Judy Kay-Wolff

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS …

Ever since the disgusting handling of the October 22nd Las Vegas Regional Swiss Team Incident (ten weeks ago) where the results of the second and third place teams were reversed because of directors’ flagrant misjudgment, we have been trying to learn from someone in Horn Lake what transpired and who was on the Senior Directors’ Committee which reviewed the decision.   We received the following from Jeff Johnston (written, in my opinion, in legal jargon UNLIKE Jeff’s style) on December 22nd (exactly two months after the incident and our ensuing request) which went round in circles but said nothing other than the matter was closed.  End of issue as far as they were concerned.  Below is Jeff Johnston’s letter.

After an extensive review of what happened during the Swiss Team event at the Las Vegas Sectional, the following are my findings.  (THE WORDS IN CAPS ARE MY CURRENT REACTIONS  JKW).

During discussion with the senior tournament directors in Orlando, we feel that everything that was done by the floor directors and the Director in Charge was reasonable and according to established guidelines. (YOU MUST BE KIDDING.  PATTY HOLMES HAD HER OBEDIENT RUNNER. JEAN MOLNAR PULLING BOARDS FROM EVERY WHICH WAY WITH NO RHYME OR REASON OR PROOF OF GUILT and the DIC SEEMED TO BE UNINVOLVED).  We determined that there was not a single ACBL-wide policy for such occurrences and will take steps to establish a policy and ensure it is disseminated to all directors for uniform enforcement. The slow play motion passed by the ACBL Board of Directors at their Orlando meeting will be the basis for this policy. (GREAT IT IS A WONDERFUL IDEA BUT DID NOT EXHONERATE THE  FLAGRANT RULINGS THAT WERE IN PLACE AND VIOLATED ON OCTOBER 22ND — AND WHY ONLY NABCs)???????   Notwithstanding this lack of consistent policy at the time of the Las Vegas Sectional, we do not feel any inappropriate decisions were made by the directors involved. (NO INAPPROPRIATE DECISIONS?   YOU’RE PULLING MY LEG.   ASK YOUR DIC, BILL MICHAEL IF HE DID NOT ADMIT TO PAUL IVASKA ERRORS HAD BEEN MADE ALL DURING THE EVENT).  

It should be noted that neither the directors nor the ACBL Bridge Administrators go back and make changes after the fact in situations such as these. Time restrictions apply even to last rounds and even to leading teams. (THEN PERHAPS IT IS TIME THEY ADOPT A NEW POLICY WHEN YOUR TWO DIRECTORS DISAPPEAR SOON AS THE GAME IS NEARING ITS END.   THE ACBL WAS SOLELY AT FAULT SINCE PATTY HOLMES AND JEAN MOLNAR, THE TWO INDIVIDUALS SPECIFICALLY INVOLVED , WITH PATTY GIVING THE ORDERS AND JEAN ACTING AS HER LACKEY PULLING BOARDS NILLY-WILLY. HIGHTAILED IT OUT OF THE PLAYING SITE AS JEAN HAD TO MAKE A PLANE AND THE ‘GIRLS’ HAD DINNER PLANS).

The thought that there was any bias against particular players involved was dismissed as highly unlikely – the director primarily involved in the issuance of the penalty has absolutely no history of any biased behavior towards any players.  (AS FAR AS BIAS, TRY CHECKING YOUR DOSSIERS AS TO HOW MANY COMPLAINTS OUR TEAMMATES PAUL IVASKA AND CAROL STEWART HAVE FILED AGAINST PATTY HOLMES FOR INAPPROPRIATE ACTION AND ALSO HER DEMOTION AS A DIC). Upon review of the actions of the floor director, the Field Supervisors agreed unanimously that there was no impropriety and the actions were justified in light of facts in evidence.  (IF YOU THINK HEARSAY EVIDENCE AND KANGAROO COURTS ARE THE NEW WAY OF DECIDING ISSUES  YOU BETTER SEARCH YOUR SOUL FOR A BETTER SOLUTION.   IT IS INSULTING TO THE BRIDGE WORLD AT LARGE FOR YOU TO BASE YOUR DECISIONS ON THE WORDS OF ‘YOUR’ PEOPLE’ WITHOUT GIVING THE PLAINTIFFS A CHANCE TO TELL THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY.   [WHAT WAS THE ACBL ASHAMED OF?]  OBVIOUSLY THE ONE SIDED ACCCOUNTING OF THE INCIDENT?  SINCE WHEN HAS THE ACBL BECOME A SECRET SOCIETY WHERE IT TAKES TEN WEEKS TO LEARN THE NAMES OF THE COMMITTEE AND DISREGARD REPEATED EMAILS AND CALLS.    PERHAPS THEY THOUGHT IF THEY CLOSED THEIR EYES, IT WOULD GO AWAY.  IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY WITH ME)!

We consider this particular investigation closed and stand by the decisions made both at the table and following the completion of the event.  (PERHAPS YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT THE PRINCPLES OF JUSTICE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ARE BASED ON DUE PROCESS OF LAW — WHICH THE COMPLAINANTS NEVER RECEIVED.   YOU HELD A CLOSED MEETING AND LISTENED ONLY TO THE VERSIONS OF YOUR ABERRANT DIRECTORS WHO WERE TRYING TO SAVE THEIR SKIN AND YOU BOUGHT IT HOOK, LINE AND SINKER,!  SHAME ON YOU AND THE ACBL FOR YOUR BIASED PROCESS TO SAVE YOU THE EMBARRASSMENT FOR HAVING SKEWED THE FINAL RESULTS OF 2ND AND 3RD).

(INCIDENTALLY, FOR THOSE OF YOU HEARING THIS NIGHTMARE FOR THE FIRST TIME, OUR TEAM, composed of Carol Stewart, Paul Ivaska, Bobby and me, WON THE EVENT OUTRIGHT.   HOWEVER, THOUGH IT MATTERED NOT TO US, FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER THE STAFF (Jean Molnar) REMOVED OUR LAST BOARD BEFORE THE ARRANGED TIME AND ALSO TOOK AWAY THREE IMPS AND GAVE IT TO OUR OPPONENTS WHICH VAULTED THEM UNDESERVINGLY INTO SECOND PLACE OVER THE REAL 2nd PLACE FINISHERS). 

(WE ARE ONLY FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AND TRYING TO MAKE THE ACBL REALIZE THEIR DIRECTORS ARE CAPABLE OF CATASTROPHIC MISTAKES AND IT IS TIME THEY LEARNED THE RULES OF LATE PLAYS, TIME ALLOWED, ARBITRARILY REMOVING BOARDS, ADJUSTING SCORES, AWARDING UNDESERVED IMPS, ETC.   THESE ARE NOT ROOKIE DIRECTORS!)

An offshoot of the investigation, as mentioned above, will be establishment of a more concrete, ACBL-wide policy based on decisions made by the ACBL Board of Directors in Orlando regarding slow play in general. The Field Supervisors are currently working on this policy and it will soon be sent to all Tournament Directors as part of our on-going desire to be uniform in all areas requiring this type of consistency while allowing for local interpretations in some areas of game management. (A LOT OF GOOD THAT WILL DO FOR THE REAL SECOND PLACE FINISHER!   FURTHERMORE, THE PEOPLE MAKING THE DECISIONS HAVE TO NOT BE ‘LAY’ PEOPLE BUT EXPERTS IN THE AREA OF RULES AND REGULATIONS OR ELSE WE WILL BE BACK TO SQUARE ONE).  THE ACBL NEEDS ALL THE HELP IT CAN GET AND A LESS BIASED AND MORE ACCURATE APPROACH IS  MANDATORY).

In summation, the investigation is complete, the actions of the directors at the Las Vegas Sectional are upheld, the results stand and there will be a better defined slow play policy sent to all directors with encouragement to discuss interpretations, mechanics and detail on the director web board to ensure understanding and consistency at all events.   (YOUR INVESTIGATION MAY BE COMPLETE, BUT YOU WERE IGNORANT OR NAIVE AS TO EXACTLY WHAT WENT ON, ESPECIALLY WITH PATTY GIVING THE ORDERS FROM THE DESK AND JEAN, THE LACKEY, TRYING TO CARRY THEM OUT.   INCIDENTLY, BOBBY SAID THIS WAS ONE OF THE WORST DIRECTORIAL SITUATIONS HE HAS SEEN IN SIXTY YEARS ON THE SCENE AND HIS PRIMARY OBJECTIVE HAS ALWAYS BEEN WHAT IS BEST FOR THE GAME — NOT THE INDIVIDUAL, THE GROUP, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ETC.  — JUST THE GAME – AND ONLY THE GAME).

————————————————————————————————–

Bobby and I have been in contact with Jay Baum, CEO, on several occasions and obviously he does not want  to get involved and mix into the business of the secret committee, whose names we have been pleading for since the episode ten weeks ago.  He finally referred me to Tom Whitesides, who sent a lovely letter (long overdue) which you will find below.   Again, the letters in CAPS ARE MY COMMENTS) and Tom, a good friend,  does not know all the ramifications of the 22nd –  only via hearsay.  JKW

Hi Judy and Bobby,

Checked with Jeff and while he considers the matter closed he had no problem with me telling you who was at the directors meeting. (A BIT TARDY, YOU MUST ADMIT! ALSO, HOW CAN THE SENIOR DIRECTORS COMMITTEE BE SO DOGMATIC WHEN THEY HAVE NOT BEEN APPRISED BY BOTH SIDES OF WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, 10 WEEKS LATER AFTER OUR PLEADING FOR THE NAMES OF THE COMMITTEE, HE PROVIDES US WITH IT.   WHAT WAS THE HOLDUP?)  The meeting was not secret it was the regularly scheduled field rep meeting held over two consecutive mornings at Orlando NABC. (IF IT WAS NOT A SECRET, AND EVERYONE KNEW WE WANTED TO KNOW THEIR IDENTITIES, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TYPE AND EMAIL THEIR NAMES????   TELL ME THAT.   I WILL ADMIT, FOR THE MOST PART, IT IS AN IMPRESSIVE LIST OF INDIVIDUALS BUT I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND (1) WHY STALLING TO REVEAL THEIR NAMES; AND (2) WITHOUT HEARING THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY FROM THE HORSES’ MOUTHS, HOW THEY COULD STAND UP FOR THE LV DIRECTORS WHO WERE SO IRRATIONAL IN THEIR DECISIONS)

Present were
Jeff Johnston
Sol Weinstein
Chris Patrias
Matt Smith
Patty Johnson
Charlie Mac Cracken
Millard Nachtwey
Tom Whitesides

I told everyone about the situation in LV and we discussed to see if we could learn something from this.  I believe we will totally revamp our approach to swiss timing for the NABCs. (YOUR TELLING EVERYONE ABOUT THE SITUATION IN LV DOESN’T BEGIN TO CUT IT.   YOU WERE NOT THERE AND IT WAS A BIASED VERSION COMING FROM OUR ADVERSARIAL DIRECTORS WHO COULDN’T SEEM TO GET ANYTHING RIGHT THAT DAY.  HOWEVER THE ONLY POSITIVE RESULT THAT EMERGED WAS YOUR CHANGING THE TIMING OF THE RIDICULOUS SCHEDULING BY SOME BRAIN SURGEON WHO COULD NOT FORESEE ALL THE TIME PROBLEMS — WHICH PROVED TO BE RIGHT ON TARGET AS PREDICTED).

When Bobby Wolff speaks everyone listens and I for one have only the most respect for you two.  I don’t believe you have been ignored as you think, I actually believe some good things will come out of it.  (THAT IS VERY KIND AND SINCERE AND I BELIEVE YOU, BUT WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THE TEAM THAT FINISHED SECOND (WHO WERE ACTUALLY THIRD) AND THE TEAM WHO ACTUALLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN SECOND BUT YOUR DIRECTORS SAW FIT TO PUT THEM IN THIRD)?   HOW CAN YOU OVERLOOK WHAT YOUR TEAM OF DIRECTORS CAUSED TO HAPPEN.  THEY ARE GUILTY AS SIN FOR ALLOWING THIS TO OCCUR BUT YOU ALL SEEM TO DISMISS IT AS JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE.   THE DIRECTORS MUST ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT HAPPENED AND IT DID NOT JUST COME OUT OF THE BLUE).  THEY DID NOT KNOW THE RULES AND PENALIZED US THREE VPS FOR NOTHING AS THE OPPONENTS TOOK ABOUT 60% OF THE TIME AND WE TOOK 40% — BUT THE LAST BOARD WAS PULLED BY JEAN MOLNAR (BEFORE THE TIME FOR PULLING A BOARD).   THE WHOLE DAY WAS SIMPLY A COMEDY OF ERRORS COMMITTED BY THOSE IN CHARGE.   I PRAY FOR THE SAKE OF BRIDGE NO ONE ELSE HAS TO UNDERGO THE ABUSE THAT OUR TEAM WAS SUBJECTED TO THOUGH TOTALLY INNOCENT – MERELY THE TARGET OF BIAS AND PROFILING.)
 

Hope all is well with you two.  Randy says hi.
Tom

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Oh, yes, – the last straw!  This morning Bobby and I were criticized by Board Member Joan Gerard to ‘cut the ACBL some slack.’   WHY????  What have they done to deserve it by burying their heads in the sand and refusing to admit their ‘perfect’ directorial swiss team staff of 10/22 was capable of  making a series of blunders which resulted in disgracefully incorrect final standings?  Nobody’s perfect.  At least own up to it.

The organization should recognize the errant handling of the situation and perhaps directors will be more careful about putting their own egos, individual agendas and personal grievances ahead of the game itself.

There you have it … the ACBL in all its glory.   Shame on them for protecting their own flock rather than the people paying the dues and cards fees.   It was a clear case of malfeasance on the part of the erring directors and we felt the world of bridge was entitled to know what went on behind closed doors — WITHOUT DUE PROCESS.


24 Comments

CPJanuary 9th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I thought the following letter to which I was privy (to Tom Whitesides) from Paul Ivaska would further clarify the goings on of October 22nd.

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your consideration of the Las Vegas Sectional Swiss Teams. I was a witness to several of the incidents, and I did some research into some of the others and into the rules that should have governed the event.

First, Rule 10 of the ACBL Conditions of Contest (CofC) for Swiss teams posted on the ACBL website require a finding that one pair or the other is responsible for a board not being played before a penalty can be levied. Therefore, the 3-IMP penalty actually imposed against our team was not only not automatic but indeed illegal. It is clear that the floor director, Jean Molnar, thought that just because two boards had been taken from our team in the course of the event that, ipso facto, the penalty was automatic (a dubious concept in itself). She made no effort to determine who had been responsible, she didn’t deploy her best judgment, or any judgment at all, for that matter, because she didn’t think it was necessary. It is, of course, disappointing that the directors were unfamiliar with Rule 10, which would seem to be fairly basic to running a Swiss Teams.

Jean had taken a board from our table during the fourth (of six) rounds. At that time, there was no discussion with the four players to try to determine who was responsible for the delay. As my partner and I walked back to our home table, Jean stated, “Patty (Holmes) says that you had a board pulled earlier, so it’s an automatic 3 IMPs to the other team on the unplayed board.” We told Jean that that wasn’t true, and she verified it with Patty and reported that there had been a mistake. This incident suggests that they were either pulling so many boards that they couldn’t keep track of what had been taken from whom or that they were targeting certain teams.

Jean also pulled the last board of the last round from our teammates’ table. There was no discussion with the four players to try to determine who was responsible for the delay. She then came to our table (while our opponents were still sitting with us as we waited for our teammates to finish) and told us that our opponents would receive “an automatic 3 IMPs” for the board that wasn’t played at the other table.

Two boards had also been pulled from matches involving the Heicklen team. According to the three of their team members with whom I checked, there was no discussion at the table about responsibility. After the second instance, Patty levied what she said was an automatic 3-IMP penalty on their team, who did not protest because they did not realize that it was illegal. (The Heicklen team was a five-man team, only one of whom was at the two tables where the two boards were taken.) Rules 9 and 10 clearly state that responsibility for at least one pulled board must be established before any penalty, IMP or VP, can be imposed. If responsibility cannot be established, then no penalty can be levied. It seems as simple as that. I believe that the second board was pulled during the third match, which preceded the one-hour lunch break. Is that really necessary, in the absence of some extreme delay, which did not occur? Since it’s not possible to monitor all 36 teams in the event, the facts recounted above suggest that some teams were being targeted, which I certainly hope wasn’t the case.

Rule 7 of the CofC stipulates that 7 ½ minutes be allowed for each board in a Swiss Teams match. Neither board would have been taken from our team had the CofC been respected. Am I to understand that the conditions of contest can be abrogated at the whim of director(s)? I shouldn’t think so. After all, if the clock can be set at 50 minutes, it can, at least in theory, be set at 10 minutes.

As mentioned elsewhere, only one hour was being allowed between the start of one match and the start of the next. I know that this timetable didn’t originate with the tournament manager, Tom Shulman. The only reason behind it that I’m presently aware of is that Patty and Jean had dinner plans.

The situation was somewhat worse than implied above. The pressure of this accelerated schedule was compounded by an aggressive policy of pulling boards. At least five that I know of weren’t played, two on the last round, including one in the match between the two leading Flight A teams. I know that directors in many jurisdictions make every effort to play all the boards, rather than pulling boards on the basis of a technicality (or worse, on the basis of a practice specifically not allowed under the CofC). Pulling boards is inherently capricious, in that it may punish the nonoffending side, if there is one, sometimes very harshly. It’s a bit like Russian roulette, except that more than one chamber is loaded and the gun is pointed in the opposite direction.

Even the manner of pulling the boards was dubious. In the case of our table, Jean, whom I’ve always liked, by the way, turned a card from one of the hands face up, rather than simply telling us that the board wasn’t to be played. This practice strikes me as unduly confrontational.

Furthermore, I feel that directors should refrain from pouring gasoline on raging fires. Sadly, shortly after the last match, I heard Patty say, in a stentorian voice dripping with sarcasm, “If you’re special, you get extra time!” This is, at the very least, highly unprofessional.

Well within 30 minutes of the end of the event, I talked to the DIC, Bill Michael, whom I also like. At the time, I didn’t know any of the rules mentioned above, even though I’ve been a member of the ACBL for more than 47 years. Naturally, we rely on directors to know the rules. I wasn’t filing a formal protest because I didn’t know then that the rules had been violated. Bill was helpful on several general points, and he said he would talk to Jean and Patty. I know that he later told Tom Shulman that he would look into the matter and report back to him. By the way, I’m astonished that the CEO of the ACBL has gotten involved. That’s rather like the CEO of GE coming out to my house to replace a burned out light bulb.

I have always labored under the apparent misapprehension that every effort should be made to preserve or restore equity. Far from that ideal, here it seems many efforts were made to damage or destroy it. I think the ACBL owes a sincere, not a pro forma, apology to Jan Crossley, Pam Stratton, Proctor Hawkins, and Gard Hays for unfairly confiscating their deserved second-place finish. I don’t see how this can be condoned.

Tournaments are not run for the benefit of the directors. It goes without saying that they shouldn’t leave before their job is completed satisfactorily. They are well paid employees who should, according to the ACBL website, possess among other requirements:

“1. Thorough knowledge and understanding of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge and ACBL regulations…and

2. Public relations skills to balance the roles of referee and judge, schoolteacher, psychologist, and entertainment director…”

The following statement follows the list of TD requirements listed on the ACBL website. “While it is vital that we deal with rulings and penalties in a manner consistent with our laws and regulations, it is even more important to do so in a manner that shows that we realize that these players are our customers and have many other options for spending their leisure time. Presentation is everything…”

Ignorance of the rules is bad enough, but it’s exacerbated by the familiar tendency of directors and, to some extent, administration to close ranks around colleagues, even when they are clearly wrong. Thus, we see yet another example of the maxim that the cover-up is almost always worse than the underlying crime, a term I’m using advisedly.

Finally, accelerating the schedule in contravention of the conditions of contest, possibly for personal reasons, aggressively and sometimes unnecessarily pulling boards, levying illegal penalties that unfairly alter the final standings, sarcastically attacking players, and refusing to correct an obvious injustice is no way to run a railroad! As a result, an adversarial relationship is developing between many players and some of the directors. Fortunately, there’s an easy (theoretically, anyway) solution, i. e., for the latter to adopt a friendly and cooperative attitude. I don’t think that’s asking too much. As mentioned above, it’s the job of a director to get along with the players. Directors are paid well to do just that. It’s even explicitly mentioned in the TD requirements. I look forward to these difficulties being corrected in time for our next tournament in February.

Sincerely.

Paul Ivaska

RKJanuary 9th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Where was the DIC when all of this was going on with the pulling of boards?

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 9th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Beats me!

RKJanuary 9th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Couldn’t your Tournament Chairman do anything about it?

He surely could not have been a happy camper.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 9th, 2011 at 6:57 pm

He tried, but he got the same runaround I got, talking about slow play rules for the future — which had no bearing on what happened the day of the incident.

Martha BeecherJanuary 10th, 2011 at 10:53 am

Paul Ivaska has hit the nail on the head. His letter presents all the facts and clarifies rules concerning slow play and board removal. I would only hope that, in the future, these types of errors no longer take place. Perhaps,also, in the future, the directors will have a copy of Paul’s letter to reference.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 10th, 2011 at 11:29 am

Martha:

Pretty sad a director would have to carry around Paul’s letter than, as a qualified director have them engrained in his or her own head for posterity. However, anything is better than nothing!

Judy

Bobby WolffJanuary 10th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Martha and Judy,

We have received no apology of any type from the ACBL only a status report of looking into it and it has been over 2-1/2 months since the tournament.

However, this is nothing new to me since now and for many years I have brought certain weird, totally incorrect and hostile actions by their chief tournament directors at major National events with the same protection system for all their senior and otherwise directors.

Never in my life have I been privy to this type of inexcusable behavior, but, I guess, since they feel they have a monopoly on tournament bridge I imagine they do not feel responsible to try and do things right or, at times even passably.

I am waiting for that to change, but since I have no way of changing it, I guess I will never see it.

If anyone would like a specific reference to what has happened over the years, please just ask me.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 10th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Bobby:

Obviously you speak from the heart and love of the game and many of us feel we have been done in by the lethargy and sloth of the forces behind the decision (irreversible, so they proclaim). Tell that to the ‘real’ second place finisher!

However, let us get to the real rationale behind the lagging and slow passage of time in the eyes of the directors:

WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO PLAY EIGHT BOARDS (DEEMED BY THE ACBL TO BE ALLOTED 7-1/2 PER BOARD)? The LAS VEGAS STAFF OR THE DIRECTORS? That in itself, was not the cause of the disasters, slow play accuasations and pulling of boards.

It was the lack of foresight that each round could not be started exactly on the hour.

If you are allowed 60 minutes (7-1/2 minutes times 8 boards) and use the full time to which you are entitled — how, pray tell, can you be TOTALLY FINISHED AND READY TO SIT DOWN FOR THE SECOND MATCH AT 11 AND THE THIRD MATCH AT 12? YOU CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT HAVE TO!!!!

The following allowances were not considered: (1) Check the chart and find your table assignment; (2) Make the boards and discuss any unusual system, conventions or leads you make; (3) Bid, play and and score the board; (4)

At the end of play compare with opponents; (5) Meet with your teammates to check the results and confirm with your

teammates; (5) Someone must turn in the slip; and then it is time to find your next assignment. Oh, yes, lest we not forget (6) that someone may have to use the Restroom

during the session.

Those in charge should have taken the above into vital consideration and perhaps changed the starting times to

10:00; 11:10 and 12:20, break for lunch and begin the last three sessions at 2:30: 3:40 and 4:50. Also, in any kind of

sane competition, the last match (usually considered to be the championship round) should be allowed to run over a few minutes, if necessary, as so much is at stake after playing the entire game).

Players and directors should not be on ultra-tight schedules (dinner dates, trains, flights, etc.), leaving a little leeway, as unforeseen things do happen to detain the game sometimes.

People play bridge to relax and enjoy it. This is not a Nascar Race where every second counts. Let us try playing the game like civilized people and allow for the comfort of other chores that go along with the match.

Had this been the case, I suspect the debacle of October

22nd would have been avoided unless there were other motivations of which I was not aware.

John KelseyJanuary 10th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

your situation with inept directors-in my opinion-happens more frequently than one would think possible. i had one in the Houston Nationals(2 yrs ago?) where the director ruled improperly, i protested, won the correction but was dinged for my protest. i have basically refused to give any more $$ to the ACBL due to this and other top end failings they have.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 10th, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Dear John:

Good for you for challenging the director when you thought he had erred. No one is perfect — not even a director. We have all made many mistakes (in life and at the bridge table) but every dues paying member has the right to question a ruling at the table.

I am curious to learn what you meant by “was dinged for my protest.” What did you do wrong other than protect your rights? I hate to hear aftermaths like that as anyone who thinks they have been injured (not frivolously, of course) has the right to summon a director. They don’t get paid for standing around and looking pretty. THAT IS THEIR JOB! They have to be able to ‘take it’ as well as ‘dish it out.’

I await your answer please. Thanks for sharing.

Judy

ReneJanuary 11th, 2011 at 7:19 am

Bridge has changed eons in the last fifty years or so. I remember the good old days of Maury Braunstein, Harry Goldwater, Al Sobel, Dean Weisbach, Phil Merry, Jerry Machlin, Phil Wood, Joe Matthews and so many more. The new breed is so unlike the classic directors of old. Your situation could never have occurred back then.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 11th, 2011 at 8:05 am

Yes, Rene, bridge has exhibited vast changes, but not all for the better.

As might be expected when a small organization boomerangs, it can get out of control with so many employees and departments to manage (and some of the lovely people who work there are not even bridge players which can make it even tougher).

The people you mentioned were classics. They were warm, unbusinesslike, friendly and had wonderful senses of humor but knew the game inside and out and were adept at handlng their customers. Even if a ruling was rendered the way the player had not hoped to hear, it was handled in good taste without bad blood or ill-will. Case closed.

I have to digress for a moment with an unbelievable story that was talked about for years involving Dean Weisbach, a very capable director from Cincinnati. My late husband, Norman, was en route to Atlanta with his team for a tournament with a stopover in Ohio. Apparently, the airline had overbooked and Dean Weisbach had no seat and had to be there on time as a major director. My Norman gave up his seat and went to the nearest Greyhound Terminal and bussed himself to Atlanta. Every time I saw Dean, she reminded me of his one-of-a-kind gesture. That was so typical of Norman and why he was loved the world over.

Back to the directors. The old-time directors adored the game. They were underpaid and possibly understaffed, but their love of bridge and the people who indulged in the game made everything so worthwhile. The directors were pleasant and entertaining with great senses of humor and handled most potentially sticky and questionable situations with aplomb and in good taste. You rarely heard flack about decisions or had so many appeals meetings. The old time directors had a special touch for handling people and knew the rulings in their sleep. Diplomacy was the key to the setting.

They operated openly, fairly and the public was entitled to know what happened. Boy, what a difference fifty years can make.

Robb GordonJanuary 11th, 2011 at 9:19 am

” I remember the good old days of Maury Braunstein, Harry Goldwater, Al Sobel, Dean Weisbach, Phil Merry, Jerry Machlin, Phil Wood, Joe Matthews”

I caddied for every single one of those directors except Joe Matthews whom I do not remember. Am I that old?

I remember I was caddying at a tournament Al Sobel ran and was assigned to a novice game. As an 10 year old, I was not familiar with the word and pronounced it “no vice”. You can bet Al had a good time with that for the rest of the day!

By the way, Dean Weisbach lived in Kentucky and was a “Kentucky Colonel”. Lexington, I believe.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 11th, 2011 at 10:57 am

Dear No-Vice:

I loved your story. You really started your career working early.

Thanks for the mention about cities. I checked it out and found she died in 1998 in Redmond , WA but was married to Frank Weisbach (a director also) who passed away in 1981 but it listed him as a resident of Cincinnati. The incident happened at the Cincinnati airport according to Norman but if I am not mistaken, Kentucky is very close to Ohio — maybe just across the river. Too late to check with Norman — but I’m pretty sure she departed from Cincinnati — wherever she may have lived. By the way, this was long before I met Norman — perhaps in the 50s but everyone always teased him about it.

JordanJanuary 11th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Maury and Marion Braunstein lived in Schnectady and often ran tournamnets in Montreal where I first met them as a kid–of course they’d known my parents for years. When Ralph joined the ACBL and we moved to CT, Maury ran a sectional in Stamford in ’71 or ’72. I was caddying, but because they had an odd number of tables, Maury pulled me out and paired me with Henry Francis [who was shortly to join the Bulletin staff] to even up the numbers–who did we draw–my dad’s team–it had no Cinderella ending. A few years later at the ’75 Summer Nationals in Miami he kept pulling both Billy and me out of caddying to fill in so much that we made almost no money–we also never caddied again, and became confirmed players.

Robb GordonJanuary 12th, 2011 at 5:48 am

Judy you are right – Cincinnati is just across the Ohio river and was probably the closest major airport. In fact the airport is now located in Kentucky (don’t know about then).

I last saw Dean at the Portland spring NABC in 1986. I was second in the Open Pair and Henry was interviewing me. Sitting off to the side was a very dignified elderly lady who looked familiar. When she opened her mouth I knew who she was. I introduced myself. She remembered my parents well, because my father frequently worked with her. She was his favorite head director.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 12th, 2011 at 9:19 am

Jordan:

What a cute story. From caddy to player!! Memories of your parents and the Braunsteins (whom I also knew well through Norman) warm the cockles of my heart. I guess once the bridge bug bites you –there is no going back — and you and Billy are the prime examples.

Keep in touch.

Fondly,

Judy

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 12th, 2011 at 9:24 am

Robb:

I cannot remember the last time I saw Dean. I do envision her as a class act and as an elegant lady. I cannot imagine a female director of her status today, although I have not played in the nationals for two and a half years, so I may be doing some lass an injustice. But Dean’s manner was unto itself. As some guy once said … Thanks for the memories!

Cheers,

Judy

EllisJanuary 13th, 2011 at 10:18 am

There are still some directors with old school charm ,who have a way of dealing with players that both solves problems and soothes the nerves.

In the old way the directors were thought of as ACBL representatives or officers of the ACBL, nowadays it seems as the directors work under an independent auspicies and are only controlled by their own governing body.

Sometimes the old ways are better even if somewhat less organized.

Bobby WolffJanuary 13th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Hi Ellis,

From my somewhat narrow perspective, it becomes a case of respect, or more likely lack of same. Starting some years ago and since then multiplying rapidly with our economic meltdown, many younger people seem to respect very little about their elders.

And from a certain point of view, when they become witness to such greed, less than stellar influence and poor examples from so many of our power brokers and politicians, it is somewhat difficult to blame them.

However, whatever the reason, it bodes badly for this time and until it changes, if it ever does, all of us will continue to be caught up in the vices of others. I’ve never experienced the wrongs committed in the recent Las Vegas tournament and without even a whit of remorse, much less apologies.

To make matters much worse is the protection offered by some of the ACBL’s finest, surely knowing full well how wrong their employees actually were. Perhaps someone has suggested that for employees to perform up to standards they first have to feel loved, but if that is the case those same employees have a lot of catching up to do, just to get back to the starting gate.

All we can apparently do is hope for the best, while fearing the worst.

Bob JohnsonJanuary 13th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Hi Judy

Regarding the Las Vegas Regional and director’s Patty Homes’ ruling. 30 years ago I was playing against Patty and her Partner led the 8C toward dummy’s K_J_9_2; I hesitated about 2 seconds,holding A_10_6; finally playing small. My P won the QC and Patty called me a “coffeehouser”. Bob Johnson- Oklahoma City

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 13th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Ellis:

SUCCINCT AND RIGHT TO THE POINT! I could not agree with you more. Progress may be great in some cases, but we have regressed in bridge in too many areas to make me proud.

After reading the ridiculous response from Jeff Johnston where he protected his flock (wrongly) at every turn, it proves the Directors have their own union and no one has the guts to do anything about it. At this point, making the public aware of how they handle things is a powerful weapon. Otherwise, it would just be another case of the poor director being criticized (and rightfully so) but her (their) tribesmen come to the defense of the accused and attempt to whitewash the incident. Not so fast, Charley!

Time to make the bridge playing public aware that they are being taken advantage of. Paul Ivaska’s letter (above) tells it all.

Ellis, thanks for caring.

Judy

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 13th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Bob:

You’ve got quite a memory — but I guess people like that you don’t forget — try as hard as you may. I thought dummies’ primary job was to turn the cards as they are called. Have the rules changed?

Thanks for sharing.

Judy

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