Forum Archive : Rulings

Premature roll

From:   Chris Yep
Date:   7 December 2007
Subject:   Re: New U.S. Rules ratified
Forum:   GammOnLine

Regarding US rule 4.6 (Premature Actions) [see], how will this
rule be used in conjunction with Clock rule 4.1 (Mishandling Dice) [see]?

If a player grabs the dice early (before his opponent has ended his turn)
and rolls, this roll is valid under US rule 4.6; however, clock rule 4.1
states that he "must wait until his deductible has counted down to zero
before rolling his dice." How will these two rules be reconciled in

Bill Davis  writes:

This is a good question, Christopher. In practice, however, this occurance
is extremely rare and I have never heard of it happening. Here is what
would have to occur:

1. With the clock in action, the player is completing his move while the
opponent picks up the dice. At this point, the player could demand a
penalty, but he doesn't.

2. The opponent is now shaking his dice while the player's clock is still
counting down. At this point, the player could demand a penalty, but he

3. The opponent rolls the dice creating the need for a ruling.

Part of my ruling would depend on the actual game situation. For example,
if the players were involved in the final stages of a bear-off, my ruling
would be different than if the position was a complex middle game where the
player could benefit from seeing his opponent's roll. There are also time
considerations that would have to be rectified.

It would be impossible to write a rule that could cover all the imaginable
variables. Our rules are a guide; problems like these are cases where
fairness must be the final criteria. Good directors will call a committee
prior to making a ruling in instances like this.

Chris Yep  writes:

Thanks for the answer, Bill. I agree that it's probably been an extremely
rare occurrence so far. However, I wonder if it will become a more common
occurrence now that US Rule 4.6 has changed.  There are at least two
reasons why a player may not demand a penalty in #1 and #2 above:

1. He wants foreknowledge of the next roll (thus he hopes that his opponent
will roll the dice).

2. The position is complex. He wants the opportunity to pause the clocks,
signal the director (or send a spectator to fetch the director), and
continue thinking about the position during the 30-90 seconds that might
elapse before the director is able to walk over to the board.

Perhaps I'm overthinking this; in my experience, few backgammon players
engage in gamesmanship. (Is the above considered gamesmanship?) Still, I
wonder if it will become more common with the change of US Rule 4.6.
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