Backgammon Etiquette by Oswald Jacoby, 1980 (Modified by A. Shand and Jules Smith)

"That was one double six too many!" (source

The majority of these points were first published in the Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, June 1980

"Good etiquette makes for good backgammon and good fun. Poor etiquette leads to arguments, bad backgammon, and no fun at all."

1. Make all plays very carefully. Use just one hand to move the checkers. Leave your dice strictly alone until all moves have been made. Don't move two checkers at the same time.

2. Your play ends when you start to pick up your dice. Don't touch the dice until your move is completed or you might be forbidden to complete the move.

3. In some complicated positions you may actually move your checkers with the intention of studying the position. In such cases your opponent should not roll until you start to pick up your dice, but good etiquette also demands that when you make a tentative move you announce that you are thinking it over.

4. A moved checker should be carefully placed squarely on the point in order to avoid later arguments as to its proper location.

5. Shake the dice well on each roll. Hold your hand over the mouth of the dice cup while shaking, but make sure to remove it before the actual roll.

6. It doesn't do a bit of good to bang down your dice cup or throw the dice.

7. Conversation should be kept to a minimum, as it may upset an opponent. Friends or spectators watching the game should not make comments.

8. Backgammon is most enjoyable when played quickly. A game should last between six and eight minutes.

9. Do not rattle your dice when it's not your turn to play.

10. Slide, or place the doubling cube in front of your opponent. Don't flip, roll, or toss it.

11. All players should keep match scores and compare them often.

12. Keep elbows, drinks, (ashtrays!), and other debris well away from the playing area.

13. Cynicism, ridicule, and vulgarities are not part of good backgammon.

14. Always greet your opponents with a friendly smile and wish them a good game. At the end of a match thank your opponent for a good match.

Please note that Backgammon etiquette and Backgammon rules are two different things. Rules are to be followed or risk being disqualified. Good etiquette is a "nice-to-have-most-of-the-time" thing. Ultimately in Backgammon we are striving to enjoy a friendly, non-confrontational, stimulating and challenging game where winning is good, but losing isn't bad. After all, there has to be a winner and a loser as there are no draws. And, because of the influence that each throw of the dice can have on the outcome, lesser-skilled players can beat experts on occasions. Whatever the skill levels and whatever the occasion we should be doing our best to avoid games and matches which degenerate into medieval-style fisticuffs! (regardless of the number of "lucky" dice throws going against us).

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