Paul Cronin

Sauce for the goose – sauce for the gander!

Zero Tolerance for a number of misbehaviours is currently (theoretically???) in force at all ACBL NABCs. But do the NABC floor directors make a  real  effort to publicize that fact? Are there announcements about same prior to every session? Do the players know their “rights” under the ACBL ZT policy? Are directors being called to the table to rule on ZT situations? Once at the table, are they assigning penalties as prescribed by the ZT policy? Or are they just giving warnings? Or doing nothing? And if the ZT “sauce” is good enough for the NABC “goose”, why is it not then mandated by the ACBL for all the “ganders” (ACBL sanctioned Sectionals and Regionals)? Curiouser and curiouser indeed!


Marty DeneroffSeptember 27th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Yesterday at the Long Island Regional I saw the director enforce the policy and give the offender’s team a zero for the match. The penalty was, IMO, well deserved, and the director handled the matter efficiently and with a minimum of visibility to those not involved (I am only aware of it because I happened to be playing at the adjacent table when it occurred.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 27th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Dear Paul:

From following your blogs and reading “About Paul Cronin,” it is obvious you are one of the good guys who cares about the game — both in the realm of manners and ethics.

The principle ZT was a wonderful creation and one of the most positive, constructive advances of modern bridge. The problem is in the training of the directors and ensuring that everyone be on a level playing field and they are treated with equal respect. The abilities, knowledge, mannerisms, courtesy, confidence, tact, bridge expertise and so much more covers a huge strata but regardless — it is time everyone is on the same page.

You make mention of the NABCs. Duplicate clubs are sanctioned and issue master points just as at the Sectionals and above. Why should duplicate players not be held accountable in the same fashion as those who play in the higher ranked events? Eventually the fledglings (and oldtimers returning to the game) will attend Sectionals, Regionals, NABCs, etc. They must be taught from Day One what is expected of them. They should not have a rude awakening as they advance and are summoned before an Official Committee for either misbehavior or questionable ethics.

I know owners/managers/directors don’t want to lose their breadwinnings, but it is time they assume the responsibility (in a courteous and respectful fashion) and educate their patrons –especially the new and inexperienced. You have to learn sometime.

It is also vitally important to have ‘precedent files’ set up in Mississippi wherein TDs in every instance of ACBL competition file reports — encouraging consistency and accountablilty for all their judgments. Without that process, ZT could well get out of hand and therefore cause evil politics to rule.

I am proud fo say Dixie Perkinson at the new LV Bridge World opens the game with a welcome to all, introduction of visiting guests and a friendly (but serious) warning to be nice to your partners and opponents and play by the rules. I think that says it all!

Paul, thanks for bringing up the subject. It is food for thought — goose or gander!

TonySeptember 27th, 2010 at 8:57 pm


I totally agree with your one size fits all theory. You might as well get it right from the start. Also, many of our local duplicates attract some good tournament players so why should the same (proper and correct) rules not apply. It is the SAME GAME, same scoring –just a different venue.

Thanks for speaking up!


Paul CroninSeptember 28th, 2010 at 8:40 am

Hello Marty,

Glad to hear that you saw ZT being enforced at the Long Island Regional-the director involved should be commended! I don’t think though that players involved were given a “zero for the match” as the allowable penalties are (i) 1/4 board (3IMPs in a team match) for first offence (ii) removal from event for second offence (in the same event) (iii) in the case of a serious offence or multiple offences (3+) in the same event a discipline committee may be convened to determine if the offenders should be allowed to play in other events in the tournament and/or whether additional sanctions are appropriate.


Paul CroninSeptember 28th, 2010 at 9:03 am

Hello Judy,

How right you are about the training of directors – many still don’t understand ZT or know how to apply it properly. As a consequence the average player is, IMHO, still unaware that he or she has an absolute right to an enjoyable game every time they play. And sadly, there are still some directors who simpy won’t enforce ZT, in the (mistaken!) belief that they have a “better” way, and that the most important thing is to keep the game moving. Here in Unit 166, where ZT began, we have begun using the “Tournament Director Evaluation” form found at to evaluate directors’ adherence to ZT mandates following each of our six Sectionals and two Regionals. The “Other Comments” box at the bottom of the form is particularly useful in this regard. I totally agree with you as well that ZT should be in force at duplicate clubs, and the ACBL made a hugely retrograde move in mandating that clubs must be wholly responsible for
the disciplining of their own players, except in cases involving very serious breaches of ethics, such as cheating. Players can no longer therefore appeal to their Unit for recourse, and this removes the Unit Recorder from the scene. You are absolutely right that it is the club players who will eventually turn up at tournaments having no idea of what is expected of them with regards to ZT. Club owners/management have been very shortsighted, in my opinion, in thinking that they are protecting their bottom line by not enforcing ZT, as just the opposite is true. By catering to a few bad apples, the rot sets into the barrel, and many, many newer (and other) players have bad experiences that turn them off a club in particular and quite possibly bridge in general.


Paul CroninSeptember 28th, 2010 at 9:48 am

Hello again, Judy,

After you mentioned Dixie Perkinson and the “Las Vegas Bridge World” bridge club, I visited the club website – very impressive, as was your game with Bobby last Friday afternoon! Could you find out for me what kind of software they use to post the game results? – best I’ve ever seen!
Would love to meet you and Bobby, and hope our paths will cross in the not too distant future.


bobby wolffSeptember 28th, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hi Paul,

While I agree with your and the apparent unanimity of all the above comments, in order to effect the positive results desired, there must be an appeal to the ACBL BOD’s to encourage compliance with the above view.

It appears that the BOD’s is going in the way of detente toward discipline and the handling of all ACBL members for fear of driving anyone away from the game.

Since all above (including me) disagree in NT with that view we need to organize (and who better than you to be our leader) and present a united front for ZT to be enforced from the womb to the tomb and preferably by ACBL TD’s.

Of course, we also need precedents to be established and accurate records to be kept.

Offenses need to be well defined both as to severity and to degree of discipline, something the ACBL has always hesitated to do since they would rather domestic disputes be handled privately and not involve the ACBL home office.

Also a special section (or at least) one line or two needs to deal with when one known troublemaker meets another and what do you know, something testy happens, what to do?

You are certainly on the right track, but in order to get results, aggressive pursuit needs to be geared up.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 28th, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hi Paul:

I would like to clone you. Most people in any type of administration fear speaking out because of antagonizing others. Our primary objective (first, last and always) should be protecting the original majesty of the game which has been dwindling by leaps and bounds. BRIDGE IS STILL BRIDGE — AND SHOULD BE PLAYED BY THE SAME RULES WHEREVER ………………..

I will pass this on to Dixie who is about as conscientious as a manager/owner/director can be and try to ascertain her computer methods.

Will you be in Philadelphia? We are returning to my old home town for about ten days. Bobby and I would love to meet you as well.



Paul CroninSeptember 28th, 2010 at 10:28 am

Hi Bobby& Judy,

Further to Bobby’s comments above, I’ve asked our District 2 Director if making an written presentation to the ACBL BOD re ZT would be possible, and, if so, what the format and procedure should be. Will keep you posted. Thanks, Judy, for passing on my request to Dixie – she can contact me at if that is convenient. As for Philadelphia, my first half of October is totally booked already, so unfortunately will be unable to meet you and Bobby there. “Our object all sublime, we shall achieve in time”!


Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 28th, 2010 at 12:55 pm



LuiseSeptember 29th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I just had an idea… I need a volunteer to help me with this because there is an important article that needs to be written and I have a means by which I can post it and make it known to beginners who are learning the game.

Is there anyone out there who would be willing to help? The article is “The Ethics of Playing Bridge”. The article needs an author… Maybe about 1-2 pages (possibly a bit longer if it is written by someone who writes well and is interesting to read) that should contain the Do’s and Don’ts that all new bridge players should know and live by.

Do I have any volunteers? I would write it myself, but 1) I’m not a writer, and 2) I don’t know all of them 🙂

If anyone wants to send me the article, I will post it to our website for beginners and credit your name as the author. Send the article to:

LuiseSeptember 29th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

As a follow-up… If the same person (or maybe a different person!) has any advice for bridge teachers of how to teach bridge ethics to beginners, I can post another article to the “teacher” side of our website. It could be called “Bridge Ethics: Topics every bridge teacher should cover”… (Or whatever you want to call it… That was just a suggestion, for inspiration.)

Again, the bridge teacher article needs an author as well… Does anyone want to volunteer? Send it to the same place and I’ll make sure it gets out there.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 1st, 2010 at 10:57 am

Dear Linda and Luise:

It is truly a wonderful idea. However, there is one big loophole — and that is the recalcitrant position of the powers that be and the lack of qualification of most to fill the bill — especially on alerts.

A perfect example is what is alertable via cue bids and what is not. To the closed-minded directors who blindly follow THE LAW, goes my sympathy (and to their customers as well). Sometimes, when you know something is wrong, you must protect everyone. (Sadly some are not sophisticated enough to know that they are promoting inequity — but until people speak up — it will continue). My regrets to those who settle to play under that sovereignty!

For example, the local head honcho (and I use the term loosely) insists that only 1D/2D (meaning diamonds) is alertable. Yet, it can be EITHER majors or top and bottom. WHY ON EARTH IS IT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ASK?

Also, they allow 1S/2S to be EITHER Michaels ((both MAJORS ..or TOP AND BOTTOM). HOW AND WHY SHOULD THE ONUS BE UPON THE OPPONENT TO ASK (and also straighten out their system if they have forgotten).

We play Michaels for the other major and clubs (4 OM and 5 or 6 clubs). AND THAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OPPONENT TO ASK??? THEY MUST BE KIDDING. We alert immediately.

Andy Robson, English superstar, said it all when he published on his club’s convention card that alerts should be on a need-to-know basis. Time saver and very morally ethical!

It is time we took a good hard look at our alert system and did right by the entire field. Isn’t that what bridge used to be about?????

We should not be promoting Fagin’s School for Pickpockets!



LuiseOctober 1st, 2010 at 2:31 pm


It was me both times who posted the comment about a request for an article geared towards beginners, not Linda (you may have mis-read the names). But I wasn’t trying to get an article that is as detailed as what you describe above when talking about what is and isn’t alertable. But maybe a more general approach, like, “think about your bidding and what bids would be considered alertable and not alertable. More information on this can be found here…” and point to a resource or reference where they can look up the current laws.

I don’t really think it needs to be a detailed article, but more like a point-form guideline. A brief list, if you will, of all of the topics that are important and need to be disussed or taught in greater detail. Alerts is one of them. Not bragging, not yelling at partner, not discussing the previous hand when the next pair is at the table, etc. That sort of thing. A very high-level guideline of everything that a bridge student and bridge teacher should know.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 1st, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Sorry, Luise:

A conglomeration of “Ls.”

Yes, I think it is a wonderful idea to have an experienced teacher and someone who is always working with the newer players. The two people who come to mind who have such terrific reputations in that field are Audrey Grant and Barbara Seagram.

I agree, it is a mandatory preparatory exercise before playing. Unfortunately, often too little — too late. Most players (even beginners) are set in their ways and don’t take kindly to suggestions and reprimands.
But — there is a tremendous need for some type of guidelines!

I’ve got my own dragons to slay in other arenas. This is not my bailiwick. Sorry.



bobby wolffOctober 4th, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Hi Luise,

Sometimes when lost in an enchanted forest, we fail to see the trees.

If that is possible, what then could be as simple a solution as:

1. When faced with an alert or possibly not, why not always alert a call which is strange enough so that if you were your opponent you would certainly prefer to be alerted. Such an example as, 1 club by South, 2 clubs by your partner West, if you, East, were not playing it for both majors, but say for example top and bottom (spades and diamonds) you certainly should alert, reasons being both for the playing of bridge and also for basic bridge morality.

2. As to Zero Tolerance, since it could occur in so many different ways, if it can be so construed that it could bother (not that it would, but only if it could) the opponents, or for that matter only a kibitzer or your pet parrot then it should not be tolerated and the TD should be called, of course, with common sense, (especially to the parrot) always applied.

Nothing less, nothing more.

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