Paul Cronin

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?

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.