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My position on Legal Moves

Posted By: Bill Davis
Date: Sunday, 3 November 2013, at 9:30 p.m.

There is nothing illegal about playing “Legal Moves.” If my opponent wants to correct my brain-freeze errors, I will happily permit it. But he shouldn’t expect the same consideration from me. Any opponent who plays carelessly doesn’t deserve to win.

I equate playing “Legal Moves” to the City of Chicago’s attempt at banning handguns. Chicago has weapons-free zones throughout the city. Honest people abide by the laws—criminals ignore it.

The same is true when “Legal Moves” are implemented. It’s a law that will benefit dishonest players, and there is no way for the director to catch them in the act of breaking the rules.

The proposed sentence to be added to the clock rules is simply another form of “Legal Moves.” It basically says that since Mr. X has a legal move, he cannot hit his clock. He must make his move. But there is another rule that states when you pick up you dice, or you hit your clock, your turn is completed. This procedural error should be treated like any other. The offended play has a choice: require his opponent to play legally, or accept his illegal action.

Let’s assume the proposed sentence about requiring a person to make a legal move is added to the clock rules. It’s a given that dishonest players will ignore the rule; but if both players miss the error and an intervening dice roll is made, does the error stand, or will the director attempt to back up the action?

We have a fast roll rule that some players also judge as harsh. Player A has only three checkers left on his ace point. He rolls a 4-3 and takes two off. But before Player A picks up his dice, Player B who has four checkers on her highest points rolls a winning 6-6. She has fast-rolled Player A and it is his option to accept her roll or require a reroll. Player A is not to blame requesting a reroll. It is Player B who made the procedural error and she should graciously suffer the consequences, NOT call her opponent a bad sport.

Bottom line: Play carefully and pay attention. If you make a procedural error, don’t get angry with your opponent who is only playing by the rules. Instead learn from your error and next time pay more attention.

The American Backgammon Tour is an annual master point race. Although we suggest use of the tournament and clock rules posted at www.chicagopoint.com, directors are free to use any set of rules that they see fit. Players who judge a rule set to be “out of the mainstream” will show their disapproval by not attending.

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