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Playing on a Table or Computer in a Tournament

Posted By: Henrik Bukkjaer
Date: Tuesday, 7 January 2014, at 8:11 p.m.

In Response To: Playing on a Table or Computer in a Tournament (phil simborg)

DBgF "ruled" on this about a year ago. At that point we wouldn't allow it. It was specifically tournament backgammon played on tablets (iPads) that were the subject of the ruling.

A translated summary of the ruling, from the top of my head:

DBgF thinks there are pros and cons by playing tournament matches on a tablet. However, for the time being, we think the cons outweigh the pros, and as such we will not permit tournament matches to be played on tablets.

The main issues we currently see with tablet play, are:

  • Taking away from the aesthetics of the game.
  • Making the live game less attractive to spectators and potential future players.
  • Issues with current rules about when a turn ends.
  • Potential cheating / burdening the TD with decisions outside the current rules and his/hers expertise and experience. How will TDs and players check equipment from cheating?
  • Board size.
  • Clocks (gameflow/mechanics, and amount of time allocated) - depends on how end of turn and dice are handled.
  • However, we also stated that the technology (hardware and software) are in constant development, and that we will keep an eye out for this going forward, and re-evaluate this decision on a regular basis (when new developments occur).

    Some of the issues/challenges could be handled by rules specifically for tablet play, but we felt that currently, it's not worth the effort of further complicating the rules compared to how mature the available technology was.

    I'm sure that in 5-10 years from now, we will look back at this decision and laugh :-)

    As for cheating, it goes both ways - if you're playing a perfect app (honest and fully rules compliant), risks of certain cheating will be mitigated - but it opens for cheating with the technology itself. Again I think this could be mitigated to a degree where cheating will become too complicated to pursue, but this is not options that are available with the current software.

    It's also important to note, that in the DBgF we often consider live play in the various cafe's and other informal venues a way of recruiting new players. Especially the matches in the team leagues. Some people felt that iPad/tablet play would NOT improve on the perceived image of our game in these situations.

    On a positive note, tablet play would really emphasize the positive sides of legal moves, and mitigate the angle shooting options here... Currently we don't play legal moves in the DBgF, so this plus didn't weigh too much in the decision.


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