Etiquette for Backgammon Spectators
by Phil Simborg, 2008
Phil Simborg
Since I haven't seen this in writing, and I have seen many problems and abuses at live tournaments, I thought I would take a shot at providing what I think are the rules that spectators should be expected to follow. I would like to request the ABT, WBA, and all backgammon organizations to adopt these rules, or similar ones, and make them a part of tournament policy.

  1. Be quiet. Obviously, noise is distracting, but also be careful not to gasp when someone rolls a joker or makes a mistake, as that might alert the player to correct a move or to notice that he has rolled a number that hits or makes a prime or does something wonderful.

  2. Remember that in tournaments we don't play legal moves, so don't say anything if a player moves illegally or reads the dice incorrectly.

  3. If there is a question or dispute amongst the players as to what the dice were or what the score is, or if a move was legal, do not offer your opinion or make any remarks unless you are asked to by both players or the tournament director.

  4. Eating, talking on the phone, dancing to music in your head phones, or anything else that could be distracting is, well, distracting. Sit still, and don't keep coming up to watch and then walking away and then coming back.

  5. Do not walk up to a game and ask the score, or make an obvious point of looking at the score sheet. You might be alerting one of the players that he should be doubling (post Crawford) or should be playing his checkers differently (to go for or prevent gammons, for example).

  6. Do not cheer or openly root for a player. That can also be distracting and rude. Save your celebrations for after the match, and do it with grace and sympathy for the loser.

Phil Simborg is a fulltime backgammon player and teacher.
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