Backgammon Circle rules

Backgammon Circle Membership

  • Membership of the Backgammon Circle is open to all members of the Club.

Tournaments and Team Selection

  • The Circle’s Tournament Rules shall apply to all Club competitions.
  • Intra-Club competitions are open to Club members only.
  • Team members for matches may be selected according to any criteria deemed appropriate to the occasion by the Circle Committee.


  • Guests are encouraged to join informal play and social matches. A host member is responsible for ensuring his guest’s adherence to Circle Rules.

Record Keeping

  • With a view to avoiding misunderstandings, each member agrees to be responsible for keeping score individually and for recording at the outset of each game the agreed terms of play.

Playing for Money or Valuable Stakes

  • The Circle Committee shall give absolute priority at all times to meeting the needs of members who prefer not to play a game for money or valuable stakes.
  • The Committee may offer events from time to time where an entry fee, stake money and /or prizes are offered.
  • Any decision to play for money stakes is a private matter for the Circle member. It is the responsibility of each member to exercise good judgment.
  • Members shall conduct themselves in such a manner that no-one should ever feel pressured to play for any money or valuable stakes and anyone should feel perfectly free to refuse without any explanation or discomfort.


  • Any dispute arising from any Club tournament or team selection should be referred to a Committee member. The decision of the Tournament Director or the Committee member so acting shall be final.
  • Neither the Circle nor the Club nor their respective officers shall entertain any claim in respect of losses from money play.
  • Any other dispute may be referred to the Circle Committee.
  • The Circle Committee may debar a member from playing in Circle matches without giving any reason.


  • Circle backgammon equipment is Club property and may not be removed from a Clubhouse without the approval of a Circle Committee member.
  • Circle members are responsible for making themselves familiar with these Rules and the Tournament Rules, Ladder Rules and London League Competition Rules, which are all displayed in a folder in the Pall Mall Club Room.

2021 Ladder Rules

  • The Ladder is open to all Backgammon Circle members. The competition is intended to be primarily social, giving members a chance to meet and play a wider variety of fellow members. Online play using a platform agreed upon by both players may be used.
  • The season starts on 1 May and closes on 30 April. At the end of each season a Tournament is held for the RAC Backgammon Ladder Cup amongst the top 16 players on the Ladder as at midnight on the closing date. Prizes (eg dinner in the Club) will also be awarded to the winner, the losing finalist and to the member who has made most progress on the board during the season. The player at the top of the Ladder as at the close of the season wins a bottle of Champagne and a mention at the annual dinner.
  • The Ladder order will be reversed for start of the new season on the 1 May every year.
  • After a season has started new entrants may still register but will start at the bottom of the Ladder.
  • Matches are played to seven points.
  • The winner will inform the organiser indicating the date, opponent and result who will update the official Ladder ranking.
  • The Club Backgammon Circle Rules and the Backgammon Circle Tournament Rules apply with the exception that Tournament Rules 5 and 6 do not apply.
  • In the event of a dispute arising that cannot be resolved under the relevant Rules, then positions on the Ladder board will remain unchanged until the match has been re-played. Re-played matches will always be to seven points. At the request of either player an adjudicator chosen by the Backgammon Committee may attend.
  • By entering the Ladder, a member agrees to have adequate personal contact details made public and to support a reasonable level of playing activity, say three matches per season. Members requiring additional privacy may ask the organiser to disclose details to Circle members only as required.
  • Challenges may be made ANYWHERE on the Ladder without an upward limit as long as the player is available
  • A member may not play the same opponent more than once in seven days.
  • Members may not pre-book matches
  • If the challenger wins, they move a maximum of five places but no more than two places above the loser.
  • If the player challenged loses, they drop two places
  • If the player challenged wins, they move up a maximum of two places and the loser goes down two places.
  • The player at the top can only be moved by a direct challenge.
  • The time limit to play is seven DAYS.
  • Only one challenge at a time may be given or accepted.
  • If the player challenged cannot play within seven days, they drop one place.
  • The challenger stays in place and may challenge another player.
  • A member may make or receive only one challenge per day, not both.
  • In the event that arbitration is required the Backgammon Chairman’s decision is final.

Tournament Rules

  1. The Club Backgammon Circle rules apply.
  2. Competitions should be played in either Clubhouse or on-line. Other locations may be arranged exceptionally by mutual agreement under prior advice to the Backgammon Committee Chairman.
  3. Unless otherwise notified, all matches will be to 11 points.
  4. Players must play tournament rounds by the date shown. The second player listed, the challenger, is responsible for arranging that round (and if required offering three dates in different weeks at a reasonable hour) and clearly writing up the result on the board including points scored. The opponent may claim the game from any player who breaks this Rule or arrives more than 30 minutes late for a round.
  5. If a round is not arranged one week prior to the relevant date, the Chairman should be informed and if unable to arrange that round will administer Rule 4.
  6. If necessary, choice of seat location, the backgammon board, direction of play, choice of checkers, dice, etc. shall be decided by roll of the dice prior to the commencement of play. It is the responsibility of both players to see that the doubling cube begins each game centered with the “64” side face up.  If an incorrect set up of the board is not noticed until the second player has rolled his or her second roll, it will stand for that match.
  7. Both players shall keep the score.
  8. Gammons and backgammons apply. The “Jacoby Rule”, that requires the cube to have been turned as a precondition for a gammon or backgammon, does not apply in Club tournaments.
  9. A player may require precision dice to be used when available and for the dice to be mixed and drawn alternately before a match, the player requiring the draw taking the second and fourth dice.
    1. Players must use lipped dice cups and shake at least 3 times.
    2. Without the dice touching the player’s hand or the dice cup touching the playing surface, the dice must bounce and roll freely before coming to rest on the flat playing surface to the player’s right. Dice may be rolled on the left section if the home board is crowded with checkers, eg during bear-off.
    3. If either die is cocked, (ie fails to rest flat on the playing surface to the player’s right) both dice must be re-rolled.
    4. Players should not touch the dice on the board; however, with notice to the opponent a player may reposition the dice on the playing surface to make room for moving the checkers.
    5. A player concludes their turn by picking up both dice and may not correct their play once their dice have left the playing surface. In the case of dispute, if one die has been lifted by one centimetre or more, the roll will be deemed to be concluded.
  10. Doubling cube: Players may double when it is their turn, but only before rolling the dice and not after an invalid roll. To offer a double the player turns the cube to the next doubling level and places it on the board saying ‘I double’ or words to that effect.  In matches played with a clock the player shall hit the clock so the opponent can consider the double in his or her own time.  To accept a double, the player draws the cube towards themselves saying ‘take’ or words to that effect, placing the cube on their side of the board.  To reject the double, the player says ‘pass’ or words to that effect.  In matches played with a clock the players shall, in addition, stop the clock.  If the opponent doubles before the player has finished his or her turn, the double shall stand if otherwise valid. The player may complete their turn with the knowledge of the premature double.
    1. If a player doubles or accepts/rejects a double at the wrong level, the double or acceptance/rejection of the double is valid, but the level of the cube shall be what would have been a correct value.
    2. Automatic doubles (a centred two cube if both players throw the same number to start), Beavers or Racoons are not allowed in Club tournaments.
    3. The “Crawford Rule” applies. When either player reaches match point (eg 10 points in 11-point match) the cube is out of play for the next game only.
  11. Illegal moves: dice thrown out of turn or before the opponent has picked up shall be re-thrown. The other player before throwing his own dice may require any misplay to stand as it is, or demand that his opponent re-play the entire roll.
  12. Spectators shall remain silent while observing a match. Spectators may not draw attention to any misplays or comment on plays during the match.  Once a match is in progress no spectator shall send signals or help either player in any other way.  Either player may request the removal of a spectator.  In the event of a dispute, spectators, except to report suspected cheating, may testify only at the Tournament Director’s request.
  13. Each player is entitled to one recess of five minutes during the match.
  14. Either player may request the Director to assign a clock or appoint a monitor. If, in the Tournament Director’s opinion, a match is progressing at an unreasonably slow pace, the Director may determine that the rest of the match is played using a clock and /or award penalty points.
  15. If a dispute arises both players shall leave dice, checkers, cube and scoresheet etc unchanged. Disputes shall be arbitrated by the Tournament Director or in his/her absence (or if one of the players is the Director) a Backgammon Committee member.  If no arbitrator is available or the dispute cannot be settled, then the match shall be re-played to 15 points under the supervision of a Committee member.