Judy Kay-Wolff

So what else is new ????

Harboring the bruises, scars and lifetime resentment as a result of my infamous (eventually vacated and rectified) appeal and AWMW from a few years ago (due to a cast of inept directors, the disgusting mishandling by my Appeals Committee and a deliberate attempt to hide the facts and findings, via exclusion, from the printed Appeals Book by the head Tournament Director), I always survey with intrigue the latest NABC shenanigans in that area.

Of late, it seems to have become a pattern that when the King Kongs of the U. S. bridge world appear before a committee of their underlings, whether as a pair or partnered with one of their sponsors, they always sickeningly seem to come out smelling like rose — as the Committee Members don’t want to appear stupid to disagree with The Supreme/s (and also hurt their chances of being recommended as a professional should the occasion ever arise).   Thus, they never seem to receive the short end of the stick.    If you want to see another one of these miscarriages of justice in action, check out Page 6  of the Tuesday, March 16th Reno Daily Bulletin Appeals Cases (Case #1) and see how Marshall Miles, a quite ethical old timer, got screwed out of a terrifically envisioned slam — in deference to one of the celebrated appellants!   Some things never seem to change.


22 Comments

Larry LowellMarch 17th, 2010 at 10:04 am

I agree, poor decision. The poll of peers seems to have an unusually large impact on these appeals.

Also, Wednesday’s ACBL Bulletin, Case #4. A 6-7 sec BIT in a slam auction is disallowed? Really! Wisely, a dissenting view is also published along with the details.

Gee, my forcing club system has lots of BITs, since we receive so much information from the bidding and we usually go over the bidding 2-3 times during a slam auction. I guess every one of our slam auctions would be rolled back on any Appeal if the opponents object. An opponent’s not knowing how a good forcing club system works would probably appeal. I often explain to the opponent’s ahead of time that we do not maintain tempo during forcing club auctions. It is a given.

Linda LeeMarch 17th, 2010 at 10:29 am

Meckstroth and Rodwell complained in the Vanderbilt playing the 64 seed because they were playing multi, it came up and they called the director to complain because they did not have the required written defense at the table. The ruling eventually was that the table result would stand but they couldn’t keep playing it unless they had the defenses. Meckwell won the match easily so their was no appeal. I don’t know what would have happened had they lost.

This caused quite a bit of discussion pro and con by the viewers/commentators.

PaulMarch 17th, 2010 at 10:36 am

I disagree. I think it is a difficult decision that could have gone either way. Has South used Bobby’s test … “Actually lean over backwards to dispell any and all UI by, if anything, making a decision which will, at least, seem to the world, as definitely NOT taking advantage of partner’s BIT.”

For an Appeals Committee under the current Laws of our game, it is hard to ignore the results of a poll of peers. You may disagree with the Laws, but that is not the fault of the AC.

Larry LowellMarch 17th, 2010 at 10:38 am

Whoops, both these Appeals are in the Tuesday Bulletin. Wednesday’s Appeal is AWMW. These Tuesday Appeals are of the old “If it hesitates, shoot it!

How do we get these attitudes changed? My partner knows many on the appeal committee for both appeals and that is their mentality!

kenrexfordMarch 17th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

FWIW, and as insane as this may sound, this sort of nonsense actually would enter onto the pro side (as opposed to the con side) for more structured agreements.

As a simple example, imagine two seemingly identical sequences.

1H-P-2C-P-

2D-P-2H-P-

2S-P-4D-P-

5D-P-5NT-P-

?

The second auction is exactly the same.

If the structure is fairly “normal,” the sequence up through 2S is fairly normal, with the 2S call perhaps a pattern bid. Responder’s 4D call is probably a somewhat confusing call to Opener, causing a hesitation. The 5D call probably comes back at Responder, who may well be equally confused. 5NT could have any number of meanings.

Now, I’m sure that a seasoned “normal” pair could define these sequences in some way that makes sense, hopefully on the same page. But, contrast this with a more structured approach (like I use). 2S would be different (just a cue), but 4D would be clearly defined (a picture splinter — two top trumps, stiff in diamonds that is not the King or Ace, three of the top four clubs, no spade control (at best Q or doubleton). 5D would have a distinct meaning, an asking bid (trump asking bid). 5NT would have a clear answer — all three top trumps, plus the clubs are AQJ.

This type of structured approach yields a few benefits. First, because calls are so structured, there is (hopefully) less to think about — your call is defined so well. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there can be no legitimate inference from a hesitation, even a VERY long one, except that partner is thinking through step responses or is trying to remember what we play.

When hesitations come from a person who is making a call that tends to be more system-oriented (thinking through definitions or answers) as opposed to a call that tends to be more judgment-oriented, the hesitation yileds a different inference. When structural tanks — structural memory lapse. When judgment tanks — unclear judgment call.

I mean, judgment is always a part of the game. Last Train, for instance, is the penultimate judgment call. However, the fewer your systemic judgment needs, the better. LTTC, for example, is a great “judgment” call, because it states that which the hesitation itself states — I ain’t sure yet.

from actual experience, I find this to play out in practice. The first few bids rapidly set trumps. The next few bids are somewhat pre-determined by what you are looking at and by definition. So, a second rapid fire of bids ensues, without breaks. Then, some long tank might occur, and either (a) that person emerges into a series of rapid-fire final bids, or (b) that person emerges with a LTTC bid (which could be defined as “partner, I am bidding LTTC as a means of legally stating that I have a hand where I would tank with emphasis if not playing LTTC”), or (c) that person emerges with a rare (strange) call, which causes partner to tank (trying to recall what the heck that means per the notes) until emerging with the answer and a final rapid-fire conclusion (occasionally to an insane result because someone forgot something LOL).

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 17th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Larry:

I certainly agree that the “peer poll propaganda” does not really place anything in its proper perspective! Some may be morons and others geniuses. It all depends who does the asking and who does the responding. So many extraneous factors enter into it.

Serving on an appeal committee may appear prestigious but I am not so naive to be taken in by that power play. I remember many years ago, the cast looked like a Who’s Who of Hall of Fame Candidates — the bluebloods of the hobby? Today, I don’t believe they can afford to be so fussy as it is an imposition on one’s time, most want to socialize after the session and the perks are not that appealing. How many really do it for the love of the game?

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 17th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Linda:

I found your accounting humorous (though most likely totally within the structure of the law) involving Meckwell and their displeasure against the 64th seeded team who were playing Multi (without having the required written defenses available). The subject scene seemed like the proverbial “taking candy from a baby” — but the law is the law, heaven knows. However, under the circumstances, it seemed to me like they were being sticklers (as if they never played against it in their long career together).

Time really does fly! I remember them as babes in arms before they earned world icon status –when they were just coming into their own and playing a very complicated system with all sorts of unusual, artificial gadgets, sequences and nuances. I wish I had a dollar for every time that Edgar (when partnered by Norman) at his turn to bid would ask the meanings of certain bids (which I guarantee you Edgar, himself, knew darn well) as in those days alerts were few and far between and he felt Norman should be protected and was entitled to know what was going on in the absence of a volunteered explanation.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 17th, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Paul:

Perhaps your statement … ” You may disagree with the Laws, but that is not the fault of the AC.” is the crux of the entire problem!

It would be a step in the right direction if more serious thought was delegated to some of the hackneyed and non-sensical methods of dealing with these issues which are in dire need of revision. The ultimate objective of the ACBL should not be to increase their cash flow and bring more people into their membership, but to concentrate on the many issues of inequity that frequently arise — which will eventually destroy the once majestic game known as bridge.

This is not the same elegant pastime to which I was introduced fifty-five years ago! It has turned into an unscrupulous business, with money as the bottom line, and has lost a lot of its splendor. I guess you can’t have it both ways!

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 17th, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Ken:

I appreciate your putting so much time and thought into discussing the different styles of bidding by various twosomes. Unfortunately, not everyone has such refined understandings, fully developed partnerships nor lightning fast minds and there are so many factors involved (especially in slam bidding). In both Case 1 and Case 2 in the NABC Tuesday Appeals Section, I think the Committee bent over backwards to give the slam bidders the worst of it. I felt like I was watching the prosecution of the Nuhrenberg Trials.

kenrexfordMarch 18th, 2010 at 4:22 am

I understand what you are saying. As a slight Devil’s advocate, though, and I know this does not translate well into high-level play or directly address your legitimate point, but too often I see well-tuned partnerships of two types (as to slam sequences). Well-tuned as to agreements, and well-tuned as to table feel, the “table feel” being a read of partner’s hesitations and lack of hesitations and the like.

In other words, people who don’t use Last Train tend to hesitate more often and have partners read hesitations more often. A good hedge against that reality is to add Last Train. Or even “past train,” like a 5C call that is used when partner’s last bid was game. If you find yourself tanking a lot, and you know the director will be called, and you don’t have Last Train available, consider adding it.

Peter GillMarch 18th, 2010 at 5:20 am

I think that the efforts of this week’s Committee are not comparable with the hopeless treatment which Judy had to put up with some years ago. With AQx, KQx, Axx, 10xxx or

KQJ, KQx, Kxx, Jxxx, North might bid 3NT more quickly over 3D, and based on Bobby Wolff’s advice in this area, and the Committee’s comment that the appeal has substantial merit and is thus a close decision, I think the decision was OK.

The other slam appeal in Tuesday’s Bulletin seems to have a misprint in the auction. Lusky in his dissenting opinion refers to North’s failure to bid 4D or 4C over 3S, which suggests that North actually bid 4S or 4H or 3NT (not 4D as printed) over 3S. This conflicting information makes any comment on that appeal impossible.

JodyMarch 18th, 2010 at 6:24 am

That is so sad, Meckwell calling director over not having printed defense, as if they would use it anyway. I am sure they have their own defense, set in stone for years, playing overseas so much. They might have said, “we have our own defense, but we suggest that you provide one another time since that is the law.” Maybe it was to intimidate, but it causes one to lost respect. Suze Ornan says, “People 1st, money 2nd.” I say people 1st, bridge 2nd, as your husband would say, “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” I am glad that I believe that with all my heart. How can one rationalize behaving in such a fashion? When I occasionally see the “oh sh….t player at tournaments in pictures or in person, I wonder how she deals with her behavior. I couldn’t show my face.

Bobby WolffMarch 18th, 2010 at 9:31 am

In response to Peter,

Although bridge ethics, its pitfalls and scrutiny have been around ever since Contract Bridge replaced Auction Bridge in the late 1920’s, very few of us have ever taken the time to recommend cures or even mitigation.

The following is an attempt, although like Fulton’s Folly, the famous steamboat controversy, more will disagree than agree, but perhaps that should be expected when the bidder on the spot has an unpleasant choice. Drumroll: When faced with what at least seems to be a difficult bidding choice, as in the case of the Miles partnership, let’s examine the auction:

1NT Pass 2C Pass

2D Pass 3D Pass

The 1NT opener (holding Kxx, Kxx, AKQx, xxx) allegedly broke tempo at that point (apparently but not by much) and in the high-level game for sure (and possibly also eventually to be filtered down to the riff and the raff), the current bidder instantly (if he doesn’t deny that he has barely broken tempo) should say to himself “I now have a choice of raising diamonds to 4, precluding playing 3NT and possibly backing myself into a serious corner of missing the best and simplest game contract of 3NT. However, my choice has now become that if I do not raise diamonds (and instead choose 3NT), I am effectively possibly precluding partner from continuing on to a slam since he will have to lean over backwards to not take advantage of my BIT.”

If our high-level players were as pure as they should be, this caveat could be played effectively and with pride causing our whole game to rise by bounds and leaps to the standards that our bridge forefathers hopefully predicted it to be.

It is a step which I have not experienced much, although I have on occasion, and is a dear price to pay for my BIT. However, to not do so is to blatantly refuse to accept the ethical strictures that the high-level game and perhaps more, have always been subjected.

It has been generally said that “little by little we can do great things together ” and could be the forerunner to the rising respect among players — a concept which, in turn, could come to the aid of competition and relationships the world over.

Doubters of the above are deluding themselves that bridge is a different game than we all know. And — be assured it will continue to be advantageous for ‘good bridge lawyers’ to continue ‘business as usual’ since they have experienced what is characterized as ‘good luck’ in committees without having to face these difficult but fair conundrums. The reason? Easy! It takes more character than that which these players have been engrained.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 18th, 2010 at 9:35 am

Hi Ken:

Though I rarely played in NABC top dog competition, I participated for many years in National Women’s Events with two regular partners. I personally never got involved in these ‘high level’ spirited, scientific auctions — just bid it as I saw it, and we usually landed on our feet, faring respectably but not setting the world on fire.

However, I understand exactly what you are saying and can’t argue with you. At the present time, living in Vegas, with everything we could possibly want, we do little traveling and have not attended the last six nationals (not that Bobby isn’t still on top of his game). In fact, it is still mind-boggling to watch him in action at the local duplicates where we play twice weekly — whether it be bidding, play or defense. Most of the opponents, though not always happy with their results, sit in awe! But — it’s really not fair! Some people are just ‘born with it’ and others struggle, using basic guidelines and supplanting the missing inate ability with intelligence (though in some cases it is a rationed quantity).

To further clarify, the opponents against whom we play are a lovely, warm class of mostly retired transplants who adore the game, play almost daily, participate in local tournaments and presently many are enjoying Reno. However, I must sadly confess a few are not aware of the protocol involved in a BIT situation and other such icky issues — but with the directors’ good intentions and Bobby’s offer to help, we are going to be moving forward.

I, for the most part, am not referring to that caliber of individuals involved in the two cases cited — just appeals in general. Perhaps I am bitter due to the transformation of my automatic director ruling into a full scale debacle which went on sixteen months before satisfactory resolution. I think we have to take a full step backward and catch a comprehensive panoramic view of who makes the rules, who interprets them, who appoints the committees — and never lose sight of our ultimate goal — to see that bridge justice is served and bias and prejudice do not affect the final decisions.

Sorry to be on my soap box. Guess I am just a crusader at heart and cringe each time I witness another atrocity being perpetrated at the expense of innocent people.

Thanks for taking all that time in responding.

Judy

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 18th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Jody:

I totally agree with you. There is only one person you are accountable to — and that is one’s self. You must live by your own honorable code of ethics — whether at the bridge table or in ordinary, every day life. I think much of this has a direct relevancy on the way each of us was reared — though when involved in competition (such as bridge), individuals may tend to deviate from his or her cherished values in favor of glory and success that they cannot achieve via their own talents. Bridge changes people’s personalities — some for the better — others for the worse. Believe me, I’ve witnessed it in spades. Bridge ego can create monsters — but few pussycats!

As far as the ‘Oh Shit’ case, let me add something in defense of Joanna Stansby. I don’t know her very well, but from my few personal contacts, she is a nice human being and certainly an honorable and good player. She pulled a boner, undoubtedly ‘lost it’ for more than a moment, pulled a wrong card (causing Bobby’s partner to hop up and then give him a ruff for down one). Two plays later, she and her partner called for the director. Stan Tench appeared and ruled it down one as she could not retract a card inadvertently played two plays earlier. However, she and partner, Mike Shuster, had the unmitigated chutzpah (gall) long after her blunder to attempt to get redress by appealing to the head director, Henry Cukoff (another Wolff adversary because Bobby had come down on him for behavior which had encouraged cheating) who reversed Tench’s ruling and found a way to allow Stansby to get credit for her ill begotten slam. It is a personal embarrassment Joanna will carry to her grave — receiving a windfall to which obviously she was not entitled and was the laughing stock of the bridge world as the most talked about misadjudication in bridge annals. She has paid the price.

But let me tell you an admirable story about Joanna. By no fault of her own, she was also involved with the ugly “Shanghai Witches” incident several years later. It occurred during the pomp and circumstance of the WBF Closing Banquet where the audience cheers for the winners and cry for the losers. As the U.S. winning Ladies Team was being recognized with their trophy, one of the members (obviously not impromptu) held up a handwritten banner declaring to seventy or eighty other nations in attendance: “We did not vote for Bush.” It caused quite a stir and immediately apologies by the USBF were made to the WBF officials for disrupting the ceremony with such an undignified, inappropriate political statement. In fact, the WBF felt so strongly about the subject of politics being taboo, they had previously demanded that all members sign statements at three different points in their climb to the finals, agreeing to avoid politicizing.

To Joanna’s credit, SHE WAS THE FIRST to admit her team was wrong and offered an apology but was overruled by her gloating team peers. Unfortunately, there were so many entwined relationships in the mix such as husbands, wives, pros, sponsors, threatened lawsuts, money coughed up by a wealthy meddling unrelated sponsor for the top gun law firm to fight the USBF and ACBL, etc. — that an original (and rightfully) recused USBF Committee Member at the last minute conveniently “unrecused” himself, cast his vote and the case against the SW was dropped.

However, it is imperative the readers also know that the Ladies Team Captain whose members (including herself) were charged with unbefitting public behavior, had future bridge contractual commitments to hire the suddenly “unrecused’ USBF voter’s wife for the following year. So much for conflicts of interest.

Just another bridge tidbit!

As you know, my husband Bobby, was on the losing end of the most disgracefully handled case in bridge history (and I doubt if another one will ever rival or equal it). However badly it was addressed, I place the blame squarely on the shoulder’s of one Bobby Wolff for not speaking up. The two co-chairman were Gookin and Heron, both of whom Bobby had confrontations with and were his unadulterated arch-enemies. This fact was not rumor — but pure gospel — and the background was known by most in the bridge world. IT WAS AUTOMATIC FOR BOTH PARTIES TO VOLUNTEER TO RECUSE THEMSELVES. However, in the absence of their altruistic and proper offers to do so, Bobby should have DEMANDED they step down and be replaced. So, IMHO, Bobby’s gallant attitude and cowardice in refusing to make an issue of their co-chairmanship in a ruling against him was strictly due to his negligence — attributable to being a gentleman and not wanting to use his stature or clout to intercede. Thus, I blame him and as expected, they ruled against him.

I was not on the scene at the time, BUT JODY — YOU CAN BET YOUR LIFE, HAD I BEEN AROUND, I WOULD HAVE INSISTED (LIKE ANY SANE APPELLANT) that Gookin and Heron who had public grievances against Bobby, both from their undeniable wrongdoing, would be forced to step down.

Jody, by your comments, I have no doubt how much you love and respect the game and want what is proper and best for it. It is so apparent to me! I know you didn’t bargain for this long oration, but at the mention of the Oh Shit case and the reference to Joanna Stansby, I thought you would be intrigued by some of the nitty-gritty true stories behind the scenes.

John Howard GibsonMarch 19th, 2010 at 7:00 am

Dear Judy, Not that I’ve read these cases, but such things sound all too familiar given that favouritism is particularly rife in the world of bridge. What can be done to stop it heavens know. I suppose the best way forward is to re-look at the rules to simplify ( or change ) them in such a way as to remove the “opportunities”, where “aggressive” players seek to use their status to lean on directors to secure favourable rulings. With penalty claims in football, any 50-50 argument it is right to give the decision in favour of the defence…..not the attacker! However, the real solution is to find , if that is possible, directors who know what they are doing, absolutely straight and untouchable, and capable of making honest, correct and just decisions from the options laid out in the red/orange rule book. Directors are like footballing referees: there are a few really good ones and the rest are awful. The rubbish ones all too often surrender to the wishes and demands put upon them by home crowds, big name managers and super stars on the pitch. Indeed, some of our top teams have never had a penalty awarded against them on their own ground !! So I suspect that the world of bridge is no different and that directors, and appeal panels, are made up of the same weak-minded, easily influenced numpties who use their power to suck up to those they choose to like ….but more importantly be liked by .

Bobby WolffMarch 19th, 2010 at 8:08 am

Hi John,

Your comments are comprehensive, emotional, descriptive and, at least to me, obviously right-on. For information’s sake, let me bridge from your football to the bridge world (ACBL) in the USA.

Becoming a tournament director in the ACBL is a relatively short process. Some are attracted to it, because it seems doable and keeps one close to the exciting tournament bridge world, which although illusory, is somewhat magnetic. All of this is fine, except what then seems to always happen. TD’s, now much better paid than before, are not required to take extra training in many different areas, such as appeals, bridge knowledge, arguments (sheer blarney) which they will be exposed to, and many of the coercive practices you mention in your blog. In addition, there are some in the home office whose main function is to protect the TD against all attempts of learning, which leads to criticism of the entire process, but still the protection goes on in Notrump and little, if anything, is ever accomplished — the most important thing being advancing knowledge to the TD’s who vitally need it. Few in Memphis, soon to be Mississippi, are well enough versed in what to do, but rather instead of learning themselves, fall back on more protection to their group.

For anything to change, we need to be much more selective in who is chosen to work and who then continues to work unless, at least part of the time consumed by an employee, is dedicated to learning modern practices and poisoned flowers along the path.

Summing up, it is not as necessary for the hopeful player to fall in love with all the beauties of playing our game, but rather the love of the game must be paramount within a person who administrates it. We’ve got a far distance ahead and miles to go before we sleep.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 19th, 2010 at 10:13 am

John:

It is hard to top Bobby’s reply — as he always tells it like it is (and I always want to facetiously add “Strong letter to follow”)!

You positively hit the nail on the head. Those in charge must do what they are paid to do — and do it KNOWLEDGEABLY and OBJECTIVELY — not playing favorites. Easier said than done as qualified people are hard to find.

I was scanning today’s ACBL’s Bullletin and kept reading and re-reading the Rosenblatt Appeal (Case #5, I believe). There was the perfect example of a poor result by decent players who may have reached a better, makeable contract — but alas, a mixup by the opponents (what Bobby calls Convention Disruption a/k/a CD) may have steered them off course. No guarantees, but the way things unraveled via the Appeals process, they got the worst of it. Like I said above, SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

Bobby feels vehement that with all the new artificiality, when CD rears its ugly head, bridge, as we know it, totally ceases and whatever happens turns into sheer chaos as it is hard to adjudicate. He feels so strongly about these confusing issues, he advocates a penalty for those who don’t know their system, either because of poor learning or just general apathy, and if it happens again, a worse penalty. He recommends making all players aware of their responsibilities to the specific field or the game in general and with the issuance of penalties, it will eventually persuade them to either learn their system or take their playthings off the convention card.

And, I might mention, in the article, my favorite form of torture (the AWMW) was alluded to! For those of you who don’t know — these are the ACBL rules on appeals: (1) You cannot appeal an Appeal without new information (even if the Committee erred). That is a GIVEN. But wait until you hear (2): IMMEDIATELY AFTER MY PARTNER AND I (sixteen months later) WERE REPRESENTED BEFORE THE APPEALS AND CHARGES COMMITTEE BY BOBBY WHO SHOWED THEM THE RIDICULOUSNESS OF NOT ONLY THE APPEALS DECISION (though not debatable) AS WELL AS THE UNWARRANTED ‘AWMW’ — the A&CC immediately vacated the AWMW and was approved by the BOD. BUT — that is only PART I. Listen to the rest: The BOD at their next get-together (to save further face and avoid more humiliation in the future) outlawed (YES, OUTLAWED) the appealing of any AWMW. Guess the only way to achieve credibility and restore one’s good name (if unjustly accused) is in a regular court of law. It has become a one-way street.

It’s time these far-from-expert administrators got off their high horses and listened to more knowledgeable individuals from whom they could learn a thing or two. Bridge would be so much better served!

Peter GillMarch 20th, 2010 at 4:22 am

I agree 100% with Judy’s 3rd paragraph above, about the Rosenblatt Appeal in the March 19 Daily Bulletin. Perhaps the Rosenblatts were disadvantaged in the following convoluted way …..

If 1S was alerted AT THAT TIME as clubs, then East would know that West had clubs stopped for the 1NT bid. Now East, with soft black suit values for 4H and with expected club and diamond stoppers in partner’s hand, might well try 3NT over 3H, and would almost certainly make 3NT. However, the timing of the actual alert, after the 1NT call, ruled out a 3NT bid by East at the table, because the clubs might be wide open.

In other words, since 1S appeared to show spades when 1NT was bid, the 1NT bid carried no message of clubs being stopped for 3NT, disadvantaging EW.

Whose job is it to do this, or similar, deep analysis of the hand? Is it EW’s responsibility to pick their way through such complexities and present such material to the AC, or do AC’s consist of experienced players so that the AC members can discover such things without being prompted by the appellants?

I think that the AC suggesting that this appeal might have no merit is very strange. It has plenty of merit but is very hard to analyse, and even my analysis might be no good. I think it needed a group of well-trained AC members (or TDs) to examine the hand fully and closely – this leads back to Bobby’s points about improving TD (and AC?) training.

Bobby WolffMarch 20th, 2010 at 5:51 am

Hi Peter,

Again you are right on track when you cite the problems and, at least mention possible solutions. In a direct answer to your right-on question I think my discussion below will clearly show that the committee chairman, in my opinion, present, along with the aggrieved pair, all necessary annotated information and the reasons to help the committee render a proper decison.

As I see it, the following could be a decent summary of where we are:

1. The AC Chairman should be given the facts as far in advance of the committee meeting as possible. Over the course of a large number of years I chaired at least 100 appeals committees (in the WBF alone) and was available to receive the facts immediately after the appeal was filed (usually in contact with Grattan Endicott from the UK, a wonderfully organized man, who soon realized what was important, and especially so to me) Bill Schoder, for a long time the chief tournament director for the WBF, was also unbelievably cooperative in making good things happen. It gave me time to assess the facts, determine the salient points, seek out precedents on key factors, and be ready to update what was involved to my appreciative committee without them having to allow appeals and their ramifications to take over their lives.

2. As you might know the European justice system is quite different from American jurisprudence, wherein the judge (or in this case the chairman) is encouraged to investigate a case before it is heard, finding answers and, at the very least, knowing how to continue in order to reach a just verdict. All action is transparent to all involved with no secrets, nor anything held back in order to coerce a particular decision. I found out that this system leads to more respect for everyone connected and provides for zeroing in on the issues without anyone, except perhaps the chairman, wasting time on unimportant facts.

3. Another advantage is that, by and large, it protects the committee from being intimidated by a bridge lawyer representing one of the appellants, who has had the time to prepare his case. At least the committee will feel somewhat protected in the knowledge that the chairman has also used his time to sort out the various contentions.

4. As examples of some watershed cases, please refer to my book, The Lone Wolff, which details some of the interesting experiences and confrontations which, without preparation, would not have resulted fairly, with not only the appellants being protected, but also the integrity of the game itself coming out ahead (hopefully).

5. Still another advantage is that an appeals committee member can act as he feels and desires, sometimes allowing his energy to join right in and serve as a passionate member, while in other cases (most) sit there, serve, vote (not always), but not be a determining nor a disruptive factor.

6. Needless to say, and very sadly, ACBL committees, while usually chaired by knowledgable and very bright bridge players, don’t come close to measuring up on a number of cases, which because of their nature need more preparation than is given to them.

Final conclusions:

1. Like most things in life, bridge jurisprudence needs to be explored and nurtered in order to get back from it, decisions which all caring bridge players should want.

2. There are way too many bridge foxes out there with borderline (and sometimes beyond) agendas who specialize in undue influence.

3. We need to establish more precedents in bridge which would save time and add credibility, but alas with the ACBL no one even has the initiative to keep accurate records, nor make the efforts needed to both write them up and analyze them for future reference.

4. There are individuals (usually good players who want every advantage) who wait at the end of an event or important match (aren’t they all?) to win in committee what they lost at the table. Without records these parasites escape since they do not, of course, make it known what their intentions are. I am proud that in at least two cases, both with the ACBL, I caused them to stop going to Nationals for fear of being barred and embarrassed for their despicable appeals.

5. All of the above hasn’t been said before (except in briefs) but the cooperation by the ACBL was never there, although the opposite was true (at least for me) with the WBF.

Thanks for listening!

BBOforumMarch 22nd, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Some facts as noted from Raist in the BBO forum. (I believe the info is direct from one of Singapore’s team players)

1. before Ng-Tan played the first quarter against Nickell-Katz, they mentioned that they play multi. and Nickell said “it’s ok we have a defense”

2. During the 3rd segment when Singapore was just trailing 2 imps at halftime, Meckwell took over from Nickell-Katz and Ng-Tan informed them about multi and they said “let’s see how it goes”

3. then when Ng opened multi 2D 6 boards into the segment, Meckstroth called the TD and suggested that a procedural penalty be imposed as Ng-Tan did not provide printed defence. Ng showed a handwritten defence copied from the internet and Meckstroth said “can’t read it” (not sure if it was really illegible)

4. eventually director ruled that Ng-Tan had to give up multi 2d opening/changing the bid to a normal 2major opening. no procedural penalty was given.

5. After the hand, Meckstroth commented that they are better off against multi 2D as they had perfect ways to bid the hands they held.

They do play hardball in these events =)

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 24th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Addressing BBO Forum in reference to Multi-defenses:

The facts, as I read them from Linda’s blog specifically mentioned the 64 SEED (which was Sally Woolsey’s team)– and it seemed strange to me that such an experienced, sharp and ethical player would not know she had to provide written defenses against Multi). However, now I read (according to the above) it was the Ng-Tan team (Seed 65). The whole story, if it is accurately reported, is rather sickening to me — but some people want that last pound of flesh and ounce of blood regardless of how many world championships they have won.

Yes, they do go for the throat — or as you in a more dignified manner suggest — “play hardball in these events.”

Neither of them ended up in contention, so it mattered not!

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