With online backgammon etiquette, there are no visible or physical interactions between the players but there are still many things you can do to make it a pleasurable experience for both players; remember there is another person on the other side of the computer who expects to be treated with respect and courtesy just as you should expect to be treated.
A backgammon server is like a private club, and each server has its own rules and regulations, so make sure you read these before beginning to play on a backgammon server, as well as read and agree to their Terms and Conditions document. In this way, you will be aware of all the dos and don’ts and how to handle any situations that may arise in online play. You will also know what the consequences and penalties are for breaking the rules, though usually a server will be somewhat fair about it, and in most cases give you at least a one-time warning for most infractions.
Here are some suggestions for etiquette in online backgammon:
- Before you begin playing online, have everything you need on hand to avoid any interruptions. Online, you will likely be playing with a timer, which if runs out will cause you to lose ratings point or money. So, if for example, you’re called away to the phone, get into a conversation and forget about the game, your timer will run out. Therefore, have a phone nearby if possible, take the dog for a walk, bring along your drink and snacks, and anything else you’ll need to avoid distractions.As soon as your game begins, a simple “Hi” is all you really need to say to your opponent to be courteous. And at the end of the game, win or lose, something like “Thank you” or “Thank you for playing with me” is fine. However, if you are a person who likes to chat, once your opponent says “Hi” back, you could test the waters and say something like “How are you?”, and take it from there according to his or her response, if any.
- Some players chat “gl” to you at the start, which means “good luck”. It’s very nice of them to wish you luck, but truth is does anyone really want their opponent to be the lucky one? Therefore, a better salutation you might want to use to answer that is “good match” which means let’s play well and enjoy the match.
- Most backgammon servers frown upon the use of foul language in the chat, so even though your opponent might not know who you are, there is no reason to use four-lettered words or any other profanities, to express, for example shock or frustration when your opponent gets some really lucky dice rolls or you get very bad ones – it’s very rude and your opponent does not deserve it; after all, the dice rolls come from a random number generator in the server’s software.
So again as in live play, never whine or laugh (say “lol”) when your opponent gets lucky and never use foul language because the server will likely take some action; such as give you a warning, suspend or even block your account.
- Some players become frustrated with how a game is going and will leave the table or disconnect from the server. This is called “dropping” and it can also happen when a player does not want to lose rating points for the loss. It is not only impolite but it is not fair to your opponent if you drop or disconnect from a match. Your opponent can report you to the server, and on some servers, it will show in your game history that you have dropped players on numerous occasions and other players will see this and not want to play with you. So if you really are frustrated with a game or see you cannot win it, be righteous and simply resign the game.
- If you have a real emergency and must log out or leave your home, type a quick message to your opponent saying something like, “I have an emergency and must leave, we will resume later. Bye for now.” In this way, your opponent knows you are not dropping him on purpose and will not report you. Once you return try to find the player to resume, and if he or she is not online, leave him a message (if the software has a message feature) saying you’re back and are willing to resume at the first possible opportunity.
If you see your opponent is not moving after 30 seconds or so, one of you may have been disconnected from the server. Rather than say something offensive like “come on, play” or “go, play faster”, the proper things to say are “It’s your move.” or “Are we still connected?” If you do not get an answer, try logging out and logging back in and if you’re sure you’re connected just be patient and give him or her the allowed time to return.
- If you find that your opponent is playing very slowly, don’t write things in the chat like “go” or “zzzzzz” – players are entitled to use all the time they have on their timers when making their moves, and if they do not play fast enough their timer will run out and you will win anyway. However, you might want to keep a record of the names of slow players, and any others that are rude, or that you have other issues with, so as not to play them again.
- The rude cube. Let’s say you have two checkers left to bear off and you will absolutely win the game on your next roll (because your opponent has many more than two checkers remaining to bear off), it is very impolite, and it insults one’s intelligence, if you were to offer the doubling cube to your opponent in such a situation. The player will get upset and think that you believe he is dumb enough to take it, so just roll your dice and take your win.If you want to resign a game, offer the opponent the correct value of the loss – single game, gammon or backgammon – but if the opponent refuses, do not get upset and don’t insist on resigning repeatedly. The reason you should not insist is because some players might be beginners, or new to internet backgammon and do not understand why you are resigning if the game is not over. Meanwhile, if in the case that the opponent accidentally clicked on the (wrong) button to refuse the resignation he will probably tell you to resign again.
- Another issue with resigning is that the opponent, especially if he is a newbie, might think he is not getting the full value of his win. For example, if you are losing 2-0 in a 3-point match, and offer your opponent 1 point to end the match, or even if you choose not to offer a number of points, and just use “Resign the match” option, if you were in a position where a gammon is possible, you opponent might not understand that he does not earn more ratings points by winning 4-0 in a 3-point match than if he wins it 3-0. So, in such cases, just remain calm and patient, and play out the game.
- At the end of the match, a simple “ty” which stands for “thank you” is a normal way of saying goodbye. You can also say “Congratulations!” If you enjoyed playing with your opponent you can ask him or her to play again by typing “Re-match?” into the chat. And if you’re playing an online tournament and you lose, you can say “Thank you and good luck in the rest of it”.
- One final recommendation, that has to do with sportsmanship and fair play – never use backgammon bots (programs) such GNUbg, Jellyfish or Snowie to help you play online because it is considered cheating and it can get you banned from the server and your funds frozen or confiscated. Using such programs gives you an unfair advantage over an opponent, and if your opponent checks his game files with such a program and see you beat him with a bot, he will feel cheated of his money and will report you to the server.