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Even more reasons against LM

Posted By: Art Grater
Date: Friday, 14 March 2014, at 7:44 a.m.

With the USBGF board set to consider LM, I'd better step up to the plate now before a fun 5,000-year-old game is ruined (joking). I and others have already brought up the moral hazard of NLM and the learning experience it provides, so here's some other reasons I'll mention since there has been so little discussion on LM:

1. Beginners: Some sentiment was raised that NLM is somehow unfair to beginners. Leaving aside they are not little children (except when they are little children) consider this scenario: A beginner learns to play sitting in on a tournament beginner seminar. In a side event they draw a Giant. After the Giant makes a play, he calls an illegal move and asks to retract it. The novice is sure the play was legal, the Giant is sure it was not. If you're the TD, are you going to believe someone who learned how to play this morning and whom you know nothing about, or someone who has played for decades and is of known impeccable character. What if they are both acting in good faith, but the novice is correct? For that matter, the novice may be incorrect but acting in good faith. Will the novice return if he or she thinks the fix is in?

In LM, you've got to deal with one player's opinion against the other. In NLM, the novice can simply let the play stand. NLM is simple to understand and simple to play. It even introduces more play choices.

2. I'm on a roll, so let's stick with the beginner. How do you explain to a beginner opponent that you do not trust him or her to roll by hand -- but they must trust you to play LM? A casino trusts them to shoot craps all night by hand, but they need a dice cup to for BG. Indeed, they are encouraged to use a baffle box because in part they might cheat with a dice cup! But they have to trust you to play LM.

3. You've tell them that LM is the gold standard for sportsmanship in chess. Wouldn't you forgive them for assuming a premature resignation stands in BG, just like chess?

4. What happens in a LM tournament when your opponent doesn't play LM? This happened to me in SA. Bill Riles reminded the players that SA was LM and we were "duty bound" to point out our opponents misplays, even to our detriment. Now when a Texan -- in particular Bill -- says you are duty bound, trust me, you are duty bound.

And that's exactly what I did, including when I drew someone who warned me he or she was unable to see the dice well enough to catch mistakes. I did not inquire if it was blurry vision, double vision, or redouble vision. For better or worse, I did my duty. Actually for worse: I lost. (I was tempted to test my opponent's ability to catch illegal moves by making my 5 point no matter what the opening roll was or who rolled it, LOL.)

Yet many LM proponents think that when your opponent won't play LM in good faith, then neither will they. This is like saying if you burn my house down, the only fair thing for me to do is to burn yours down. Where do you get permission to play NLM in a LM tournament, even if your opponent doesn't? It's not in the LM rules. I'm guessing no TD's would let you. If you are going to push LM on everyone, then play by those rules yourself. No matter what. No exceptions. If you lose, you lose. If you can't bear losing for your principles, then don't push LM. I lost my match and I don't even favor LM!

If the arson example is too extreme, then suppose your opponent rolls a string of lucky numbers time after time, game after game, match after match, all weekend, with no unlucky rolls. You can't detect any dice mechanics, but the odds against their rolls are trillions-to-one. Does your suspicion mean you can knowingly cheat? Of course not.

5. LM is proposed in the name of good sportsmanship. Besides the fact that people have different opinions on what constitutes good sportsmanship, I can't recall seeing as much rancor on an issue as I've seen on LM v NLM in my decades of playing BG. I'm speaking mostly of the way someone was vilified by a few for playing NLM in a NLM tournament.

I'll conclude by asking the Directors that if you endorse LM anyway, at least let two players agree to play NLM. A lot of players don't need to be protected from themselves. I for one don't need anyone to do my thinking for me; I'm already married.

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