Backgammon Etiquette: Sportsmanlike Conduct

There are unwritten rules in backgammon that are just as good as the written rules of backgammon game play. These unwritten backgammon rules are what we refer to as etiquette. Some of the etiquette observed in backgammon may have to do with the game itself; others deal with how we act during a match or a game.

Whether you like it or not, you may come to discover that certain things you might have done or said (or what you might not have done or said) can be perceived as unkind or rude. It is really a pretty bad thing to be labeled as the guy with poor ethics in a backgammon club or organization.

Yes, there are things that you should not do during a backgammon game (which will make you look like a total jerk or at least be perceived as one) and things that you should do (sportsmanlike conduct) during the game.

First off in our list of sportsmanlike conduct in backgammon concerns what we do before the game actually starts. It is part of good etiquette to greet your opponent in a friendly way before you sit down and start the match. It can be a simple hi, wish them a good match or luck.

Saying goodbye and thanks for playing after a match is sportsmanlike conduct in backgammon. It isn't really nice if you say good match and you really didn't think it was. If you're the one who loses the match, you can simply say your best wishes or anything you're comfortable with.

Part of backgammon etiquette and sportsmanlike conduct is placing the doubling cube gently on the center of the board and just say double. Don't get too excited and shout it out to your opponent. The same rule of etiquette applies when you pass or take on the offer to double.

Both players are supposed to keep score of the match as part of backgammon etiquette. Either player may announce the score and the other player should acknowledge the announcement as part of sportsmanlike conduct. In case of a Crawford game, one player should announce it at the start and remove the cube from play.

Part of sportsmanlike conduct is to shake the dice and then roll them out. But it is improper to shake your dice when your opponent is thinking about what move to play. That is just plain rude and goes against backgammon etiquette. As a side note to that part of sportsmanlike conduct, just make sure you're quiet and let your opponent think.

These rules on etiquette may not be in black and white but they are necessary for common courtesy. They also make sure that the playing atmosphere remains congenial.