Update coming soon
Over the last eighteen months the UKBGF has taken up the project of drafting a comprehensive set of Rules for tournament backgammon. I studied various existing sets of rules from around the world and eventually decided to base our version on the Danish Backgammon Federation (DBgF) rules. Our current version of the Rules is available to view on the UKBGF website.
From the outset we decided to publish the Rules openly and advertise the fact globally in order to receive as much comprehensive review, comment, criticism and feedback as possible. Our current version of the Rules, Edition 1.2, took into account all of the feedback received following the publication of Edition 1.1.
However, the Rules are a living work always open to improvement over time, as backgammon itself evolves and ideas change. Since Edition 1.2 of the Rules was published in September 2014, we have received even more feedback and the Rules are going to be further updated in the near future.
We believed that this was the best way firstly to create an excellent set of Rules and secondly to ensure as wide an acceptance of them as possible. The general idea was to finalise our Rules and then to attempt to roll them out across Europe and the rest of the world so that in time a single, truly global, set of rules could be realised. Our Rules have already been accepted by many other backgammon federations and I have been invited to join the board of the European Backgammon Federation where the UKBGF Rules will be accepted as their official Rules, albeit titled differently. Discussions about our Rules have also been held with the relevant representative of the United States Backgammon Federation (USBGF).
This idea has become even more important now that there are plans on the international stage to apply for backgammon to be recognised at the World Mind Games which is an annual event in China. Clearly, a globally recognised set of rules would go a long way towards firstly making a credible case for the inclusion of backgammon in such an illustrious forum and for subsequently keeping it there. We ought to do as much as we can to take our game to another level on the world stage.
A new five-person Rules Sub-Committee of the UKBGF has now been established. This will provide an oversight function for the Rules and will formalise the process whereby anybody wishing to propose a rule change may make their proposal which the Rules Sub-Committee will then consider. More details on this will be announced shortly by way of a separate blog post.
Drafting the Rules
I often get asked about certain specific rules within the Rules as well as general comments about the way something has been drafted. I thought that this might be a good opportunity to set out some simplified drafting comments which might help players to understand the reasoning behind some of the drafting.
As with all rules (by which I also mean laws in general), one idea behind them is to draft them in language which is as simple and easy to follow as possible, rather than having it too precisely defined. Obviously, sometimes very great detail is required but generally speaking simplest is best. The reason for this is that a simply drafted rule is usually easy to interpret and deviations from it are relatively straightforward to ascertain, thereby reducing the number and scope of arguments about whether the rule has been followed or not.
When a rule is drafted more precisely, often and quite perversely, the opposite effect occurs and there is much more scope for argument as to what the additional precision means and/or how it is to be interpreted.
As an example, let me take a recent request to consider amending the existing Rules from requiring ‘vigorous shaking’ (of the dice) to requiring ‘shaking in an up and down motion’. If a concept of ‘up and down’ were to be introduced it could lead to arguments for example about whether shaking in a vigorous up and down motion but with the hand moving backwards and forwards or side to side as well is still true ‘up and down’ shaking. Should the shaking have to be precisely at 90 degrees to the horizontal? Clearly this is impossible so how far away from perpendicular should be allowed? Who should measure this and judge it?
As mentioned above, our current Rules are largely based on the existing DBgF rules which on this particular point simply said, “A valid throw consists of the dice being shaken in a cup…”.
I didn’t think that this was quite enough and therefore introduced the concept of ‘vigorous’. The reason being that I think it is fairly clear what vigorous means in plain English: if a player isn’t shaking the dice ‘vigorously’ then any TD should quite easily be able to spot this and request correction. I am not aware of there having been any great controversy around shaking which isn’t able to be resolved if the offending party simply begins to shake his dice vigorously.
For my own part, I am fairly sure that I don’t always, if ever, shake my dice in an up and down motion but more of a back and forth/side to side motion. But the important point is that I shake them vigorously and roll them across the board. This produces random dice as far as I am concerned and that’s the aim of the rule.
From my general observations of hundreds of other players, I would think that most of them don’t shake in a pure or even predominantly up and down motion. So even if we were to introduce a rule that required up and down shaking, most people would never adhere to it and their opponents wouldn’t even notice or care most of the time. So the rule couldn’t even be policed properly and this is another reason why it might sound like more of a good idea than it would be in practice.
As previously mentioned, the current UKBGF rules (Edition 1.2) will shortly be revised to take account of comments and suggestions from players. Please feel free to add your comments below or, if you prefer, to email them privately to email@example.com