Odd Match Rules

by Douglas Zare
1 August 2009

Douglas Zare

The international standard for backgammon matches is that they use the doubling cube with the Crawford Rule. However, you can occasionally find matches played without the doubling cube, or without the Crawford rule.

During the Las Vegas Open a few years ago, I played in the minimatch side event. These were two point matches with the doubling cube. One opponent asked to play without the doubling cube, and I was happy to oblige. It's a well-known theoretical result that it's not a mistake to double after the first roll, even if you are an underdog, converting it to double match point. You can delay the double when you have no market losers, and gain a little bit more of an advantage against an opponent who doesn't know to double early. However, that still doesn't give you much more of an advantage than a one point match. A cubeless two point match gives the stronger player a much greater advantage. You will often hit 1-away 2-away, which is tricky, and you have a chance to play up to 3 games instead of 1. I lost the first game, but won the match.

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