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Playing on a Table or Computer in a Tournament

Posted By: phil simborg
Date: Friday, 3 January 2014, at 3:29 p.m.

I understand why tournament directors are against playing on anything other than a real backgammon board, and I have heard all the arguments against it (it takes away from the aesthetics, the players are not under as much pressure to watch for illegal moves, players may cheat and have the pip count on, etc.).

All those arguments are valid, and I respect the rules and play on a board at major events, and I am thankful that some directors do allow me to play on the computer in some of the less-important side events. Especially when I have my projector with me, playing on the computer often draws quite a crowd...it is easier and more fun to watch, and it is always fun, after the match, to instantly see each player's PR and then look at the more interesting moves and cube decisions. If I had my way, every finals would be played this way, projected on to a large screen and podcast this way.

But what about playing on a tablet? It is very little different from playing on a board, and if you like, you can still roll the dice and input them manually? Yes, you don't have to worry about making illegal moves, but why is that so terrible and I don't really see that the players are getting some kind of huge advantage over the field, especially when the rest of the field is given the same option if they want to play on a tablet. Of course, the advantage of playing on the tablet is that the match is recorded and can easily be sent to a computer for XG evaluation.

I have just bought a nice tablet and a stand to record my matches, but the prospect of transcribing those matches manually into XG makes me sick...what a horrible waste of time instead of playing directly on the computer or tablet.

Lastly, though I disagree with Bill Davis about so many things and have clashed with him over the years, I can still say that we remain friends and I have great respect for him and what he has done for backgammon and the ABT. But I also am very pleased that Bill lets us play our BarPointClub matches on the computer or a tablet and it is one of the major reasons I make it a point to come almost every Tuesday night (even though not all of my opponents agree to play that way). Being able to analyze the entire match and instantly look at my biggest errors is exciting and fun and informative.

Why am I posting this? I hope that more and more players will work on influencing tournament directors to allow tablets and computers. Even if they don't allow it for the main event, please allow it in side events and consolation. It will enhance the tournament experience for all (spectators and players), and that's what the goal of tournaments should be aiming for.

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