Judy Kay-Wolff

Accidents Will Happen …

at the bridge table but the rules and regulations made by our administrators and enforced by puppet directors only add to the stupidity of the rulings.   It brings to mind the famous Andy Fine case where the auction proceeded 1N  P 2C (Stayman) P and Andy accidentally took out the Pass card rather than responding to Stayman.   WHAT IS WORSE IS THAT HIS LHO wasted no time reaching for the GREEN CARD — just shouted PASS, not allowing him a second after he realized what happened  to replace his green card with a Stayman response.   I cringe at the inequity of allowing the Pass to stand.

ARE THE RULES WRITTEN TO DELIBERATELY MAKE A FARCE OF THE GAME?   I OFTEN WONDER!   Its sequel occurred Wednesday at the LV sectional.   JUSTICE SHOULD BE TEMPERED WITH MERCY IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE A NORMAL RESULT WHICH AFFECTS THE FIELD.  A GAME FOR LADIES AND GENTLEMEN?   You must be kidding.  The laws of the jungle seem to prevail.

The auction (by a seasoned partnership) went 1H P 3D (alerted and explained as Bergen four-card suit raise with 4-8 HCP).   The 3D bidder was leaning on the table inadvertently glancing down waiting for partner to bid.   Her opponent criticized her for looking at her card and the conversation got heated and the atmosphere at the table became hostile.   Opener became distracted and inadvertently pulled out his Pass card and immediately reached to replace it with the 3H card.

Naturally, the greedy animals called the director and it was termed a mental (not mechanical) error and responder was locked in to play the ridiculous 3D contract (although a ridiculous concept – rule or no rule).  The director was summoned and the combatants were graced (?) by the Director in Charge, Bill Michael, who, at one point, it was reported, warned the appellant if further action was taken “to spell my name right (arrogant, self-serving and an indication of his self-assumed importance)!

The green card was showing near the table but had not been released when he said something to the effect … whoops I meant to pull out 3H (obviously).   When the muckety-muck arrived he asked the opponents if they would accept 3H.  CERTAINLY NOT.  That was too gentlemanly and too sportsmanlike to do so he declared the final contract a ludicrous 3D.   The Opener asked for another director which “Michael” (hope I spelled it right) refused and when she asked again, he awarded her a 1/4 board penalty and she countered with, “Why don’t you make it a 1/2 or a whole?”   I know this sounds like a scene from an Abbott and Costello movie – but this was real life involving the exalted DIC .. just following the rules of the ACBL, ma’am.   At one point the C & E  Committee was alluded to, but they settled for 1/4 board.  Is this what bridge has come to???

THE POWERS THAT BE SHOULD CERTAINLY CONSIDER THAT ‘WHEN AN ARTIFICIAL CONVENTIONAL CALL IS MADE’ AND AN ACCIDENTAL PASS CARD IS PULLED, IT WAS OBVIOUSLY NOT INTENDED AND NO HARM IS DONE TO EITHER THE TABLE OR THE FIELD AND JUSTICE IS SERVED BY ALLOWING THE PROPER CARD TO REPLACE THE UNINTENDED ONE.   I understand the ruling may be in line (maybe yes – maybe no) with the words of the bridge lords, but certainly ridiculous.   When this happens – bridge ceases, as Bobby says.

You are not alone, Andy Fine.   Few care about the decency of the game anymore!   It’s about me, me, me!

As bad as this one is, it is nothing compared to my upcoming blog about the bastardization of the game and the lack of knowledge and misinterpretation of the rules of a Swiss Team by the floor directors involved who rushed out to dinner soon as the scores were posted.   Stay tuned and check out my next rendering.


9 Comments

John Howard GibsonOctober 24th, 2010 at 2:21 am

Dear Judy, the trouble with rules are that general ones prove too unsatisfactory because of injustices that occur when they are applied to all situations. This then requires having exceptions to the general rule, and ultimately exceptions to the exceptions. What is certain in my mind is that accidental pulls require lenient rulings, and sportsmanlike gestures by the opponents to allow the intended card to be played. However, if the incorrect card pulled is a bidding suit/level card that does reveal some information about the hand, then to permit the intended one ( without penalty ) might well cause some damage to the oppo. TD’s should be told to apply wisdom and discretion and just use plain old common sense . In other words, to crack down on cheats or those seeking to gain unfair advantage from those who have unwittingly made mechanical errors or have fallen victim to senior moments, to protect the innocent at all times, and to seek out compromise wherever possible. In situations in which both sides seem to have legitimate claims, then awarding an average, average plus in favour of the innocent side seems eminently sensible. I’m no TD but I really hate watching them delving into the overly complex and convoluting rule books. They should be replaced by a few guidance notes on the principles behind making impartial, objective and unbiased judgments.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 24th, 2010 at 5:18 am

Dear John:

You may get away with that concept in the UK, but here in the states, the ACBL is very protective of their directors and don’t want to make any waves. It is “Rah, Rah, Team” effort personified and few are willing to change the status.

Also, professionalism has ravaged the game and with so much money at stake, they must be careful not to tread on toes (especially the generous ones who shell out to some of their projects). Bridge is no longer a game. Admit it — it has become a business. Sad but true.

Judy

Blair FedderOctober 24th, 2010 at 8:10 am

Having been the culprit who pulled the wrong card, I found that the ruling that 3D stands to be inappropriate for the following reasons:

(1) The pass card never left my hand.

(2) I had taken some time to explain the 3D system bid and its ramifications.

(3) The reason for the REWARDING A TOP BOARD TO THE OPPONENTS, BOTH BEING VERY GOOD FRIENDS OF SAID DIRECTOR, was that said director always, and he guaranteed this statement, ruled that a visible bidding card that touches or nearly touches the table, even if not let go of, counts as a bid, ergo, he will always make the same ruling (MARK THAT IN THE GREAT BOOK OF LIFE) and that the 3D bid stands.

The reason that this is such a terrible rule is not because of the silliness of not being able to correct a bid made while using bidding boxes, while verbal corrections are allowed, but because of the massive swing of a board against the rest of the field. The party receiving said gift result did nothing to earn a top except to call the director and refuse to exhibit sportsmanship.

P. S. Our opponents in this particular situation also lied twice (again on the second board of the round, and yes, we called the director directly (their good friend Michael, the DIC and ruling director). I won’t go into the further anger of the threat to levy a second or more disciplined penalty, which did happen and resulted in adding a full board penalty on top of the quarter board penalty or the later action of removing the full board penalty at the end of the round.

This happened after the request was made to have another director to be made present. We were told there were none, and that we could go to committee to protest the ruling. The position of this director was one of extreme, and one of uncompromise. Perhaps that is the new way that our league will be run? I think it would be better in the long run, especially with membership aging, to allow for a correction of a bidding card.

The argument that I forgot to mention earlier was that the 3D system call was never an issue as I took a good moment to explain the bid and inferences to my opponents.

Later

Bobby WolffOctober 24th, 2010 at 9:01 am

Hi Blair,

While trying to not get into what might be a marked improvement in the handling of bidding boxes as to what constitutes a completed bid, I will venture the following opinion with a history.

First the history: the late Edgar Kaplan, while IMO the man who did the most hard work and thinking to put together what even now constitutes the majority of our modern bridge laws, was always of the opinion that TDs should have simple rules to follow, even though common sense judgment would undoubtedly suffer.

Again, IMO, this dumbing down of the laws has resulted in the following:

1. The instructive parts of the laws are off limits to the current TDs. In the distant past, at least the leading TDs of the day, were accomplished bridge players who loved the game and its competition and were qualified to make common sense applications of the laws which, in turn, established bridge justice.

2. Today, this is not even remotely true since many of the current TDs are not well versed in the playing of the game, but even more importantly, do not violently love or cherish it, nor consider it even important in administering it and sadly regard it as only a job, even perhaps only a way station.

3. To not allow Blair, who had his pass in hand, when in reality he mentally had a return to 3 of the major in mind, to not allow him to do it is a combination of off the charts — stupid rules together with winning hungry unsportsmanlike opponents.

Al Sobel, Dick Goldberg, Harry Goldwater, Paul Marks, Phil Merry, Joe Mathews (to only name a few of our past heroic TDs) would have resorted to vulgar name calling to anyone who thought differently. They also would have seriously admonished the opponents for wanting something for nothing with their names branded in the minds of those directors in case of future confrontations.

4. People who feel differently are entitled to express their views, but who really could think otherwise, unless you totally agree with the dumbing down of the duties of TDs to the point of ridiculousness.

5. Has our world downgraded itself to such an extent that anyone alive would like to see a player who only temporarily had an aberrant bidding card on the way to completing his description of the meaning of the convention and not imparting any unauthorized information to his partner to be so penalized so that greedy opponents can get a top board?

What more needs to be said except to listen to the stony silence for anyone who likes to witness atrocities and admit it?

dannyOctober 24th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Yes, accidents happen at the table all of the time. People miscount trumps. People see a spade, when a club was played. People here declarer call for dummy’s 8 when they meant ACE. People forget conventions. People pull the wrong card from the bidding box.

Oh, wait, we should let them take THAT mistake back, while punishing the others?? If the passer meant to pull 3H out, and the 3S card stuck to it, he can replace it without penalty. But when you pull a pass card out, it is not a mechanical error. It is a mental error, like any of the others above. You may not like the rule as it is written, and perhaps with your influence, Bobby, you can try to get it changed. But I don’t see the point of castigating someone for enforcing the rules, merely because you think it is an injustice.

Bobby WolffOctober 24th, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Hi Danny,

Sadly for me, because of my current restrictive position and absent hearing, my influence is restricted to pointing out major flaws in the system and, of course, in the interpretation of the laws available.

While attending law school (many years ago) my favorite professor, who taught both Contracts and Criminal Law often quoted what a famous jurist once said and I’ll take the liberty to, at the very least paraphrase, “Good judges tend to follow and administer the law as it might be commonly interpreted, but GREAT JUDGES interpret the law so that justice will be achieved by that interpretation.

Perhaps it is a stretch on my part to expect so much from bridge tournament directors, but didn’t your family suggest to you like mine did for me, that whatever a person decides to do in life he should seek doing it the best he (she) can.

What happened at the recent LV Sectional to Blair and then in the closing Swiss Team event to the Crossley team only proves how badly we need to, as people in charge, to think through, in an accurate and unbiased manner, before we act precipitously.

The judgment used was nothing short of shameful, but if we are smart we can use it as a valuable learning experience in order to understand what the law is trying to achieve. Anything less is reprehensible.

Richard PavlicekOctober 24th, 2010 at 9:50 pm

As I see it, you should accept the ruling of the Director in charge (DIC). If you dispute his authority, the next step up is the Head Director in charge, and you’ll always be ruled against by a DIC Head.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 25th, 2010 at 2:25 am

Dear Richard:

I really miss you and Mabel. My recalls are among the most pleasant and all the victories you played a major part in on teams with Edgar, Norman, Bill, et al. Memories are quite a refeshing commodity and I shall never forget the numerous big triumphs and ultra-happy moments we all shared.

When I first met you, you were quiet and reserved, but quite an up-and-coming young star in your own right. It was a sad day when you left the team to start playing with Richard, Jr. but we were grateful for getting to know you and Mabel and your great contributions to their group’s success.

Last night when I read the above comment, you had me befuddled. You were always a perfect gentleman and minded your manners. I thought to myself what is this refined, quiet man talking about? He seems to be going in circles. When I awakened at 3 a.m., I got the shock of my life — from the paragon of refinement — Rich Pavlicek, spotting the punchline of the key last two words! TOUCHE! Sorry for being soooo dense.

Love,

Judy

Bobby WolffOctober 25th, 2010 at 7:03 am

Hi Richard, (and now I know why you prefer being called the above, instead of Dick),

Your occasional letter reminds me of how much the bridge world has missed the likes of you. Together with your three departed illustrious teammates, (Bill, Edgar and Norman), your team will likely never be equaled for a combination of talent, class, sophistication, and aplomb.

However with the emergence from the powerful junior ranks, the tried and true Nickell team, other American top-level stars, and the improved very ethical varied foreign giants, the high-level bridge world remains in excellent hands.

For sure, you, as a beacon of all that is good in bridge, will forever be remembered and compared with the very best in bridge, not only for playing it ethically and well but for all your success in teaching it to many.

Judy and I, as well as the rest of the bridge world, miss your presence. May life be good to you and forever may you be blessed with blue skies and green lights.

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