Forum Archive : Tournaments

Tournament rules

From:   Daniel Murphy
Date:   30 April 2001
Subject:   Re: International Tourny Formats Rules - Who Can Help?

Backgammon is not organized like football (soccer) or chess with
national organizations under an international umbrella. There is no
international backgammon authority. Tournament organizers set the
rules for their tournaments. Nonetheless, there is little difference
in the rules sets used at tournaments on the international backgammon

We might distinguish between (1) rules of play, (2) tournament rules
and procedures and (3) tournament format.

Rules of play describe a particular variation of backgammon and on
this there is no disagreement among international tournaments. In
fact, tournament rules sets do not usually specify these rules but
might instead refer, as in the US Rules, to the "commonly accepted
rules of backgammon." It is understood that this means backgammon as
played at international tournaments, not another variant in its own
right such as plakoto, portes, fevka or portos. See or for the usual rules of play in international
backgammon, or for links to
descriptions of other variations.

Tournament rules specify procedures that players and directors must
follow in tournament match play with regard to equipment, order of
play, handling of dice, checkers and cube, scoring, ethics, errors,
enforcement and dispute resolution. On these, international tournament
rules sets differ. In most cases the differences are minor but
tournament players should always be mindful of the peculiarities of
any particular set of rules.

By tournament format I mean such things as entry and registration
fees, prizes, divisions (open, intermediate, beginner, etc.) and
qualifications for same, number of rounds, match length, awarding of
byes, nature of tournament (cup system, monrad, Swiss), qualifying
rounds, if any, and consolation and/or last chance brackets, if any.
These are tournament-specific and are not codified in any rules set.

A primary source for tournament rules and procedures is the "United
States Backgammon Tournament Rules and Procedures," March 1990. These
rules (with minor variations) govern all tournaments of the American
Backgammon Tour. Many tournament organizers in other countries also
use these rules, sometimes with some modification. See

A second reference point is the rules set of the so-called World
Backgammon Federation, which governs tournaments sanctioned by the WBF
and has in the past been used here and there as the basis for other
rules sets. See

In some countries, backgammon is well-organized on a national level,
and most or all tournaments in these countries are conducted under the
rules of their respective national organizations. These include the
British Isles Backgammon Association in the UK and the national
federations of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The BIBA rules differ in
one or two minor but important ways from the US Rules. See A major revision of the Danish
rules, which were largely identical to the US Rules of March 1990,
goes into effect in June this year. An English version will be
available shortly at the DBgF home page. See

The list of countries with active organizations of a national
character grows slowly. Recent additions include Ireland, Japan and
France. But there are also major international tournaments in some
countries with no national organization or where longstanding
tournaments are not organized by more recently established
organizations, including Monaco, site of the backgammon World
Championship, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Thailand, Switzerland,
Austria and Slovenia. At these tournaments, the rules are entirely up
to their organizers, who may use the US Rules, WBF Rules, or their

Online tournament rules must address procedures for notifying
opponents, match completion deadlines, dispute resolution,
online-specific errors in play and server crashes. A model for online
rules is the rules set of David Escoffery's tournaments on FIBS. See See also the homepages of
GamesGrid and Netgammon or the other 23 sites offering online

Daniel Murphy
Raccoon on FIBS, GamesGrid

Vi ses, og tak for alle fiskene!
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