The Crawford Rule on Backgammon Match Play

Backgammon match play is a type of competition where players vie to accumulate points by playing a series of games. And since the doubling cube is used, there are times that a match play winner can be declared after just one game. But there is also a rule concerning the doubling cube in backgammon match play and it's called the Crawford rule.

The Crawford rule has become an established rule in backgammon match play. It states that when a player needs only one point after winning a game, the doubling cube can't be used in the next game. That next game is then appropriately called the Crawford game and after that, the doubling cube is then allowed in to play. In effect, there can only be one Crawford game within a match.

Let's say you're engaged in a match to three and you're in the lead at 2-0. The next game is then labeled the Crawford game. And because the cube can't be offered at any point during this next game, your opponent has to beat you to still be in the running to win the match. As for you, the value of being in the lead is protected by the Crawford game because if you win it, you'll be the match victor. But if you lose it, the doubling cube will be back in play and you would've lost the value of that lead.

What's interesting too is that it's possible that a trailing player who wins the Crawford game will win the match as well - so long as they're either 2-away or 3-away and win a gammon (double) or backgammon (triple), that is. But since the cube is allowed after that, the trailer who wins the Crawford game with scores at 6-5 in a seven point match can double the next game for that final deciding round.

The Crawford rule in backgammon match play states that doubling isn't allowed on the first game after a player comes within a point away from winning the match (called the Crawford game). After that game, the doubling cube is allowed again. This gives due value to the player who manages to take the lead before their opponent. And in retrospect, since there can only be one Crawford game in a match, the player who's behind only needs to win it to regain their position and get back to handling the doubling cube to recover their positions.