Judy Kay-Wolff

From the Mouth of the District 17 Prez …..

Many of my readers will recall a rather titillating blog called “Watch your Step and Watch your Mouth,” published June 15th, about an incident that happened at a local LV tournament with quite a bit of commentary pro and con.  Before adding my two cents, I want to share an email from John Van Ness, President of District 17, who very kindly espoused the following detailed accounting of what he believed actually happened.

Dear Judy,

            I’m the President of District 17, which was responsible for the District Disciplinary Committee that dealt with John Jeffrey’s premature departure near the end of the recent Las Vegas Regional.  Rumors immediately circulated about what had happened and I think you and your blog got hooked by one of them.  As a result the committee and its members are being criticized and even ridiculed for rulings they never made in cases they never heard.

            The truth is that the only question presented to the committee was Mr. Jeffrey’s early withdrawal.  This is an obvious violation of the rules and the penalty was three month’s probation, which was within the ACBL guidelines.

            The committee did not deal with the question of unauthorized information for the simple reason that no one had appealed the ruling, choosing to withdraw instead, and the committee had no jurisdiction. 

            Nor did the committee have any jurisdiction to handle the matter of Mr. Grue’s remarks, since nobody had chosen to file a complaint or otherwise pursue the matter.  Thus, the rumor that the committee had prohibited him from calling a tournament director a “f**king idiot” for six months is simply not true.  In the case of Mr. Grue, there was no complaint, no committee, and thus no penalty.

            This committee was carefully selected and recruited by the director in charge of the GNT.  Avoiding even the appearance of bias was an important goal, and thus the committee was composed of but one person from Las Vegas with the remainder coming from Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. 

            I am a fan of your blog and compliment you on its high level of intelligence and knowledge, including the many comments.  I’ve also read “the book”.  On many issues there will always be a wide diversity of opinion but I think everyone agrees on the importance of competent and unbiased tournament committees.

            The problem in the real world is that qualified people are hesitant to take on this essential but largely thankless task, especially if they can expect criticism and even ridicule.  Sometimes they might deserve it, but in this case the accusations are for rulings they never made in cases they never heard.  As you can imagine, these people are going to be a lot less excited the next time their services are requested.

            I believe in Freedom of the Press and it’s up to you, but I think a correction of the false accusations would be the fair thing to do and it would certainly help achieve everyone’s goal of the most competent committees possible.

            Thank you for your attention and thanks for all your contributions to the game of bridge.  If I can provide any further information, please do not hesitate to call.

/s/John Van Ness


The facts that our District 17 Prexy cited above are totally different from the hilarious end product of Whisper Down the Lane, a game we played as kids – proving how stories can radically change from the opening gun to the finish line.   This incident was a perfect example of that concept in action.   It is hard to believe that John Jeffrey (the poster child for a perfect gentleman) got three months probation for an early exit from the tournament and that Tom Grue (a popular local with a cute personality) got off scot-free for calling the director a F. I. (warranted or unwarranted – depending on which side you were rooting for).  I have no idea where the “six month” punishment period came from nor did John Van Ness.   However, it prompted my remark that in the seventh month – Anything Goes!  (Tom – just keep that in mind!).

Apparently, there was never an Appeals Committee – just a Disciplinary Committee – and Mr. Van Ness’s recounting states that Mr. Jeffrey merely got a slap on the wrist for an early exit and Mr. Grue’s utterance never came up for consideration.  There you have it — as I felt duty bound to publish President Van Ness’s explanation of the happenings from on high.  Thank you, John.   I believe the readers were entitled to hear your side of the actual event.


ChuckJune 30th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

All of this is well and good and it is nice to hear the “official version” of the explosion, but none of this explains how the Director arrived at the actual score. Who was the director and how qualified was he or she to make such a call? The whole episode seems to be a comedy of errors!

Judy Kay-WolffJune 30th, 2010 at 3:25 pm


Your comment caused me to re-read John Van Ness’s letter above. It certainly is nowhere near the same story we heard the day after. But, I am curious to know who the Director was referred to by John in his remark: “This committee was carefully selected and recruited by the director in charge of the GNT.” And, who might that be?

I believe the ‘committee” Mr. Van Ness was referring to was the Disciplinary Committee.

However, I am more curious to know exactly who made the actual score ruling and was responsible on the second board into the next round of approaching Jeffrey and Grue informing them of the reversal of the original score.

Bobby WolffJuly 1st, 2010 at 6:38 am

To Chuck,

“Just another day at the office” could be used to describe your important blog. When John Van Ness plaintively described what really happened, it served its purpose of exonerating phantom people of non-existent committees. All well and good, but I am not nearly as interested with the fun and games of quashing personal untruths (exaggerations) as I am of trying to answer your question of attempting to deal with correcting the score of the subject hand.

My sincere and rather vocal view is that when convention disruption (CD) occurs, bridge playing as we know it (from rank novice to world class) immediately stops and our game becomes impotent and unrecognizable. In other words once 2 clubs was bid (by the 8 card diamond holder) and was assumed to be a cue bid (opener had bid one club) instead of a diamond suit, by the partner of the spade overcaller, CD, with all its trash generated, had taken over and to then attempt to determine judgment, all committees should consider bridge has stopped and nothing further should occur except the penalty for committing the CD.

Others can try and reconcile as they wish, but the same dead end exists, since the other 3 players were operating on totally false information, so what difference does it make what they did.

To think or rule otherwise, at least to me, shows a definite lack of knowledge of what our grand old game is about.

Solutions, like to smoking (slightly different), DUI, and all kinds of drug using and dealing start and end with doing away with it in any way one can and so back to my crusade at trick one.

Penalize it out of existence, making the players who choose to play conventions without either understanding them or, if so, forgetting them, will tend, upon being rudely treated, to feel more responsibility not to do so.

The solution will soon be found and for all to happily embrace.

roger pewickJuly 1st, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Dear Bobby,

A few days ago I asserted in the BBO forums that L77 is and has always been the worst law- with L1 in close proximity. I made the assertion because L77 and L1 are wrong headed [being as they misallocate rewards].

And to the extent that it is asserted that CD is a crime it too is wrong headed.

The reason I brought up L77 and L1 is that by constructing them appropriately, one of the consequences would be a disappearance of the perceived evil you refer to as CD.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 1st, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Hi Roger:

I always read with great interest your constructive views on the many problems and upheavals in the game. However, L77 and L1 are are merely numbers and letters to a lay person like myself. Individuals such as Bobby, who are ultra-experienced in both play and administration, are familiar with your terminology. Please briefly clarify so others like myself can follow what your comments are suggesting. Thanks.

By the way, I think bridgeblogging.com is to be commended for allowing these exchanges of views with an eye toward the eventual improvement of the game by virtue of the changes in rules and laws when great minds can work together for a common goal.



roger pewickJuly 2nd, 2010 at 3:47 am

L77 provides the metric for valuing the outcome of a hand and rewarding the efforts of the players. It incorporates Vanderbilt scoring modified for the duplicate contest. Vanderbilt scoring is a product of genius: being both highly sophisticated and simple [for practically everybody] to use- and at the same time.

L1 describes a pack of cards used for a duplicate bridge contest. It describes the value of each card in relation to the others. It also describes the relative value of the suit denominations

Bobby WolffJuly 2nd, 2010 at 7:19 am

Hi Roger,

Thanks for contributing your ideas to right the wrong of convention disruption (CD).

The argument espoused by the other side seems principally to be to not want to discourage other players, both talented and beginning, to experiment with new approaches. Possibly a noble motive, but the end result, especially at the good to higher level of player, results not only with CD, but oft times with harsh feelings toward one another.

Add that conundrum to the even more serious one to bridge with that hand coming to an abrupt end and then the resulting chaos tends to paralyze the game itself.

Is it so terrible to expect partnerships who play either slightly or not-so-slightly off beat artificial conventions to alert them, understand them, and be able to properly describe them? At least to me, by providing significant penalties to improper use of them, we are not only providing an important service to the game itself, but also an enabling one to the partnership itself.

Certainly a goal of mine is to get agreement first and then, of course, a proper understandable law for everyone to abide.

I am hopeful that happens before I check out, although at times I feel I will have to be around a long time yet to get the result I crave.

roger pewickJuly 2nd, 2010 at 8:06 am


Should you want a cogent dialog you can use my email given to the blog and send me your phone number- we can find a time during some weekend and sort through things.

LarryJuly 3rd, 2010 at 5:01 am

Law 1: The Pack – Rank of Cards and Suits

Law 77: Duplicate Bridge Scoring Table

So Roger, just what exactly are you proposing as a possible improvement?

LarryJuly 3rd, 2010 at 5:05 am


“Penalize it [CD] out of existence, ”

One cannot penalize anything out of existence, but we can try to get CD recognized and establish guidelines for dealing with it.

Bobby WolffJuly 3rd, 2010 at 8:44 pm


My meaning is that if we constantly stood up to CD and consistently penalized it, players would soon learn their conventions or decide to not play conventions which are not either understood by one or both of the partnership, or, if understood, still forgotten. The penalty for disrupting our game by committing CD would then be too much to overcome and those would-be disrupters would clean up their act.

My guess is that CD is widely recognized, but the CD lobby insists on being able to use it, have accidents, cause disruption, but wiggle out of it by either talking the TD or the committee out of doing their job. Remember when a very good player (or partnership) plays against an unsuspecting lesser partnership those players are unlikely to know the rules or their rights, enabling the bad guys to run amok.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 4th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Unacceptable disruption in any field should not go unpunished — whether it be sports, bridge — or even marriage. Look at poor Tiger (or poorer Tiger) after a three-quarter of a billion dollar settlement to ex-wife Elin for Marriage Disruption (MD).

When bridge players are forced to pay the price for CD, perhaps they will take their system more seriously as well as their responsibility to the game.

roger pewickJuly 5th, 2010 at 7:57 am


The sun rising every 24 hours… The words seem innocuous don’t they? But ask a physicist to calculate the expected heating bill for someone where the sun doesn’t rise for 2400 hours; or the air conditioning bill for someone where the sun doesn’t set for 2400 hours- one is likely to gain an appreciation as to just what is innocuous and what isn’t. When one reads L77 and L1 an expected reaction would be ‘So what!’ About as innocuous as ‘the sun rising every 24 hours… ‘ In short, just as the forces at work in the sun rising every 24 hours are immense, so too are the forces emanating from L77 and L1- as these forces are deterministic.

Deterministic means that outcomes can be predicted.

The effect of what I had said was that if L77 and L1 had originally been constructed appropriately it is quite likely that BW would not have reason to say what he has said about CD. I did not infer nor did I mean to infer that CD is a valid reason to correct L77 and L1- simply because it is not an appropriate reason. L77 and L1 ought to be corrected solely for the reason that it is the right thing to do.

As L77 andL1 determine the behavior of players and thus the problems they create/ don’t create there is sound reason to exercise care in their construction. As currently constructed players receive immense rewards for doing what is very easy while are consequently punished for doing what is not very easy. The principle of justice suggests that rewards ought to be commensurate with the deed rather than inversely commensurate with the deed [the current status quo].