Forum Archive : Rulings

Checker knocked off bar

From:   Chuck Bower
Date:   15 September 2003
Subject:   Ruling issue #1
Forum:   GammOnLine

From Chicago Point newsletter #158-A (Sept 2003), "Shades of Gray"
(Danny Kleinman) column:

          24  23  22  21  20  19      18  17  16  15  14  13
         | X           O       O |   |     O   O           X |
         | X           O       O |   |     O               X |
         |                     O |   |     O               X |
         |                     O |   |                     X |
         |                       |   |                       |
X rolls  |                       |   |                       |
  6-5    |                       | O |                       |
         |                       |   |                       |
         |                       |   |                       |
         |                       |   |     X                 |
         |         X   O   X   X |   |     X               O |
         |         X   O   X   X |   |     X               O |
           1   2   3   4   5   6       7   8   9  10  11  12

> O has a man on the bar and X rolls 6-5, running a back man to the
> 13-point in the above position. In the process of moving, X's
> sleeve accidentally knocks O's checker off of the bar and almost
> perfectly onto O's 8-point. X is unaware of this and picks up his
> dice. Then X straightens the checker squarely onto O's 8-point (a
> fractional adjustment). O rolls a 5-3 (which would have danced).
> [Resulting position shown below.] Before O has moved, X calls for
> a ruling.

          24  23  22  21  20  19      18  17  16  15  14  13
         | X           O       O |   |     O   O           X |
         | X           O       O |   |     O               X |
         |                     O |   |     O               X |
         |                     O |   |     O               X |
         |                       |   |                       |
O rolls  |                       |   |                       |
  5-3    |                       |   |                       |
         |                       |   |                       |
         |                       |   |                       |
         |                       |   |     X                 |
         |         X   O   X   X |   |     X               O |
         |         X   O   X   X |   |     X               O |
           1   2   3   4   5   6       7   8   9  10  11  12

How would you rule??

> A. Leave the checker in question on the 8-point and make O play
>    5-3.
> B. Void the 5-3 roll and give O the choice (before rolling) of
>    whether she wants her man on the bar or on her 8-point.
> C. Place the checker back on the bar and require O to dance with
>    5-3.
> D. Place the checker back on the bar; then require O to reroll.


Daniel Murphy  writes:

B and D are silly.

If as in (D) the checker is to be on the bar, its placement has
nothing to do with O's already rolled 53.

B gives O the right to decide where the checker is, as if O had
objected to an illegal play before rolling, and conjures up from
no where an additional privilege to decided whether to reroll or not.
But this isn't a case of O objecting (or not) to an illegal play,
and if it were, O gave up the right to object by rolling.

That leaves A. Seriously now -- which rule gives a player -- X in
this case -- the right to object to his own illegal play after his
turn is over? None. If X can't be more careful, he ought to go play

And if the malplaced checker had been any but the one on the bar, A
would be reasonable. But I've played on enough board whose bars seemed
designed to make checkers fall off with or without the whispering
brush of a sleeve.

Chuck, you left out

E. Provided there is no dispute that the fourth checker on the 8 point
had been on the bar, then that checker is on the bar, O's 53 is a
valid (and fanning) roll, X should be more careful, drink less or
roll up his sleeves, and if O says one word about "condoning an
illegal play" he ought to make sure the screen door doesn't smack his
butt on the way out.

Since E is not an option, I'll go with C.

Robert-Jan Veldhuizen  writes:

I think I like D, because otherwise X is aware of O's fanning
roll which could influence his decision on whether to ask for a
ruling. Even if that's not relevant in the actual position, it could
be in the general case. Does that make sense or am I missing something

In other words, if the idea is that X is going to correct his
"move", then after that it's O roll again.

Dean Gay  writes:

I don't know what the rules say about this, but I think the fairest
thing is to replace the checker on the bar and let O's 53 stand.
It doesn't sound like there was a dispute as to whether the checker
was on the bar, and O's roll is not affected by actual placement
of the checker.

Chuck Bower  writes:

(This is probably going to be the least popular option of all, but
I'll give my justifications.)

I would rule that O's checker goes back on the bar AND O gets
to reroll.

A) X was of the opinion that the checker was on the bar. IMO, this
is NOT an illegal move situation. In those cases the offender
intentionally places a checker in an incorrect (illegal) location.
Here the movement of the checker from the bar to O's 8-point was

B) O was of the opinion that the checker was on the 8-point. Most
likely he was (mentally) misapplying the illegal move rule. It sounds
like he knew that the checker was inadvertantly moved to the wrong
place, but thought it was his option to accept the game as it was
presented to him prior to his roll.

C) Director's action should be to rewind to game so that neither
player has acted upon the INCORRECT checker location. That point in
the game is after X has lifted his dice but before O has

I realize that it sounds like the "checker goes to the bar; O's
5-3 (fan) roll stands" option is consistent with my feelings, but for
one sticky point: O's feeling while rolling the dice was that 5-3
wasn't a bad roll when in fact it was. So?? If none of us believed in
telekinesis (sp?) then it wouldn't matter. But some do. And I believe
we don't want to drive those people from backgammon, even if we
disagree. The telekineticists want a reroll. The antitelekineticists
believe it doesn't matter; the 5-3 was random and the reroll will be
random. So a reroll appeases the telekineticists but has no effect on
the anti's. (Pardon me while I duck. I can see the replies coming at
me fast and furious. :)

Some might argue (we will see) that one player or the other should be
"punished" for his actions. If director had knowledge that shady
actions of a similar nature had been practiced before by one of these
players, then maybe. But if it looks like an honest mistake (X was
unaware that the checker was knocked off the bar and O thought he
was within the rules by accepting the board as presented), then
"punishment" is inappropriate.

Ilia Guzei  writes:

Chuck says:
> A) X was of the opinion that the checker was on the bar. IMO,
> this is NOT an illegal move situation. In those cases the offender
> intentionally places a checker in an incorrect (illegal) location.
> Here the movement of the checker from the bar to O's 8-point was
> inadvertant.

First off, I think the 53 roll is irrelevant in the discussion.

Then, I disagree with A) above since illegal move situations occur as
UNintentional most of the time. Secondly, who cares what Opinion was
O's of when he picked up his dice? He could be of the opinion that
his position was a double/beaver. Has it happened to you that as you
make a move your opponent's checker(s) falls off the bar? Did you
replace them there before picking up the dice? Now, the rules provide
no room for a player to recall his illegal move.

Thus, as much as I'd hate to be a careless X, I would accept
O's decision on the checker placement. Also after the 53 it's too
late to go back, no?


Chuck Bower  writes:

>  ...Illegal move situations occur as UNintentional most of the time.

Agreed. The distinction I see is the following:

In an illegal move, a player intentionally places a checker in a
certain place. (His intention is to make a legal move. He just fails
to execute that particular intention.)

Here the player doesn't even realize he has moved this checker at all.

...After the 53 it's too late to go back, no?

I don't think so. In fact, in this same quiz in ChiPoint there is a
situation where the players set up their homesides to move the *same*
direction (e.g. both players are moving clockwise), then play a few
moves before realizing what has happened and call the director. Are
they supposed to continue the game from this point? If 'yes', which
player gets to continue moving clockwise and which must now start
moving counterclockwise?? (Danny's ruling was that the game be
restarted, BTW. And one of the multiple choice solutions was to ban
alcohol use for these two players. :)

Chuck Bower  writes:

Kleinman's solutions was A -- Leave the checker in question on the
8-point and make O play 5-3.

Kleinman writes:
> The motion of Black's sleeve was not an action by Black. It was an
> accident, no more pertinent to the game than a passerby acidentally
> knocking a checker off the bar. However, Black's adjusting of
> O's checker after he'd lifted his dice was an illegal action,
> though apparently not deliberate. He could have adjusted it legally
> by putting it back on the bar. By rolling, O condoned it ... her
> right, just as if in moving, Black had inadvertently shorted himself
> a pip.
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