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The Simborg Rule

A lot of people believe there is too much luck in backgammon.  Others argue there is just enough to keep the game fun and exciting and allow for the unexpected to happen.  I am someone who believes the game is just fine the way it is for money play, casual play, and when you are playing just for fun.  But tournament play is all about trying to determine who is really the better player, and in tournament play, especially at the highest levels of the game, I believe there is far too much luck.

Did you know that if you get the opening 3-1 roll and make your 5 point you are instantly have about a 10 percent advantage over your opponent?  You also have a huge advantage with all the other rolls that make points and with the 6-5 that runs. 

So I created the Simborg Rule, which simply states that you cannot make a point on the opening roll, and you cannot run with 6-5.  Just the first roll.  Find another way to play 3-1 and 4-2 and 5-3 and 6-4 and 6-5. 

Not only does this rule take away some of the huge advantage from winning the first roll, it makes the game much more interesting.  When you play those rolls without making a point, you are forced to leave blots (shots) very early in the game, and that leads instantly to more hitting, more new and difficult decisions, more decisions players are not so familiar with at the beginning of the game.  It makes the game more difficult.  More skillful.  It leads to more back games and hitting games that simply make the game more complex. 

Major tournaments, of course, have not agreed to this change, but to try it out, many have had side events and blitz tournaments using this rule.  To encourage people to try it, some tournaments even have a "Kill Phil" event where people have the additional incentive to beat me and get extra money when they do...and of course, we use the Simborg Rule.

I recommend you give it a try in your private games.  You will see that the game is more skillful and interesting.  That is what I would like to see happen to the rules of the game for all major tournament play and even private money games.