The Crawford Rule: A Key Feature of Backgammon Matches - Backgammon Blog

The Crawford Rule: A Key Feature of Backgammon Matches

The Crawford Rule: A Key Feature of Backgammon Matches

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Backgammon is a fascinating game that combines strategy, skill, and luck. It also has various rules and subtleties that make it more challenging and enjoyable. One of these rules is the Crawford Rule, which affects the use of the doubling cube in a certain situation during a match. This rule is named after John R. Crawford, a famous backgammon player and author, who proposed it to avoid a possible dull ending to a match.

What is the Crawford Rule?

The Crawford Rule is a special rule in backgammon that limits the use of the doubling cube in a specific scenario during a match. The doubling cube is a device that allows players to increase the stakes of the game. However, in the Crawford game (the game that follows the Crawford Rule), the doubling cube is not allowed. This means that neither player can propose or accept a double during this game.

When is the Crawford Rule Applied?

The Crawford Rule is applied when one player is only one point away from winning the match.

How the Crawford Rule Operates

During the Crawford game, players have to play without the doubling cube. This changes the dynamics of the game, as players do not have to worry about doubling decisions. They can focus on the board position and the dice rolls.

Why the Crawford Rule was Introduced?

The main reason for introducing the Crawford Rule was to prevent the trailing player from automatically doubling at the start of the next game after the leading player is within one point of winning, because they have nothing to lose.

The Crawford Game Strategy

In the Crawford game, players tend to play more aggressively. Since there are no doubling cube implications, they may take chances they wouldn’t in other situations. The leading player tries to clinch the match point, while the trailing player hopes to extend the match.

When the Crawford Game Ends

After the Crawford game, normal match rules resume. If the trailing player wins the Crawford game, they continue to play regular games with the doubling cube. If the leading player wins the Crawford game, the match ends.


The Crawford Rule is an important and distinctive aspect of backgammon tournament play. It ensures that matches remain competitive and thrilling. Knowing this rule is essential for serious backgammon players and adds complexity to the strategic aspects of the game.