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For example, if I draw a 4 (move 4 spaces backward) and the only piece that could make the move is in my "safe zone", do I have to make the move?

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2 Answers 2

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Yes. From a PDF version of the rules, you are required to move if a legal move is available:

... if at any time you can move, you must move, even if it's to your disadvantage.

and from the description of the Safety Zone, moving backward out of the zone is legal:

... however, a pawn may move backward out of its SAFETY ZONE and on subsequent turns move back into the ZONE as cards permit.

Note that trading places on an 11 is an exception to this - you may decline to switch places with another pawn if you like - but yes, in your situation, you must move a pawn out of your safety zone.

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Also later in the same pdf "...however a pawn may move backward out of its safety zone..." –  tttppp Jul 12 '11 at 7:27
    
@tttppp, I think I'll add that to clarify that this specific movement is "permitted". –  Dave DuPlantis Jul 12 '11 at 11:02
    
It's the 'may' part of the second sentence that caused some confusion in the household. Kind of contradicts the 'must' part of the first. –  basilard99 Jul 13 '11 at 4:01
    
@basilard, that's understandable. In this case, I think "may" refers to permission rather than choice; the rule probably could have been written to emphasize that. –  Dave DuPlantis Jul 13 '11 at 11:18
    
On the "trading places", you're saying you can swap two of your own pieces, not throwing an opponent's piece into your safe zone, correct? –  Allen Gould Jul 13 '11 at 20:26

Confusion arose when there was a disagreement about whether you move within the safety zone. One says you must move, while another says once in the zone, you cannot move unless you draw the exact number To arrive in your home. Since the rules specify having to move out on a four, it stands to reason that you must move if possible, but you cannot enter home on a number greater than required to arrive there.

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Hey Sam! Welcome to the site. Do you have any rules citations to back up your statements? –  Pat Ludwig Dec 28 '11 at 19:47
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Or is this meant to be a comment on the other answer? I'm a bit confused –  Pat Ludwig Dec 28 '11 at 19:49

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