Forum Archive : Rulings

Misplacing a checker on the bar

From:   Jeb Horton
Date:   18 December 2002
Subject:   Re: Yet another ethics question
Forum:   GammOnLine

> Last year, at the Venice tournament, one of the Norwegian players
> accidentally put his own checker on the bar during a bearoff. On his next
> roll he wanted to remove the checker, but his Swiss opponent insisted
> that the checker was on the bar. There were many witnesses to the
> incident.
> What are the rules here? Should the Norwegian player simply acknowledge
> his error and play on without trying to remove the checker? Did the Swiss
> player display poor sportmanship? Comments, anyone?

Yes, the Swiss player is within his rights to insist that the checker
remain on the bar. While I normally will not condemn a player for taking
advantage of the rules, yes, the Swiss player was a poor sport.

The usual ruling is that this is covered by the illegal play rule. Note
that a player in the Norwegain's position could actually be angling here.
Say you are far behind in the bear-off. You bear your checker off to the
bar. Your opponent rolls a number that leaves a checker open. You then
roll. If your roll a number that hits, it's "How did that checker get on
the bar?  I guess it's an illegal play and you didn't correct it, so I'll
hit you." If you miss, just take 2 off. Leave the checker on the bar hoping
for another shot. You run the risk that your opponent will make you play
from there, but you were way behind anyway. If you never hit a shot, or
roll a couple big sets, you eventually say "Oh, that's not supposed to be

So, even something as clear as incorrectly bearing off without contact is
not always so clear.

In practice, I *always* make my opponent remove borne-off checkers from the
playing area. And, I always point out that I would be within the rules to
make it stay and caution the player to be careful. I've seen players who
bear-off into their outter board, or even to the mid and eight points --
setting up for the next game. I will not roll until the checkers are
removed. I've also seen players who pick up their own checker when I roll a
hitting number. I will not allow that checker to be held in the hand,
refusing to pick up my dice until the checker is placed on the bar. I find
I can live with myself better by following these policies.
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