Forum Archive : Rulings

Disputed roll

From:   Chuck Bower
Date:   1 March 2000
Subject:   Re: Illegal move question
Google:   89hqk8$dv1$

> Can someone tells me what happens/has happened/ought to happen when the
> following situation arises in a backgammon tourney?
> A player claims to the tournament director that his opponent made an
> illegal move. His opponent denies it. There are no independent witnesses.

     Two or three years ago this situation occurred at the Midwest
Championships.  Larry Strommen related the story to me, and I hope I am
relaying it accurately.  Larry rolled a number (I believe it was 32),
played a 32, and picked up his dice.  His opponent objected saying the
roll was something different.  (Let's say his opponent saw a 52.)  The
director, Bill Davis was summoned.  No kibitzers were present.  It was
one player's word (eyesight?) against the others.  Bill ruled a stalemate
and required Larry to replace his checkers (before the 32 move) and
reroll.  The 32 (52?) roll was completely negated.

     It should be obvious that this can lead to abuse.  Your opponent
gets a good roll, you wait until his/her dice are up and then call a
misplay.  The good roll is negated and now tyou hasve a chance
that the reroll will be worse.  Certainly any director worth his/her
salt will be on the lookout for REPEATED occurrences, and quickly rule
against the frequent foul cryer.  But a careful abuse of this rule could
easily go undetected, especially in the short term.

     What are some alternatives?  1) Require a player to call out his roll
before playing.  2) Require a misplay to be announced BEFORE the dice are
picked up.  3) Require a player to wait a short time (one or two seconds?)
after making a play but before picking up the dice.  None of these is
foolproof (cheaterproof?) but neither is the current rule, as illustrated

     Chalk up an advantage for online BG.  And I predict this debate will

       c_ray on FIBS

Julian Hayward  writes:

The tournament director can take a view as to who he believes. Which, in
the absence of any evidence, and with both players adamant that they are
right, is a sod of a task and bound to offend somebody. Or he can try to
come to some sort of compromise (possibly by rolling dice to see whose
version of events should be followed) which will in all probability
offend both. The only way to get an amicable solution is to persuade one
that he might have made an error, and it sounds like this is not
possible in this case.

Unfortunately any "standard" ruling lays itself open to abuse - if you
take the rule that the accuser must have positive evidence of an illegal
move it assists cheats to make deliberate illegal moves; if the accused
must always have a positive defence it encourages cheats to make
deliberate false claims.
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