Paul Cronin

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”.

Merry Christmas !

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, along with all best wishes for health and happiness in 2016!

Some of the events of 2015 should make us all count our blessings, as they are many!

Alas, alack!

The report I received from the Denver NABC indicated that the mandated ZT announcements were not made before each session. I can draw no other conclusions but that the TDs do not want to make the ZT announcements and do not support ZT. Is it because they consider the ZT procedure too time-consuming? How much time would the following scenario take?:

Director, please!

Director arrives.

East tells the director that North called West “stupid”

Director asks North if this is true.

North answers “Yes”

Director says “I’m assigning an immediate 1/4 of a board penalty – another instance of this and you will have to leave the game”.

20 seconds? 30 seconds?

Or is it that Section 6 of the ACBL ZT policy

“The DIC shall provide a summary report of all behavioral penalties to the Tournament Chairman and/or Recorder.”

would require the DIC to spend some time filling out a summary report?

There must be a reason why season after season………

Sauce for the goose?

Does anyone know of a case other than the Passell case where a sanctioned player has been allowed to make a joint public statement with the ACBL about the nature of the sanction imposed?

Doesn’t E20 of the ACBL CDR

E20 Discussion of the content of the hearing, other than the committee decision, outside the hearing room by a disciplinary body member with any party (whether a party to the hearing or not).The Committee Decision includes the finding of Guilty/Not Guilty and the Penalty Imposed. CDR 3.22.

Reprimand and or up to 2 years Probation and or up to180 days Suspension

prevent the publishing of what Mr. Passell agreed to at the hearing, namely

Mike Passell acknowledges fouling a board at the 2015 Palmetto Regional.

Mike Passell acknowledges failing to call the director after the incident.

As the sanction guideline, the A&C Committee used E18

E18 Cheating and similar ethical violations not specifically cited by other sections of this Appendix (CDR 3.20)

90 days Suspension up to Expulsion

* # 0-100% of Disciplined Player’s total masterpoint holding

but upheld the EOC’s finding of “an ethical violation (but not cheating)“.

What then does the word “similar” in E18 mean? Similar to cheating but not cheating? Similar to something else not specified? One common definition of “similar” is “resembling but not identical”, so if the “similar ethical violations” resemble cheating, why would they not be treated as seriously? The EOC determined that the violation was not cheating, but the A&C Committee found that it was “similar” to cheating.

Can anyone cast some much needed light on all this?

Curious & Curiouser

At the Chicago Nationals in July, 2015, the ACBL Ethical Oversight Committee found Mike Passell guilty of an ethical infraction at the Palmetto Regional, and assessed the following sanction:

Probation –> 13 months                                                                    Loss of master-points –> 19,000 +

At the Denver Nationals in November, 2015, the ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee upheld the findings of the July Ethical Oversight Committee, but decided to apply a sanction under a different category, and changed the previous sanction to

Suspension –> 14 days, beginning December 20, 2015                    Loss of master-points –> 15.4

It is perplexing that the viewpoints of the ACBL’s top two disciplinary committees could be so radically different. Additionally, has anyone ever heard of a suspension that did not begin (almost) immediately?

50 Shades of Bridge

With the Denver NABC fast approaching, the following section of the ACBL ZT Policy is worth revisiting:

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.

It would be great to hear from anyone planning to be in Denver as to whether such “an announcement” was made “at the start of each event”, and whether or not they personally observed any director calls for unacceptable behavior. If such calls were observed, what action, if any, was taken by the director?

The use of the word “shall” above makes it clear that such announcements are mandatory, but it has not been clear to date whether the dog is wagging the tail, or the tail is wagging the dog. 

Plus ça change !

High-school nuclear physics in the 1950’s was pretty simple – atoms were made up of a nucleus of protons and neutrons, with electrons circling the nucleus. The hydrogen atom had a nucleus of one proton and one neutron, and there was one electron circling the nucleus. In many ways, bridge was like that too – you quickly learned a few rules, and then you sat down and played. But physics (and bridge) is very different now – protons and neutrons are no longer considered as fundamental particles, but rather are made up of

fermions – of which there are 12 types – up quarks, down quarks, charm quarks, strange quarks, top                                                                   quarks, bottom quarks, electrons, electron neutrinos, muons,                                                                  muon neutrinos, taus, tau neutrinos 

bosons – of which there are 6 types – photons, W bosons, Z bosons, gluons, Higgs bosons, gravitons

In addition to this there are a number of hypothetical particles such as neutralinos, charginos, photinos, winos, zinos, Higgsinos, gluinos, gravitinos, sleptinos, sneutrinos,  squarks, graviscalars, graviphotons, axions, axinos, saxions, branons, dilatons, dilatinos, X bosons, Y bosons, magnetic photons, majorons, majorana fermions, and chameleons.

Doesn’t all that make you eager to study nuclear physics?

Bridge, as I noted previously, has also changed. A bridge website I was looking at recently listed 35 types of doubles! Would learning those be any harder than learning the 43 types of particles listed above?

Some people find making bridge more complex exciting, and that’s fine for them. But does that increasing complexity make people unfamiliar with the game eager to take it up? Is seeing hundreds of bridge books on a seller’s table at at a tournament intimidating?

Not many people go into nuclear physics these days, and not many people are taking up bridge. Most of those who do take up bridge quickly become discouraged and go on to other endeavours.

As the slide of bridge into irrelevance continues, I have this awful vision of a future where the only bridge players left are a few theorists scattered around the globe, hunched over their computers playing online bridge,and gleefully cackling over the discovery of some new use for a double. 


Hindsight is always 20-20 !

So many people saying now that they always knew so-and-so was cheating, but didn’t want to say anything. Didn’t file any reports with their NBO Recorder because “it wouldn’t do any good”. Everybody knocking the NBOs now for taking no action, or action that, in their opinion, is too slow. Reminds me of how people say that the U.N. is so ineffective. Maybe so, but when you get down to it…it’s all we have. And the other ways, like WW1 and WW2, are sure not the solution. And public “trials”, involving people’s reputations, are not the answer either. Instead, let’s pass on any information we have that relates to possible ethical infractions to the Recorder concerned, and then follow-up to find out what has been done with that information. To do otherwise in itself verges on the unethical, and that is not a good place to be coming from when questioning the ethics of others.

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio…..?

Hard lately not to think about “heroes”, whether they be in bridge or in any other endeavor. And that brought to mind the title line above, from the movie “The Graduate”. And the poignant line following it – “A nation turns its lonely eyes to you”. And when, like the Beatles in “Let It Be”, “I find myself in times of trouble”, I think of….heroes. Like Bobby Jones in the 1925 U.S. Open, calling a penalty on himself for causing his ball to move while he was addressing it. No one else saw it move ….his partner tried to talk him out of it…..the officials insisted that it was totally up to him to make the call. He made the call, and penalized himself one stroke. That resulted in a tie at the end of the tournament, and a subsequent playoff which he lost. He lost the U.S. Open! Do you think he ever regretted that action? Probably not, because in the next U.S. Open he called another penalty on himself when his ball, in a strong wind, moved a half turn on the green as he lifted his putter head  to place it behind the ball. To me, that’s being a…….hero. Doing the right thing when no one is looking,  especially when you may pay a big price for doing so.