Judy Kay-Wolff

A continuation of The Bastardization of Bridge (Part IV)

Rather than elongating “Time for Some Leadership” which already has twenty-four (24) comments and an allied blog (Zero Tolerance – a two sided coin”) – I considered the following worthy of a blog unto itself.

Below you will find (with permission of the author, Pam Stratton, of Las Vegas) her follow-up with Jay Baum, CEO and – a email written to rulings@acbl.org

It eloquently recounts the series of events involved in Friday’s Folly on October 22 at our Sectional at The Riviera.  It is a factual description from the mouth of one of the players whose team was demoted to 3rd place, though rightfully capturing 2nd before the Director Interference took over.

To:  Jay Baum.

RE:  The Las Vegas Sectional team event on Friday, 10/22/10

I realize you have received several inquiries about this event and I received a copy of your response and ruling  from Tom Shulman, our conscientious and very hard-working tournament manager.   A number of friends have also contacted me about the comments on judy.bridgeblogging.com.

My team  included Jan Crossley, Proctor Hawkins, & Gard Hays .  We were the team who probably? should have come in second instead of third in the event.  It isn’t the final standings that are of concern to me.

My motivation in writing to you directly is to hopefully inspire a review by the ACBL of how these situations can be avoided in the future.  

I don’t believe any of the directors or the DIC had any sort of malicious intent, but mistakes, confusion  (or problems exacerbated) did unplanned  and/or unintentionally occur:  Time allotted, different pair on Team A the possible offender in case 1, fault between the two competing pairs apparently not determined in case B, DIC out of the room at the time of the director(s) ruling, directors not present immediately after the event ended, etc.

I won’t go into all the details again, as I’m sure you are aware, but I do have a couple of questions and comments.

(Sorry about all the below items all labeled #!, I’m apparently not good at copying and pasting from my word processor.)

  1. Who decides how much time is allotted for the playing and reporting of each match? There was clearly a problem with the time allotted during this event.    The normal 7.5 minutes to play each board was not given.    Eight boards per round were played with a total of one hour per round including reporting, posting, making boards, etc.   Sometimes less than one hour  total was allowed as postings were not always made on the hour.    Eight boards plus 10 minutes for posting, shuffling new boards, etc would be one hour and 10 minutes per round.

Most of the slow play problems during the day could have been avoided completely by having the appropriate amount of time allotted per round.

  1. Doesn’t the DIC have the authority to correct a problem once the facts are brought to his attention?

Our team did not “appeal”, because we were not aware of the problem.   We assumed the Wolff team had lost their last match by 2 IMPs or more as the results and standings were now listed and we headed home.   The Wolff team did bring the situation to the attention of the  DIC after their match was over to explain what had happened and to protest the final standings though they had nothing to gain personally by doing this as they had won the event regardless of the ruling.    We were not involved in the ruling, so I’m not sure if it would be appropriate for us to “appeal” anything even if we had known.   Our last round was over and our results were in  

  1. To whom should I direct questions about rulings?   

I sent an e-mail to “rulings@acbl.org” thinking this would be the appropriate spot.   When I did not get a response after about a week, I called the ACBL and was directed to Keith ?  (I’m sorry, I don’t remember his last name.)    He said I would get a response from someone when the directors who answered these questions were available to do so.   He had read my e-mail and said the director’s rulings were correct.    If these rulings were correct, I asked to whom I should direct my questions about reviewing the rules for this situation to avoid having it happen to others.   He said those on the rules committee were not ACBL employees and I should talk to Chip Martel or Ron Gerard the next time I ran into them.   This didn’t seem appropriate to me, but he said that was the best he could do as he couldn’t give me contact info for them or forward my e-mail to them.

  1.   The procedures for dealing with slow play situations seem to need some attention.

I certainly understand that these are always sticky situations ie who’s more at fault, etc and judgment calls need to be made.    However,   there does seem to be a very broad spectrum of response to slow play:  everything from notorious multiple time offenders being assessed no penalty, to punitive punishment.   Here in Vegas during the course of one tournament (not this tournament), in two different team events,  the same opponent was the admitted culprit resulting in a board being taken away on each occasion.    There was no IMP or VP penalty assigned.   

I totally understand that boards need to be taken away as the event needs to continue.   Cheerfully, I have personally never been the offending party.   However, a board being taken away is not a punishment to the offender.    It’s quite random depending upon if the completed result at the other table was a good or bad result for the offending side.    

Situations also occur where an offending party has taken 15+ minutes to play one board and now wants the non-offending side to rush through the remaining boards where the non-offenders  may need/deserve  the normal amount of time.   

I have adopted the policy of politely calling the director when one party has taken an inordinate amount of time on a board or two to have all parties acknowledge the problem while it’s fresh in everyone’s mind.      Same with opponents arriving late to the table to begin a round or match.

Thank you for your attention to this situation.     I know you and your team are very interested in fairness and in addressing problems to insure the honest spirit of our beloved game.  

I’ll copy and paste my original e-mail below just in case you want it.

Thanks again and look forward to seeing you in Orlando,  Pam Stratton, ACBL # O122620,   (702) 838-1790.


Below is the original inquiry before contacting Mr. Baum:

Sent to rulings@acbl.org

At the Las Vegas Sectional last week (M-F), October 18 – 22, on Friday a swiss team was held just as it would normally be held on a Sunday (the last day of the tournament).  The format was six eight board rounds with one hour per round (approximately six minutes per board with 10-12 minutes for reporting, posting, finding new table, etc).

On the last round of the event we had completed our match and would be 2nd overall if  Team A won or tied or lost to Team B by 1 IMP.    The result came in from that match and Team A had apparently lost to team B by 2 IMPs.    We were third and headed for the parking lot.

Later, Team A called us to say they had stayed to discuss the situation with the DIC, Bill Michael.   They had actually won the match by 1 IMP, but were assessed a slow play penalty of 3 IMPs (and they may? have had a board removed as well).      Team B was awarded  3 extra  IMPs thereby winning the match by 2.      Team A still won the event, so the IMP penalty did not damage them at all.   Team B now came in 2nd.   The only team damaged by the IMP penalty and the awarding of extra IMPS  was us, a team not involved in this match.       (Aside:  One pair on Team A had previously in the event had a board removed for slow play with no other penalty.  The possible offending pair  (though no fault was determined) on this second incident of slow play was not the same pair on Team A.)

We aren’t trying to make a federal case out of this, but we had done nothing wrong and were not only damaged in the event standings, but in the overall match point awards for the tournament.   If this ruling is correct, there should be some serious evaluation of the rules.    Obviously, boards have to be taken away when time has expired, but removing boards with no other penalty can damage the non-offending side just as easily as the offending side depending on the result of the pulled board.  VP penalties for the offending side without rewarding the non-offending side seems more prudent?    

Team A was the Wolfe team and Team B was the Harrison team.

Team A spoke with the DIC (on our behalf as we had left the building), who said this situation wasn’t right, but that he could not overturn it without speaking with the directors who had made the ruling.   Those directors had also left the playing site.

The tournament chairman, Tom Shulman talked to Bill Michael and sent him an e-mail.

Now Tuesday, 10/26, and no word yet.

Thank you for looking in to this situation.  

Pam Stratton   ACBL #O122620     (702) 838-1790

Teammates:  Gard Hays, Proctor Hawkins, Jan Crossley


Judy Kay-WolffNovember 10th, 2010 at 11:04 am

For those of you following the LV debacle of October 22nd, the following will help you to understand the positions of both parties.

This was written by Ken Horwedel, formally of Las Vegas, who has moved on to bigger and better things with the ACBL. BELOW IS HIS ANSWER OF NOVEMBER 9TH TO PAM STRATTON WHO HAD QUESTIONED THE INCIDENT A COUPLE DAYS AFTER IT HAPPENED (ON THE 26TH OF OCTOBER):

From: Rulings@acbl.org

To: “Pamela L stratton”

Sent: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 1:51:19 PM

Subject: Re: Slow play penalties


ACBL regulation regarding slow play is as follows:

Since Law 90 uses slow play as an example of a procedural penalty, all directors will have to pay close attention to detail to correctly administer this regulation.  However, complaints about following slow players “all day” are the most persistent.  Properly enforced, this should be a valuable aid to keeping the game running on time and with fewer complaints.                    

Board of Directors – July, 1990)

At the discretion of the TD, slow play penalties will be deemed to be either disciplinary (and unappealable) or procedural.  After one warning, 1 IMP penalty shall be awarded, being doubled for each Subsequent penalty.  If the latter, Appeals Committees should tend strongly to reject all routine appeals against slow play penalties.  When they do deny such an appeal, they should consider imposing an additional penalty for a frivolous appeal.  The burden is on the appellant to demonstrate that some unusual circumstance makes the penalty inappropriate.

(Board of Directors – 3/92)

Additionally, in Swiss Team events the most common practice is this:  If a table is unable to start a board, before time has expired, then the TD removes the board from play, and determines (to the best of his/her ability) if one pair was more responsible for the tardiness, than the other.  If the director is unable to make a determination, then both pairs are warned.  If the TD is able to make a determination, then that pair is warned.

The warning should state that any boards pulled subsequently will result in an automatic Average Minus (In IMPS A- is -3IMPS), and they may be subject to additional Slow Play penalties.

The Average Minus/Average Plus is awarded in an attempt to restore equity to the match.  It is not a penalty it is an artificial adjusted score (Law 12), and is subject to appeal.  It is unfortunate that 2nd place was decided by the artificial adjustment, but please remember that we have no way of knowing what would have happened on that board, had there been time to play it.  If team A felt that the removal of the board, and the attempt to restore equity to the match was unwarranted, then they should have appealed the director’s decision.

Best Wishes,

Ken Horwedel



Mr. Horwedel:

Responding to your “rule quote” from rules made around 20 years ago,(coincidentally when I was still on the ACBL BOD), it should only be necessary to say that, Judy and I, as a partnership have never had either an official warning nor a penalty for slow play, especially at a Sectional or higher tournament.  Aside from the aberrant Swiss Team day of October 22nd, here in Las Vegas, I do not remember that ever happening at a club either and no monitoring ever. 

On that now infamous day, both subject teams probably arrived at the “playing table” around 4:06 P.M. after receiving our assignments.  After brief introductions and since both teams knew that we were probably playing for the Championship of that event, we briefly discussed each other’s important (often used) conventions, before starting the first board at approximately 4:10 P.M.  We then played the first seven (of the eight scheduled) boards finishing #7 at 4:52 P,M,.  As we attempted to take the cards out for #8, Jeanne Molnar came by and said (I am extremely hard of hearing) we would not be playing the eighth board because of time constraints and, at least seemed to me, mumbled something about slowness.  In actuality we had played 7 boards in exactly 42 minutes, 6 minutes per board, and it was clear to me, and should have been to all at the table that the pace by both teams was crisp, certainly not sluggish.  By chance the opponents had all the problems (with Judy and I basically just following suit with few if any of the decisions to make),  My RHO, a young stranger with whom I was not familiar, is a way above average player, who together with his very nice female partner (also not known by me)had only one hand (a very aggressive slam) in which possible excess time was taken (justifiable by my judgment), perhaps 5 or 6 minutes before he played from dummy at trick 1.  My partner (and wife) Judy can be slow at times, particularly at the local club games in Las Vegas, but, while playing with me at higher ranking tournaments seems to easily fulfill her responsibility to not hold up games, certainly not by slow play.

We compared and learned that since we were leading before the last round and winning this match (by 2 IMPs), we left the tournament, but not before learning we had official won. However, Paul Ivaska was not satisfied with some of the previous happenings and spoke to the DIC. There, in effect, had been a series of confused issues and misunderstandings on the part of the director. As Paul said: “Jean 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.” She was obviously confused about the rules as we later learned.

We all know the attempt by the TDs present, with or without the agreement of the DIC, to crowd 8 boards per round into a 7 board time limit.  Add that up to all the other validated facts, e.g., finishing at 5 P.M. instead of the legal (according to timing information distributed by the ACBL, 5:40 P.M., or even slightly later, no valid monitoring of our table and only errant subjective judgment or worse yet, profiling used to determine, the absence of the DIC in righting the wrong, or of the ability to secure an appeals committee since almost all in the room by 5:10 had left including the key TD’s who had departed 5 to 10 minutes earlier.

All in all a ghastly experience for many, even us, in spite of winning the event.  My motivation to fight through these sordid facts is only to keep this sort of subjective and power laden experience from happening again. 

I, and my whole team, have nothing to gain but making bridge a fairer event and keeping the power mongers out of the decision making process.  I am not accusing any specific person or persons but, with the facts present, and the ill-judgment used — how is it possible that so many very questionable things happened which, at least from what I have heard since, nothing was disputed or challenged by the staff?

I understand that politics is always ever present, with the DIC a relatively new and learning person, the CEO in Horn Lake, Jay Baum and his TD’s committee wanting to give their field TDs confidence in what they are doing and therefore, in spite of the overwhelming findings against them, added moral support.  However. if one of our children shoplifts or worse, do we all not agree that they have gone too far and must not be told that they are just fine and please keep it up?

Obviously we are not talking about shoplifting or worse, but where are the facts which substantiate the TD’s decision and what about their very fast disappearance and the DIC’s admonition that much had been done wrong, but he is (since they are not here now) powerless to protect the “real victims” the actual second place team not the imposters — who knew nothing about all the hanky-panky involved in not knowing the correct ruling about pulling of boards, assessment of blame, etc. It was a real hornet’s nest — passed over by the ACBL on the basis of the rules quoted above.

If no one speaks up, and believe me, it is not so easy to overcome the unbelievable protection which seems to always be present at ACBL headquarters, making the truthsayers feel like wrongdoers.  It makes me wonder what Barry Crane had to go through with the TD’s seemingly always giving him as tough a draw as they could (legally or not so)?  When wrongdoings are just passed over by others who fear wrath and backlash, it is the beginning and worsening of significant corruption!!!!

Unless we accept what has actually happened, deal with it, let equity triumph and adjust the results, we become slaves to being overwhelmed by an abuse of power. 

Our bridge team (Carol Stewart, Paul Ivaska and both Judy and I) are crying out, with nothing of substance to gain, but only truth on our side, to seek justice for a team which has been done in (the real 2nd place finisher) and unless our goal is allowed, the ACBL will go down in history as the organization which encouraged abuse by officials to the satisfaction of the wrongdoers whomever they happen to be.


Now is the time to “Seek the truth and let it determine the result”.




CPNovember 10th, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I’m not an authority on rules and COCs, but I seem to remember there being revisions on Swiss Team contests last summer (2009). I don’t understand why the ACBL personnel is quoting from July, 1990 and 3/92. Aren’t they a bit out of date or have they remain unchanged? Just


CarolNovember 12th, 2010 at 10:19 am

I’m sure the COCs have been revised a number of times since July, 1990! The latest revision went into effect August, 2009. Anyone interested in reading the current COCs: http://www.acbl.org/play/Conditions-of-Contest.html.

Ken Horwedel is a recent addition at headquarters. You may remember him as the LV based director frequently working with Patty Holmes, or you may have played against them at the bridge table. Before he moved to LV, he lived in San Diego, Jean Molnar’s home base.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 12th, 2010 at 11:10 am


You are like the Sherlock Holmes of the bridge world.

How interesting!

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 13th, 2010 at 10:15 pm

For your information, we have heard from CEO Jay Baum that the October 22nd debacle will be discussed at the NABC in Orlando being held over the Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, none of the Wolff team will be present, but Pam Stratton, who was on the team that was ‘done in’ by a variety of directorial calls, and finished 3rd (v. 2nd) will be in attendance.

It is not about the result of this single event, but bodes well to eliminate the same problems in the future and educating the directors as to how to handle similar problems

dealing with the starting time and breaks between consecutive matches. Adequate time must be allowed so you do not feel unfair time pressures. It affects the entire scheduling of a tournament and must be ironed out once and for all by whomever is in charge (the directorial staff or the unit).

dannyNovember 14th, 2010 at 4:50 pm


The machinations about the rulings aside, I strongly agree that we should not be in a rush to finish our tournaments, as things have gotten lately. Especially the Last Day Swiss, which seems to be the worst offender.


Judy Kay-WolffNovember 14th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for your comments, Danny. I agree — especially the last event of the tourney.

It wasn’t only the time factor (and a director rushing to catch a plane and have a quick dinner with her buddy first), the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing and the ACBL directorial staff in Horn Lake put their heads together and felt everything was done according to Hoyle. CASE SETTLED.

I don’t think so, as it is being reopened in Orlando and hopefully someone can show the brain surgeons that it was run like a circus — from start to finish. We shall see. Directors don’t like to see ‘their own’ get their comeuppance, but the main focus should be on the game not the sitting judges.