Forum Archive : Tournaments

Videotaping matches

From:   André Nicoulin
Date:   13 November 2000
Subject:   Video camera at tournament: ruling question...
Google:   8up4m3$41u$

I was recently in a tournament, and wanted to tape my match using my little
video camera. My opponent refused.

1. If I would have gone to the organizer, what would have been the possible
   rulings ?
2. Should I have gone to the organizer complaining ?
3. Did this happen already, how was it solved ?
4. Is a camera different than a guy that writes down (logs) the match ?
5. Would the ruling be the same for a camera than for a human-logger ?

André Nicoulin

Daniel Murphy  writes:

> 1. If I would have gone to the organizer, what would have been the
> possible rulings ?

The tournament director (TD) would have said yes, you may tape your
own match; or no, your opponent may prohibit you from taping it; or
perhaps he would have asked you please not to make an issue of it so
as not to annoy your opponent, whom the TD wishes to retain as a
regular participant.

> 2. Should I have gone to the organizer complaining ?

I think you should have. I think you have a right to have a record of
your own match. I have observed many players videotaping their matches
and I do not think it is obtrusive, distracting, annoying or in any
way objectionable. The vast majority of open level players would have
no objection. I cannot think of any legitimate reason for objecting
that would override your own interest in having a record of the match.

However, no set of backgammon rules addresses the issue of
videotaping. Neither does any set of rules address the issue of a
right to record one's own match, except for the provision that a
player may ban spectators from his match, a provision which some TDs
would interpret to include a "spectator" invited to efficiently and
unobtrusively record a match manually. Indeed, some TDs would allow an
opponent to ban taping by you or even by the tournament itself of the
final match of the tournament, if the tournament announcement did not
include a notice that the final match would be recorded.

> 3. Did this happen already, how was it solved ?

Yes, it has happened that an opponent has objected to a player
videotaping the match, at least twice to my knowledge. I am not sure,
but I believe each case was "solved" by there being no videotaping,
but whether because the TD so decided or because the player declined
to push the issue, I do not recall.

> 4. Is a camera different than a guy that writes down (logs) the match ?

I don't think so, and think you should be able to have your own match
recorded either on tape or by hand; however, other TDs also think
there is no difference but would bow to your opponent's objections;
and perhaps there are others who would allow videotaping but not
manual recording, if your opponent objected.

Interestingly, there may be some players who would object to
videotaping record but would not object to manual recording. I can
think of a reason or two why this might be, but none of them would
speak well of the player objecting.

> 5. Would the ruling be the same for a camera than for a human-logger ?

My best guess, André, is that at most tournaments today, if your
opponent objected, the director would not permit you to record your
own match or have it recorded manually by a third person or videotape
the match, if your opponent objected. I think there is a need for
rules revisions to address this issue.

I would rule thus, over an opponent's objection:

I would permit a player himself to record his own match if the match
were played with a clock, provided he made no demands on his opponent
to clarify his record, either on his own or his opponent's time;

I would permit a player to have his own match recorded by a third
person provided that I was satisfied that the recorder was
sufficienctly skilled to record the match unobtrusively, and I would
go so far as to honor opponent's request that the recorder refrain
from interrupting the match for any reason; and

I would permit a player to videotape his own match.

Daniel Murphy, Raccoon on FIBS, GamesGrid
Vi ses, og tak for alle fiskene!

David Moeser  writes:

I've discussed this issue with backgammon TDs and can attest that
some of the leading lights of the backgammon TD world hold to an
essentially anti-recording and anti-taping position exactly as you've
reported it.

   Speaking as a longtime organizer of many hundreds of chess
tournaments over the course of several decades (that was before I wised
up and began playing backgammon! <grin!>), I believe this bias
against recording games is not only wrong, it's also counterproductive.

   The traditional view in the chess world is that the record of the
moves made in tournament games is a legal document of importance to the
organizer as well as to the players.  Indeed, the traditional view is
that this record belongs to the tournament organizer, not to the
players!  One would thus expect TDs to endorse having such a record,
not to abjure it.

   Of course, in serious chess tournaments the players are encouraged
to keep a copy of the scoresheet on which they've written the moves.
 Some tournaments go so far as to provide double-paged scoresheets so
that one copy can be turned in to the organizer.  But there are several
reasons why the record of the moves is considered the property of the
organizer.  These include:

   * Records of the moves made in the games constitute the legal
record of the tournament itself.  They prove the legitimacy of the
event and verify the results reported by the organizer.  They can be
consulted in case of claims and disputes.

   * These records verify the claims made by players during the
tournament as to the results of their games and matches.

   * These records provide the information needed for publishing the
best games in newsletters, magazines, etc.  (If nobody has the
gamescores, then where do the games come from to fill space in books
and magazines?!)

   * Stability of the tournament-organizing scene is better maintained.
Otherwise, organizers would perpetually be faced with wrangling over
legalistic claims.  For example, certain chessplayers have from time to
time made bizarre claims about "copyrighting" moves or games they've

   From the player's perspective, having a record of the moves is
important for several reasons.  These include:

   * Preventing the opponent from getting away with illegal moves or

   * Backing up the player's position in any rules disputes that occur
while the game is being played.

   * Verifying the result turned in to the organizer.

   * Providing a record that can be used for studying and improving
one's play.

   I believe backgammon should take a cue from the chess world.  In
chess, it's an absolute right of the player to make and retain a record
of the moves.  It's also in the best interest of the organizer to allow
such a record and to obtain a copy if possible.

   Recording the moves should be considered something to be encouraged,
provided it can be done without making a disturbance.  Considering all
the noise and hubbub at backgammon tournaments, it's difficult to see
how either a third-party scribe writing down the moves or a small video
camera could constitute a "disturbance."  After all, it's not like
chess, where the noise of the proverbial pin dropping can cause cranky
chessplayers to get bent out of shape!

   All the reasons I've cited apply just as much to tournaments in
backgammon (and various other board games or card games) as they do to
chess.  An additional factor of considerable significance to
backgammon, in my view, is that a record of the moves made in the games
would underscore and help prove the skill element of the game.

   This is a critical issue, especially in the puritanical United
States, where widespread legal prohibitions of "gambling" technically
include backgammon because of its use of dice.  (I'll save the juicy
anecdotes on this subject for the inevitable replies I'll have to make
after the flames pour in.)

   I should think that all backgammon tournament players and organizers
alike would welcome any movements in the direction of recording
tournament games, including technological advances that would make
doing so easier and cheaper.

Michael Crane  writes:

Whenever possible I always video tape the finals of Biba tournaments.
I cannot see how anyone can object to having a camera above the board
recording the match. I position my camera about 1.2mt from the board and
then couple it to a tv and screen the match live for spectators to see it
without having to crowd around the actual board. It works very well for us.

To answer [André Nicoulin's] questions:

> 1. If I would have gone to the organizer, what would have been the
> possible rulings?

At a Biba tournament under the conditions above; (i.e.. discreet filming) I
would have allowed the match to be filmed. Mind you, if the camera is
positioned on a tripod beside the board then I would uphold the objection.
The camera being so close to the board can be very distracting.

> 2. Should I have gone to the organizer complaining ?

Yes. Of course. That's what we are there for.

> 3. Did this happen already, how was it solved ?

Yes it has but as far as I remember the complaint was upheld. They must
have been a very good reason - and I can't think of a valid one (if it's
done discreetly).

> 4. Is a camera different than a guy that writes down (logs) the match ?

Yes and no! Although they both record the match the camera can do it
unobtrusively if set up as Biba; and the guy must be very close and may be
a distraction - Mind you, Harald Johanni manages to do it without upsetting

> 5. Would the ruling be the same for a camera than for a human-logger ?

As far as Biba is concerned an opponent has to have a very good reason to
object. So far no-one has objected to either form of recording and I don't
expect anyone to.

I don't think we need a rule about recording matches. Players should accept
that there will be occasions when recording will take place and they should
be prepared to a agree subject to a lack of distraction. If they can't
agree then they should perhaps look for alternative pastimes.

Michael Crane - Biba Director
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