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Flat rolls?

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Wednesday, 28 November 2012, at 11:51 a.m.

In Response To: Flat rolls? (Henrik Bukkjaer)

If I were to write the rules of backgammon the way I think they should be, the entire document and concept would be rejected, as it would be far too much of a change from the current rules and customs. Also, the document we prepared was a collaboration of Jeb, Chuck and myself, and we all were aware that our goal was more to define rules well and establish standards of behavior and offer a guideline for all, rather than come up with a new set of rules. The few rule "changes" that we recommend have already been tested and found to be preferable by many experienced players who have tried them and used them in the past.

For the record, I think the rules we have now are generally pretty good. The game is a fair and exciting challenge as it is. From a personal standpoint, the biggest objection I have to tournament play is the length of the matches. I don't think any match should be longer than 7 points, and I believe 5 is even better, and I would much prefer to see 2 out of three or three out of 5 matches to 5 than a very long match. It is far more exciting to play and watch shorter matches because there are more critical games and cube decisions and more match points and double match points, and therefore more individual rolls that become very critical and may decide the match. I believe if we are ever going to be an exciting spectator game, and exciting for people to watch on TV or on their computers (streaming), this is a change that is needed.

I am a strong advocate of Swiss and Modified Swiss movements, with clocks, not only because you can firmly schedule all matches, but all players are in the hunt longer and less damaged by a single bad beat.

And I am a strong advocate of paying more places and awarding points to more places so more people walk away felling like a winner and more people have reasons to keep coming to tournaments to accumulate points and standings, and because they feel they have a better chance to at least get their entry fee back.

One last change is that I would allow any player that starts the year as an intermediate player be allowed to finish the year as an intermediate no matter how much he/she wins. That way we can crown a true Intermediate Champion and more intermediates have an incentive to continue coming to tournaments throughout the year.

For all divisions below the Championship/Open level, I would greatly reduce the entry fee and prizes, as those levels should not be so much about the money, but more about winning points and gaining experience and simply enjoying competition. In order to be sure the tournament organizer makes a reasonable profit, a larger portion of the entry fee is simply a fee paid to enter, so rather than a 10 percent rake off of a $200 entry fee, simply charge a $20 entry fee and then another $50 for the prize pool (and there could still be a side pool and calcutta for those interested). The tournament organizer makes the same amount of money, but attendance will be much higher and he will make more on hotel fees, side events, and eventually, there will be more open players as well. (An essential factor is to have a point and rating system that greatly encourages and rewards participating and results, just like Contract Bridge, which attracts thousands of people to tournaments every day of the week who compete for NO MONEY at all--just for the fun of playing and the excitement of winning points.)

I see no need for any of the above to be covered in the rules, but since you asked what I would like to see changed, these are the main things...I have not been shy...I have been advocating these changes for years but obviously people who run things do not agree with me. If enough players support ideas like this, and if the players join Federations like the USBGF and get involved and make their feelings known, I believe good changes like these can eventually happen, and thanks to these Federations, I am finally optimistic that they can happen in my lifetime.

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