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“Legal Moves” Benefits Everyone

Posted By: Barry Silliman
Date: Sunday, 8 December 2013, at 12:41 a.m.

In Response To: “Legal Moves” Benefits Everyone (Taper_Mike)

I agree with you Mike that the positives outweigh the negatives with legal moves. You might not have guessed it from my post, but I installed legal moves for our recent ABT event in Herndon that I helped direct. But my support for legal moves is for practical, self-interested reasons, rather than for philosophical reasons. Philosophically, I believe that Bill Davis' position against legal moves is correct. But from a practical point of view, as a tournament director, legal moves makes it a whole lot easier to direct. What it does is remove some of the burden from the director and transfers that burden to the players, and the honest players in particular. I agree with you that the very low percentage of deliberate cheaters coupled with the fact that it takes the opponent's negligence as well, makes it a very small additional burden to bear for the typical honest player. So I support and welcome legal moves.

What I don't like is to see Bill Davis thought of by some as a dinosaur or a troglodyte for his stance on illegal moves (we'll save that for his stance on clocks). On the contrary, he should be commended for being willing to take on the additional burden as a director that illegal moves can cause.

I'd also like to come to Herb Gurland's defense a little bit, even if that may not be popular here. I don't like this trend I've been seeing where his name is brought up as an example of everything that is wrong with illegal moves. And I hope his opponent, who I consider a friend and as kind and decent a person as there is on the ABT tour, will forgive me.

But exactly what "tactics" did Herb Gurland use other than asking that the rules of the tournament, as written, be enforced? Do you think that director Ross Gordon's interpretation of the rule was absurd? You may think the illegal move rule in itself is absurd, but I believe that Ross interpreted it correctly.

You mention civility and sportsmanship. I'm all for that. It's been said several times here that the gentlemanly game of golf should be a model for backgammon. Well I don't golf but my understanding is that there are some arcane rules and that there have been a few high-profile incidents over the years involving seemingly trivial infractions like failure to sign a scorecard or some other such seeming trivialities to the layperson, and I've also been told that golfers are expected to call penalties on themselves even if nobody else is around to see the infraction. I wonder how this philosophy of civility, sportsmanship and gentlemanly behavior as it translates to how rules in golf are enforced would apply to the particular incident that has caused Herb Gurland to be vilified by many in the court of public opinion here on this site.

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