Forum Archive : Tournaments

Clocks--Common arguments against

From:   Chuck Bower
Date:   22 February 2006
Subject:   Re: Clocks in backgammon -- inquiry/discussion
Forum:   GammOnLine

Here are some arguments I've heard over time AGAINST clock usage in

1) "It changes the game." True with analog rules. Generally not true
with digital rules, except for the stark outcome that when you run out
of time, you lose.

2) "The players won't accept them, leading to drop in attendance." Sure,
if you force it on everyone at once. That is why it should be done
gradually, but not at the current snail's pace. The fact that the
Atlanta Club no longer uses them is a sign that things are going in the
opposite direction. I'm not pointing a finger at Atlanta. They were
among the leaders. But I assume part of their motiviation was to get
their players prepared for clock usage at the big tournaments and since
the latter isn't happening...

The other side is that some players are driven away by slow play. Why
should the slow players be protected at the expense of the moderate
speed players?

3) "Clocks are expensive." So are dice. So are dicecups. So are
backgammon boards. So are entry fees, travel to tournaments, rake at
tournaments, nights in hotels,... I wouldn't think of playing without
precision dice (would you?) yet a digital clock can be bought for less
than twice the price of four precsion dice and at about the price of a
merely acceptable set of dicecups. YES, the players should buy the
clocks. It's totally ridiculous in my mind for tournament directors to
think it is up to them. Sure, if the tournament must supply the clocks
then it is a major expense!

4) "Only a few matches each tournament go over the time limit." And
there are few traffic accidents on freeways but when one happens, the
ripple effect is monstrous. And that's exactly what happens at a binary
elimination format tournament (and probably all other formats as well).
The opponents of the players in the slow match and the opponents of
those oppenents ... are affected.

People who try out clocks and clock rules find that they aren't the evil
constraint they had perceived. The sole purpose of clocked backgammon
(except for speedball events which are virtually non-existent as far as
I know) is that a match not take an inordinate amount of time. Two hours
for a 9-11 point match is about the norm in the US. Sometimes it's even
2 1/2 hours. The purpose of the clock is to confine the match to such a
time window. Thus the pace of clocked backgammon will not change for 95%
of matches! The perceived negative impact won't be there. Only the
positive effect of keeping things moving and actually allowing players
to get a decent night's sleep.
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