Forum Archive : Rules

Rolling on wrong side of board

From:   Bob Hoey
Date:   26 April 1998
Subject:   Mind Reading

Chuck Bower writes:
> Finally consider the following ploy:  At the start of the game, each
> player throws a single die and the 'winner' uses the two dice
> as his/her opening roll.  Each die is SUPPOSED to be tossed on the right
> hand side of the board (where "right hand" refers to the player tossing
> the dice).  Suppose my die hops the bar and lands on my left hand board.
> (Worse, suppose I intentionally throw it there.)  If my opp wins the roll,
> I say "Oh, my throw was a misroll because it landed on the wrong board.
> I should reroll."  On the other hand, if I win the roll, I go ahead and
> make my play.  If my opp points out the misroll, I pretend not to have
> noticed (but go ahead and reroll, according to the rules).
>     Some might think "it is up to my opp to point out if I do something
> against the rules.  If s/he doesn't, then it's OK."  I don't think there
> is a director on this (US) continent (and hopefully not on any other
> continent, for that matter) who would condone such an action.

    In the example above, Bower is suggesting that tournament directors
should be mind readers.  If a player rolls on the left hand board, that is
an invalid roll.  If the opponent allows the roll, then it stands.
Whether the player rolling on the wrong side, did it "on purpose" or not,
is irrelevant.  All players should be attentive to what is happening on
the board.  The "gamesmanship" that Bower writes about and finds to be
appropriate in money games, but not in tournaments, is part of the game.
If you snooze, you lose.  That is part of the game and should not be ruled
out of tournaments.  There are a lot of psyche games that a skilled player
can employ to take advantage of an opponents weaknesses.  If those rules
fall within the rules of the game, then the players are fully entitled to
"go for it".
    In a match, a long time ago, there was an experienced player, who was
playing a clearly inferior player.  The inferior player rolled on the
wrong side of the board on a regular basis, but never asked for nor
received permission to do so.  Eventually, the inferior player rolled a
killer roll and the experienced guy called foul.  "That roll is invalid,
you rolled on the wrong side of the board". The tournament director was
called, a tournament committee was called and the roll was appropriately
rolled invalid.  The stronger player was an asshole, but fully within his
rights to wait for a damaging roll to object to the misrolling.
    As a tournament director, I regularly warn players not to roll on their
opponents side of the board, that they put themselves at risk by doing so.
 In the end game, many players will ask permission to roll on their
opponents side, since all of the men are located in one board and the
other is empty.  I strongly advise against that request and routinely deny
my opponents when they ask to roll on my side.  When a player does ask for
permission to roll on the wrong side, that permission expires with the
game and does not continue to the next game, but often a player will get
used to rolling on the wrong side and simply continue into the next game,
again putting the player at risk for having any roll voided for rolling on
the wrong side.
    Tournament directors should not and cannot be mind readers.  The rules
must address what actually happens, not the motivation that led to the
occurence.  Gamesmanship is and should be an integral part of the game.
Some players want to view backgammon as merely a mathematical exercise,
but it is more robust than that.  Players bring strengths and weaknesses
to the game and it is appropriate that a player identify his opponents
strengths and weaknesses and within the rules, exploit those weaknesses.
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

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



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