American Backgammon Tour (ABT) Policy

Effective August 24, 2022

On this page

Overview

The purpose of the American Backgammon Tour is to promote unified live national tournament backgammon competition in order to advance the participation, education and enjoyment of the skill-based game of backgammon for players served by the U.S. Backgammon Federation. 

The ABT point race is conducted on a calendar year basis and recognizes those players achieving the highest overall level of success on the Tour each year.  ABT points are earned by players who place in a tournament by reaching a designated top position. Once earned, they can never be taken away. The ABT points system is designed to recognize a pattern of high achievement. The ABT winner will likely be an individual who has attended and placed in a good number of tournaments during the calendar year.   

The ABT Points System is distinct from and complementary to the USBGF Master Points System, which also awards points for the major jackpots and USBGF National Championships and includes points for matches won rather than focusing exclusively on players achieving the top results in each event. For more information see, How Points are Calculated 

The ABT was first organized in 1993 by Bill Davis and patterned after the American Contract Bridge League’s annual master points race. The U.S. Backgammon Federation acquired ownership and assumed governance of the ABT beginning in 2017. The USBGF Board of Directors has the exclusive responsibility to establish policy and standards governing the American Backgammon Tour.  

Eligibility Requirements for Tournament Inclusion in the ABT 

To be eligible for inclusion in the ABT, the following requirements must be met: 

  • A tournament must be must be at least two days in length (preferably three) and held in a public establishment (preferably one with sleeping accommodations).  
  • A main event format must be chosen such that after each player’s final entry, they can contend for ABT points until they have lost at least three times. 
  • The number of placing positions in an ABT main event must be at least 10% of the number of unique players attending (rounded). 
  • An ABT main event must restrict each player to a single skill division, must not allow any player to have concurrent live entries nor allow direct buy-ins to later rounds, must draw all initial match-ups and byes randomly, and must be designed to prevent any player from placing more than once in the same event.  
  • ABT main events must be based on conventional head-to-head match play, and only the win or loss of matches shall be relevant to a player’s advancement or final place in the event (allowing for byes, forfeits, etc.) All planned matches must have a victor (splits are prohibited), though the Tournament Director may change posted match lengths in exceptional circumstances. 
  • Tournament directors and players must be USBGF members. 
  • A specific backgammon club and/or director is permitted to conduct a maximum of two ABT tournaments per calendar year unless the events are in different states.
  • Directors should publicly announce their ABT events a minimum of three months in advance so that this information may be posted in newsletters and online at usbgf.org. Directors should coordinate their likely schedule with the USBGF as far in advance as possible in order to avoid scheduling conflicts. 
  • An ABT event must maintain a minimum of 60 unique entries in the main event, totaled across all skill divisions. Tournaments that fail to meet this threshold shall be dropped from the ABT in the next calendar year. The minimum attendance requirement is being waived while the COVID-19 policy is in force.
  • ABT sanctioned tournaments must pay an ABT fee of $10 per player. The fee is based on the total number of players participating in the ABT main events and is payable to the USBGF upon the completion of the tournament.
  • Tournament organizers wishing to add a new tournament to the ABT must submit an application to the Executive Director of the USBGF. Approval shall be subject to a vetting process to establish confidence that the proposed tournament will be well run and meet ABT standards. 

USBGF Tournament Rules 

All tournaments participating in the ABT are required to use the USBGF Tournament Rules.  

The USBGF Tournament Rules, as initially ratified in 2017 by referendum of the USBGF membership, and as may be amended or restated from time to time, shall apply to the ABT and all tournaments affiliated with the USBGFNo rules other than these Rules may be used except as may be expressly promulgated by the Tournament Director in advance, in accordance with the USBGF Tournament Rules Options 

Tournament Rules and Rules Options  

Standards of Ethical Practice 

As a companion document to the Tournament Rules, directors and players are encouraged to consult the Ruling Guide, which provides guidance related to these Rulesas well as to the general rules of the game of backgammonprovides additional detail, clarifies intent for the Rules and advises how the Rules should be applied in various situations.  

Ruling Guide 

Due Process 

Reporting Duties of the Tournament Director  

A Tournament Director should promptly notify the Executive Director of the USBGF of any rulings, along with details of the surrounding circumstances, that will or could have significant consequences for the affected player(s) beyond the scope of the specific tournament in question. 

Discretionary Right but Not Duty of USBGF 

An aggrieved player shall have the right to report any significant decision of the Tournament Director or the Ruling Committee to the Executive Director of the USBGF.  The USBGF shall have the right but not the duty to consider the matter further, to request information from the Tournament Director, and/or to take any other action that the USBGF in its sole discretion deems just and appropriate. 

In exceptional circumstances, in response to particularly serious violations, the USBGF Board of Directors may impose sanctions on a player or spectator from participation in future Tournaments and/or revoke membership.  

A Tournament Director or Tournament staff member in breach of the Standards of Ethical Practice, or who is unable or unwilling to meet the standards for inclusion on the ABT as defined herein may be suspended or banned from acting as a USBGF-approved Tournament Director. 

Which Tournament Events Award ABT Points? 

ABT points are awarded only for the designated main ABT skill division events in a qualifying tournament. Tournament side events (Masters, Jackpots, Knockouts, Blitz, Doubles, etc.) are not included.  

Handling 3-Way Ties 

Some tournament formats may play down to a 3-way tie. That tie must be broken to determine a tournament winner, as well as second and third places. A round-robin playoff is undesirable because it requires 4 matches on average. A standard elimination playoff is undesirable because the late bye awards a very large equity bump to one player at the expense of the others.  

The following “contingent bye” playoff format requires only two matches, but drastically reduces the equity swing produced by the late random draw to a level of only 1.3% for the ~5:3:2 payouts typical of Swiss, or 2.4% for the 4:2:1 payouts typical of Elimination.  

All 3-way ties that occur at ABT tournaments must be resolved using the following playoff format: 

  • Label the three tied players A, B, C.  
  • A contingent bye is awarded to one player randomly chosen from among those who received the fewest byes previously in the event. Suppose A is chosen. 
  • B plays C.  Suppose B wins. 
  • B plays A. 
  • If A wins, then A has earned the bye. Player A places first; B places second and C places third. 
  • However, if A loses, then the bye is given to player C instead of player A. The A vs. B match is recorded as the semi-final, and the B vs. C match is recorded as the final. B places first; C places second and A places third. 
  • In summary, the player getting the bye is awarded first place when winning, but only third place instead of the usual second place when losing. This compensates the non-bye players because the loser amongst them finishes in second place instead of the usual third place. 
  • Prizes are made fully equitable under this format by awarding them to 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in ratios 3:2:1 respectively (any allocation in which 2nd place receives exactly 1/3 is fully equitable).  

COVID-19 Policy

Effective immediately the vaccination requirement imposed by the USBGF for ABT events is canceled. 

Tournament directors may continue to require vaccinations for their events, or impose other measures they believe are necessary for them to hold their event.