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Tournament Rules and Guidelines

Posted By: Daniel Murphy
Date: Friday, 30 November 2012, at 4:25 p.m.

In Response To: Tournament Rules and Guidelines (Phil Simborg)

I don't at all agree that the best way to spread a uniform rules set worldwide was for three individuals to come up with a completely new rendition. And I don't agree that this was the first time anyone ever came up with a well-written set of rules. DBgF did that 10 years ago (and if BIBA rules have proved inadequate, I haven't heard of it).

If I try to put myself in the place of a DBgF or BIBA or SBGF or NBGF or WBA or USBGF or ABT or WBF, organizations which run and sanction tournaments (or may in the future, in the case of USBGF), and which (except USBGF) have their own rules sets already, and I ask myself why I should throw out my rules and replace them with Phil's, Chuck's and Jeb's, my answer is: I shouldn't, although there might be some suggested changes buried in that new rendition that I might consider adopting.

You want a completely uniform rules set -- for whatever advantage that may have (disagreeing with Phil, I don't think it's obviously a big plus) -- but supposing you do, here's a way to go about it:

1. The only people whose efforts matter: primarily DBgF, WBA, BIBA, and USBGF; secondarily SBGF, NBGF, WBF, plus three or four American tournament directors and Mike Main in the UK; thirdly all the other national and local organizations and organizers; fourthly everyone else with an opinion.

2. Take the best rules in use. I think there's no question that rules set is the DBgF/Nordic Open/WBA rules. Recall its history: DBgF started with ABT rules, modified them considerably, adapted them for use by a bona fide national organization, radically amended and improved them about 10 years ago, and has, in cooperation with WBA, made minor changes since then. These are the rules in effect at the Nordic Open, one of the largest and continually successful international tournaments. These are the rules in effect at all WBA tournaments in Europe and the USA.

3. Somebody -- meaning, DBgF/WBA -- writes to the other major entities, and says: we think it would be a good idea if everyone used the same rules; we think it would be a good idea if that means everyone uses our rules. Would you be willing to adopt our rules set? If not, why not? Which changes, if any, would you recommend that we make in our rules, so that they would be acceptable for your organization?

What would the response be? Perhaps

(a) "sorry, we're in charge here, few of our players ever play anywhere else, and we like our rules and our authority just the way they are." And that may very well be a valid response, much like DBgF, at one time, used or considered using WBF (not to be confused with WBA) rules and having close ties with WBF, but decided that DBgF was in the best position to be fully responsible for writing rules and organizing tournaments for its own members. Or perhaps

(b) not much, but DBgF/WBA gets some good, concrete suggestions for specific textual changes in the DBgF/WBA rules, and adopts them. And maybe the other entities make some positive changes too in their own rules. Or perhaps

(c) some major entities, namely, BIBA and USBGF, in consultation with DBgF and WBA, come up with an amended rules set that they are all happy with. I don't think, for example, that Michael Crane's BIBA rules are so different from DBgF/WBA rules that an agreement on an amended set couldn't be reached. I don't think there is anything that NBGF and SBGF have in their rules that couldn't be accommodated. USBGF might, as a step forward, simply adopt DBgF/WBA rules now, in anticipation of future cooperation on amendments.

4. Keep in mind that whatever agreement is reached to adopt one (amended) rules set, that agreement is going to be voluntary. It's not going to be "the international rules" that everyone "must" abide by. Any organization using it will be free to modify it as they please. That is because there is no international backgammon organization. And there won't be any international backgammon organization until what few bona fide national organizations exist agree that there are compelling and cost-effective reasons for them to form an international body, with who knows what authority- and cost-sharing relationship that body would have with the organizations that are actually doing everything that's being done now -- writing rules, promoting the game, running tournaments, acquiring sponsor money, maintaining rating lists ....

Short of the formal creation of an international body as a legal entity with conceded authority, an administrative structure and staff, and a source of income -- which I see in no way happening any time soon -- a reasonable expectation is that the heads of DBgF, BIBA, USBGF and WBA talk to each other. And I think that, when they talk about rules, they should use the DBgF/WBA rules as a basis for discussion. Whatever if anything they can agree on, well, that's what will happen.

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