Latest update: 26th May 2021
Under current social distancing rules, the UK is limited to gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors, or 6 people from different households indoors. This is a severe restriction on live play; while small groups may meet up to play, tournaments and club nights of any significant size are still not yet possible. Outdoor play is, of course, highly dependent on weather! Individual venues may have stricter policies in place for the time being. League play is possible between opponents who are comfortable to meet up indoors, but understandably many will not; please be sensitive to those who wish to be cautious. It is possible that these restrictions will be tightened either nationally or locally in reaction to a future increases in the number of cases, in which case this advice will be updated.
From 21st June there should be a further relaxation of social distancing rules which will be confirmed (or otherwise) by a Government announcement expected in the week beginning 14th June, as outlined in the Government’s Roadmap out of Lockdown. These relaxations are expected to remove all legal limits on social contact. If this goes ahead as planned, normality (as far as large live indoor tournaments are concerned) should be restored on 21st June 2021. The Blackpool Imperial Cup over the 25th-27th June weekend is therefore expected to be the first major live tournament in the UK since March 2020. See the Calendar for other live events scheduled for later this year, including East Kent, BMAB, Ulster Open, Brighton Summer Open, Midlands Open and Bognor.
Play backgammon online
While live play remains suspended or restricted there are of course many online options, and the UKBGF Online Ratings website is now receiving results from numerous online events including the UKBGF League and P-40 Knockout. Some online platforms are listed here on our ‘Resources’ page, with a more detailed discussion about the technical requirements here. The UKBGF rated match policy generally precludes the inclusion of online match results in the UKBGF Live Ratings although some pre-authorised, time limited exceptions to this rule were granted for a short time after the start of the first lockdown. We do not anticipate granting any further exceptions during the pandemic and, in any case, no online match played after 30th June 2020 will be included in the Live Ratings, even if within the scope of an allowed exception. Furthermore, we reserve the right to exclude live tournament results if it appears that they have taken place in deliberate violation of the above rules.
Note that the 2021 UKBGF Tour has been cancelled due to the pandemic and consequently there will be no TWI event in January 2022.
Good practice for returning to live play
Although limits on social contact will eventually be fully relaxed*, many players, clubs and tournaments will nevertheless have concerns as to how they should restart; back to busines as usual, or an interim approach?
* The projected date for the ending of mandatory social distancing restrictions is 21st June 2021, however, this won’t be confirmed by the government until 14th June.
Whatever is decided, there is an absolute requirement to follow government regulations and legal requirements in force at the time.
There is also common courtesy. Everyone wants to get back to playing live backgammon, but everyone is different, and while some will be happy to forge ahead as restrictions are lifted, others will be more cautious and even apprehensive about returning to the hustle and close proximity almost unavoidable at larger tournaments, e.g. concerning shaking hands, wearing masks while playing, touching shared equipment etc. Should your opponent make a reasonable request, please be considerate and mindful of potential anxieties, and please show one another respect and patience as we all navigate a return to face-to-face backgammon.
Beyond these considerations, there may also be requirements to comply with the regulations for specific venues and furthermore, event organisers may impose their own policies to safeguard players.
To avoid doubt and confusion and to allay players’ anxiety, event organisers should make it abundantly clear as to the conditions of play and attendance at their tournament, using their website, Facebook page, or group emails etc. Should any player not wish to comply with those event rules, they have the right to not participate, and of course the organisers have the right to deny non-compliant players a place in their tournament.
The following information, influenced by guidance released from the English Chess Federation and the English Bridge Union, can be seen as a set of basic considerations and good practice which both players and organisers may wish to keep in mind with a return to live backgammon. This information should not be considered as rules the UKBGF are recommending or suggesting must be enforced, but as a potential part of a club or tournament’s restart strategy.
We welcome comments/input on the list which should be sent to email@example.com
Event planning, formats, and communication:
- As a minimum, comply with HMG COVID-19 Guidance and regulations at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
- Make it clear to all players as early as possible if there will be additional venue-specific or organiser-imposed rules/policies, including on;
- the use of PPE,
- social distancing during play,
- maximum players per room,
- entry controls e.g. hand sanitising, temperature checks, negative lateral flow tests
- Consider a tournament format to potentially maintain smaller player groups and reduce mixing, including staggered starts to avoid playing room congestion.
- Consider imposing pre-registration for club nights, limiting player numbers.
- Consider disallowing spectating on matches.
- Plan for how you will handle players who develop symptoms during the course of the event, including arrangements for managing withdrawals and communication with players.
- Consider arrangements to support the NHS track and trace effort.
Playing room layout and hygiene
- Consider signage to explain the precautions in place and remind players of COVID symptoms.
- Impose legal spacing between boards.
- Consider providing breakout space for those awaiting play so as to avoid crowding around ongoing matches.
- Can you arrange for tables, chairs, and equipment in common usage to be sanitised prior to the event and at the end of each day?
- Can you arrange for a supply of disposable masks and/or gloves to be available at the venue and playing area?
- Consider providing well stocked sanitiser stations at entry and exit to the playing rooms.
- Can you arrange for sufficient ventilation to be available in playing spaces?
- If provided, ensure catering, or allowance for ‘bring-your-own’ is compliant with HMG COVID-19 Guidance.
- Consider if enough toilet facilities are available to mitigate against and minimise queuing.