Judy Kay-Wolff


Let us consider the ACBL’s role in the recent Las Vegas Sectional held at the venerable Riviera Hotel at the strip in LV.

The last Friday (of the Monday-Friday tournament of October 18-22) was featuring its traditional Swiss Team, playing straight through except for an hour break at the mid point, starting at 10 a.m., stopping from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.  and normally ending shortly before six p.m.   It was decided by a collaboration of the LV BOD and known by the directing staff to have six, eight-board rounds to be scored at Victory Points based on the 20 Point Scale.  It is further specified at the ACBL Web Site that the players should be allowed 7 1/2 minutes per board making each round of the actual playing last 60 minutes (8 X 7 1/2). 

One might think that when considerable time (perhaps 10 minutes) is added for the following, you cannot expect the last round to finish at 5 p.m.  If the allotted time is respected (8 x 7-1/2), it is a physical impossibility because other factors must be taken into account:

(1) the time taken to find one’s starting tables; (2) shuffling the boards; (3) briefly discussing specific systems; (4) scoring the results; (5) comparing scores with your opponents after the final board (eighth); (6) taking a  "comfort break" (restroom for sure — and possibly a smoking break – optional and certainly not mandatory);  (7) comparing with your teammates at the other table; and (8) sending the scoring slip to the head table.   People play bridge for relaxation and pleasure .. not to feel they are in a pressure cooker.

For the above 8 reasons, at the very least,  another 10 minutes must be added  — making six rounds last close to 7 hours (6 x 60 minutes)  and then add on the extra allowable time after matches 1 and 2 and 4 and 5.  Ten minutes extra are unnecessary after the break for lunch or end of the game so an additional 40 minutes should be tacked on to accomplish the list above — predicting we take about 7-3/4 hours (including lunch break) –  making the 5:40 p.m. 5:45 p.m. finishing right on schedule.  But others had plans of their own.  As I had alluded to in another blog, this is a bridge tournament — not a Nascar Race .. or the Indianapolis Speedway.  

The scene at our table in Round 6 was mind-boggling.  At 4:52 p.m, The Floor Director, Jean Molnar, appeared as our eighth board was ready for play.  We still had eight minutes to conclude the round — rules or no rules.  However, Jean gobbled up the board, announcing that we were too late to start the last board (inferring it was attributable to our lethargy which was untrue) and so that board would be canceled regardless of what had happened at the other table.   A little later she announced 3 IMPs would be awarded to our opponents (she must be kidding!), but none would be subtracted from ours (winning by two IMPS) although the avowed unwarranted 3 IMP penalty, for some stupid reason, would be added to the opponents’ score in this match (why a boon for them?), causing them unfairly to go ahead of the rightful second place team (shifting them back into third). 

Are you with me so far?   Good!

In Las Vegas the hostility by a couple of the directors is obvious and has been for some time now.   Our teammates Carol Stewart and Paul Ivaska were upset by the ruling and when they, after the game, went over to speak to the DIC, Bill Michael,  Paul overheard one of the staff say to a fellow member (loud enough for the crowd around to hear) something to the effect …….. "If you’re special, you get extra time."   Also, the staff has been known to have their own pet nicknames for some of the teams, one being called "The Dolly Parton Team."   Heaven knows what nickname they accorded our foursome.   It must have been a whopper!  What a disgusting professional manner for a directorial staff (or individual) to assume, certainly worthy of reprimand.

Updating the scenario, our two teams were playing to determine the overall winner (with us being a few VPs ahead). I did not know the players (a female reputed to be a sponsor and three male pros) who were very nice, respectful and ethical opponents from Ohio and Canada.  The upshot of the TD’s ruling was that our team still won the match by two, but our opponents instead of finishing 3rd overall were moved up to 2nd via the additional three imps mandated by Ms. Molnar or one of her cohorts.

To enlighten the readers, we estimate the time spent on Match 6 was approximately 32 minutes by the opponents and 20 by us, not because of our fast play, but because we had almost no problems while the opponents had many.  There was one slam where declarer took about 5 or 6 minutes before he played to trick one.  The slam was very difficult, eventually went set, but the time spent by the declarer was warranted.  Also our opponents hardly missed a beat, although they did have all the problems to solve, not us.  Next the director, Jean, had no idea nor any evidence that  Bobby and I were the guilty parties (although I am admittedly slow at times) but that lack of evidence did not deter her from making her decision, which, of course reeks from the now oft-used-term of ‘profiling.’   Also bear in mind, there were still eight minutes left.

After we left, Carol first and then Paul (although we all knew that we had won) went to talk to the DIC, who was now in the room and told him how we felt about the IMP penalty, but both the floor TDs had left because one (Jean) was catching a flight and Patty Holmes (who also was officiating on Friday in that event) and she planned to have an early dinner together.   Since they were gone (and without corroboration), the DIC said he could not change the score.  (Don’t directors use cell phones?)  It turned out the DIC’s information was incorrect but let’s not go into that now.  

What is important is the direction in which the ACBL is going — delayed rulings, unreturned messages, stalling tactics and inappropriate remarks by people representing the ACBL.

Since then (exactly two weeks today) the ACBL has gone into hiding and refuses to discuss the issues.  With the exception of the CEO Jay Baum,  no telephone calls or emails have been returned from either Tom Whitesides (who presides in these cases as LV is part of his area) or Jeff Johnston who is now Chief Tournament Director, succeeding Rick Beye. Thus, we have been stonewalled at every turn.   Jay agrees something is awry and said he will again check into it — but  suggests probably the best they can do is call both teams involved 2nd instead of 2nd and 3rd.  Nice try at mediating — but unacceptable.

It appears that when the ACBL makes as many mistakes as were made on this one case, it would be prudent for them to look for ways to reduce the number or do away with them completely — instead of pretending and hoping that it will all go away — OR BETTER YET — do a better professional job of training those in command. 

The suggestion of both teams being awarded 2nd place instead of the rightful and respective 2nd and 3rd places, which is a slam dunk, was reminiscent of an episode from 1958 which Bobby related to me.  Helen Sobel and Charlie Goren were announced as winners of the Life Master’s Pair, but then after a valid score correction, another pair was deemed to have clearly won.  So, in order not to ruffle Charlie’s feathers or his reputation, what else could they do  than to make them co-winners –  another total cop-out.

As a member of Unit 373, I (as well as tournament chairs Tom Shulman who followed it up immediately was also ignored), Barbara Dunkley and Unit President Justine Hancock are outraged and ashamed that this humiliating debacle occurred in our midst.  Time to straighten up and fly right.   Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise and proof what Bobby has been saying for years that our tournament department has much to learn.

So much for directing!   Whatever happened to quid pro quo??


Bobby WolffNovember 5th, 2010 at 10:14 am


Trying to simplify the Las Vegas gaffe, the following would be (at least to me) a slam dunk to have happened.

Before the start of the event the LV unit mandated that in their opinion, in order to give the players their money’s worth that 6 matches of 8 boards should be played (48) instead of only 7 (42).

The TD staff (with or without the knowledge of their apparently trusting DIC) then decided, probably catering to their own agenda, to compress the 8 board 6 rounds into the same time period used for 7 boards, albeit masking what they were doing by eliminating the necessary 10+ minutes always accorded between rounds for reasons enumerated by previous blogs.

Therein the awful and corrupt running of the event was born. The other untoward happenings, wrong slowness alleged, players being harassed and finally the awarding of 2nd place to a team which finished 3d and vice versa, emerged which was not at all surprising, considering the major virtually impossible to administer, change.

When the floor TDs immediately left at 5PM, it reminded me of Sherlock Holmes admonition to his buddy, Watson, “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, is the answer” and although the suspected agenda is not at all improbable we are left with it.

It seems that not only was what happened despicable, but the ACBL’s hiding from the flack without explanation tends to increase the pain.

Finally, “If you try to fail and you succeed, which have you done”?

Robb GordonNovember 5th, 2010 at 10:46 am

I have been avoiding comment about this but it has become too much. Yes, mistakes were made BUT there are a few things that bother me so much I have to speak out. Jean’s “ruling” should have caused the table to insist on a confirmation from the head director immediately.

1. Unless the policy has changed (which is possible), the time on the clock is the deadline for STARTING the last board. Even if this was no longer the case, it does not seem that a director would be permitted to remove a board with significant time on the clock.

2. The penalty for persistent slow play by a player is Swiss Teams (not a team) is 10% of the possible score in a match (eg 2 VPs) assessed against the team containing the offending player. This penalty does NOT accrue to the non-offenders.

3. Further, the removal of a board, if because a particular pair is late may damage the non-offenders. Therefore, 3 IMPS may be assessed to go from the offenders’ team to the non-offenders. While I don’t believe the 10% penalty requires the director to observe the pace of play by each particular pair, I believe that any penalty that accrues to the non-offenders must be justified, not just awarded by circumstance. Therefore the director must observe (or have a reliable witness observe) the pace of play for each pair.

CarolNovember 5th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

The 10% penalty (Rule #9 under Conditions of Contest for Swiss Teams) is the correct penalty when the same pair is slow on more than one round – not the case in LV. (See my comment dated Oct. 25 attached to Judy’s Oct 23 “The Bastardization of Bridge”). Jean pulled a board from our table on round 4 with no non-offending side adjustment awarded to either team. At that time, Jean stated “Patty told her we had a board pulled earlier, so it was an automatic 3 IMP for the other team on the non-played board.” I told Jean that wasn’t true, she verified it with Patty, and reported back that there had been a mistake. Were they pulling so many boards that they couldn’t keep track? We personally know of five, with two of those coming in the last round.

Floor director Jean Molnar pulled the last board of the last round from the Wolff’s table without making an effort to determine if either pair was at fault. She then came to our table (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. We won the match 35 to 33, but the score was entered 35 to 36 because of the 3 IMP adjustment. We still won the event, but this gift moved our opponents to an unearned 2nd.

Paul and I talked with the DIC, Bill Michael, shortly after the game. He explained in great detail, that a 3 IMP adjustment applies when the same pair has a second board pulled. He said he would talk with his directors, but couldn’t change the results without verification of the facts. We thought that the DIC was following up on our complaint. We also didn’t learn that the DIC was incorrectly interpreting the rules (as were the floor directors) until I researched the COC.

Rule #7 under COC states that “The time allotted is seven and one-half minutes per board.” The clock should have been set for 7 boards @ 7.5 minutes = 52.5 minutes to start the last board. We felt rushed, but attributed it to the fact that our matches were usually posted last. During that last match incident, Jean reference that the players had 50 minutes to start the last board. I don’t know when the clock started ticking down, but we played three matches between 10:00 and 1:00 and three more between 2:00 and 5:00. Assuming that at least one team started their last board at 49 minutes (finishing 7.5 minutes later) every round, how could we average one hour per match! Were the pairings made before all results were entered? Did the 50 minutes start ticking away at the top of every hour? If the directors hadn’t been so aggressive with their board pulling, the problem may have gone unnoticed.

I don’t know which director decided to cram the Swiss into six hours, but I assume the floor directors dinner plans were a contributing factor since they were gone before many of the players. Tournaments are not run for the directors’ benefit. It goes without saying that they shouldn’t leave before their job is finished.

This statement follows the list of TD requirements 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…”

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 5th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

To all who have followed this saga:

After TWO FULL WEEKS of trying to resolve the above via telephone and emails, the ACBL belatedly got the lead out. Need I say more?

I received the following letter via email from Jay Baum, who as of yesterday’s telephone conversation agreed that the decision did not sound fair, but is doing a 360 degree turn today, convinced by the embarrassed lethargic directors/committees whom it took two weeks to get their act in shape. I really can’t believe that Jay got suckered in, but I’ve been wrong about people before.

Here is his email:


Judy , Bobby and Tom:

I have discussed the issue of the adjusted score at the LV sectional .I have also read emails from TDs and participants. From everything I learned ,the TD made the ruling using her best judgement. Whether anyone agrees with the ruling is not the central issue. The TD was there ,I was not .The adjustment itself , 3 IMPs , is within the parameters that are allowable. The decision was made in order to try to restore equity due to the pulling of the final board ,also within the parameters. At this point and for 30 minutes following the event , the decision was appealable , however , that did not happen. Given everything that I know , including the Conditions of Contest were the same for all teams ,the announcement of 50 minutes to begin play on the final board was made each round , and that the TD used her best judgement making a decision that was not appealed , I believe the results must stand.

Kindest regards,

Jay Baum, CEO


Before I begin, let me state that our team had no vested interest in the official results because we had won outright. (However, I now understand that although the director, Jean Molnar, told us the score would remain with us having a two point lead and the ‘penalty’ [ridiculous] would be awarded by adding 3 IMPS to their total, which, on checking, we note the reverse was done.) How’s that for starters? Couldn’t even get that one straight!

Our efforts were directed at not having a shameful repeat performance in the future by directors of like mind who, in error, issued a penalty, displacing the rightful second place finisher by our opponents who took the majority of the time on the first seven boards and if anyone should have been penalized, it should have been THEM.

However, because at one time I loved and respected the game and the administrators (before all the personal agendas and politics flooded the scene), I decided to pursue the atrocity and left no stone unturned, making calls and sending emails, to little avail. All our foursome strived for was justice for the injured team. Paul Ivaska and Carol Stewart decided to discuss the board pullings (at least five we know of) with the DIC. He admitted to not knowing what had transpired (how is that posssible?) and said it was not handled right, but since both the directors were gone, he would contact them later. When later? End of story.

It was still within the 30 minute time period. I must be mistaken, but I thought just about everyone had cell phones, especially on the directing staff. Hardly a responsible attitude for a DIC. Carol and Paul assumed the DIC (Bill Michael) would follow up, but they were dreamers or maybe just hallucinating. Score stood. 2nd dropped to 3rd and 3rd wrongfully filled the second spot.

The misjudgment of the director who thought that the pulling of two boards from the same match was cause enough to issue a penalty is what started the brouhaha which ended in the erroneous issuance of an undeserved 3 IMP reward to our slower playing opponents. Bobby and I consumed about 1/3 of the time as we had few problems. If anyone was guilty, it was the opponents. WE WERE THERE! THE DIRECTOR WAS NOT! How could anyone take her word over ours — and she did not even bother to ask the opponents who surely would have admitted that declarer tanked over his ill-fated slam hand for five or more minutes before calling a card from dummy.

All your alleged decision-makers based their information on HEARSAY of the erroneous director who pulled the board! A very democratic process! But, I’ve been there before, so why am I not surprised?

“The decision was made in order to try to restore equity due to the pulling of the final board (at 4:52 I might add), also within the parameters.”

WHAT EQUITY? Rewarding the slower pair without any possible evidence pointed to us as the guilty parties. That is not what I call judgment. To me, it is a kangaroo court or better yet, reminiscent of the days of the Gestapo. Shoot first, ask questions later.

The time allotments were from outerspace. Why were they not allowed the normal 7-1/2 minutes to play 8 boards and why were not the other allowances considered (getting to the table, making of boards, discussing systems, scoring results, comparing scores with the opponents, comfort breaks/smoking breaks, comparing scores with teammates and finally making sure the result was turned in). The time scenario for eight boards is obscene. The obvious problem was the rush to finish the game early. Could it have anything to do with one of the directors having to catch a plane before a quick dinner with her buddy? Is this what directing is all about? The agendas of the directors rather than the comfort of the paying customers?


It is a sad state of affairs when none of the directors on the scene seemed to know the protocol. See Paul Ivaska’s comments about his and Carol’s personal conversation with the DIC.



RBKNovember 5th, 2010 at 7:26 pm

All of us old timers are spoiled by being weaned at bridge tournaments in the presence of the most knowledgeable, fair-minded, unbiased and unprejudiced, experienced and rarely challenged directors on the planet. Times have changed and just about all of those ladies and gentlemen are no longer here.

From the accountings above, it is frightening to be dependent upon the ruling of a director who is so positive her position is right — only to have to return with her tail between her legs as she has goofed. From the blogs on LV rulings (this and earlier ones), perhaps the administrators should be looking for some new faces which would be crowd pleasers. With the introduction of internet bridge, it has taken its toll on duplicates as well as ACBL events. You can see the handwriting on the wall. so everything should be done to keep the customers happy.

Living on the West Coast, I learned about the incident in less than 24 hours. Sounds like you guys need a change of floor scenery.

Bobby WolffNovember 5th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

With all the ineptness going on in almost every facet of this subject tournament it is disheartening, at the very least, to be part of this experience.

Being an old geezer, somewhat prolific, and loving bridge, I have lost thousands of tournaments in my lifetime, but even in this case of having won, I have NEVER felt worse about any bridge event in my life. A smile on my face will never return until the principals in this case all come to me, apologize, and promise to not let it ever happen again.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 5th, 2010 at 7:56 pm


Always appreciate hearing from you whether or not I agree or disagree. If this was such an open and shut ruling — why an eternity to issue the edict?

Other than the Oh, Shit ruling, I have never known Bobby to be as outraged as with the incident of Friday’s Folly. He wrote a letter to someone involved who will not be a happy camper as he points out the sloth, coverup, inefficiency, ridiculousness, unfamiliarity with the rules, etc., involved in the handling by those individuals whose hands all of our bridge fates are in.

I always like reading your thoughtful comments — coming from one who has not only experience, but such love and respect for the game.



Judy Kay-WolffNovember 5th, 2010 at 8:00 pm


Wow! What details! You’d make a great reporter. Seriously, I learned a lot of what transpired after Bobby and I had left the crime scene. The manner in which it was handled is pathetic. I understand Paul is going to present his side of the conversation with the DIC and I am anxious to see what the old warrior has to say.

Thanks for caring!


CPNovember 6th, 2010 at 4:07 am

When someone like Bobby Wolff, who has undoubtedy been one of the most trusted and respected players in the world for over half a century and has a reputation of succcessful achievement in every realm of bridge to match, it is indeed a sad day for the game of bridge to see his remark above:

“I have lost thousands of tournaments in my lifetime, but even in this case of having won, I have NEVER felt worse about any bridge event in my life. A smille on my face will never return until the principals of this case will all come to me and apologize, and promise to not let it ever happen ever again.”

I have known Bobby a long time, have always honored his integrity and talent and all the pro bono work he has contributed to bridge. Therefore, everyone reading these comments should stand up and take note, and if they agree, be heard!

I personally think it is a case of one director covering another’s hide as the endless number of irregularties and departures from proceedure are self-evident. A comedy of errors is an understatement.

No one but Bobby Wolff would ever have the guts to make such a public statement. And, yes, I agree, LV needs (for the most part) — as someone said before — a change of scenery on the directorial front. LV has had its share of bad and unpopular directors — but only the administration can do something about that.

It is never too late for honorable, non-political, self-serving individuals to reverse their posiiton and allow the rightful second place team to be recognized.

It is not about those watered down masterpoints — but strictly a case of honor and doing the right thing. This decision is a real blight on what remains of the game.

From the heart!

ADAMNovember 6th, 2010 at 4:22 am

Ditto, CP! The untimely and faulty disposition of this case is a disgrace. Too much ‘ole boys’ club collusion evident to satisfy me that the right conclusion was reached — albeit it two weeks in coming.

Whoever selects the staff for the next soiree should think twice and perhaps get a new cast of characters and remove the bad taste from the Las Vegans’ mouths.



Marianne KellerNovember 6th, 2010 at 8:36 am


I have played bridge for forty some years, having learned in the New York area and being exposed to the best both in talent and directing. I moved here (LV) about eight years ago and still play bridge — but confine my activity mostly to the duplicates and social games in my community.

It is not that I am not competitive, but prefer to stay away from the Las Vegas Tournament scene because of the demeanors of some of the players and two specific directors.

I sympathize with the real second place finishers but it is not surprising that the incident occurred and that they were backed up by their directing brotherhood at ACBL headquarters for fear of being embarrassed on the homefront.

I woud believe Bobby Wolff in a heartbeat as he has been the finest representative in every area of bridge that America ever produced.

Condolences to the second place team. You deserved better!


Judy Kay-WolffNovember 6th, 2010 at 9:45 am


It is a sad state of affairs when you are deterred from the excitement and enjoyment of a big local bridge event.

As the ACBL grew and grew and when professionalism took over, the bridge world seemed to change. (Better for the pros and their rich sponsors — who are buttered up and given preferred treatment — but worse for the rank and file). In fact, people who are generous contributors are named “Sportsman of the Year.” A bit too blatant for me.

Brotherhoods have resulted where they protect each other. I saw it in living color with my famous appeals case, and I have witnessed the bias on appeals committees when big names appear before them and the same approach taken in the area of rulings.

Despite the reasons (I prefer to think of them as excuses) given for the sticktuitiveness of the DIC’s ruling (which was out in left field as he didn’t have a clue as to what had been going on all day with the pulling of boards), one must accept the sad realization that bridge has changed — and certainly for the worst.

I personally think Jay Baum is a nice guy but when you are acccountable to a BOD of 25 politicians who are fighting for reelection and he has to work every day side by side with directing staffs, it is difficult to break through without fear of losing favor (and possibly your job).

It is time BRIDGE was the focal point rather than personal agendas, politics, masterpoints and money — but there is little hope of that. Maybe, after giving it some thought, I can understand your distaste for tournaments.

Thanks for your candor. Maybe it will penetrate the ears of those hiring the LV directing staff taking into account the lame explanation of Jay’s superiors. To me, it all added up to a lot of garbage, or B.S., if you want to be more crass.


JSNovember 6th, 2010 at 11:46 am

A couple of questions, Judy:

Where was the DIC when all this was going on and who has the final say?

Did he know of the pulling of boards?

When he spoke to Paul, what did he actually admit that had been done incorrectly?

If there was half an hour appeal period after the game and something was in question, how could the real second place team know what had happened and been able to place a formal appeal as they were not informed officially of Ms. Molnar’s action and that your opponents had picked up three questionable imps at the discretion of the FD?

Something fishy in Sin City and your unit has a responsibility to follow it up in all fairness to the players involved — if the ACBL is in denial.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 6th, 2010 at 11:56 am

To JS:

The only question I can answer with certainty is that Tom Shulman, a very capable administrator, immediately contacted the league to ascertain the information on file.

It was not until he received the same letter I did (printed above) from Jay Baum YESTERDAY, 14 days later (and only after my urging), that he learned of any affirmative (if you call it that) action to allow the final score to stand.

Tom is very conscientious (to the point of hardly playing during the course of the tournament as he feels his primary responsibility is the smooth operation of the events and he cannot do both at top efficiency). Knowing Tom, until he is satisfied it was handled properly, he will not rest — and be very circumspect about his upcoming slate of directors at the new Bally location in February. He certainly has the courage of his convictions.

John SNovember 7th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

If this debate were about which team finished second vs. third in a Sectional Swiss Team event it would be laughable. But it is not. It’s about the integrity of the great game of bridge, fairness, and responsiveness of an organization to its members who are also its customers. Without integrity and fairness in adherence to rules bridge is lost. Without responsiveness to its customer/members the ACBL will go the way of other non-customer focused businesses(no federal bailout likely here). I urge the ACBL to take the high road in restoring integrity and fairness to the results of this and future events.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 7th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

John S:

Great minds think alike. Bobby’s feelings were so in line with your well-expressed thoughts of responsibilities to one’s customers. That is what it basically is all about.

Bridge is no different than any other business in this aspect. But, some individuals or groups find it impossible to reverse a flawed decision despite, in this case, the great impact it would have upon the future of bridge.

Your comment was very uplifting. Thanks for your input!


MarvinNovember 8th, 2010 at 1:58 am

I am still having a problem absorbing the pulling of a board long before the allotted time frame was nearing its close. How can a director be that smart to know that the auction may not go 1NT P 3NT (all pass) and claim at trick 1 or concede two tricks and settle for 5NT. Either the rules (and nobody’s perfect) are out of whack or the director, of her own volition (or at the behest of another director) was instructed to pull the board.

In any event, playing 8 boards equates to 8 times 7-1/2 minutes, a total of 60 minutes and not one second less. Perhaps I could understand pulling the last board if the auction had not started by 4:55 or so, but this director pulled rank for no good reason. whether it was her decision or she was acting as a trained seal and did what she was told to do.

It is a reflection on the group holding the tournament, in this case, the unit, and it is my opinion that the local administration in charge should have some say in the matter as it is their regular customers who are affected by judgmental rulings.

Rules are meant to be broken, especially when they establish the wrong team as second. I understood bridge was about numbers and science, not personal preferences or just guessing who was to blame, particularly without cameras or even impartial monitors .. just arbitrary finger-pointing.

I think in the future, the suggestion of starting the session one hour and ten minutes after the previous one for 2 and 3 and 5 and 6 makes a fairer time frame and the Unit (or District) should insist on not putting pressure on its players to whiz through the hands with no allowance for the previously named necessities (numbering 7 or 8, I believe).

And, I do agree with Judy’s reference to Nascar or the Indianapolis Speedway. There is no prize for speed, especially as most players are growing older and their minds do not think as quickly as in earlier years. It is still only a game (just a game) and I truly believe that situations like these will drive people away. With this economy, it is more likely than before.

Bobby WolffNovember 8th, 2010 at 5:41 am

This is being addressed mostly to Jay Baum — but also to the TD’s (trees) committee who have trouble seeing the forest …

John Scibelli’s (JS) and the many others who have written are crying out to the many injustices which this now- sinister episode has produced.

When the ACBL, some years ago, instituted Zero Tolerance (ZT), it was done mainly to let the players know that they could only go so far in creating ugly scenes, which serve to hurt bridge and at the same time engulf others to have to endure it.

What about what you, the committee in charge, is doing to the game and the many players who only want the ACBL to run fair tournaments, with common sense rules, enabling the organization the credibility to be respected.

Let us take the time to glean what your recent statement suggests:

1. TDs will be allowed to attempt to play 8 boards in a 7 board time limit and for 6 rounds, therefore cutting the event by at least 45 minutes (6 times 7 1/2) without any notice to the players and with penalties (board pulling) in full force to the point of ridiculousness (board pulled at the very second it becomes possible that there are not 7 1/2 minutes available to play the last board, in this case 7 1/2 minutes, 4:52 PM) even though this includes the championship match between the two teams which are leading and when there is no next round to have to continue.

To repeat what I have already said, by doing so the ACBL has deprived the team we are playing of being able to win the event and, at least to my view, neither team (especially Judy’s and mine) should have been penalized since unusually slow play was as far away from our table as it could be. For sophisticated bridge players, at our table there was a slam bid by our opponents which required (and should have) much thought in the play and was so done, while at the other table only a slam dunk game was bid requiring almost no time at all to play.

2. Penalties will be given one side or the other with no evidence other than possible rank hearsay (or ‘profiling’), to base judgment on, and total disregard to this off-the-charts abuse of power and by people who have had little or no training in the process.

3. The DIC, who fully admits a series of incorrect rulings took place, e.g. wrong rules applied, wrong application, apparently no realization of the attempted shortening of the event until the event was over, and, of course, the reasons why it was even attempted, especially without the knowledge of the players beforehand. They would have had the option not to play in that event in the first place.

4. When the players and Chief Administrator/Chairperson of our tournament (Tom Shulman) now complaining, have no vested interest in changing the result, but are obviously only the messengers in relating how bad for bridge in the future for something like this to have happened, this all seems to have fallen on totally deaf ears.

5. When all the subsidiary evidence, the TDs involved leaving right after the game, the DIC not being omnipresent to see what is happening, no one being available from the staff to even question what happened and worse yet the people in charge making many errant decisions doesn’t seem to affect any of your judgments.

Consider your boggling suggestion about appeals, when the team lowered to 3rd had no knowledge of anything that happened and 10 minutes after the event ended almost everyone had left. Where is the due process or anything resembling it which is now being attempted, but with your handling has only served to increase the anxiety?

6. In a normal world it seems that all someone like our team would need to do, is report what happened to you and then sometime within a couple of days would report back that all the principals have been talked to, sincere apologies will be forthcoming and 2nd and 3rd places have been restored to what they should have been, and most importantly — this type of transgression will NEVER happen again.

7. If ZT can be judged to generally be hurtful to the game, what about this type of director behavior, probably brought on by a combination of agenda filling (shortening the tournament so that personal desires can be filled), agenda disregard for the unusual time constraints required with full subjective penalties given and no regard for truth in application?

In other words the animals have escaped, are certainly dangerous, but upon capture will be given rewards for their efforts.

8. It is somewhat revealing that your proverbial zoo committee is made up of mostly animals trying at all costs to protect their flocks, throwing your customers and bridge with it, directly into the snake pit.

9. And what about what your customers should do next time when they are subjected to random TD judgment as to why a table may be finishing late? After hearing well known Barry Crane stories about TD bias in selecting his opponents, do you for one minute think that didn’t happen? I can testify that it did, in No Trump, and to my knowledge almost nothing was done about, leaving Barry to shift for himself (which he did). Is this what you want, and how can you (or anyone else) expect others to practice ZT when the ACBL is so guilty of not providing level playing conditions for all of its players and not even the least bit ashamed to have it happen?

10. Jay — I and my whole bridge team and concerned Las Vegas administrators (Tom and the whole group) do not for one minute think that you do not know exactly what happened and probably only want to handle the discipline necessary in a quiet and unobtrusive way, but in so doing, you are creating great fear among many that you do not care a whit about what happened. That will not serve you, the ACBL or bridge in general in a positive way.

Sometimes when directors act in this shameful way or similarly players (partnerships) overtly cheat and are caught, it is necessary to publicly establish that the subject behavior will not be tolerated.

How can this atrocious event be forgotten without leaving irreparable scars? You have left indelible impressions which need to be corrected so that all of us, (especially me) can return to thinking of you as the Jay I have always known, the one who is fair, honest, and treats bridge with the right respect. You have always been a standard bearer (at least to me) for what bridge is about. Please say what you have recently said is not so!

Paul IvaskaNovember 8th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

The essential facts surrounding the Las Vegas Sectional Swiss Teams held on Friday, Oct. 22, have been covered quite well elsewhere. I’d like to mention a few aspects that especially bother me.

First, Rule 10 of the ACBL Conditions of Contest (CofC) 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 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.

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 some directors’ 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, and there could easily have been more. 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 Holmes 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 promised Tom Shulman that he would look into the matter and report back to him, but, as of the last time I talked to Tom, he was still waiting for a response. 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.

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 coverup 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 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! Fortunately, there’s an easy (theoretically, anyway) solution, i. e., adopt a friendly and cooperative attitude. I don’t think that’s asking too much. It’s the job of a director to get along with the players. After all, directors are paid fairly well to do just that. It’s even in the description of the duties of a director. I look forward to these difficulties being corrected in time for our next tournament in February.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 8th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

For many years Paul Ivaska was a name I had been reading in the bulletins for his bridge achievements. It was not until we moved to LV five years ago that I got to know the real Paul. Obviously, he is very bright, a well-mannered, serious gentleman, a fair individual and an accomplished player, who thinks long and hard before he renders an opinion. He does his homework and is not a blurter!

His comment above is an unemotional masterpiece replete with facts, names, personal observations, overheard conversations and quoted rules and laws, some of which were either not known or violated by the staff that ominous Friday. Let us give them the best of it by saying they were in the dark and many key factors were not considered.

After Paul’s comments, that no longer holds true.

Paul has itemized the flaws and quirks quite objectively and it would be appropriate for those at the helm in Horn Lake to reconsider their rash decision and not only reverse the order of finish, but make certain the directing staff is held to the same standards of zero tolerance as the players. They have the identical responsibilities of sportsmanlike conduct and honor as their paying customers to act like ladies and gentlemen with their first responsibility to getting it ‘right’ in a courteous and proper fashion.

Though Paul’s analysis was long in coming, it was well worth waiting for.

Thank you, Paul. I believe you stated the facts accurately and impersonally and hopefully will help to avoid a repeat performance of this ugly situation and make directors aware of their duty to the players and the game.

PaulNovember 9th, 2010 at 5:07 am

Of course the ACBL are not the only jurisdiction where problems like this occur.

Last year, at Scotland’s major congress, the positions of the second- and third-placed teams were reversed when a director’s ruling over an alleged misclaim was made after the end of play. The director, thinking that the ‘offending’ team had left, took the word of those remaining and gave a ruling that promoted them to second. In fact the ‘offending’ team was in the bar celebrating and could easily have been found. The fact that they were not consulted and that the changed results were never published for them to see meant that had no opportunity to appeal. This, combined with the fact that the claim was perfectly valid, led to some distress.

The difference in these cases is that the Scottish Bridge Union rectified the mistake within 48 hours and the DIC personally called the second-placed team to apologise. The SBU also published the apology in its magazine.

One hopes that the relevant authorities, in Vegas and elsewhere, will eventually show the same level of contrition.

[My (Scottish) dictionary says the (Christian) definition of contrition is ‘deep sorrow for past sin and resolve to avoid future sin ‘ – I don’t want to make this religious, but it does seem an appropriate term in this context.]

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 9th, 2010 at 10:39 am

“Paul” (from Scotland) above warmed the cockles of my heart when he related the brave tale and initiative of the Scottish Bridge Union:

1. The SBU rectified their mistake with 24 hours.

2. The DIC personally called the 2nd place team (advising they had been moved down); and

3. The SBU published the apology in its magazine.

That’s class!!!

Read the full article. It is fascinating and admirable. Paul, thanks for sharing.


roger pewickNovember 9th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

With so much chaffe the grain gets lost.

It has been asserted that 3imps were deducted from Wolff’s score with no other changes. As such there would be no effect upon the relative positions of any other teams.

As for the real issues** the message is clear:

you are in the inner-city league

**with which I am empathetic

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 9th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Roger: I am afraid you got it wrong. They gave our opponens (don’t ask me why or how) 3 IMPS which were converted to victory points causing the real second place finisher to be displaced by our

opponents. I am about to publish a letter from one of the ladies on the displaced team which was sent to Jay Baum, expressing her disappointment with the entire process and the way it was handled.

And, by the way, we are not payig inner-city league card fees or dues, so we want to be treated like the real thing with competent administrators.!

I do appreciate your interest but as you can see it is just one great big garble which the ACBL would just as soon forget about.



roger pewickNovember 9th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Jay Baum, CEO


Before I begin, let me state that our team had no vested interest in the official results because we had won outright. (However, I now understand that although the director, Jean Molnar, told us the score would remain with us having a two point lead and the ‘penalty’ [ridiculous] would be awarded by adding 3 IMPS to their total,

***which, on checking, we note the reverse was done.) ***

How’s that for starters? Couldn’t even get that one straight!

The above is quoted from you where you assert that 3imps were deducted from your score rather than added to their score.

My reference to inner-city implies that the law of the jungle prevails

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 9th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Yes, Roger.

Sorry, I misunderstood you. I expect more (at least I did) from the ACBL rather than to be the prey of the jungle beasts.

That was what we were told — but not what we later found when we looked at the scores on the computer. When a director tells you that the score remains the same (33-31/our favor), one would assume she is a person of her word — also stating that the three imps would be added to the opponents’ score (rather than be taken off ours).

We did not learn of this change of heart until much later. However, the way the ACBL operates these days, why should one be surprised???? The whole incident was like a scene from an Abbott and Costello movie WHERE DOUBLETALK PREVAILED and aberrant directorial decisions were featured from start to finish.

They ought to get their act in shape.