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Rules Breakthrough in LA

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Sunday, 2 June 2013, at 11:12 p.m.

My sincere admiration goes to Pat Gibson who has shown the guts to buck the trend of many, many years, and implement a new set of tournament rules for his upcoming tournament next weekend. I hope this is the start of a trend.

Of course many will hate some of the new rules simply because they hate change; many will hate, in particular, the Legal Moves rule, and many will simply not like the fact that the rules are quite long. They are not long because there are more rules...they are long because there are more examples and explanations so that if and when a problem arises, both tournament directors and players have more insights into the intent of the rule and the penalties for rule abuses. In fact, these "new rules" hardly contain any new rules at all...simply better definition of the rule, the intent, and examples of common problems that arise and how to resolve them.

Once we accept the fact that we will NEVER have a set of rules that everyone will like, we should, hopefully, accept the major concepts advocated in these new rules: that we should all impose the strictest standards of fair play and good sportsmanship on ourselves, first, and that we should all strive to have a fair, enjoyable experience where we do not use rules to try to gain unfair or unnecessary advantages over each other. We should have rules that assume people are fair and honest, instead of having draconian rules that protect us from a few cheaters and bad actors. These people need to be handled strongly no matter what the rules are.

One should also be resigned to the idea that even if we don't like the rules, the more they are well-defined the better. We have far too many disagreements, even amongst seasoned tournament directors, as to how rules should be interpreted and enforced, and many of those problems are resolved with these new rules.

Pat's rules reflect the recommendations made by myself, Chuck Bower and Jeb Horton, but also incorporate some excellent improvements in wording that he and a few others have added. There is no question that this is an improvement on our previous work.

A full set of rules can be found at http://www.bkgm.com/articles/BowerHortonSimborg/RulesAndStandardsGuide/Gibson2013.html

A short summary of the major changes is below:

Backgammon Tournament Rules and Procedures June 2013 One Page Summary of “major changes and additions”

1.2.1. As most matches are not officiated, players are expected to self-officiate, imposing the strictest standards upon themselves. When in doubt, a player should voluntarily rule against himself or penalize himself in questionable situations.

3.5. Dice Generation Random dice rolls are essential for a fair contest. As such, approved devices for generating random rolls such as precision dice, lipped dice cups, dice tubes, and baffle boxes receive priority. If either player wishes to use a piece of equipment that is not essential to the competition, such as a baffle box or dice tube, strong consideration should be given to that request. If the other player objects, the TD shall determine if there is legitimate reason to object or refuse to use the equipment offered and shall make the final decision.

5.3. End of Turn If a player has made a full move and subsequently touches or moves either die, that turn is completed, even if he pulls his hand away. If he wishes to move the dice before his turn is complete, he must state that he is adjusting the dice prior to touching them.

5.7. Repositioning the Dice Once a valid roll is made, the player may reposition his dice but he should first verbally call the roll and state that he is just moving the dice.

6.1. Illegal Moves Unless the Director states differently and publishes such in advance, Legal Moves shall be enforced. After the conclusion of a turn and before the dice are next tossed, if either player notices that the just completed move is inconsistent with the dice (an illegal move), the dice shall be replaced on the surface with the actual roll showing, the checkers replaced to their position before the illegal move and the player must replay his turn. If the illegal move isn't noticed until after the subsequent dice roll, the play stands as made. Illegal moves include leaving or placing checkers on the bar or off the board that should not have been left or moved there, not picking up a checker that had to have been hit in order to move legally, or moving checkers to the wrong points. Note that only the players or a tournament official may point out an illegal move — spectators are required to remain silent unless asked by both players to assist.

All competitors and spectators are expected to maintain a friendly, positive spirit at all times. Complaining, berating staff or opponents, or spreading of bad will at any time during the competition is not acceptable and can result in punitive action by the staff.

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