Paul Cronin

The selling of master points!

In session 1 of a recent 7 1/2 table – 28 board B/C/D Sectional pairs the MP award for coming first was 1.72 silver.

At a recent “Grass Roots Fund Month” 3 1/2 table 24 board open game the MP award for coming first was 2.04 black.

Leaving aside the colour of the awards, is paying an extra dollar to play in the “Grass Roots Fund Month” game a better deal than going to the expense of attending the Sectional?

In the past, the accumulation of master points was, in a number of cases, simply a matter of “attending” a lot of club games. Now it’s a combination of attendance and paying an extra dollar or two for some special “cause” that increases the master point award.

Lots of you will remember getting .26 MPs for winning the Wednesday night game some decades ago at your local club – must make you wonder about getting 2.04 for winning a 3 1/2 table game.     


Home sweet home!

With over 4 months to go until the Summer NABC in Toronto, hotel room availability at the three ACBL booked hotels has just been updated from completely “Unavailable”  to “Up to 95 rooms” available at the Fairmont Royal York. The “Intercontinental Toronto Centre” and the “Westin Harbour Castle” remain “unavailable”. Rooms at all three were listed at $164 per night. Parking at the Fairmont Royal York is $53 per night. Entry fees range from $19 to $32.50 per session. Add to this the cost of meals, and you’re looking at over $300 per day. Visitors from the USA will receive a premium on their $US, with $20 US = $25 CDN. The unavailability of rooms seems to apply to the KC Spring NABC as well, as when reservations were opened on January 16, 2017, all the rooms at the host hotels were already sold out. Hopefully people will have found other accommodations, and attendance will meet expectations. In any event, tournament bridge now seems to be priced out of the range of the “common man”, and into the range of the well-off or rich. Add to this the ever-increasing average ACBL player age, and the disinclination of older people to drive at night or in bad weather and……..the  future of tournament bridge does not look bright. Except perhaps for “Regionals At Sea”, where you can play for 7 days for $1400 US, get three great meals a day, and see interesting places,   


Oh the tangled web we weave !

In Wednesday’s “Bulletin” from the Orlando NABC the following hand was written up:





       Q107                                                                        AKJ3

       1095                                                                         A3

       QJ4                                                                          9652

       AK92                                                                        J105





The auction went     N     E     S     W

                                 1H    X     P    2S     All Pass

North led one of the top diamonds, and declarer proceeded to take 11 tricks.

To quote part of the article “Naturally, Joel bid the “obvious” 2S”.

Can’t argue with the result, but is this the kind of hand that should be given the official imprimatur of being printed in the daily bulletin?

What would someone learning the game make of West bidding 2S rather than some number of clubs? Does East’s double of 1H show preference for the other major? Would East still have doubled with  AK3   AJ   9652    J1054 ?  If so, wouldn’t 3NT be the best landing place rather than a 3-3 spade fit?  

Oh the tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.


The selling of master-points ?

In a recent club game, stratified Open/1500/300 there were 5 tables, comprised of 1 “A” pair, 7 “B” pairs, and 2 “C” pairs.

The winner was …….the “A” pair, who received 2.19 master-points.

Half of the 5 table “field” received master-point awards, the smallest being 0.55

What we have come to !

Is this bridge ?

In the recent world bridge championships in Wroclaw, Poland an auction went

P     P     1H

where opener’s hand was

J984     Q5432     J     Q107

Another auction went

P     P     1D     where opener’s hand was

A982     65     KJ953     97

Still another was

P     P     1S   opener’s hand being

108432     J63     QJ52     6

In each case the opening bidder was non-vulnerable.

Is this what bridge is now about? Or is it some new game, perhaps a combination of poker & bridge, called porridge? If so, then we have, IMO, reached a truly sad state of affairs.


A situation came up at the club today on the following partial auction

RHO     Me     LHO     Partner

 1         2     3       3

I alerted partner’s 3 call, and later in the auction LHO asked me to explain same.

When I explained it as “a diamond raise denying the A or K”, LHO remarked that partner’s call was not alertable, and RHO added that it shouldn’t be alerted as the alert might “wake up partner”.

Leaving aside the issue of whether or not opponents should be telling other players at the table what is or isn’t alertable,  most players at the club do not look at their opponents’ convention cards, and would not be aware of the meaning of the 3 call. That puts me in the position of having information that they do not have, and

even if the ACBL does not require an alert (is this true?)

even if opponents should look at my convention card but don’t

I believe I have an obligation to alert them as to the 3 call.

Opinions on this will be appreciated!

Here they go again!

The re-opening of the MP case on the BW website is now up to 334 comments, and that number is growing by the hour. Many, many people are still baffled that the decision of the ACBL Ethical Oversight Committee, which was comprised of bridge experts, and which was

Probation = 13 months     and  loss of  18,000+ masterpoints

was overturned by the ACBL Appeals & Charges Commitee, and changed to

Suspension = 14 days over the Christmas holidays, and loss of  15.4 masterpoints.

The re-opening of the case on BWs is due to a posting, for the first time, by a member of the team MP was playing against. That member states that he complained to the director at the tournament about the incident, and was told that his best course of action was to file a Player Memo. This he did, and the Player Memo, rather than going to the Unit 102 Recorder or the District 9 Recorder for handling at either of those levels, somehow ended up being handled by the ACBL EOC, making them the de facto body of original jurisdiction. This, in my experience, is …….unheard of, as the normal protocol would have been to have Unit 102  hear the case first, with that result being appealable to the District 9 Appellate Committee. The findings of the D9 AC would then be appealable to the ACBL A&C Committee, with no involvement of the EOC at all.

Also unheard of is the making of a joint statement by MP and the ACBL following the decision of the ACBL A&C Committee

There is considerable feeling that such treatment would not have been afforded to a “lesser” player, and that any perception of a double standard being employed is very,very bad for the game. 

Ya gotta hand it to them!

Played in a game recently where LHO, who used the bidding box cross-handed, had two different ways of bidding. One was reaching across his body with his left hand to the bidding box on his right. The other was squaring his cards, emphatically putting them face down on the table, and then reaching across as above to make his bid. His partner meanwhile had at least three distinctly different ways of holding his cards – with both hands, fingers intertwined – with one hand and the other hand resting on his arm – and with one hand alone. What would you do in a situation like that? Call the director? Can players actually be required to make their bids in a physically consistent manner? Can players be required to hold their cards in a consistent manner? Wadda ya think? 

Here I go again!

With the Reno NABC coming up in 5 days, I am repeating my usual NABC request and asking anyone planning to be in Reno to keep an ear out and let this blog know if the ACBL- mandated Zero Tolerance announcements are made by the directors before each session. 

To refresh memories re the above, the ACBL ZT  Policy states in part:

The following procedures have been given to the tournament directors for implementation.

  1. At the start of each event, the director shall make an announcement that the tournament will be observing ZERO TOLERANCE for unacceptable behavior. It is requested that the director be called whenever behavior is not consistent with the guidelines outlined above.

The above is quite clear, particularly the word “shall”.

It also does not tell the directors to say “Be nice” or “Have an enjoyable day” , but rather to announce that “….the tournament will be observing ZERO TOLERANCE” for unacceptable behaviour”.

For anyone wanting a great presentation of what ZT, customer service, and good club management are about, and more, I urge you to watch the four excellent videos presented by ACBL TD Dan Plato. You can find them on YouTube using

and then add to the address above    1-rtL16r5a8         for Part 1

                                                           Z3z8CAXC6Jw    for Part 2

                                                           COR5Ea-qAdU    for Part 3

                                                           oS9Iu9O3AM4     for Part 4 







Resolution for 2016!

Topping our list of bridge resolutions for 2016 should be some version of the following:

Play nice – it is possible to be social and friendly at the table while trying one’s best to do well. Those who are your your “opponents” are more importantly your friends, or potential friends. 

When something happens at the table that interferes with your enjoyment of the game, say nothing except “Director, please”. When the director arrives, politely explain what you perceive the problem to be, and then let the director sort things out without any personalities getting involved. Calling the director is not “petty”, but rather protects everyone’s rights, provides an educational opportunity for all players at the table, and keeps the game enjoyable for everybody.

When asked for an explanation of one of your partner’s bids, go above and beyond the letter of the law when replying to an opponent’s query. Many established partnerships have “understandings” based on experience that opponents, particularly inexperienced players, will not be aware of. If, for example, you and your partner have agreed to never let opponents play in less than 2NT when you are not vulnerable, then your side’s three-level over-call in the pass-out seat should be alerted as “Does not promise the values expected for a three-level over-call”. When to do this? Whenever you think you have more information than may be contained in the explanation you’re “required” to give.  

Remember too that, while bridge is a wonderful game that brings so much enjoyment to so many, it is a …….game. A game in which about 82% of the ACBL-registered players have fewer than 1000 MPs. And although there are some 16 ACBL master-point “ranks”, none can be compared to being regarded by others as having the rank of “honourable”.