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Rules for Match Play

Copyright © 1996-1998 by Tom Keith

When backgammon tournaments are held to determine an overall winner, the usual style of competition is match play. Competitors are paired off, and each pair plays a series of games to decide which player progresses to the next round of the tournament. This series of games is called a match.

Matches are played to a specified number of points. The first player to accumulate the required points wins the match. Points are awarded in the usual manner: one for a single game, two for a gammon, and three for a backgammon. The doubling cube is used, so the winner receives the value of the game multiplied by the final value of the doubling cube.

Matches are normally played using the Crawford rule. The Crawford rule states that if one player reaches a score one point short of the match, neither player may offer a double in the immediately following game. This one game without doubling is called the Crawford game. Once the Crawford game has been played, if the match has not yet been decided, the doubling cube is active again.

Match to 5  White   Black 
Game 1:  White wins 2 points   2 0  Doubling Allowed
Game 2:Black wins 1 point 2 1
Game 3:White wins 2 points4 1
Game 4:Black wins 1 point 4 2   Crawford Game
Game 5:Black wins 2 points4 4  Doubling Allowed
Game 6:White wins 2 points6 4
In this example, White and Black are playing a 5-point match. After three games White has 4 points, which is just one point short of what he needs. That triggers the Crawford rule which says there can be no doubling in next game, Game 4.

There is no bonus for winning more than the required number of points in match play. The sole goal is to win the match, and the size of the victory doesn't matter.

Automatic doubles, beavers, and the Jacoby rule are not used in match play.