Rulings Column 2
Candace Nyles Mayeron, 1980
Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, December 1980
Candace Nyles Mayeron
Candace Nyles Mayeron is a practicing Los Angeles attorney. She is an experienced tournament player, and was Tournament Director for the 1979 World Amateur Championships in Las Vegas. "While I am solely responsible for this column," says Mayeron, "not one single answer appears unless it has been agreed to by not less than three other rules and procedures experts."
Q   "I have heard people refer to a "playto." What is it?"   —A.S., Minneapolis, Minn.

The "playto" is the number of points needed to win that particular round in tournament match play. If the round will be won by the player first reaching seven points, then the "playto" is seven. Frequently you will hear players say, "What is our playto?" That is to what they are referring. It is one example of specific backgammon jargon.

The playto should be posted at the top of each column on the drawsheet. The playto may — and usually does — vary from round to round. For example, in a field of 128 the first round matches may have a playto of 11, the second round a 13 playto, with each round increasing by two, to a 23 playto final.

Tournament players are cautioned that it is their individual responsibility to ascertain the correct playto for that paricular round. The responsibility is met by personally checking the drawsheet. One who has merely asked a roving tournament official, one's opponent, or a bystander, may not claim proper playto ascertainment in the event of a later discrepancy.

Q   "In chouette play, what is the rule for terminating the chouette? There is one guy in our club who, as soon as he gets a few points up, leaves the game."   —G.B., Las Vegas, Nevada

There is no rule for this situation, nor should there be. A player cannot be forced to remain in a game.

However, the guidelines of etiquette deal with this highly sensitive area. There are several ways for intelligent players to handle the situation. Ideally, discussion should occur before play begins. Your group can pre-establish a reasonable quitting time. Or, you can request that a winning player give some reasonable notice of quitting — for example, three games or a half hour. It is also good etiquette to permit the current box player to run out his box — especially if he is or has been down. The only other alternative we can suggest if it really bothers you is not to play with this particular person in the future.

Barclay Cooke thinks you should not be bothered by this behavior. "This is the type of imbecile who, when he is losing, hangs around all afternoon and night trying to get even. Thus, he gives himself no chance to win anything but peanuts. Welcome him, don't send him to another game!"

One thing is certain: it is never a breach of etiquette for a losing player to quit early or without notice.

Q   "My opponent rolled and the dice were cocked. He then turned the cube at me. I argued it was too late to double. He said that as a cocked roll is "void," he in fact had not yet rolled and could double. Wasn't I right?"   —B.D., Sasketchewan, Canada

You certainly were right. Doubles (or redoubles) may be offered only before the player has first thrown or cast the dice. This is called the Continuation Roll Theory. It is immaterial for doubling purposes that the first cast results in cocked or off the board dice.

But notice that a player may double after he has shook the dice, so long as he has not yet thrown, even though the rule for mixing the dice is that the "entire process of rolling the dice consists of a shake and a cast."

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