Forum Archive : Rules

Checker shuffling

From:   James Johnson
Date:   21 June 2000
Subject:   J'adoube

I was just wondering what ruling is made in a tournament, if a player
after moving the chequers about, cannot remember where they were (the
chequers :) or neither player can remember, or there is a dispute?

 Also in a money game the same thing happens, nobody about to rule, what
would be the 'sporting' thing to do be ?
if you are:

a: the player who was moving the chequers

b: the player who's mind wandered and suspects that the position is not

This whole area is open to abuse,  if it is felt 'touch move' is too strong
a solution, a warning similar to 'j'adoube' in chess, saying I am going to
have a look, so as to alert your opponent, might become an accepted

Jim Johnson (figgis)

Julian Haley  writes:

The times where I find myself shuffling checkers around usually involve
situations where I have rolled doubles and have many possible moves. It can
be easy to eliminate the obviously inferior plays without resorting to
moving checkers around... but sometimes there are 2 or 3 possibilities
which all have merit. Trying to visualize the board after four (or more, it
hitting blots is involved) checkers have moved can be difficult... and
comparing 2 or 3 positions, each involving multiple checker movements
coupled with the usual calculations (pip counts, hitting numbers, game
and/or match equity) can be too much to handle for my non-upgradeable
organic neural net.

I'm sure there are many people out there who can get by without shuffling
... but for the majority, it makes a big different to actually "see" a
position to evaluate it.

I don't think is lessens the game by permitting shuffling but I agree there
are potential problems when the players either can't remember.. or don't
agree on the starting position.

I agree with 'j'adoube' suggestion. If the position is sufficiently
complicated, it can be very easy to forget the starting point (especially
if you are playing someone like I did last year who rolled double 1's, then
proceeded to move six moves of 1 pip each... and STILL had a checker on the

For the extreme situations where one player repeatedly (either purposely or
not) errs when retuning the checkers to the original position, it may
become necessary for someone  to copy the position onto a position sheet
and have both players agree to the accuracy  of the noted position before
shuffling commences. It may sound slow... but its bound to be much quicker
than trying to sort out the mess which occurs when neither player agrees on
the original position.

that's my 2 cents worth


Michael Crane  writes:

I've sat by and read the messages on the side-lines so far; keeping a low
profile. Now I'll put in my two-pennyworth.

As I tournament director I am always looking for an easy life - who wants
contention and disagreement? Not me. But, in my opinion there's no
definitive answer to this question posed by Jim Johnson a long  time ago.
But, having overseen thousands of games in my 'career' I can honestly say
that moving men back and forth has not been a problem to me; and believe
me, if were affecting the players under my jurisdiction I'd soon know about

I think the vast majority of players cope very well with it - the handful
that don't are more often than not the newer, inexperienced players. The
experienced players nearly always know where the men were previously
esconced due to the fact that with experience comes knowledge and that
knowledge includes what moves an opponent would make with the roll - second
guessing, in other words.

In my local club, Lincoln, England, we have a player that almost always
moves every combination of move possible ending up with the one that his
opponent first saw as soon as the dice stopped rolling. We despair when he
rolls a double. It is more a tactic to piss one off than for any other
reason. I won't name names, but, Jimbo, if I mention 'Stacker Staines' you
might deduce who it is  ;-)))

Touch moves aren't the answer. Vigelence is everything - keep an eye on the
dice and an eye on the men and an eye on your opponent (who said backgammon
was an easy game to play?) and then you've cracked it.

Michael Crane

Daniel Murphy  writes:

Touch-move would please many Open-level players, but not, I would
guess, most. If the number of touch-move advocates were to grow, I
could foresee the rule being adopted "experimentally" in (some) Open
flights. But no time soon. It's really not necessary. Good players
rarely lose concentration, or need to "try out" moves, or allow their
opponents to be sloppy.

If you follow this admonition -- "Don't move ANY checkers until you
know where BOTH checkers are going" -- you'll minimize disputes and
the need to "try out" any moves at all.

Tournament rules require that moves be made clearly. With regard to
trying out various moves, to my mind the rule strongly suggests that
having tried out one move, you return the checkers to their original
position before trying out another.

The Swedish Backgammon Federation rules contain a useful suggestion
that aids clarity:

"Spelare rekommenderas att placera brickorna minst 2 cm ovanför den/de
bricka/brickor som ligger på den tilltänkta tungan eller brädeskanten
ifall tungan är tom."

Got it?  :)   In other words, when you're planning on "trying out"
moves, place the moved checkers slightly above the checkers already on
the new point, or slightly above the edge of the board if the point
was empty.
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

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



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Rolling too soon  (Stephen Turner, Feb 1998) 
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Touch-move rule in backgammon?  (Austefjord+, May 2002) 
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When is a move over?  (JP White, May 2000) 
Overview  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 2001) 

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