Mandatory beaver: when only one player takes ...

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Roland Scheicher

Mar 16, 2002, 4:53:48 PM3/16/02
Many chouettes have the very dangerous house rule (“MANDATORY
BEAVER”) that if the box doubles and all but one player reject,
the accepting player MUST beaver or reject as well. (There is an even
more restrictive rule, which simple commands the single taker to

Just think of the following scenario: The box has gained some
advantage over the team and offers a double, you feel you have a good
take (maybe it is one of the few situations where you can do the math,
such that you KNOW it is a good take) but – to your surprise
– everyone else declines. Now you are in a squeeze, either you
decline, too, (which is a bad decision) or you beaver. Since a good
take usually does not allow a beaver (the box has gained an advantage
by assumption) the latter possibility might be even worse. The correct
decision (take but no beaver) would be prohibited by law!

Note that this squeeze may occur as a consequence of the above rule in
a chouette of absolutely honest players. The very dangerous
peculiarity is that this rule supports collusion and may be exploited
by fraudulent players.

The most efficient way of cheating (in my mind) is a kind of
collusion, which is referred to (Phillip Martyn on Backgammon, 1976)
as so-called “blue games”: suppose you play in a chouette,
where the other players privately agree to share their winnings and
losses. It is in their interest that the box wins as often as possible
(except when it’s you). Thus if you are a member of the team the
captain will deliberately not make his best moves; if you are the
captain your teammates will give bad advice; when the box doubles and
the team should better drop, all of them take, thus you might find it
a bit unsporting to reject; AND - LAST BUT NOT LEAST - WHEN THE BOX

If I wanted to cheat, I should not relinquish this rule as a source of
BEAVER RULE - it is a bad rule even when all play honestly.

[Remark: In contrast to the “mandatory beaver” the
“mandatory extra” should in general not influence your
decision on accepting a double, the “mandatory extra” is a
very good rule, in my mind.]

I'm looking forward to reading comments on my opinion about this rule.

Regards Roland

Hank Youngerman

Mar 17, 2002, 3:22:10 AM3/17/02
I have never heard of the mandatory beaver, and I agree it is an
insidious rule. A FAR more common, and equitable, rule is the
mandatory extra.

it is certainly reasonable to not allow one player to hold up the
game. For the unitiated, here is how a mandatory extra works.

If only one player takes, all the other players can offer an extra.
They pay the taking player one point, and the taking player now plays
the game holding a 2-cube from each player offering the extra.
("Mandatory" refers to the taker. The dropping players do not need to
offer the extra, but the taking player must accept them. If he
chooses, he can drop the box's cube in lieu of taking the extras.)

This method is emminently equitable. The dropping players believe
that the player's equity owning a 2-cube is less than -1, and hence
are happy to pay a point to be on the strong side of the board. The
taking player believes that he will show a profit if he takes a 2-cube
as opposed to paying one point, and so should be happy to be paid a
point to play.

Consulting is generally not allowed; that is, even though the former
team members now have their interest with the box, they may not
consult with the box. If the taking player redoubles, each player who
offered an extra can decide to take or drop on their own.

The most common variation of the rule is that it applies only to
initial cubes, not recubes. Usually it only applies when there are at
least 3 on the team. Sometimes it does not apply in non-contact
positions, on the theory that the game will not be held up long

Most importantly, this rule keeps everyone who wants to be in the
game. The players who dropped still have a financial interest in the

Obviously variations are possible, but the basic idea of the extra is
a pretty sound one.

On 16 Mar 2002 13:53:48 -0800, (Roland

Bob Ebbeler

Mar 17, 2002, 2:47:39 PM3/17/02
I have played in chouettes using both stipulations, mandatory beaver or
mandatory extra. The purpose is to keep the game moving at a reasonable
pace, not let it slow down because one player is steamed or because his
antenna is tuned to a different broadcast.

I see nothing insidious in the mandatory beaver rule, perhaps I play in more
civilized circles than you do or the thieves are just more sophisticated.

Obviously, the prefered version is the mandatory extra, since the lone taker
is getting 3-1 odds vs beavering at even money.

Interestingly, the chouette I played in here in Jacksonville plays mandatory
beavers; that's because, despite my best efforts, the players can't grasp
the concept of the extra.


"Hank Youngerman" <> wrote in message

Roland Scheicher

Mar 17, 2002, 4:36:30 PM3/17/02
Dear Hank

Since you wrote

> I have never heard of the mandatory beaver, ...

I want to give you two addresses on the web. E.g. you will find this
rule at

(Rule # 15), the even more restrictive rule (which I want to call
"forced drop") may be found at

of Backgammon Galore, which is a very good web page in my mind. I've
read about these rules on different pages in the net, too, but these
ones I could (re-)find quickly, when I just searched of "chouette

I, personally, prefer the mandatory extra, which you've described in
detail, and I feel well about the fact that I'm not alone in my
dislikes of the mandatory beaver.



Mar 18, 2002, 3:37:16 AM3/18/02
I have played chouette at the ACT backgammon Club - one of the best
run clubs in Australia i might add, and the chouette rules are local
and have been refined over the years.
i.e the "house rules" are preceded by the following statement:

"The following are the local rules used by Backgammon ACT for playing
chouette in the Club. Please note that these are not always strictly
adhered to! "

Some of the rules have been forgotten in the heat of the battle, most
often rule number 15: If the box cubes all of the team and only one
member decides to take, then they MUST beaver the cube.

Sometimes, after 5 beers, only one person has taken the cube and
several rolls later it is pointed out that they should have beavered.
At this stage the opponents just carry on and not worry about the

conman on fibs

On 17 Mar 2002 13:36:30 -0800, (Roland

Gregg Cattanach

Mar 18, 2002, 6:32:36 AM3/18/02
Here's one more URL with the Chouette rules we use in Atlanta, (and most of
these are very similar to all the chouettes I've played in various cities
around the US).

Enjoy :)

Gregg Cattanach

"Roland Scheicher" <> wrote in message

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