Draft USBGF Tournament Rules Posted for Public Comment

Proposed 2018 Rules
Proposed 2018 Rules Options
What Changed
Standards of Ethical Practice
The U.S. Backgammon Federation is inviting comments on proposed revised Tournament Rules. This revision was developed in close collaboration with a newly-established USBGF Tournament Directors Advisory Committee including Jeb Horton (chair), Ken Bame, Ted Chee, Carol Joy Cole, Patrick Gibson, April Kennedy, Troy Longman, and Kathy Weiner. We are extremely heartened that the Committee has unanimously supported the draft revised Rules as the initial proposal for a final Rules set slated for implementation in 2018. Please send comments by July 31 to rules@usbgf.org

This revision is in response to the comments and suggestions which the USBGF has received since the October 2016 Rules were issued for testing in 2017. The new draft Rules have been condensed to three pages. They will be accompanied by a Guide to the Rules that provides more details and rules covering situations that arise in rare instances. Information on how the new proposed rules differ from the 2016 USBGF Rules, see What Changed.
The USBGF Rules set includes use of the Legal Moves rule, but gives tournament directors the option of electing to use a “Responsible Moves” rule by announcing it in advance. The Rules include the “dice landing on checker” legal roll rule, but tournament directors have the option of announcing in advance that they will limit legal rolls to those landing flat on the board surface. Please review the proposed 2018 Rules Options document.
As indicated, these draft Rules are being posted for public comment over a 30-day period. Once the public feedback has been reviewed and any final changes incorporated, the final Rules will be submitted to the membership for ratification.
We would particularly like to thank Jeb Horton, chair of the USBGF Tournament Directors Advisory Committee and its members, for ensuring that concerns of tournament directors were addressed in the revision. We also thank tournament directors and players who tested the 2016 USBGF Rules and provided us with the benefit of their experience.
Finally, we extend our appreciation to Richard Munitz, Frank Talbot, and Neil Kazaross on the 2017 USBGF Rules Committee, who have led the work in synthesizing and assessing the merits of the extensive comments received from players and directors, as well as preparing the draft Rules for consideration by the USBGF Board and membership.
A widely-adopted, uniform set of rules will help promote fairness and consistency, reduce complexity and confusion, and provide greater comparability of statistical results across tournament experiences. We look forward to finalizing the Rules for use in 2018. Longer term we will be working with the international backgammon community to further the game we all love.

Joe Russell
Chairman, Board of Directors
U.S. Backgammon Federation


  1. I think these rules are very good and basically straightforward.
    One Pair of Dice for the game and dice landing on checker will speed up the games.
    if a clock is available just to hit, that will prepare players to move forward.
    Great Effort by USBGF.

  2. I don’t like the new “dead cube” rule because it now gives, yet another, advantage to the leader. Crawford is more than enough. That redefinition is not a “fair play” rule.

  3. I think that a longer break should be allowed without penalty. Somotives it is necessary. It has been proven that women need longer to use the restroom than men. In addition, it takes longer than 6 minutes just to walk to the bathroom and backayaks, without including the time spent there. I don’t think a 15 minute break is unreasonable.
    I have not gotten the chance to read all the changes yet, but will comment on others when I do.
    Also, I have no idea about the baffle boxes and have never used one.

    Can a player be deniedplay because he/she doesn’t have a clock/baffle box?
    What about someone who has never played with a clock?
    Some people with a disability might forget to hit it and thereby effectively lose the game on a technicality.

    • Please excuse the typos as I am commenting on a tablet using my finger and the keys are very small.

      Sometimes it changes the words.
      That should have been: ” it takes longer than 6 minutes just to walk to the bathroom and back, without including the time spent there”.

      • Richard Munitz says:

        Sorry about the delay in responding. The above notice directed: Please send comments by July 31 to rules@usbgf.org. So this comment area was not being monitored for feedback regarding the rules. It just came to my attention. I will monitor this comment area going forward.
        What you say can be true at some venues, however it is not generally true. The remedy in those situations is two-fold. Firstly, if you as an individual have a mobility issue that causes you to take longer than a typical person, you may raise that with the Director, who will likely grant an exception for your matches. Secondly, if the distance is unusually long at a particular venue, the Director may make a more general exception for the entire tournament since the exception is still narrowly tailored because of the unusual circumstances of the venue. But generally speaking, 6 minutes is actually a pretty long time. Allowing a separate 15 minute break each hour for each player during the middle of a match actually is incredibly unreasonable. That is potentially 50% of the total match duration spent taking breaks. Keep in mind that you are not assessed a penalty point until you have caused a 10 minute delay to the match. So if in case of an unusual situation, you take 12 minutes instead of 6, you won’t be penalized as long as you cause no further delay. All that said, this is a new way of looking at breaks designed to address the scheduling concerns of tournament directors and it is something we will need to pay close attention to in order to see if any adjustments may be required.

        • Regarding the breaks, I have only been to 1 venue, the one in NJ.
          I think about 12-15 minute break was needed. Remember that men need less time than women and that is why the regulations on designing them have been changed in new buildings.
          I am also concerned about the clocks. Will use be required if the opponent wants them used in Advanced Beginners and Intermediate?

  4. Pavel Garanin Pavel Garanin says:

    Very clear and all useful.

  5. Donna Lafferty Donna Lafferty says:

    These are beautifully written and very clear. Thank you!

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