Paul Cronin

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”.


Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 22nd, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Hi Paul,

I agree with all the niceties you suggest and going the extra mile to protect your opponents. However, there is one issue you have overlooked which has troubled me (since time began .. and STILL DOES) . AND THAT IS THE TALENT, KNOWLEDGEABILITY AND CAPABILITY OF THE DIRECTOR. There is a vast spread between world championships, nationals, regionals, sectionals and routine club games. In my era (antediluvian), they had the popular open book tests .. which was the easy way out. I am not up-to-date with the present requirements. However, it is obvious from rulings discussed that many are not qualified to make even the simplest technical ruling .. let alone one involving ethics.

In my mind (especially when a director has to fill in to make a full table) .. we are far off from where we want to be. Nothing is perfect .. especially in the glorious world of bridge.

This area, just like cheating, should have lots more time devoted to it .. as much hangs in the balance.



paul croninJanuary 23rd, 2016 at 5:23 am

Hi Judy,

Thanks for your thoughts – you make excellent points!

Directors certainly come with varying degrees of expertise, but….when all is said and done….the ones we have are the ones we have….and we have to go with what’s going. Many club directors are “part-time”, and don’t have the motivation needed to put in the time and study required. Tournament directors are also becoming more of a scarce quantity, adding greatly to tournament expenses when out-of-area TDs have to be brought in. As you point out, this is very different from previous days, when club directors and TDs seemed, in general, to be much more knowledgeable and experienced. Would be interesting to hear from others why they think this is happening!

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJanuary 23rd, 2016 at 3:12 pm

HBJ If bridge is deemed to be a sport then issues will arise when competitive players and social players encounter one another.
Competitive players tend to live and play by the rules whereas social players don’t concern themselves about the rules , completely unaware of their transgressions.
What can be done about I don’t know. Friction at the table is inevitable , resulting in verbal recriminations and insults. Directors of course can often find themselves in difficult situations having to side with those who are the damaged victims of rule infractions , while ( b) having to side with the offenders who have been subjected to some unpleasant remarks.
I do feel however more should be done to encourage inexperienced players to learn and respect the rules , which would help make life for directors that bit easier.

Bobby WolffJanuary 23rd, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Hi Paul, Judy and HBJ,

How about the sponsoring organization having a mandatory several week course, in how to rule, how to be cordial and everything in between?

The course should be given by a professional in the subject who takes the time to coordinate a complete program, leaving little to inexperienced judgment, but then when these fledgling graduates go into the field, they keep a diary with all their rulings for an agreed period of time, leaving as little out as possible, concerning substance, attitude and mood at the table during the call.

Then that same professional teacher appraises the results, communicates it to everyone who has gone through the process, and sets up arguably precedents on how to handle different sorts of disputes until satisfaction, at least to some degree, is obtained.

This same professional then lends a hand in establishing new procedures based on the results of these real life happenings including thoughtful annotations on various possible, but not yet experienced disputes.

The above could be given a name seldom heard in the bridge world, PROFESSIONALISM.

Paul CroninJanuary 26th, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for your usual insightful input!

One of the problems we see locally here is that very few people want to be TDs, and there is very much of a “restricted choice” in the personnel available for tournaments. The problem is thus not improper training, but rather a lack of people wanting to be trained.

Why is this happening? I really don’t know. Perhaps things are different in your area, where I read in Judy’s articles that you actually have people wanting to run for your Unit board. We haven’t had a Unit board election here in years – nobody wants to run, so members are simply “appointed” as vacancies occur. What we have come to!

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