Forum Archive : Rules

Touch-move rule in backgammon?

From:   Austefjord
Date:   18 May 2002
Subject:   Do you hear the wind of changes ?

Hi all bg lovers.

In order to make backgammon more fair and attractive for top players I
will like to come with a suggestion.

In great tourneys it's common to use the clock when it's down to 16
opponents left. To expand, the  way to favour the best players, I
would like backgammon to use the rule of chess. If you touch your
checker, you have to move it that is. This in a combo with the clock
would be refreshing and good.

I have already posted this opinion on and actually it
have gotten  much more support than I had expected.

I reckon that when they established the rules in chess there were some
noise and controversial discussions. Now they are used to it and only
small children play without a clock and even they use "the touching
rule" in serious chess tournaments.

Gregg Cattanach  writes:

As far as changing to touch-move goes, nobody would put up with it...  The
need to examine a resulting position, count shots, etc. is too important in
backgammon to give that up.  I do wish players would handle their 'trial'
plays a bit more systematically, though. The correct way, IMO, is to make a
trial play, and if you want to try something else, COMPLETELY put it back
to the original position and try something else.  When you just partially
restore the position, especially when moving doubles, it is hard sometimes
for your opponent to keep track of how many you've moved, etc.

Laury Chizlett  writes:

I don't get this at all. BG players: remember match equity tables, in
their heads; or work it out using Neil's numbers, say, ITH; do the pip
count for both players, ITH; perform various calculations based on these
pip counts, eg Thorp to determine the likely percentage win, ITH. And
you can't visualise the position after playing a double 2?

If a player makes a legal move, I say it should stay there. If it's a
bad one, tough. You soon learn. Chess and Draughts (checkers) players
have had touch-move for over a hundred years, and sorry, these are
deeper games (but less fun). How do you expect players of other games to
take BG seriously when they see players faffing around with the pieces
like a 5-year old?

Thomas  writes:

I'll offer an opinion on the "u touch, u move" rule proposal:
boys, that kite just ain't gonna fly (as opposed to the dog that will
hunt).  Excessive back'n'forth by an opponent can be most annoying,
but one must be vigilant regardless.  Concern over losing track of
starting position is pretty minimal -- I find the "one hand" rule
(only one hand at a time allowed to touch the stones) fairly effective
at preventing this sort of confusion.

Michael Crane  writes:

As a TD I am totally against a 'touch move' rule. I can just see what the
future brings ... more of those, "Yes you did", "No I didn't" conflicts.

And why compare bg with chess? It is like comparing apples with oranges!

Adam Stocks  writes:

The multi-piece moving aspect of backgammon would make touchmove a
nightmare to tournaments players and TD's alike, despite the fact that the
bg community has high standards of sportsmanship. I just can't see it
working.  Backgammon is a different discipline from chess, and allowing
players to fiddle with their checkers has worked just fine for many years.
Touchmove would also detract immensely from the relaxed social atmosphere
we enjoy when playing, even in competitive play. Another thing - the
shallow dearch depth needed for backgammon compared to chess means that it
is not as important to allow the opponent to be able to see a totally
static position during his 'thinking time' (your own turn) as it is in
chess.  If they bring a touchmove rule into tournaments, I won't be going
to them.

Douglas Zare  writes:

I agree that it is better to avoid shuffling checkers, and I apologize if I
take a move back. However, things get really ugly when you enforce the
touch-move rule in chess and call a tournament director when someone does
not say "adjusting," as happened on an adjacent board in a tournament I

Paul Tanenbaum  writes:

I've seen ugly disputes in every bg tournament I've played.  Allowing
players to shuffle checkers around is no miracle cure.

I played in a weekly chouette a few years ago, we agreed on 'release
move' as a compromise.  You could handle a checker, and move it around
the board, but when you released it, the move was fixed.  Worked very
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