Some tournaments have restrictions against people wearing headphones or earbuds while playing because they think it is possible to cheat (hear recordings or get voice messages) or because they think it is rude.
I have strong feelings about rules like this and I shared them on a backgammon forum, and for my Facebook friends, I would also like to share my thoughts with you. If enough of us feel the same way, I believe we can influence tournament directors and Federations that make rules to have reasonable rules:
"We must start with the premise that people are not cheating and have rules based on that. If we don't allow headphones because someone might get information that can help them, that is not a valid reason to prevent headphones or earbuds. If we have reason to believe someone is a cheater or might be getting help, then that should be called to the TD's attention and he can take appropriate action.
Let's apply this reasoning to every other rule. It is quite possible to cheat while rolling the dice, change the dice or have a board with magnets. So should we not allow people to use their own board and dice? Should we have designated rollers for the players (or use electronic dice provided by the TD) in order to prevent the possibility of cheating? How much fun would the game be that way?
It is possible to move the checkers illegally. Should we prevent players from moving their own checkers?
Again, we must assume honesty but keep our eyes open in case foul play is suspected, and if and when we catch a cheater, or someone who consistently bends the rules or is unsportsmanlike, then we must take very strong action (which has NOT been done nearly enough in the past) to expel the player and suspend his playing rights in any tournament for a significant period of time. Serious penalties and public embarrassment is, in itself, a major deterrent to bad behavior.
Now that I hope I have convinced you that the cheating argument should be off the table, what other arguments are there against headphones?
Some say it is not polite, or it prevents your opponent from hearing you. First, why does your opponent ever need to hear you except between games when you confirm the score? Second, it is far less polite than jabbering, singing, humming, shaking your dice excessively, and playing in a noisy room where the norm is for everyone to talk loudly even while important matches are going on. So maybe headphones doesn't meet your particular values, but who are you to set the values for someone else. I think it is rude to wear a loud shirt when you play. It distracts me. Should I be able to make you take off your shirt?
Let's have rules that are needed to help make the game fairer and more enjoyable, and not worry about making up rules that restrict people's reasonable freedom and enjoyment of the tournament experience.
Back to the cheating. Yes, with the rules we have there is the risk that occasionally someone may get away with cheating by wearing headphones or manipulating the dice or whatever. And if we ever got to the point where it happened often, then we would have to take stronger measures (as they had to do in tournament Bridge). Fortunately, we are not anywhere near there in Backgammon and fortunately, even with our current rules, alert players and directors are savvy enough to catch most bad actors."Phil Simborg
P40 now available direct in Europe
By far, the most popular quality board among top tournament players is now available in Europe through Gammon Games Choose from 4 of our most popular designs and save big money on shipping and time. Free shipping within 3 days.
P40 is the board used by Mochy, Michi, Akiko, Victor, Jorgen, Russell, Mattig, O'Hagan, Dogon, Slava, Arkaidy, Grinda, Pasko, Gartner, Robertie, and many other World Champions and top players.