Forum Archive : Rules

Rolling on wrong side of board

From:   Ian Shaw
Date:   31 August 2004
Subject:   Ethical problem
Forum:   GammOnLine

This came up at the Mind Sports Olympiad on Sunday.

    O rolls 52 from the bar:

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

I'm X. O rolls the killer 52, but intentionally on my side of the
board! If I'd been fast enough, I'd have grabbed the dice before
they stopped rolling. But I wasn't.

What do I do?

During previous games he had asked for permission to roll on my
side once the inner tables have got crowded, and I consented.
This time he didn't ask, but I'm sure that this was an oversight
and he wasn't deliberately trying to pull a fast one to get the
opportunity to re-roll.

O has told me that he's come over to play a number of games at
the Olympiad, not just bg. He seems like a decent chequer
player, but his cube handling leads me to suspect he doesn't
play much tournament bg, if any.

Bonus question: What do I do if the roll is 53?

Gregg Cattanach  writes:

You should never allow a player to roll on the wrong side,
exactly because of the confusion you have here.

Once you open the door to allow him to do so, I think his rolls
on either side of the board become valid. The rules don't
specifically address this because there is no provision for you
to give this permission to start with.

Also, you should never grab the other guy's dice for any reason.
If they are cocked, you just point that out. If he rolls on the
wrong side (assuming you never gave 'permission'), again you
just point that out. If he rolls prematurely, then (US rules),
you show that your dice are still down, his have been rolled,
and therefore he has to roll again.

Gregg C.

Kit Woolsey  writes:

Technically you are right, of course. But as a practical matter,
I find it best to prevent the dice from landing when they are
rolled on the wrong side. Keep in mind that if your opponent
does intentionally roll on the wrong side, it is because he
thinks it is okay to do so or because he is ignorant of the
rules. Imagine the scenario if you let the dice land, he rolls a
joker, and now you insist on a re-roll. You haven't done
anything wrong, but the appearances are that you are taking a
double shot, since for all anybody knows you would have been
willing to let the roll stand had he rolled a poor number. By
preventing the dice from landing you make it clear that this
isn't what you are doing. I simply grab the dice, hand them to
my opponent, and politely ask him to roll on the proper side. I
have never had any kind of complaint when I have done this.


Chuck Bower  writes:

This is an excellent place to apply the axiom: "Let your
conscience be your guide."

Kit Woolsey  writes:

Here is some very simple advice regarding this situation: NEVER
give your opponenent permission to roll on your side of the
board. Period. If he asks, just say no. If he rolls on your side
of the board, grab the dice before they land if you can, but if
you can't make sure the roll is invalid whatever it is -- if he
questions that, it is 100% that the tournament director will
back you up. This isn't being a bad guy -- this is simply
following the rules of the game. My advice holds for any kind of
play, tournament or money. By following this policy you avoid
any possible disputes in this area.

If you mistakenly give permission you risk putting yourself in
this sort of ethical dilemma, as well as opening the door for a
sharpie to take a double shot at you. After having gotten
permission in the past, he rolls on your side of the board
without asking -- exactly as your opponent did. If he rolls a
bad number he picks the dice up and apologizes for rolling on
the wrong side. If he rolls a good number, he tries to play it.
In fact, can you be sure that this wasn't exactly what your
opponent was doing? Can you be sure that if he instead had
rolled a 5-3 he wouldn't have picked his dice up and re-rolled?
He would have been perfectly entitled to do so. The roll is
clearly an invalid roll by the law, and if the director is
called he must rule that way regardless of whether previous
permission to roll on the wrong side of the board has been

As to what you should do, that is 100% clear. The roll doesn't
count, and you should stand by that. If your opponent complains,
that's too bad. If he calls the director, the director must back
you up. This is simly following the laws. What happened on
previous rolls where you gave permission is irrelevant. These
were illegal rolls also, but they were accepted. That doesn't
affect the current situation.

And if his roll had been 5-3? Well, that depends upon your
conscience. If you are a crook, you will take a double shot,
accepting the 5-3 roll while rejecting the 5-2 roll. If you are
an honest person, you will reject both rolls. And if you are an
intelligent and honest person, you will never give permission
for your opponent to roll on your side of the board so you will
never face this dilemma.


Steve Mellen  writes:

I think it is absolutely ridiculous that someone can grant
permission for his opponent to roll on the left side of the
board, and then when the opponent rolls a joker several rolls
later, suddenly claim "Wait, the rules don't allow me to grant
permission, so that roll was invalid." I would find it appalling
for a director to support that kind of shot-taking. If granting
permission to roll on the left side is against the rules, then
it's wrong to purport to grant permission in order to take a
shot later.

Fundamental fairness requires that someone who knows the
technicalities of the rules should not be allowed to exploit
them to take advantage of someone who doesn't. In this case,
it's not even something that's disallowed by the rules, it's
merely something that is not mentioned in the rules, and
therefore implicitly prohibited. If you took a poll of
tournament players and asked, "Do you think it is ok to roll on
the left side of the board if your opponent gives permission?"
you'd get a lot of yes answers. Even if the rules contained an
express prohibition, however, it would still be wrong for
someone with knowledge of that rule to pretend to grant
permission just to take advantage of someone who didn't know the

As for the actual situation that prompted this post, it appears
there was no intention to take shot, just an honest
misunderstanding. There is a convention relating to granting
permission to roll on the left, and one player apparently
believed that permission only lasts for one game under that
convention, while the other player was less clear on that. If I
were the director, I would rule that the roll was invalid, so
long as I believed both players were acting innocently. If
previous rolls in the same game had been condoned, then I would
consider an attempt to invalidate a joker as taking a shot.

The ethical problem is actually much easier than the director's
decision. Quite simply, if you would have told your opponent to
reroll had he rolled a 53 on the left side of the board, then
you should feel no guilt about going to the director with this.
On the other hand, if you would have taken the roll if it was
good for you, but insisted on a reroll if it was bad, I wouldn't
feel comfortable about that.

garyo  writes:

If you object before you have time to reflect upon the
implications of the thrown dice, you are not in this "gray area"
-- every nanosecond that the dice remain on the board counts
against you. If you are thinking about what the roll is, you're
too late (and they'll talk nasty about you behind your back,
probably deservedly). If you object immediately, then no
problem. Your opponent obviously knows the rules and rolling on
the left w/o permission in this game is poor, and is the event
that caused the problem. Only you can be the judge of your
intentions. If you can sleep with yourself, have him reroll.
Otherwise "take it like a man".

Ian Shaw  writes:

BIBA Rules state

> 4.2 Valid Rolls Both dice must come to rest flat (not cocked)
> on the playing surface to the right of the bar; otherwise they
> must be rolled again.

There was no provision for me to ever have granted permission,
so I mistakenly opened myself up to problems by condoning the
practice. In previous games he had asked for permission at some
point in the game, then continued to roll on the left for the
remainder of the game. At the start of the next game he would
roll on the right once more. In this game he had been rolling on
the right prior to this roll, and it was at this critical
juncture to roll on the left, and didn't ask permission. I
swallowed hard and said, "I'm going to allow the roll, but you
should ask permission before rolling on this side of the board."
At the end of the game I described the potential for chicanery
to him, so hopefully he will modify his behaviour.

I'm glad he didn't roll 53. I hope I'd have been sporting enough
to ask him to re-roll; perhaps he would have been sporting
enough to decline. However, I feel sad that my opponent makes
the mistake, yet I end up in the position of allowing his good
roll whilst not accepting his bad roll, simply in order feel
comfortable with myself.

I won't be giving permission to roll on the left in future, and
I now have a perfect example to explain why (not that one should
be required).

It is an added irritant that I had offered my opponent the
choice of dice, chequers and play direction, as is my custom
when hosting the game on my board. If someone dislikes rolling
on a crowded inner table, they should ask to play clockwise when
offered the choice. I'm contemplating electing to play anti-
clockwise in future to avoid this situation, but--and keep this
to yourself--all my book study and perusal of this forum has
given me a slight preference to play clockwise.
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



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