This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of GammOnLine.
Thank you to Kit Woolsey for his kind permission to reproduce it here.

Alternative Rules to Make the Game Interesting

By Phil Simborg
Over the years, in various chouettes and games, I have tried several alternative rules aimed at making the game more interesting, more skillful, or just more fun. Here are some you might try that I have enjoyed:

Roll Over:  Each player has the option of making his opponent roll over ONE TIME during the game. Once you use it, you canšt use it again.

Reason: it takes away one joker, making the game a little more skillful, and the decision as to when to use the option also adds skill to the game. After playing this for a while, we added some variations including the following:

a) you cannot use this option once there is no contact;

b) you cannot use this option after there is cube action;

c) if both players have their option remaining, one player may exercise the option, but the other player may use his option to cancel the other's.

Three Doubles Rule:  My brother just can't stand it when someone rolls 3 doubles in a row in a race or bearoff situation, so we have a three double rule. If a player rolls the third double in a row, in a no-contact situation, the third roll simply does not count AND he loses his turn.

Opening Roll Option:  In money games, I often found myself sitting across from a world-class player or someone far superior to me, and I just didn't want to play them for money. For some reason, they couldn't understand why I felt that as in golf or bowling, I deserved a handicap when I played them. So they often did give me the opening roll option, meaning that I had the choice of taking the opening roll or letting them have it regardless of who had the higher die.

Mandatory Extras:  In our Chicago chouette, we often play that if you drop an initial cube and there are any takes, the dropper must offer an extra. Takers are not required to take the extras unless there is only one taker.

Pay for Dancing Rule:  In my current Chicago chouette, there is a player who believes he dances (fails to come in when on the bar) more than anyone else in the game. So I made him a bet to prove he's wrong: every time he dances on a one point board, I pay him a point, and every time he dances on a two-point board, I pay him a half-point. And of course, he pays me the same. (After about 1 year of this, of course, I'm losing my butt on this bet!)

Consulting Rules:  In chouettes all over the country, consulting rules vary greatly. Most allow consulting only after the cube. Some don't allow consulting at all. My favorite is no consulting unless there has been a re-cube and take. (I also like a rule that says no settlements unless the cube is at 4 or moreŠspeeds the game up greatly.)

Crawford Rule Revision:  I like the Crawford rule (you can't double the game your opponent is one away from match point), but I think a slight revision would make the rule even better. In post-Crawford games, the trailer should not be allowed to double until his 2nd roll or later. This gives the other player a little more of a decision in the take/drop analysis and makes it more interesting/skillful.

Rolling Rules:  To shut the mouths of those who constantly complain about their dice, or constantly complain that their opponents don't shake, etc., I have tried some interesting alternatives. One is to simply roll for each other. In one money game, to ensure fairness, we had a third party roll for both of us. And in another chouette, we each rolled one die for the other every roll.

Gammon/Drink Rule:  In my favorite chouette of all time, if you get gammoned, you must down a shot of the liquor of your choice. (In our wilder times, you also had a shot whenever you rolled 6-6, and your opponent had to have one if you rolled 1-1!)

No Gammon Option:  In a money game, when you are doubled, you have the option of taking the cube but also paying 1/4 of the cube to ensure there are no gammons or backgammons. What this means is that if you are taking a 2 cube, you pay 1/2 point, and that means that neither side pays extra for a gammon or backgammon. If there is a re-cube, there will still not be gammons or backgammons. (On a 4 cube, you pay 1 point.)

Paul's Rules:  My good friend, Paul Franks, always tries to get this rule agreed to in advance: Simply stated, Paul's rule is that regardless who is up in the score, he gets paid.

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