Forum Archive : Etiquette

Listening to music while playing

From:   Max Urban
Date:   13 October 2009
Subject:   Is music allowed while playing?

A while ago I read Jake's article on GammonVillage, "A Sharp Stick," which
shows a photo of Stick listening to music on his iPod. (Or is it a voice
repeating TPs, DPs, MEs, gammon prices at the various scores?)

I haven't played tournaments in Europe or the US.  Is this allowed/frowned
upon?  Do you ask for permission from your opponent?  Can you tell him to
get stuffed if he tells you "no"?

Phil Simborg  writes:

There are some very good reasons one might object to someone wearing are just a few:

1. It is possible to listen to a recording of match equity tables or other
helpful aids that might enhance your game;

2. Some people hum and sing along, bob their head or tap their fingers, and
that can be very irritating;

3. In an important match, some people might take this as a sign of
disrespect for the importance of the match, tournament or venue.

Chuck Bower  writes:

This used to be covered in the US Rules. It was taken out for a reason I
don't recall.

    1990 Rule:

    1.5 Aids.  Once a match is in progress, neither play may use mechanical
    or written aids.  Player may forbid his opponent from wearing

Daniel Murphy  writes:

In Denmark headphones are not permitted unless opponent specifically gives
permission, said permission which may be overruled by TD.

In BIBA tournaments, "headphones can only be worn if opponent agrees."

Richard Munitz  writes:

Personally, I don't particularly like my opponents with headphones on. I
enjoy live play to a large extent because of the interaction over the
board. And when someone has headphones on, they often don't hear what you
are saying or have to pull them out of their ears and ask you to repeat
what you said. If I want a cold and impersonal experience I can play
online. Headphone use during live play seems rather anti-social to me.

That said, I'm sure that some of these headphone guys find their opponents
banter during play to be just as distracting and irritating and would
rather tune it out with music. To each his own.

The rules have clearly removed the provision regarding headphone use, so I
think we are compelled to live with it as long as it does not interfere
with play. What I will say positively is that I have never played with
anyone wearing headphones and heard the music they were playing from my
seat. Kudos to the headphone people for having the courtesy to keep the
sound to themselves.

Stick  writes:

I see no reason this shouldn't be legal. I have never asked permission from
my opponent.  I like backgammon for the social aspect, however there are
times when headphones and music are necessary for me. If I'm playing
someone I don't care for all that much, there's only one way for me to play
a decent game and that's ignore them completely.  Other times, when I'm
just not awake, I don't want to be hassled with trying to communicate with

To address Phil's rule and concerns.

#1 -- Rofl. If someone has to listen to a MET it isn't going to help their
game in the least.

#2 -- Some people talk to their friends, shake their dice when it's my
turn, and do other nuisance like things. As long as you make a penalty for
this, I'll take a penalty for any head bobbing or humming.

#3 -- If it is an important match. I want complete concentration, no
outside interference, and this is what wearing headphones affords me. If
I'm in the middle of MET calculations, race calculations, etc., I won't get
interrupted midstream and have to start all over, this is esp. important
when I'm playing on the clock.
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Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



Am I too slow?  (sevenout+, Apr 2004) 
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Am I too slow?  (Daniel Murphy, June 1997) 
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Dealing with droppers  (Patti Beadles, Mar 1996) 
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Direction of play  (Ric Gerace+, Aug 2001) 
Doubling opponent out  (bustedchucks+, June 2005) 
Doubling to end a game early  (Douglas Zare, Aug 2001) 
Etiquette for online play  (Dean Ayer+, June 1997) 
Going for backgammon in a one-point match  (Douglas Zare, Nov 2000) 
How long to wait?  (Marsha Wisniski+, Dec 1997) 
Listening to music while playing  (Max Urban+, Oct 2009) 
Moving hit checker first  (Timothy Chow+, Oct 2009) 
Premature shaking  (Paul Epstein+, July 2005) 
Rolling the dice  (Julius Selbach+, July 2005) 
Rude conduct  (Igor Schein+, Mar 2003) 
Under resigning  (Bob Newell+, Aug 2004) 
Under resigning  (Ilya Vinogradsky+, May 1994) 
When to quit  (Albert Steg, Nov 1998) 
Why I never complain about the dice  (Phil Simborg, Mar 2004) 

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