Tournament Rules

U.S. Backgammon Tournament Rules and Procedures
Differences between 1990 and 2008 Rules

The following changes were made to the 1990 U.S. Backgammon Tournament Rules to create the 2008 U.S. Backgammon Tournament Rules. Words that were deleted from the 1990 Rules are shown in red text. Words that are added in the 2008 Rules are shown in green text.

1.  Proprieties
1.1  Interpretation.  The Tournament Rules and Procedures cannot and should not regulate all possible situations that may arise during a game match. No set of rules should deprive the Director of his freedom of judgment or prevent him from finding the solution dictated by fairness and compatible with the circumstances of a particular case.

1.2  Scope.  Except where otherwise specified, the commonly accepted rules of backgammon apply.

1.3  Staff.  A knowledgeable and disinterested Director or Directors advised by a Tournament Committee shall represent the Tournament.

1.4  Entries.  All entries are subject to the approval of the Tournament. Reasons for exclusion need not be stated. Where more than one Tournament division exists, an entrant may be restricted from playing in a lower division.

1.5  Aids.  Once a match is in progress, neither player may use mechanical or written aids players shall not use written, mechanical, or electronic aids except to keep score. Player may forbid his opponent from wearing headphones.

1.6  Language Communications.  The official Tournament language is English. Speech in any other language will not be permitted between players and/or spectators while matches are in progress. Players may not use cell phones or other electronic communication devices except during authorized breaks.

1.7  Spectators.  Spectators should shall remain silent while observing a match. Spectators have no right to draw attention to any misplays or comment on plays. Spectators who observe improprieties or irregularities during a match should discuss them in private with the director. Players A player may request the Director to bar one or more spectators from viewing his match.

2.  Regulations
2.1  Place.  Matches shall be played in designated Tournament areas.

2.2  Time.  Matches shall start promptly at the appointed times. Each player is entitled to may take one 5 minute recess (between games) in a match not exceeding 13 points in length. Longer matches, or those of significant importance may be allowed additional recess time. The Director may permit additional recess time in longer or especially important matches.

2.3  Penalty points.  Unless excused as necessary by the Director, time and recess violations a late player shall be penalized by points awarded to his opponent. The first penalty point will shall be awarded 15 minutes after the appointed starting time and accrue thereafter at the rate of 1 point for each 5 minute delay. When the penalty points awarded amount to more than half of exceed half the number needed to win the match, the absent player will have then forfeited loses by forfeit. To avoid penalties, player should secure a player shall obtain the Director's consent when leaving the Tournament site for more than 10 minutes.

2.4  Slow play.  Players are expected to play at a reasonable pace. Director may warn an unduly slow player, and thereafter award penalty points to his opponent if unreasonable slowness persists. A time clock may be used to monitor slow matches. The Director may require a time clock on any match to keep the tournament on schedule.

2.5  Monitors.  Director may appoint a monitor to observe a match on his own initiative, or at the request of a player. Monitor shall have full powers to protect each player against opponent's irregularities. On his own initiative or at the request of a player, the Director may appoint a monitor to observe a match and protect against irregularities during play.

3.  Preliminaries
3.1  Equipment.  Either player may demand that both use, when available and approved by the Director: (a) precision dice (over any others) and/or (b) lipped dice cups (over unlipped). A baffle box may be used by agreement of both players or by requirement of the Director.

3.2  Preferences.  If necessary, Prior to the commencement of a match, the backgammon board, direction of play, choice of checker color, and seat location shall may be decided by rolls of the dice prior to commencement of play.

3.3  Equipment changes.  The Director may replace defective equipment at any time. Otherwise the four dice equipment initially selected shall be used throughout. Either player may demand a mixing of the four initially selected dice prior to the start of any game. In this case, To mix the dice the demanding player shakes the four dice together in one cup and rolls them out. Opponent The opponent selects a die, then roller, then opponent, with roller taking the last die.

4.  Game Play / Irregularities
4.1  Random rolls.  Dice are strictly a means of obtaining random numbers; any other use violates the rules and the spirit of backgammon. A legal roll consists of shaking the dice vigorously in a dice cup and then simultaneously tossing them out at a discernible height above the playing surface, allowing them to bounce and roll freely. Between turns the dice shall remain in the dice cup with the cup kept in plain view.

4.2  Valid rolls.  Both dice must leave the cup before either die contacts the board; otherwise they must be rerolled. Both dice must come to rest flat (not cocked) on the playing surface to the right of the bar; otherwise they are "cocked" and must be rerolled. In the event of dispute, a player who rerolls prior to receiving acknowledgment from his opponent that the dice are cocked will be at a disadvantage. Alternatively, players may roll legally by casting both dice simultaneously through a baffle box.

4.3  Moving.  Player should move clearly, using only one hand to play the checkers. A player shall move the checkers in an unambiguous manner, using only one hand. Player shall reenter any checker on the bar Checkers must be reentered from the bar before moving any other checker. No player should move A player shall not touch any checkers or dice during an the opponent's turn. Deviations from proper moving procedure may result in an adverse ruling in case of dispute.

4.4  Checker handling.  Checkers which have been hit must be kept on the bar pending reentry. Checkers which have been borne off must be kept off the entire playing surface for the rest of the game. Failure to observe these procedures may result in an adverse ruling in case of dispute, or redress to an opponent harmed thereby. A player with a checker illegally removed from play may still be gammoned or backgammoned.

4.5  Lifting dice.  Player A player concludes his turn by lifting either or both of his dice. But with notice to opponent, he may reposition the dice on the playing surface to facilitate moving the checkers. After lifting his dice, player may change his move only upon an opponent's demand to replay an illegal move. He may reposition the dice on the playing surface to facilitate moving the checkers, but in the event of a dispute he will be at a disadvantage if he fails to give notice to the opponent before doing so.

4.6  Premature actions.  No player may roll or turn the cube until the opponent has picked up his dice. A premature roll must be rerolled. A premature double shall stand if otherwise valid. All premature actions (dice rolls or cube actions) shall stand if otherwise valid. An opponent who has yet to complete his turn or act upon the cube may then do so with foreknowledge of the premature double action.

4.7  Error in setup.  An incorrect starting position must be corrected prior to the fifth roll of the game. Thereafter the existing setup becomes official. Players starting with less than 15 checkers in play may still be gammoned or backgammoned.

4.8  Illegal moves plays.  Upon drawing attention to an illegal move, player may condone it or demand that opponent legally replay the entire roll. Player condones a prior illegal move by rolling his own dice or turning the cube. A player may condone his opponent's illegal play by rolling his dice or turning the cube. Otherwise, he must require the opponent to replay the entire roll legally.

4.9  Completion.  Games must be rolled to completion, unless ended by a pass of a double or redouble, or conceded in no-contact positions as single game, gammon or backgammon losses. Each game must be rolled to completion unless ended by passing a double or redouble, or conceding a no-contact position as a single game, gammon, or backgammon loss. No game may be cancelled and replayed, or settled. No individual game or match may be canceled, replayed, or settled. Matches must be played to the appointed length. Players are responsible for playing to the posted match length. The first player to reach the posted match length is the winner.

4.10  Reporting results.  Final score shall be reported to Tournament Official by match winner. The match result shall be reported to a Tournament official by the winner. Official shall verify and post a correct result on draw sheet. The official shall verify and post the result on the draw sheet. Once posted, an erroneous result may still be corrected in a timely manner, but not after either player has begun a succeeding match. The director may correct a wrongly-posted result and should do so in a timely manner fair to all.

5.  Scoring / Doubling
5.1  Keeping score.  Each player shall keep a running match score and compare his score with opponent's compare it to his opponent's score at the start of every game. In the event of a scoring dispute, a player not keeping a written log of the score will be at a disadvantage.

5.2  Cube setup.  It is the responsibility of both players to see that the doubling cube begins each game centered with the "64" side face up. Both players shall take care that each game (except the Crawford game) begins with the cube centered at 1 (or 64). In the event of a dispute, the current position and level of the cube will strongly influence Director's ruling. Should a dispute arise, the current position and level of the cube may influence the Director's ruling. Exception: the cube may be removed during the Crawford game (see Rule 5.5).

5.3  Cube rules.  Gammons and backgammons will count at all times whether or not the cube has been turned. It is not necessary to double an opponent in order to win a gammon or backgammon.

5.4  Cube handling.  Player A player may double when it is his turn only before rolling the dice, but not after rolling cocked dice. To double or redouble, a player moves the cube toward his opponent at with the higher value face up while saying "double" or words to that effect. To take, one draws the cube toward himself while saying "take" or words to that effect. the opponent says "take" or words to that effect while placing the cube on his side of the board in plain view with the new value face up. To reject the double, one the opponent says "pass" or words to that effect, enters records the score and resets the board. The cube should not be handled capriciously; either verbal or physical acts may be interpreted as cube actions.

5.5  Crawford rule.  The Crawford Rule will apply to all matches. When a player reaches match point (e.g., 8 points in a 9 point match), the doubling cube will be out of play for one game. When either player reaches one point from victory, the next game (the Crawford game) shall be played to conclusion with a cube value of 1. The cube shall be removed from the board during the Crawford game. In subsequent games following the Crawford game, the cube may be turned at first legal opportunity.

5.6  Dead cube.  When the cube level is high enough to ensure that the match will end with the current game, that game shall be played to conclusion at the present cube level.

6.  Contentions
6.1  Disputes.  When a dispute arises, all players must leave dice, checkers, cube and score unchanged while the Director is summoned. Violations by player players in this area are most serious and create a presumption in favor of the opponent.

6.2  Testimony.  Any player may argue issues of fact or rule. Spectators, except to report cheating, may testify only at Director's request. Spectators shall only testify at the Director's request.

6.3  Appeals.  Player A player may appeal a Director's ruling, but he must do so promptly while timely redress may still be obtained. To resolve an appeal, the Director shall convene a committee of three knowledgeable and disinterested backgammon players at once. Committee The committee shall hear relevant testimony and arguments and may only overturn the Director's ruling by majority unanimous decision. This exhausts a player's right to appeal.

See also:  U.S. Backgammon Tournament Rules and Procedures, January 2008.
U.S. Backgammon Tournament Rules and Procedures, March 1990.
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