Basic Rules of Tournament Play
by Phil Simborg, 1997
Phil Simborg
Crawford rule. When either player is one point away from winning the match, no doubling is permitted for one game. After that game, the trailer may double.

Completing a move. A move is not over until you have picked up one or both dice. Once you lift a die off the board, your turn is over and you cannot change your move.

Rolling the dice. Players should shake the dice vigorously (preferably at least three times) and make sure the dice roll or bounce on the board.

Cocked dice. Dice are defined as cocked if either or both of them are not resting flat on the playing surface (e.g., not on a checker). If you believe you have rolled cocked dice, wait for confirmation from your opponent before touching the dice. Once a die comes to rest cocked, it is considered cocked even if it falls over after a second or two.

Courteous checker movement. If you are looking at a move that you might take back, place the moved checkers towards the top of the points so there is no confusion returning them to their original position.

Fast roll rule. If Player A rolls before Player B picks up his dice, Player B has two options: he may make any play he wants and require Player A to roll again; or, he may make any play he wants and require Player A to play the premature roll.

Illegal moves. If a player makes an illegal move and then picks up his dice, his opponent has the option of allowing the illegal play or requiring the player to replay and make a fully legal move. If the second player rolls his dice and then notices the prior illegal play, it is too late to request a correction.

Score. Each player is expected to keep a written score. After each game the players should announce and agree upon the score.

Offering the cube and taking or dropping. The proper way to offer the cube is to put it on your side of the board with the proper number up and say "double." If you are accepting a double, you should say "take" and put the cube in your corner bearoff tray. If you wish to drop the double, you should say "drop" or "pass" and return the cube to the center side rail with the number 64 facing upwards. If your actions or statements are not clear, you may be forced to take or drop pending a ruling from the Director.

Verbal commitments and actions. Players are responsible to live up to their statements and actions. If you say you are going to double, you must double. If you reach for the doubling cube as if to double and change your mind, you may be required to double. If you state you are taking or dropping and then change your mind, you must live up to your first statement.

Spectators. Spectators should remain silent during a match, even if asked to comment by either of the players. The only time a spectator should make a statement relative to confirming what a roll was, or the position of the checkers, or anything else, is if both players agree that they would like an opinion, or if asked by the Tournament Director.

Questions and disputes. Any time players have a question or disagreement, the Director should be called to determine the proper ruling.

Excessive complaining about your bad luck or your opponent's good luck is not only boring and unsportsmanlike, it is rude and insulting as it suggests your opponent only wins because of luck. Backgammon is a game of incredible swings. During a match, do your best to minimize complaints about luck.

Phil Simborg is a fulltime backgammon player and teacher.
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