Paul Cronin

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. 

The Whole Story?

The statement issued by Mike Passell  explaining his side of the situation was titled “The Whole Story”, but…..after some 650 comments posted on Bridgewinners, we still don’t seem to have the whole story. It’s easy to miss details when there are that many posts, but here are some questions that I haven’t found the answers to yet:

What was the actual score on the board Mike tossed on the floor? -100, -200 ??

What was the actual score when that board was played at the other table? +110, +130 ??

(Answers to the above are needed to confirm the alleged 2 IMPs lost on the board).

Was the card Mike saw on the floor face up or face down?

If face up, what was the actual card?

Prior to the EOC hearing, was Mike informed of the name of the complainant, and the nature of the charges?

Was he informed that there were to be four charges?

Was E13 one of those charges?

Were the other three charges 3.1, 3.7, and 3.20?

How many people were on the EOC for his hearing?

What were the names of those people?

When Mike says “I was found guilty of four things”, were those four things 3.1, 3.7, 3.20, and E13, as stated in the ACBL Bulletin?

If 3.20 was one of the things he was found guilty of, as the ACBL BUlletin notice says it was, why does he say “However, I was found NOT GUILTY of cheating…..” when 3.20 is “Cheating and similar ethical violations” ?

If guilt was found under E13, the minimum sanction is two years suspension and forfeiture of 25% of the player’s master-points. The probationary term of 13 months is therefore extremely lenient, and the committee would have an obligation to explain in the Hearing Report Form why it chose to go outside the sanction guidelines.

It should be noted that the content of E13 is “Prearrange a deal or part thereof including one card” – it says nothing about whether the prearrangement was intentional or unintentional, or whether the intent of the prearrangement was to gain some advantage or was totally innocent.

Additionally, as the EOC has been severely castigated as a result of its findings, it should be carefully noted that it is not up to the committee to decide what charges are appropriate. The committee is simply given the charges it is asked to examine, and it then hears evidence relating to those charges. When all the evidence is heard, the committee decides on the guilt or innocence of the charged party on each of the charges it was given. The committee has no authority to throw out the charges, or change the charges to something else – it can only conclude “guilty” or “not guilty” on each of the charges.  Further, once the hearing is over, the committee members are not allowed, by CDR 3.22,  to discuss anything that took place at the hearing except the final decision of the committee.

Sad, sad news !

Very sad to see in today’s NABC Final Bulletin that Mike Passell, a member of the ACBL Hall of fame, and winner of over 77,000 MPs, has been placed on probation for 13 months with 25% of his masterpoints removed for an ethical violation. The only direct reference in the very short notice is to “Prearrange a deal or part thereof” (E13), and hopefully there will be clarification of exactly what this was about. The suggested sanction for an E13 violation is “2 years suspension to expulsion” and removal of 25-100% of the disciplined player’s MP holding, so an explanation by the Ethical Oversight Committee as to the apparent leniency of the sanction would be enlightening. I believe the members of the EOC are Peter Boyd, Bart Bramley, Lesley Davis, Jill Meyers and Karen Walker. [UPDATE:: it now appears that there are 15 members of the EOC, and normally 5 of them would be chosen for a specific hearing. I believe that Karen Walker has now stated that she was not on the committee handling this situation].While a committee can go outside the sanction guidelines, it must then explain why it did so. 

Hard not to think of the irony in the following statement made by Mike in April, 2014, when he was writing an account of the “Doctor’s Scandal” in Bali:

“It was a long last day playing against a pair we knew were cheating. It has been an even longer 6 months waiting for justice to be served— for those of you who haven’t read about it, the Doctors have been found guilty of cheating by the WBF.  They have been barred for 10 years from playing, and for life from playing together in WBF events.”

On Tuesday, August 11, 2015 there was a ceremony at the Chicago NABC to award the Carolyn Lynch team, which included Mike Passell, gold medals for winning the d’Orsi Senior trophy in Bali due to the disqualification from first place of the German team for cheating.

The master-points won by Mike in Chicago were

Friday evening                  August 7           3.58

Sunday Flight A Swiss      August 9           3.61

Spingold                                                   50.00

Roth Swiss Teams                                   60.00

for a total of 117.19. But the overall results show the total as 116.10 ???

P.S. Mike has now issued the following statement:

“Here are the facts from my perspective:

Early this year, I played a bracketed Swiss at the Palmetto Regional with Mary Chilcote, Meckwell, and Chris Compton. I sat North and tossed a board on the floor after we had gotten a poor result. Sometime during the next hand I noticed a card sitting face down next to a pocket and inserted it. This was a three-way match, so I thought it prudent to make sure the board was correct before our opponents took the boards to the other table. I counted the cards and found 14 in one hand and 12 in another, so I moved the extra card, which I thought was the one that had fallen out and I had replaced. I should have checked more thoroughly, but I thought I had fixed it. When we compared results, our opponents said there was a fouled board and I realized it was my screwup and owned up to it. They had won 2 IMPs on the board, and we decided to just let that result stand. I should have gone to the director, and I wish I could go back in time and do so.

This was early in the week and I thought nothing of it until the following week when two close friends told me one of my opponents was spreading stories of my “foul play.” About a month later I was contacted by Jim Miller of the ACBL who asked about the incident and I repeated the story exactly as it happened. A short time later I was contacted by Sam Whitten of the ACBL and had the same discussion. I was informed I was to attend a meeting in Chicago of the Ethical Oversight Committee, which I used to be a member of. Both Jim and Sam attended the hearing and testified that I had told them the exact same story. I was told I could bring a representative with me but not a lawyer. I declined, thinking no one could possibly believe I could be stupid enough to change a hand that had already been played.

The end result of my not calling the director was that I was found guilty of four things, most of which I’ve never heard of. The most significant seems to be “prearranging a deal or part thereof,” which I still don’t know exactly what it means or how it pertains to what happened. Apparently it carries with it a mandatory penalty of 13 months probation and 25% of total masterpoints. However, I was found NOT GUILTY of cheating, and I was told the public statement would make this clear. Yet, now I see the statement reads like I was found guilty of cheating and given a lenient sentence. I am 100% not guilty of anything other than stupidity. I have a spotless five-decade record; I never have and never would cheat the game I love. I feel my reputation has been damaged and am extremely hurt. I have every interest in getting all the facts out, so I welcome all questions from Bridge Winners users; I have nothing to hide.”

Professional ID ?

Had a chance to listen to an interesting discussion the other day about whether professionals being paid to play in tournaments should be required to identify themselves in some way. One point of view was that they should make their status known to the director selling them their entry. Others felt that there should be some way to indicate to opponents at the table that they are being paid to play. Although the mechanics of any kind of IDing system are problematic, such IDing might help TDs to properly assess table calls where paid professionals are involved, and to avoid selecting same to sit on committees, where their paid status might lead to conflicts of interest. Anyone have any thoughts on this?