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Rules of the London Backgammon League


Like all good organisations, the League has a set of rules by which we all play. These rules are there to ensure fair play and to protect against unscrupulous behaviour.

The League is first and foremost about social backgammon, having fun, making friends, experiencing hospitality at other clubs and conviviality. It is not intended that the League be too concerned with formality.

These rules have been agreed by a consensus agreement of captains from each of the participating clubs in the League. We play according to the internationally recognised rules of Tournament backgammon, a copy of which may be viewed here.


Eligible clubs need to be a London private member's club.

Each participating club will appoint a representative or captain as a point of contact and to speak on behalf of their Club. This is a distinct role from the team captain on the night of a match, who is appointed by the club captain (and may be the same person).

Participating clubs must be able to field a team of six players for the required number of matches per season (one less than the number of clubs in the league, to a maximum of 8 matches). Clubs need to be able to both host matches and play away matches (maximum 4 each).

Clubs are invited to join the League by consensus agreement of participating clubs in the League - normally after having completed some 'friendly' matches against several clubs in the League.

Draw for Matches

Prior to each season, the League Administrator (LA) will publish a schedule of matches for approval by the other captains. The LA will make best efforts to ensure the draw satisfies the following requirements:

  • All teams will be scheduled to play all others either home or away but not both.
  • There will be as nearly an equal split as possible for home/away for each team. If a club is new to the League, it will not be required to host more than half its matches in its first season.
  • If both teams were League members in the previous season, the home/away status of their fixture will be reversed.
  • As a maximum, clubs must be able to host 4 home matches and send a team to 4 away matches. If there are 10 or more clubs in the League, certain matches will be deemed optional or friendly, and will not count towards the league table whether played or not. Optional fixtures are designated in the draw based on the most recent friendly matches scheduled, and constraints implied by the other scheduling rules.

Fixture dates are set by mutual agreement between the pairs of teams involved, although the LA may offer a suggested match schedule in order to spread matches throughout the season, and help avoid repeated consecutive home or away fixtures.

The hosting club is under no obligation to reschedule a match if requested to do so by the away team.

If a hosting club finds that it has become impossible to play a match on its agreed date, for example, due to the actions of its parent club, this must be communicated to the away club captain as soon as possible, and a selection of alternate dates offered. If this situation is discovered more than 3 months prior to the fixture, the expectation is that the guest club will find one of the dates acceptable. However, regardless of the notice period, the pair of clubs should work together in good faith to find a mutually acceptable match date, making use of the dispute resolution procedure if necessary.


Teams will split into two groups of three and each player in one group will play one match against every player in the corresponding opposing group, for a total of 18 matches. Captains should aim to place their stronger three players in the top bracket of the team.

Matches will be to 5 points, with the Crawford rule applying. Only the winner of each match need be noted; individual scores are of no consequence.

The end result of a fully completed evening will be a distribution of 18 points between the two clubs.

League Table

Captains will notify the LA of the result as soon as possible, and the LA will publish them as soon as possible.

Clubs are awarded 2 League Points for a win, 1 League Point for a draw, and 0 League Points for a loss.

When League Points are equal for a set of teams, the difference in matches won/lost will be used to break ties.

If a set of teams is equal on points difference as well, their results for games played within that set will break ties. (For two teams tied on League Points and points difference at the end of the Season, this reduces to the outcome of their own match.) There is no further process for breaking ties.

Tournament Direction

The basis of the rules shall be the UK Backgammon Federation official tournament rules, available here. Club and team Captains are advised to study these rules carefully.

Players should bear in mind that there is often time pressure on other players and the facilities at the hosting club, so should strive to play at a reasonable pace and not cause unnecessary delays.

Attention is drawn to rules 1.6 (i) and (ii): spectators must not assist players in any way including drawing attention to mistakes or illegal actions.

The captain of the home team will act as Tournament Director for the evening and resolve any disputes fairly. The captain of the away team will act as his deputy.

Clocks may be introduced at the agreement of both captains.

The hosting 'home' Club will provide 6 backgammon boards complete with shakers, dice and doubling cubes for the match.

Hosting clubs will provide all equipment for League matches. They remain free to request the opposing team brings equipment if this is required. Without express agreement of both captains, team members may not use their own equipment in League matches.

Eligibility of players

Players must be members of the clubs they represent. If a club is unable to field a full a team on an evening, it will be acceptable to substitute a family member of one of the team who is not a member of the club.

Non-member players are only eligible with the consent of the opposing team.

Players may not represent more than one London League club. Any player who is a member of more than one club participating on the London League should nominate which club they will represent at the start of season. Where a player has not nominated which club they will play for, whichever club they play for first in a season will be the club they represent for the remainder of the League season.


The hosting team is expected to provide hospitality for the visiting team who are their guests.

Hospitality is entirely at the discretion of the "Home" club, but is to include food and reasonable drinks (including wine or beer) until the end of the match.

In addition, the Club that wins the London League is expected to provide a Captain's Dinner at the end of the season, where one Captain from each participating club is invited to attend. Typically, an equal number of playing members from the home club are also invited.

Attendance, Guests and Spectators

It is expected that the number of people attending a match will be exactly six from each club (plus any host club staff such as caterers).

Spectators associated with either team are discouraged and whilst not explicitly forbidden, should understand that all players are trying to concentrate; any comments or other distracting behaviour must be kept to an absolute minimum. Hosts are not expected to provide food or drink to spectators.

Note that spectator behaviour such as suggesting moves or pointing out illegal plays are a violation of tournament rules and if wilful, is tantamount to cheating.

Participating players may ask any spectator to leave at any time.

Emergencies, Conduct, and Exceptional Circumstances

If there is a genuine emergency at short notice, there is an expectation that the Tournament Director and Deputy Director will agree the most fair and appropriate course of action.

In the case of players who turn up late or leave matches early, without an emergency, the standard position is that they will forfeit unplayed match points. Where there is no emergency reason:

  • Players arriving 30 minutes late or more will forfeit the first of their 3 matches (opponent scores 1 - 0 against BYE).
  • Players arriving 1½ hours late or more will forfeit all their matches.

Where a match is part played and a player is called away for a genuine emergency:

  • The emergency reason (e.g. my house is on fire) must be communicated to the two tournament directors. Having theatre tickets, a double booking for dinner or catching the 9.55pm train from Victoria are examples of unacceptable reasons to leave mid-match or arrive late.
  • An incomplete match will be abandoned (score ½ - ½ awarded)
  • The remaining matches may or may not be played by a substitute, but the two captains must agree before the matches start:
    • whether the results will count towards the evening’s total, and
    • whether the matches count towards those players’ personal UKBGF ratings.
  • Substitute players must be members of the Club they represent. If no substitute player can be agreed by both captains, the missing player's points are to be split equally between the two clubs (score ½ - ½ against BYE)

A player leaving for a non-emergency reason, such as having a train to catch, forfeits their remaining matches (opponent scores 1 - 0 against BYE). Such matches do not contribute towards personal UKBGF ratings, but they do contribute to the final score between the clubs in the League fixture.

Players must recognise that slow play is to be avoided as far as is possible (not least in recognition of the fact that most London League clubs close at 10:30 or 11:00), and must not needlessly delay the start of a match. While these rules already allow the use of clocks, it may in practice be too late to introduce them once the schedule has slipped. Hosts have latitude to use a range of mechanisms to expedite play if necessary, including shorter match lengths, forced cube turns, penalty points, and disqualification.

The London League Committee and Captains

Each participating Club will nominate one representative to be Captain and represent their club on the Committee.

The Committee meets once each year (currently at the Royal Automobile Club) before the start of the new League season, to agree draw dates and any other business.

The Committee may at its discretion appoint officers: Chairman, League Administrator, Treasurer, Secretary and/or others.

Where a Club nominates two or more representatives to share the role of Captain, only one person from each club may receive a complimentary invitation to attend the Captains Dinner, RAC Annual Backgammon Dinner and meetings on behalf of that club.

Complaints and Adjudication

In the event of an unresolved disagreement between two clubs and/or captains about complying with these rules, fair play or any other aspect of a match or participation in the League, they may bring a formal complaint or request for adjudication before the League's Committee. An arbitration panel of at least three disinterested committee members will be formed to consider the dispute and deliver a resolution. A majority decision is acceptable.

If either disputant feels any panel member has an interest in the dispute at hand, they will have an opportunity to raise this before deliberations begin.

There is an expectation that clubs will accept and abide by the Committee's decisions.

The London League Trophy

The London League Trophy (a.k.a. 1914 Wolverhampton Village Fete Trophy and The Balloon Capture Trophy), affectionately renamed the Edward Baliszewski London League Backgammon Trophy after the League's founding father, is kindly provided by the Royal Automobile Club.

The trophy is maintained, insured and kept on full time display at the RAC's Pall Mall Club House. Each year the trophy is symbolically presented to the winning club's captain at the Royal Automobile Club's annual backgammon dinner and again at the London League Captains Dinner hosted by the winning Club.