> I'm a writer working on a book set in the 16th century--before the
> doubling cube, BTW.
> I need to show a cool way to cheat, something clever. Have you seen or
> read of any such thing? I already have read Gambling Scams by Ortiz. I
> cannot use any sort of cheating involving the cube.
I'd recommend a trawl through the backgammon newsgroup archive at
Another form of cheating is the "premature roll", and its counterpart the
"late pick-up". These are everyday occurences in the excitement of a fast
moving backgammon game, and a cheater can sometimes use them as ploys to
gain an advantage.
The Premature Roll is when you roll before your opponent has finished his
turn by picking up his/her dice. If it's a bad roll, simply apologise for
rolling too soon, pick 'em up and roll again. Modern etiquette gets round
this in one of two ways, (A) by allowing the other player the choice of
whether a roll should stand or be re-rolled, or (B) by allowing him to
complete his move in the knowledge of what the upcoming roll will be. Both
systems are in use today; A is common in Europe and the Americas, B is the
British tournament ruling.
The more subtle Late Pick Up exploits this ruling. If the other player is
rolling hot on the heels of you picking up your dice, you can put your hand
over your dice as if to pick them up, but not actually raise them from the
board. If you can induce a Premature Roll you can enforce the prevalent
ruling and thus gain an advantage.
You may decide they are a bit too tied up in the modern etiquette for
shaking and rolling for you to use, but you might enjoy perusing some of
the articles in the Rules section of the archive. Hmm, I'm not even sure
if old backgammon sets would have had two pairs of dice, which would rule
out these ploys.
Also at GammonVillage, Mark Driver's The History Of Dice - Part IV contains
some interesting info about various dice for cheating; shaped, loaded &