Paul Cronin

Zero Tolerance – I really believe….

I really believeĀ  that we have to have “rules/laws” regarding misbehaviour rather than just “policies”, and that those rules/laws have to apply at all events – NABCs, Regionals, Sectionals, and clubs. When there are penalties, as in Zero Tolerance, that affect one’s score, misbehaving players quickly modify their behaviour so as to not incur those penalties. Suppose for instance an opponent, at the end of a hand, says to declarer “Boy, you sure played that hand stupidly”. Wouldn’t it be great if declarer could simply say “Director, please”, tell the director that his opponent has made a rude remark that has interfered with his enjoyment of the game, and have the director ask the opponent “Did you say that?”. When the opponent says “Yes”, the director then says “OK, I’m going to deduct 1/4 of a board from your score at the end of the game, and if there’s another instance of rude behaviour by you during this game I’m going to remove you from the event”. This doesn’t take any longer than quoting the options available to declarer on a lead out of turn, and will most certainly, in my opinion, cause the offender to modify his behaviour so as not to incur any further penalties. We are losing so many new players because of rudeness, and the demographics of ACBL membership tell us that without a constant influx and retention of new players we will quickly reach the point where we won’t have enough players left to successfully hold tournaments or maintain viable clubs. Isn’t it ironic that in a sport like golf, when a player misses an easy putt in a tournament, and the miss costs him a lot of money, the only reaction you see is a rueful look, whereas in bridge someone ends up screaming at partner over something that, in the long run, means nothing? Misbehaviour can be eliminated without turning the game over to the alleged “whiners”, and I sincerely ask for everyone’s help to do so.


Judy Kay-WolffOctober 24th, 2010 at 2:18 pm



After the disgust of cheating and ‘helping’ one’s partner in one way or another — next in line is gloating.

I have two rules when playing with Bobby (though they don’t always work):

1) No discussion of errors or mistakes at the table. At home, with a cabernet in his hand and white zin in mine, is a time when I will be able to hear my boo-boos and alternate lines of play and not get upset before readying myself for the next board or round.

2) And, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR: “Terrific Defense”or “Great Lead” or “Well Played.” The opponents (and most of them are not morons) don’t want to have their bad board reinforced by the opponents). Getting a terrible result is distressing enough.

To compliment your opponent (which we often do) is ONE THING. But, I (like you) am
offended to see high-fives and




LuiseOctober 25th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Okay, I have a question about something that happened to me while playing in a pairs event. I don’t remember the exact hand and contract but it was a small or grand slam. I made a really, REALLY stupid lead. (I think I had KQJx or some equally strong suit that would have set the contract easily, had I led it). But anyway — I led a trump, and when looking at the hand later, I have no idea what my reasoning was, but clearly, I wasn’t thinking at all.

The declarer (who happened to be a 13 year old kid, which made his comments even more irritating for me) said in a rather snarky voice: Oh wow, a trump lead… You don’t see much of those anymore. The hand is cold now” and he proceeded to make his claim, which we accepted, and wrapped up 13 tricks and told me I needed to lead a heart.

The incident clearly got under my skin and disrupted my enjoyment of the game. Should I have called the director?

Paul CroninOctober 25th, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Hi Luise,

Yes, you should have called the director – the following is taken from the ACBL Zero Tolerance policy and would cover the situation you described:

“If a player at the table behaves in an unacceptable manner, the director should be called immediately. Annoying behavior, embarrassing remarks, or any other conduct which might interfere with the enjoyment of the game is specifically prohibited by Law 74A. Law 91A gives the director the authority to assess disciplinary penalties”.

John Howard GibsonOctober 26th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I’m with you on this one Paul. If defenders/declarers foul up I certainly attempt to show no emotion or smug satisfaction, and should I make a remark it is usually along the lines ” we were damn lucky partner “. Should my errant partner start to turn any gift into an acknowledgement of my great declarer play/or defence I am quick to put him/her right ” no, we were lucky “. Sometimes, because it is so embarrassing to be given such undeserving gifts it is difficult to know how to respond. However, should an opposition player turn on his errant partner, I might be obliged to comment ” please don’t, there’s a time and place for a quiet post mortem, but it’s not here and not now. ”
Should that comment fail to soothe the savage beast I would feel obliged to report such intolerant behavior to the TD, if I thought an appropriate verbal reprimand would be forthcoming…..( but sadly with weak TDs that is not always likely to happen ).

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 27th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I have a philosophy to which I have always adhered. I learned it from my late husband, Norman Kay, who was not only one of the best (though he never beat the Blue Team) but was the ultimate gentleman at the table.

The only comment he would make after a hand was completed was something like “nice play” or “well bid” TO THE OPPONENTS. Gloating or criticism about your riches in the presence of the enemy was off limits. Once the opponents have gone, it is a different story — but he never believed in criticism of, or complimenting, his partner in the presence of those who had suffered a poor score because of either an opponent’s ill judgment, idiocy or something good or lucky they had done.

I never get involved unless the enemy gloats by saying something like … “Well -100 is a great score for us because they’re cold for +110 (like we were not even at the table). Then, if inaccurate, I will counter with “If you led a trump (or another suit) — you would have beaten us for +50 or 100 your way.

Suddenly the banter comes to a screaching halt.

I think all of this rhetoric proves it is best to place the cards back in the pocket, enter the result and go on to the next board!

Gratuitous remarks disgust me!

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 27th, 2010 at 6:59 pm


Yes, I agree that your opponent’s frothing at the mouth was DESPICABLE. However, it was a good learning experience for you to lead touching honors (especially from KQJX).
Every cloud has a silver lining.



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