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Not reminding your opponent to press the clock

Posted By: Tom Keith
Date: Thursday, 25 December 2014, at 2:39 p.m.

In Response To: Not reminding your opponent to press the clock (Timothy Chow)

Tim Chow writes: Over on rec.games.backgammon, Paul Epstein said that it's generally considered bad sportsmanship in backgammon to not remind your opponent to press the clock. He said he found this surprising since it's normal in chess not to feel obligated to remind your opponent about the clock.

What would happen in chess if someone forgot to hit the clock? Would his opponent just go ahead, think for a while, then move, all while the first player's clock is still running?

This wouldn't normally happen in backgammon because: (1) a player's turn does not end until he hits the clock and (2) you are not allowed to touch the dice while it is your opponent's turn. I guess you could pretend to be thinking about doubling and intentionally run down the time before pointing out the clock, but that does seem rather unseemly.

If neither player noticed that the wrong clock is running, that's too bad for the player who forgot to hit the clock. But, after all, it was the failure to hit the clock that caused the problem.

Chuck Bower writes: Sportsmanship seems to be one of those things that is difficult to define and therefore difficult to judge and virtually impossible to enforce.

Yes, good sportsmanship can be encouraged but it can't be legislated.

Tim Chow writes: What I don't agree with is that "would you want to win that way" is a meaningful argument for that convention. One can equally well ask, would you want to win a match on time for any reason? My answer is, probably not.

Part of the skill of clocked backgammon is time management. I'm happy to win by outplaying my opponent in that regard. In fact, I think it is fine for a player to intentionally steer toward a more complicated position because his opponent is in time trouble. It's part of the game.

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