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I was told that when rolling dice [for a game, such as backgammon] on shabbos one should roll one di, move the pieces, and then roll the other di [and move the pieces]. The reason for this, I was told, is in order to remind you not to write down the numbers on the dice, to add them.

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, since the numbers are already on the dice, so writing them down to add them would accomplish nothing! Furthermore, adding one digit numbers by writing them down doesn't help one to add them any more than simply doing mental math! So why is this a concern, and what are the sources for such a practice?

  • You are correct...there seems to be nothing wrong with this. In general, everything is permitted until the Torah forbids it; not the other way around...the burden of proof is on the ones who wish to force the one die at a time rule. – David Kenner May 10 '15 at 22:56
  • So you're saying that this has no real source? – bluejayke May 10 '15 at 22:58
  • yes, based on the fact that I have never heard of it in halachah....however, just because we never heard of it doesn't prove it isn't there (proving a universal negative) (or as the Mishnah says: "I never saw it" isn't a proof.") so I invoked that the burden is really upon the one saying it is. :) – David Kenner May 10 '15 at 23:10
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    "Crazy" question - re: backgammon, part of the strategy of moving pieces is based on seeing the results of BOTH dice simultaneously. And, if there are doubles, this allows more complex choices. How can you play the game properly with moving based on the results of just 1 die at a time? – DanF May 11 '15 at 14:54
  • The person who told me this custom said that you would first roll one di, move, then roll the second di, and if they are both doubles then the user moves again, based on what the results would have been. – bluejayke May 12 '15 at 3:56
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The sefer Shmiras Shabbos K'Hilchasah (16:33) paskens without reservation that dice games for recreation (not gambling) are fully permitted on Shabbos. No qualification is made for fear of writing by accident.

A strict opinion (which not all hold like as Halachah) is brought by the Chayey Adam (Shabbos 11:38). He holds that any game which usually involves writing as its mode of play is forbidden on Shabbos because someone might come to write.

Clearly, dice in a casual backgammon game are not usually used in conjunction with writing.

That's an official source.

  • I haven't seen what his rule is for Scrabble. Used to be people wrote the score. Now, either people remember or they put a bookmark in a book. – DanF May 11 '15 at 14:55
  • In particular if the Scrabble set comes with a little scoring device with pegs and you normally use that even when you play on a weekday. – CashCow May 11 '15 at 16:01
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    @CashCow judaism.stackexchange.com/q/11762 – msh210 May 12 '15 at 3:55
  • In that link though the criterion is that you usually write when you play the game. If the game set comes with a scorer such that you normally use that and normally do not write, even on a weekday, then it wouldn't fall under the category – CashCow May 12 '15 at 8:55

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