Forum Archive : Rules

Moving checkers unambiguously

From:   Timothy Chow
Date:   11 October 2009
Subject:   May I put a checker on the bar before moving my own?
Forum: Forums

Is it acceptable (according to the rules that most people play by), if I
make a move that hits, to pick up the hit checker first and put it on the
bar before I move my own checker?

If this is O.K. then I thought I might start training myself to do this
until it becomes a habit. The idea is to forestall any accidents where I
forget to put the hit checker on the bar before hitting the clock or
picking up my dice. (For those who play chess, it's a bit like forming the
habit of moving the king first when castling -- a must, given the touch-
move rule.)

Daniel Murphy  writes:

No.  Please don't do that, or at least not very often.

    Rule 4.3 MOVING. A player shall move the checkers in an unambiguous
    manner, using only one hand.

This way I'm going to avoid disputes about where checkers were by insisting
that moves be done as clearly as they need to be to be clear. It's not
sufficient that the final position be legal. I want no disputes about where
my checker was, if opponent (a) lets a long time pass between picking up my
checker and moving his, or (b) ends up making some other move that doesn't
even legally hit my checker. I've experienced both (a) and (b).

Gregg Cattanach  writes:

Actually, I don't have any big objection to what you suggest. If you were
to lift the hit checker and then pause a long time about how to make the
rest of the move (maybe there are two ways to hit), that would be annoying.

Rich Munitz  writes:

The rules are pretty clear that an opponent's checker is hit when the
player's checker touches down on it. Clearly it cannot have been hit if
none of the player's checkers have been moved.  However, in practice, I
think I would be generally tolerant of this kind of thing in certain

The situation where I think it is most acceptable is when a checker is on
the bar and is going to enter on top of the blot. It is clear to all that
the checker on the bar must be the first checker moving and particularly if
the hit is forced, I see no ambiguity whatsoever.

I would also be tolerant of this kind of play if the hitting checker is
going to be left on the point the blot was occupying. Placing it on the bar
first is then more a matter of making room on the point for the hitting
checker. In all cases, I'd expect the hitting checker to be placed on the
point without delay.

Patrick Gibson  writes:

Here's is the most current rule pertaining to the "sequence" of playing the

    4.3 MOVING. A player shall move the checkers in an unambiguous manner,
    using only one hand. Checkers must be reentered from the bar before
    moving any other checker. A player shall not touch any checkers or dice
    during the opponent's turn.

As a director, if called to rule, I would emphasize that "unambiguous"
means that we should not have to TRY and figure out what is going on. The
opponent should easily be able to determine what's happening.

Move with one hand. Re-enter any of your checkers from the bar. And DO NOT
place any opponent's checkers on the bar WITHOUT physically LANDING one of
your checkers on that "hit" checker.

Yes, lots of time saving motions can be attempted, but should not be
condoned. Keep it simple! Roll well and prosper.
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