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What if illegal moves were a capital crime?

Posted By: Taper_Mike
Date: Thursday, 26 February 2015, at 12:36 a.m.

We all know that the misplays and other irregularities identified in a recent post by Stick will continue to occur no matter what rules are in force. Adding draconian penalties, which sometimes are worse than the irregularities themselves, will not solve the problem. Amazing as it may seem, the irregularities would still happen, except now you would also have potentially large shifts in matches/games because of the penalties.

If it were a capital crime to play illegally, people would still do it! We need to recognize that the nature of backgammon makes these misplays a part of the game. It's very odd. Chess and other games do not seem to have nearly as many misplays as there are in backgammon. Heaping huge penalties onto something that is evidently guaranteed to happen is no cure. It is much more constructive to design systems that attempt to reduce the number of irregularities in the first place. In this regard, a shift to official monitors, when practicable, is a far better idea than adding new punishments.

I am not opposed to penalties, per se, I just think the punishment should not be worse than the crime. Losing your turn, for instance, because you punch the clock without rolling after having been closed out for time, is way too harsh a penalty. In professional sporting leagues, such the as NFL and NBA, officials learned long ago that they do want the outcome of a big game to be decided on a penalty. In backgammon, we are still learning that lesson.

Remember, when an illegal move is caught and corrected, the game is just as it would have been if there had not been an illegal play. The only time someone is hurt is when an irregularity is not detected. Of course, that is also the time when a penaltyŚdraconian or otherwiseŚwould not be enforced.

Although, I think Jason's proposed 1-minute run-off is excessive, I would like to see a mandatory run-off of the delay before a player is allowed to correct an illegal move. If you wanted to run off an additional 10 seconds, that would also be fine with me.

In addition, I think that tournament directors need to be given the authority to penalize repeated improprieties. When LM is in force, a player should be warned when he misplays the first two or three or four times. After that, if the pattern continues, the director should be allowed to impose a penalty.

In football (a.k.a., soccer), the yellow penalty cards handed out in the playoffs are cumulative. That might be a good way to handle warnings in a backgammon tournament. Don't reset the count at the end each match. Let a player carry his warnings all the way through a tournament.

As always, this is just my two cents. Probably some of these ideas are good. Perhaps others still need some work.


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