The Case of the Missing Checker


It all happened earlier today at the California State Championship.

In the middle of a game with the score 10-8 (post-Crawford) in a match to 11, Ed O’Laughlin and Matt Cohn-Geier discovered that Ed O’Laughlin only had 14 checkers. And Ed had not yet had the chance to begin his bear off.

Uh-oh. Now what? What would you have done?

Cue co-tournament director Ergin Bayrak to the rescue.

After review of the video from the stream, Ergin discovered that only four checkers where on Ed’s midpoint at the start of the game. There should have been five.

Ergin made his ruling: The missing checker gets put back onto action on the midpoint. Both players accepted the ruling., resolving the Case of the Missing Checker.

See the action here.

Would you rather start with 14 checkers? Do you think that’s an advantage or disadvantage? Let us know in the comments below.

4 Replies to “The Case of the Missing Checker”

  1. I was under the impression that once you start a game it cannot be changed. A missing checker remains off the board.

  2. This tournament was using the USBGF Tournament Rules. The relevant rule is as follows:
    An error in the starting position must be corrected if noticed before the fifth valid roll of the game, or by mutual agreement thereafter, by moving all misplaced checkers to the point from which they were missing at the start of the game. A player starting with fewer than 15 checkers may still lose a gammon.

    So as for what the proper ruling should have been… If the error was noticed before the 5th roll of the game, the missing checker gets put back on the midpoint. If the error was noticed later, then the director may not impose a correction, but should explain to the players that if they both agree, the checker may be put back on the midpoint. If the players do not agree, then the checker remains out of play for the rest of the game but is not considered borne off for gammon-saving purposes.

  3. Disadvantage. The analogy “two armies are fighting. One has 15 soldiers, the other 14…”

  4. I think it’s a big disadvantage! One less soldier makes it significantly harder to attack and prime.

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