FCBG – Rules

As a starting point, this draft proposal borrows heavily from “UNITED STATES BACKGAMMON TOURNAMENT RULES & PROCEDURES; March 1990” (http://www.chicagopoint.com/usrules.html). Also, some of the standard rules (GAME PLAY section) were borrowed from Backgammon Galore (http://www.bkgm.com/rules.html). Although there’s no provision for clock use yet, you may want to review “UNIFIED BACKGAMMON TOURNAMENT CLOCK RULES March 2004” (http://www.chicagopoint.com/bgclockrules.html).

INTERPRETATION. Although a rule may exist for tournament play, there should be no expectation that it necessarily also applies to normal club play. Rules which govern normal club play are only those which are specifically noted here. While an attempt is being made to be as comprehensive as possible, these rules may not succeed in covering all of the possible situations that may arise during a game. Any club member who believes that the addition/change of any rule would be beneficial, is encouraged to propose it.

CLUB MEMBERSHIP. As of May 3, 2007, players who have not attended a weekly meeting within the previous 12 months will be dropped from the membership list. Persons whose membership has lapsed for non-attendance will subsequently be allowed to attend a meeting and re-register if they wish to do so (ratings/exp reset to zero).

ENTRIES. During normal club play, members are free to arrange their own matches, match length, and whether the match will be rated or unrated.

ENTRIES/TOURNAMENT. All entries are subject to the approval of the Tournament. Reasons for exclusion need not be stated. Where more than one Tournament division exists, an entrant may be restricted from playing in a lower division.

AIDS/TOURNAMENT. Once a match is in progress, neither player may use mechanical or written aids except to keep score. Player may forbid his opponent from wearing headphones.

LANGUAGE/TOURNAMENT. The official Tournament language is English. Speech in any other language will not be permitted between players and/or spectators while matches are in progress.

SPECTATORS. During normal club play, spectators are allowed to converse with players and with each other unless otherwise noted here.
(a) Recommending Moves.
(b) Commenting on Misplays.

SPECTATORS/TOURNAMENT. Spectators should remain silent while observing a match. Spectators have no right to draw attention to any misplays or comment on plays. Player may request Director to bar one or more spectators from viewing his match.

LOCATION/TOURNAMENT. Matches shall be played in designated Tournament areas.

TIME/TOURNAMENT. Matches shall start promptly at the appointed times. Each player is entitled to one 5 minute recess (between games) in a match not exceeding 13 points in length. Longer matches, or those of significant importance may be allowed additional recess time.

PENALTY POINTS/TOURNAMENT. Unless excused as necessary by Director, time and recess violations shall be penalized by points awarded to opponent. The first penalty point will be awarded 15 minutes after the appointed starting time and accrue thereafter at the rate of 1 point for each 5 minute delay. When the penalty points amount to more than half of the number needed to win the match, the absent player will have then forfeited. To avoid penalties, player should secure Director’s consent when leaving Tournament site for more than 10 minutes.

SLOW PLAY/TOURNAMENT. Players are expected to play at a reasonable pace. Director may warn an unduly slow player, and thereafter award penalty points to his opponent if unreasonable slowness persists. A time clock may be used to monitor slow matches.

MONITORS/TOURNAMENT. Director may appoint a monitor to observe a match on his own initiative, or at the request of a player. Monitor shall have full powers to protect each player against opponent’s irregularities.

SETUP/BOARD. Each player has fifteen checkers of his own color. The initial arrangement of checkers is: two on each player’s twenty-four point, five on each player’s thirteen point, three on each player’s eight point, and five on each player’s six point (the outermost point is the twenty-four point, which is also the opponent’s one point).

O sits on this side and moves clockwise

| X           O    |   | O              X |
| X           O    |   | O              X |
| X           O    |   | O                |
| X                |   | O                |
| X                |   | O                |
|                  |BAR|                  |
| O                |   | X                |
| O                |   | X                |
| O           X    |   | X                |
| O           X    |   | X              O |
| O           X    |   | X              O |

X sits on this side and moves counter-clockwise

(a) Board/Selection. If necessary, the backgammon board shall be decided by roll of the dice prior to the commencement of play.
(b) Checkers/Color. If necessary, choice of checker color shall be decided by roll of the dice prior to the commencement of play.
(c) Dice/Precision. Either player may demand that both players use precision dice (over any others) if they are available and approved by the Director.
(d) Dice/Mixing. Either player may demand a mixing of dice prior to the start of any game. In this case, the demanding player shakes the four dice together in one cup and rolls them out. Opponent selects a die-then roller-then opponent-with roller taking the last die.
(e) Dice/Cups. Either player may demand that both players use lipped dice cups (over unlipped) if they are available and approved by the Director.
(d) Play/Direction. If necessary, direction of play shall be decided by roll of the dice prior to the commencement of play.
(e) Seating/Location. If necessary, choice of seat location shall be decided by roll of the dice prior to the commencement of play.

EQUIPMENT CHANGES/TOURNAMENT. Director may replace defective equipment at any time. Otherwise, equipment which was initially selected shall be used throughout.

GAME PLAY/DICE/1ST ROLL. To start the game, each player throws a single die. This determines both the player to go first and the numbers to be played. If equal numbers come up, then both players roll again until they roll different numbers. The player throwing the higher number now moves his checkers according to the numbers showing on both dice.

GAME PLAY/DICE/SUBSEQUENT ROLLS. After the first roll, the players throw two dice and alternate turns. A player who rolls doubles plays the numbers shown on the dice twice (eg. a roll of 6 and 6 means that the player has four sixes to use).

GAME PLAY/CHECKERS/MOVEMENT. The checkers are always moved forward, to a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:
(a) A checker may be moved only to an open point, one that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers.
(b) The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves. For example, if a player rolls 6 and 1, he may move one checker six spaces to an open point and another checker one space to an open point, or he may move the one checker a total of seven spaces to an open point, but only if the intermediate point (either six or one spaces from the starting point) is also open.
(c) A player must use both numbers of a roll if this is legally possible (or all four numbers of a double). When only one number can be played, the player must play that number. Or if either number can be played but not both, the player must play the larger one. When neither number can be used, the player loses his turn. In the case of doubles, when all four numbers cannot be played, the player must play as many numbers as he can.
(d) A point occupied by a single checker of either color is called a blot. If an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is hit and placed on the bar.
(e) Any time a player has one or more checkers on the bar, his first obligation is to enter those checker(s) into the opposing home board. A checker is entered by moving it to an open point corresponding to one of the numbers on the rolled dice. For example, if a player rolls 1 and 6, he may enter a checker onto either the opponent’s one point or six point, so long as the prospective point is not occupied by two or more of the opponent’s checkers. If neither of the points is open, the player loses his turn. If a player is able to enter some but not all of his checkers, he must enter as many as he can and then forfeit the remainder of his turn. After the last of a player’s checkers has been entered, any unused numbers on the dice must be played, by moving either the checker that was entered or a different checker.

GAME PLAY/CHECKERS/BEARING OFF. Once a player has moved all of his fifteen checkers into his home board, he may commence bearing off. A player bears off a checker by rolling a number that corresponds to the point on which the checker resides, and then removing that checker from the board. Thus, rolling a 6 permits the player to remove a checker from the six point. If there is no checker on the point indicated by the roll, the player must make a legal move using a checker on a higher-numbered point. If there are no checkers on higher-numbered points, the player is permitted (and required) to remove a checker from the highest point on which one of his checkers resides. A player is under no obligation to bear off if he can make an otherwise legal move. A player must have all of his active checkers in his home board in order to bear off. If a checker is hit during the bear-off process, the player must bring that checker back to his home board before continuing to bear off. The first player to bear off all fifteen checkers wins the game.

GAME PLAY/DOUBLING. Backgammon is played for an agreed stake per point. Each game starts at one point. During the course of the game, a player who feels he has a sufficient advantage may propose doubling the stakes. He may do this only at the start of his own turn and before he has rolled the dice. A player who is offered a double may refuse, in which case he concedes the game and pays one point. Otherwise, he must accept the double and play on for the new higher stakes. A player who accepts a double becomes the owner of the cube and only he may make the next double. Subsequent doubles in the same game are called redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the number of points that were at stake prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he becomes the new owner of the cube and the game continues at twice the previous stakes. There is no limit to the number of redoubles in a game.

GAME PLAY/DOUBLING/AUTOMATICS. Players sometimes agree that if identical numbers are thrown on the first roll, the stakes are doubled (the doubling cube is turned to 2 and remains in the middle). Players usually agree to limit the number of automatic doubles to one per game. FCBG does not permit this variation during rated match play.

GAME PLAY/DOUBLING/BEAVERS. Players sometimes agree that when a player is doubled, he may immediately redouble (beaver) while retaining possession of the cube; the original doubler has the option of accepting or refusing as with a normal double. FCBG does not permit this variation during rated match play.

GAME PLAY/DOUBLING/JACOBY. Players sometimes agree that gammons and backgammons will only count as a single game if neither player has offered a double during the course of the game (this rule speeds up play by eliminating situations where a player avoids doubling so he can play on for a gammon). FCBG does not permit this variation during rated match play.

GAME PLAY/GAMMONS. At the end of the game, if the losing player has borne off at least one checker, he loses only the value showing on the doubling cube (one point, if there have been no doubles). However, if the loser has not borne off any of his checkers, he is gammoned and loses twice the value of the doubling cube.

GAME PLAY/BACKGAMMONS. If the loser has not borne off any of his checkers and still has a checker on the bar or in the winner’s home board, he is backgammoned and loses three times the value of the doubling cube.

GAME PLAY/COMPLETION/TOURNAMENT. Games must be rolled to completion, unless ended by a pass of a double or redouble, or conceded in no-contact positions as single game, gammon or backgammon losses. No game may be cancelled and replayed, or settled. Matches must be played to the appointed length.

GAME PLAY/REPORTING RESULTS/TOURNAMENT. Final score shall be reported to Tournament Official by match winner. Official shall verify and post a correct result on draw sheet. Once posted, an erroneous result may still be corrected in a timely manner, but not after either player has begun a succeeding match.

GAME PLAY/SCORING/TOURNAMENT. Each player shall keep a running match score and compare his score with opponent’s at the start of every game. In the event of a scoring dispute, a player not keeping score will be at a disadvantage.

GAME PLAY/CUBE RULES/TOURNAMENT. Gammons and backgammons will count at all times. It is not necessary to double an opponent in order to win a gammon or backgammon. To double or redouble, player moves the cube toward his opponent at the higher value while saying “double” or words to that effect. To take, one draws the cube toward himself while saying “take” or words to that effect. To reject the double, one says “pass” or words to that effect, enters the score and resets the board. The cube should not be handled capriciously; either verbal or physical acts may be interpreted as cube actions.

GAME PLAY/CRAWFORD RULE/TOURNAMENT. The Crawford Rule will apply to all matches. When a player reaches match point (e.g., 8 points in a 9 point match), the doubling cube will be out of play for one game. In subsequent games following the Crawford game, the cube may be turned at first legal opportunity.

(a) Dice/Rolling/Premature. A legal roll can only occur if an opponent’s turn has concluded. If a player rolls before his opponent has completed his turn (see: Dice/Lifting), the player’s roll is voided and the premature roll must be rerolled. FCBG enforces this rule even if the unconcluded play is forced or when there is no further contact between the opposing forces.
(b) Dice/Rolling/Improper Landing. A legal roll consists of shaking the dice vigorously in a dice cup (not freehand) and then simultaneously tossing them out at a discernible height above the playing surface, allowing them to bounce and roll freely. Both dice must come to rest flat (not cocked) on the playing surface to the right of the bar. The player must reroll both dice if a die lands outside the right-hand board, or lands on a checker, or does not land flat.
(c) Dice/Lifting. Player concludes his turn by lifting either or both of his dice (caveat: with notice to opponent, he may reposition the dice on the playing surface to facilitate moving the checkers). After lifting his dice, player may change his move only upon an opponent’s demand to replay an illegal move.
(d) Checkers/Setup. An incorrect starting position must be corrected prior to the fifth roll of the game. Thereafter the existing setup becomes official. Players starting with less than 15 checkers in play may still be gammoned or backgammoned.
(e) Checkers/Moving. Player should move clearly, using only one hand to play the checkers. Player shall reenter any checker on the bar before moving any other checker. No player should move any checkers during an opponent’s turn. Deviations from proper moving procedure may result in an adverse ruling in case of dispute.
(f) Checkers/Hit. Checkers which have been hit must be kept on the bar pending reentry.
(g) Checkers/Borne Off. Checkers which have been borne off must be kept off the entire playing surface for the rest of the game.
(h) Checkers/Illegal Movement. Only prior to rolling his own dice or turning the cube, a player may draw attention to an opponent’s illegal move, and either condone it or demand that opponent legally replay the entire roll. Once a player has rolled his own dice or turned the cube, opponent’s previous move may no longer be challenged.
(i) Doubling Cube/Setup. It is the responsibility of both players to see that the doubling cube begins each game centered with the “64” side face up. In the event of a dispute, the current position and level of the cube will strongly influence Director’s ruling. Exception: the cube may be removed during the Crawford game.
(j) Doubling Cube/Following Dice Roll. No player may turn the cube after rolling their own dice, even if their dice roll resulted in cocked dice and have to be re-rolled.
(k) Doubling Cube/Premature Offer. No player may turn the cube until the opponent has picked up his dice. A premature double shall stand if otherwise valid, and the opponent who has yet to complete his turn may then do so with foreknowledge of the premature double (and may alter his checker movement accordingly).

(a) Disputes. When a dispute arises, all players must leave dice, checkers, cube and score unchanged while Director is summoned. Violations by player in this area are most serious and create a presumption in favor of opponent.
(b) Testimony. Any player may argue issues of fact or rule. Spectators, except to report cheating, may testify only at Director’s request.
(c) Appeals. Player may appeal Director’s ruling, but he must do so promptly, while timely redress may still be obtained. To resolve an appeal, Director shall convene a committee of three knowledgeable and disinterested backgammon players at once. Committee shall hear relevant testimony and arguments, and may overturn Director’s ruling by majority decision. This exhausts player’s right to appeal.


2 Responses to “FCBG – Rules”

  1. Susan Says:

    We are having a family dispute. I maintain that once you have rolled doubles and have completed your turn that you do not get to roll again. Other members of the family maintain that rolling doubles affords you another turn. I can’t find anything on Google that gives the rules about this one way or another. Please help!

    Thank you.

  2. fowgre Says:

    In the modern game, as it’s normally played, when a player rolls a doublet (2 of the same number) that player is entitled to four moves instead of two. That ends the player’s turn. He/she does not get an extra roll of the dice.

    Having said that, there are many, many variants in backgammon. For some of the more common variants, visit http://www.bkgm.com/faq/Variants.html. Since you’re not playing in a club setting, a sanctioned tournament, etc., you’re free to make your own variant if you want to. What’s most important, is that the participants understand before the game/match begins, what rules are in effect.

    I hope this helps.

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