

2. Flat rolls. We recommend that dice that land flat on top of checkers, provided they are flat and still on the right side of the board, not be considered cocked. This saves time, makes sense, and there is no good reason to have to re-roll the dice except that we are simply "used to it." We can quickly get used to this change.

3. Fast rolls and dice repositioning. When there is a clock and one set of dice, it is not necessary to have all those restrictions about moving the dice and repositioning the dice to stop inducement of fast rolling. Your opponent can't fast roll because he doesn't have the dice. So when there is a clock, there is only one thing that ends the turn...hitting the clock. But when each player has his own set of dice, those rules need to be, and are, very strict. If you touch, move, or cover the dice without announcing you are repositioning, your turn is over.

4. Spectators, as always, must remain quiet and inform the TD if he sees a problem such as a wrong score or cube not centered or sees players playing to the wrong score etc. However, if they see a clock running by mistake he can and should speak up.

5. We have better defined what constitutes a legal roll. The dice must be shaken at least 3 times and dropped from at least 4" above the board. They must be allowed to bounce and roll. The cup must not hit the table when rolling. The dice must not contact the player's hand or fingers after leaving the cup.

6. There is a strong statement to the affect that the player who causes the problem or question is the one that any ruling should tend to go against. For example, if I roll, it is cocked, I pick up the dice and re-roll, and then you say you did not believe it was cocked, the ruling should go against me because I did not get my opponent's acknowledgement that it was cocked before I picked up my dice to re-roll. (I have seen many poor rulings in the past where the TD flipped a coin or re-rolled in this and other situations where clearly one of the players, either intentionally or unintentionally, caused the problem.)

Of course we have gone into more detail in virtually all other areas of the game and rules.

We don't expect everyone to read all 12 pages and know the rules thoroughly, but we do expect the Tournament Officials to. And I think every tournament player should read them at least once. However, the real value comes in when there is a question or dispute, as now, there is a strong chance that you will get the same ruling and have the same rules apply wherever you are in the world.

We fully expect that these rules will be added to, changed, and improved over time, and it is our hope that the Federations of the World will form an international rules committee to do this, as we believe that the more consistent the rules are throughout the world, the better it will be for the game.

I personally have been working on this for over 10 years, and after giving up on convincing the leaders of US backgammon to accept a guide, I found great encouragement from the international community and top players and leaders in the US and embarked on this venture. Chuck and Jeb were invaluable, and I must say they are equally responsible for the final product, which I am quite proud of.

I also want to thank a half a dozen people who we consulted about the document who provided great input and help. You know who you are, and your input, as you can see, added greatly to the final document.

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