Forum Archive :
Player A and Player B agree before a match to play "legal moves".
Partway through the match, Player A completes his turn (either picking up
the dice or punching the clock, as the format requires). Player B
contemplates before moving a Player A says, "oh, sorry, I played
illegally." Player B counters: "but your turn is over. I'm accepting the
position as played."
Director is called. How would/should s/he rule in the following 2
1) Player B denies making a "legal moves" agreement.
2) Player B admits to having made a "legal moves" agreement, but says he's
sinced changed his mind.
My ruling is the same in both cases. Player B has the option of letting
the play stand or requiring Player A to play legally. The rules are clear
here, and I have no basis for enforcing this "gentleman's agreement."
> Player A and Player B agree before a match to play "legal moves".
Does this mean that a person or persons can agree to make IL-legal moves?
And what is the definition of legal/illegal anyway? I have seen this term
used here but am still unsure what is meant. Does it mean that if you roll
a 64 and move 63 because it benefits you, it is an illegal move but if
your opponent doesn't catch it, it counts? Maybe I'm too honest for this
game....? Coz I couldn't in all conscience do that...is this "normal"
The definition of a legal move is exactly what you would expect, and can
be found in Magriel (or any backgammon rulebook). Agreeing to make illegal
moves would clearly go against the spirit and letter of the law, and would
be grounds for being barred from my club or tournament.
Yes, the U.S. rules do state that your opponent has the option of allowing
an illegal move to stand or forcing you to play legally. I once felt as
you do about taking advantage of my opponents' illegal plays. I've
(mostly) gotten over it. If my opponent notices that the play was illegal
prior to my rolling, I will usually have him play legally. If he doesn't
notice, it depends on many factors -- including whether I like my opp. ;-)
Tad Bright writes:
All this leads up to my belief that this option of letting the move stand
or asking the player to play legally is wrong and the rules should be
changed. If you notice an illegal move after the dice are picked up and
before you roll, you are obligated to insist that a legal move be played.
You can't read a persons mind as to whether the noticed the error or not,
but atleast it should be in the rulebooks as such.
Until then, I will struggle with this dilemma.
Also, can a tournament director penalize a player for taking advantage of
the rules--even in severe cases such as purposely moving 5 doubles instead
> You can't read a persons mind as to whether the noticed the error or >
And therein lies the problem! The honest player will notice the illegal
play and point it out. The dishonest player will only "notice" if he
thinks it is to his advantage to do so. I don't like rules that favor
> Also, can a tournament director penalize a player for taking advantage
> of the rules--even in severe cases such as purposely moving 5 doubles
> instead of 4?
Intentially moving 5 doubles instead of 4 is not "taking advantage of the
rules." It is cheating. The dificult part is proving intent.
Tom Keith writes:
I'm with Tad on this one. I don't like the Illegal Moves rule either.
1. By giving the opponent a choice, Rule 4.8 seems to be incorporating
misplays as a legitimate part of the game. Misplays shouldn't be part
of the game!
2. Things work out better if errors are pointed out as soon as possible.
Under the current rule, if you see your opponent making an error you
are encouraged not to say anything until he picks up his dice. By then
your opponent might not agree that he'd made a misplay. There is less
chance of a disagreement if you point out the error as soon as he moves
3. Rule 4.8 presents an ethical dilemma (at least for some). Should you
use the letter of the law to maximize your chance of winning? Wouldn't
it better to win by outplaying your opponent?
I don't buy the argument that a "Legal Moves" rule will favor dishonest
players. Dishonest players will always have an advantage no matter what
rules you use. As it is, a dishonest player has nothing to lose by
intentionally misplaying a roll--the worst that can happen is he is forced
to correct it.
The rules should make it clear that intentionally misplaying a roll is
cheating. And the rules should make it clear that both players have a
responsibility of ensuring that every roll is played properly.
In theory, I agree with you completely. If I saw a way to write and
enforce a legal plays rule, I would be it's biggest backer. I just think
the current rule offers better protection to the honest player.
I would support an ammendment to 4.8 which explicitly states that this
rule does not make misplaying OK, and that intentionally misplaying is
Gregg Cattanach writes:
The 'illegal play' rule as currently implemented works perfectly well.
If in a match (or even head-to-head money play) if you have a 'legal
plays' rule, if my opponent makes an illegal play that is very bad for
him, I am put in the bind of having to follow the rules and inform him and
let him fix it, or 'ignore' the rule by saying nothing and taking the
equity he gave up with his bad illegal play. Putting players in this kind
of dilemma (especially when there may be lots of money on the line) is
unfair to the player that observes the illegal play.
With the current tournament rules, I am never in any kind of ethical bind.
If my opponent's illegal play hurts his position, I can accept it if I
choose to. I have done nothing wrong or unethical; the ability to move the
checkers legally is part of the skill of this game, and it is one more
situation where my opponent's lack of skill can improve my chance to win.
Also, with a 'legal play' rule in tournament play, let's say that player A
makes an illegal play that hurts his position, player B doesn't see it,
but all the kibitzers do. Nobody says anything and the game goes on.
Suddenly all the kibitzers think that Player B is a big cheat. This is
very bad as well.
Chuck Bower writes:
> ... if you have a 'legal plays' rule, if my opponent makes an illegal
> play that is very bad for him, I am put in the bind of having to follow
> the rules and inform him and let him fix it, or 'ignore' the rule by
> saying nothing and taking the equity he gave up with his bad illegal
> play. Putting players in this kind of dilemma (especially when there may
> be lots of money on the line) is unfair to the player that observes the
> illegal play.
> With the current tournament rules, I am never in any kind of ethical
Maybe semantics, but, IMO, intentionally ignoring an illegal play when
"legal moves" is the rule is more than unethical, it is cheating.
> Also, with a 'legal play' rule in tournament play, let's say that player
> A makes an illegal play that hurts his position, player B doesn't see
> it, but all the kibitzers do. Nobody says anything and the game goes on.
> Suddenly all the kibitzers think that Player B is a big cheat.
I carefully alter (and highlight) three words of your hypothetical:
Also, with a '*il*legal play' rule in tournament play, let's say that
player A makes an illegal play that *helps* his position, player B doesn't
see it, but all the kibitzers do. Nobody says anything and the game goes
on. Suddenly all the kibitzers think that Player *A* is a big cheat.
No, I think it clearly is not semantics to say this is cheating. If the
rule states that you must point out an illegal play, then intentionally
not doing so is a direct and knowing violation of the rules. That is my
definition of cheating.
However, I think Gregg's point is still valid. Since it is impossible to
prove that the player just didn't see that the play was illegal, the rule
gives you the ability to commit the perfect crime! Let's say you are
playing legal rules, and your opponent makes an illegal play that leaves
you a virtual lock to win the match and the $4000 1st prize (opponent
refused to hedge, so it's winner-take-all). There is a legal play
available which leaves you a significant underdog. How tempting would it
be to "miss" the illegal play?? What if it were for $14,000? Do we really
want the rules to put an otherwise honest player in that sort of
Chuck Bower writes:
> What if it were for $14,000? Do we really want the rules to put an
> otherwise honest player in that sort of situation?
"Otherwise honest" seems like a contradiction in terms. How much is your
After thinking about how I would answer your questions, and stumbling over
several dilemmas, I realized that although I may have an idealistic wish
for a "legal moves" rule, in practice it doesn't matter (to me; I'm not
speaking for other proponents).
One pleasing consequence of the current "illegal moves" rule is that
anyone is within the rules to choose to play "legal moves". As has been
discussed here, if "legal moves" were the rule you would be cheating to
(unilaterally) choose to accept your opponent's illegal moves. So the
converse doesn't hold.
The "illegal moves" proponents are happy with the current rule, and those
who are truly convinced that "legal moves" rule is right for them are
comfortable with it as well.
- Bearing off question (Colin Wiel+, July 2000)
- Can a beaver be dropped? (Robert-Jan Veldhuizen+, Mar 2006)
- Can a beaver be dropped? (Stein Kulseth, May 2000)
- Changing dice (Julian Hayward, Feb 1998)
- Checker shuffling (James Johnson+, June 2000)
- Gentleman's previlege (Daniel+, Sept 2005)
- Hit and run (Rich+, Jan 2000)
- "Illegal moves" rule (Chuck Bower+, May 2004)
- Illegal plays (Bob+, Aug 2002)
- Illegal plays (Marc Gray, Nov 1995)
- Illegal plays that can't be condoned (Matt Cohn-Geier+, Feb 2011)
- Is stalemate possible? (Jan Andrew Bloxham+, July 1995)
- Jacoby rule (Daniel Murphy, Dec 1997)
- Jacoby rule ambiguity? (Chuck Bower+, Mar 2011)
- Jacoby rule--Good or bad? (neilkaz+, May 2006)
- Legal roll (Sture Lifh+, July 2004)
- Legal roll (Gregg Cattanach, Oct 2001)
- Moving checkers unambiguously (Timothy Chow+, Oct 2009)
- Moving checkers with two hands (Michael Strato+, June 2000)
- Must a hit checker be placed on the bar? (Dani+, May 2006)
- Pick and pass and bearing off (SimonW+, Jan 2005)
- Play cubeless at 2away/2away? (Raccoon+, Oct 2005)
- Repairing an illegal play (Michael J. Zehr, Apr 1995)
- Resigning (Bob Lang+, Aug 2002)
- Rolling on wrong side of board (Ian Shaw+, Aug 2004)
- Rolling on wrong side of board (Kit Woolsey, Jan 1999)
- Rolling on wrong side of board (Kit Woolsey, Sept 1998)
- Rolling on wrong side of board (Bob Hoey, Apr 1998)
- Rolling too soon (TonyM+, Feb 2007)
- Rolling too soon (Stephen Turner, Feb 1998)
- Rolling too soon (James Grenier+, Sept 1996)
- Talking during play (EdmondT+, Dec 2000)
- Touch-move rule in backgammon? (Ken Bame+, Nov 2006)
- Touch-move rule in backgammon? (Austefjord+, May 2002)
- U.S. backgammon tournament rules (Butch Meese, Nov 1997)
- When do you give up your chance to double? (Paul Epstein+, July 2005)
- When is a move over? (JP White, May 2000)
- Overview (Daniel Murphy, Apr 2001)