Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Disclaimer: Not all of my fellow players are jerks. Some play like they were raised right!

This is a bit of a rant. I recently discovered the joys and frustrations of internet backgammon. I love backgammon. I've been playing it for years. My problem recently is that among my geographically close circle of friends, I don't know anyone who likes to play. Imagine my excitement at discovering internet backgammon. At any time of the day or night, I can log on and play with all sorts of people, all over the world, and with all sorts of skill levels. It's fabulous.

For the most part.

Unfortunately, the JERK contingent is high. I think it hovers around 50%. All games have rules and all games have etiquette. In a computerized game, you play by the rules – it's impossible to cheat. On the flip side, some people play without any etiquette at all. Because they can't be seen, because no one knows their name, they do things for which a five year old would get a spanking. Or at least a time out.

Here are the two most popular scenarios:

Jerk Scenario #1 You've had a good game. Some lucky rolls, some smart moves. You're in a position in which you will probably win, and by a nice margin – provided your opponent doesn't get extremely lucky or that you don't do something extremely dumb. You're excited because the last time you played you couldn't catch a break and you started making desperate, stupid moves – trying in vain to get something going. It's your turn and you get a roll that allows you to knock off one of your opponent's creamy white lozenges. Now you're opponent will roll the dice… But NO! He's gone! He has up and left the game!

This is the "real life" equivalent of overturning the board so that it crashes to the floor and, stomping off in a five-year-old huff. This would never happen if you were sitting face to face across the board from someone. He'd feel like a complete idiot and everyone would laugh at him and tell him to grow up. Which he should. Grow up.

Jerk Scenario #2 Once again, you're having a good game. You are winning, but you get the feeling that your opponent doesn't like it and is pissed off. But he's unwilling to slap the board to the floor and leave the room like a spoiled-brat-sissy-panty-boy, so he just sits there and refuses to play anymore, leaving you to repeatedly message: It's your turn. It's your turn. It's your turn. It's your turn. It's your turn. It's your turn. Are you still there? It's your turn. It's your turn. It's your turn. Are you still there? Feeling like an idiot, you realize that this JERK is probably in the kitchen making a bologna sandwich and getting a Miller Lite from the fridge, knowing that when he gets back, you'll have exited the game looking for another player that has the cajones to stay with it even if it's not going his way. Because, it is, after all, just a goddamn game!

If you find yourself desperately behind and don't like the odds of ever catching up, all you need to do is resign the game, offering your opponent a reasonable number of points. Don't offer one point when you'll clearly lose by two if you go on. Offer two. Be a gentleman. Then we can start the next game and you'll probably win this one. And I won't stomp off in a hissy fit like someone who thinks they are entitled to win. After all, there is no tournament here. No one is keeping a tally of who wins more and who doesn't. Unless you are keeping tabs. But then, if you leave the game or ignore the game, you are cheating on yourself, aren't you?

A bit on the doubling cube. Understand that this is a game of chance. The doubling cube enhances the feeling of risk – it ups the ante. It should be used towards the beginning of the game… Feeling lucky? Double the game. Don't double the game when you have 4 guys at home and your opponent still has 2 stuck in your home zone. A person would have to be an idiot to take that sucker offer. They will just resign, giving you a one point win, when, if you hadn't been greedy, you might have won two points anyway.

And now for the chat portion of the game. I hate having to choose from a list of PC chat options. "Good game." "Nice roll." "It was Luck." "Nice try" "Good luck!" "Play again?" "Ouch!" "Oops!" I'd like to be able to type in my own sentiments. When someone gets a great roll of the dice, I'd like to say, "Sweet!" When someone goes off to make his bologna sandwich, I'd like the option to say something other than, "It's your turn. It's your turn. It's your turn. Are you still there? It's your turn. It's your turn."


At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howzabout those jerks who delight in typing in "wind-up" comments like "oops" or "ouch" or "good game" when YOUR lozenge is knocked off - or "NOT AGAIN!" WHEN YOURE KNOCKED OFF AND KEEP FAILING TO GET BACK ON THE BOARD.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Jim Belisle said...

Thanks for the rant Patti. I've been playing the game since the late 70's as a college student. I learned from a young kid whom I like to refer to as a backgammon purist. He insisted I learn the correct terminology and that I play with respect for the game and for my opponent. I'll always be grateful to him for showing me patience as I learned how to think through each move. It is such a great feeling when a strategy is successful and my worthy opponent messages a short 'good job' or a smile showing a mutual respect for the ancient game. I can honesty state that I don't even mind losing when the tables are turned and I am privileged to witness an opponent be patient and wait an opportunity to hit me as I'm bearing off. I think I'd rather lose to a patient and respectful opponent that to beat the computer after these jerks leave the game at the first sign of trouble. It's a great game and over these years I have passed on what he taught me to others that have been willing to learn. All the comments you shared get a heart felt 'amen' from me. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who gets frustrated. I think next time someone plays those tricks I'll be less likely to let it push my buttons. I do wish there was a way to have player id's so i could just refuse to play the jerks who try to ruin it for the rest of us.


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