Paul Cronin

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”.

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?