Paul Cronin

Incidents at clubs

For a long time, players at clubs had the right under ACBL law to submit reports on incidents that occurred at their club to their Unit Recorder for investigation, further action, or filing. Similarly, they could submit formal complaints about club incidents to their Unit Charging Party for possible disciplinary committee action. Then, without explanation, the ACBL removed these remedies, and all incidents at clubs (with the exception of very serious breaches of ethics like cheating) had to be dealt with by the club management or ownership. One can speculate that part of the reason for this change was the litigious nature of American society and the ACBL’s concomitant fear of being sued. In any event, imagine that you are now playing at a club, and the club owner, who is playing in the game, subjects you to a barrage of criticism and abuse when he is at your table. What prospect of redress do you now have when you then have to take your complaint against the club owner to the club owner? And what if you live in a small town where there’s only one game, and you can’t take your business elsewhere? I believe very strongly that the ACBL should return to the previous practice of allowing reports and complaints to go to the Unit – what do you think?


Judy Kay-WolffMarch 7th, 2011 at 10:33 pm


You have no idea how much I am in accord with your thinking. Many club owners (not all) are incapable of making rulings because they do no know much about the ‘high-level” judgment calls a director needs to have. My suggestion at a local club was to have a small rotating Appeals Committee to adjudicate the problems. However, the management does not want to concede the power as they might insult and/or lose customers. Any time this happens, someone has to be unhappy with the outcome but the rules should be protected at all costs.

I think what has happened to the moral status of many of the clubs is disgusting. They are afraid of losing customers. Better to educate both the players and the directors so there will be less situations and better decisions.

I remember back in Philly before I left in 2003, my local club directorial staff took no nonsense. The customers knew the strong position the directors had about certain issues and there was very little funny-stuff as they knew they wouldn’t be happy campers!

The bottom line is the owners, managers, directors and last but not least, the ACBL, do not want to lose customers or revenue. It is a no-win situation for the serious, honorable players. It is known as GO FIGHT CITY HALL.

God help bridge. At the rate it is going, the beauty of the game and its heritage is quickly disappearing.

Bill CubleyMarch 7th, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I’m the reason for the change. A club owner playing in his own game refused to play by the rules. In this instance, he left the table after playing the first of 3 boards for no valid reason and returned several minutes later. He refused to take his hand out oif the board. I was North and the dealer so I, under the laws, told him it is a rule of the game to take out his hand, count the cards and look at them so we could proceed. He had ordered bidding to begin while he refused to take his cards out of the board as the Laws require of all players.
I not only got a screaming lifetime bar but he called the police. He also scored the 2 unplayed boards as average for him which is unethical as he refused to play and should have been disqualified.
After YEARS of appeal [mostly just trying to get a hearing] I lose. After an appeal to the ACBL BOD, the case was remanded to the unit to actually conduct a hearing. Ten months later- no hearing. I’ll spare the rest of the story.

Paul CroninMarch 8th, 2011 at 12:20 am

Hi Bill,

Sounds like you really had a nightmare experience! Please keep us posted as to the results of the Unit hearing.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 8th, 2011 at 8:24 am


What is your unit and district? Who is your district president and the person in charge of your unit? Assuming all the facts to be accurate, SOMETHING MUST BE DONE PRONTO. TRY CALLING CEO JAY BAUM TO SEE IF HE CAN INTERCEDE. The ACBL is unto themselves and if all the facts are as posted, all the culprits names should be made public!


Larry LowellMarch 8th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I am an ACBL Unit President and we still process such complaints through the Unit Recorder and the Unit Conduct & Ethics Committee and I am unaware of an ACBL change in this regard. Please give me a reference that I can confirm. Thank you.

John Howard GibsonMarch 8th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

HBJ speaking : If clubs are affiliated to a governing body, and part of the affiliation arrangement is for the governing body to hear appeals and regulate the activities of the club, then that governing body should either be asked to get involved as an arbitrator, or if made aware of the situation intervene when the rights of an innocent and injured party are being denied.
Otherwise injured parties will only be able to seek redress through the courts which is in my view unnecessary and hugely expensive.
As for dealing with undisciplined and extremely nasty members, whoever they are, constitutional rules ought to be in place to bring the culprits to account and impose appropriate sanctions. Fines seem an excellent option, because handing over money will always hurt wrongdoers , and their behaviour will very quicklychange for the good. Moreover 50% of the fine should go to the injured party as compensation. How simple is that ?

Bill CubleyMarch 8th, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Paul and Judy
My former unit [502] never held a hearing and it was not disciplined by D21 other than to formally apologize for not conducting a hearing, even after a national remand and also for failure to folw up on an EEO complaint. A jerk said “fuck you” in my ear because he does not like the way I use bid cards. Showing the scars from surgery on each hand happened just before he cursed me.
I had 2 D21 hearings. Apparently a Law that requires all players to remove a hand from a boar, count the cards, and actually look at the hand does not apply to club owner player-directors wh o also lie at committee hearings. No committee questions on change of testimony allowed.
Can’t afford a lawyer. Complaints about this directors behavior to harass me are ignored by DICs Matt Smith and John Ashton. Example, another director handles a late paly issue and all 4 o us are trying hard to bid and play to get back on schedule. Club owner director who did not have anything to do with the ruling watches a table finish play and interrupts us to hand us a third board in a 2 board movement. DIC ignores complaint.
Smae club owner tells me I DQ our swiss team because I had too many points. Duh! Entries were sold wothout names and just team masterpoint totals and sections were set up that way.
DIC, usual supervisor of idiot at sectionals, for sectionals assigns me to play 5th around against team 30. Only 28 teams in event. Then yells, swears at me for askign for tournament chair and her supervisory contact info. Email to Jay gets “matter is closed by ACBL person assigned.

Bill CubleyMarch 9th, 2011 at 12:00 am


Check with your district rep as they voted the change. I was told by my D21 rep that I was the cause of this rule change nbecause of non=action by unit and D21.
Only reason I got a D21 hearing at all was by addressing the D21 biard meeting while ACBL pres Fairchild was in the room.
Original person assigned sat on my and other complaints for a year without any report to the district. thin he ought to be kicked out of the ACBL myself for non-feasance of duty.
Only way i got the director harassment to level off was to email all Western Conference reps and threaten to sue any unit which failed to act upon further harassment.

Paul CroninMarch 9th, 2011 at 3:10 am

Hi Larry,

You could reference the ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations

2.1.7 Except for CDR 2.1.1 (d) and 2.1.6, units, districts and ACBL have no original jurisdiction over behavior at club sponsored games.

The two exceptions are

2.1.1 d A Unit has jurisdiction over:

Persons participating in a club sponsored ACBL sanctioned event held within the Unit’s geographical boundaries relating to complaints of alleged cheating by use of signals, other unauthorized information, other forms of cheating, or serious breaches of ethics.

Except for ACBL Management in accordance with CDR 2.2.5, none of the disciplinary bodies noted in CDR 2.2 has jurisdiction over the club’s manager or staff based on actions taken in pursuit
of their club activities unless the action is brought by ACBL


Judy Kay-WolffMarch 9th, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Hey guys:

I guess I am just old and spoiled. I can remember when bridge was a game played by ladies and gentlemen but you have to go back a long way to recall that era. People exhibited respect for one another, the ethics were twice as good (or more so) than they are now. The object of the clubs are to draw as many players as possible and collect as many card fees as they can which eventually filter down in part to the ACBL. Matters like civility and protocol are way down on the owners’ and directors’ list and they try to make nice-nice to everyone, regardless of any violation of bridge rules or laws. It’s like the animals are running the zoo. I witness it with my own eyes.

I hate to be so insensitive and direct, but if we continue on the appointed path, bridge will go to hell in a handbasket. Some administrations try to solve the problem and enhance their respective sports, but in bridge everyone tries to cover everyone else’s hides and when asked about the resolution of a problem — you receive their irrevocable CASE CLOSED answer.

It is time we stopped making excuses for
them and faced the hard, cold facts. Sorry to be all doom and gloom, but I always tell it like it is.


Paul CroninMarch 10th, 2011 at 1:13 am

Hi Judy,

One of the motions I’m trying to get the ACBL BoD to consider is the following:

Given that the decision by the ACBL to make discipline at the club level a matter for club management (except for serious breaches of ethics like cheating) has deprived players at the club level of the opportunity to submit “Player Reports” to the Unit Recorder and “Player Complaints” to the Unit Charging Party, it is

MOVED that the ACBL Board of Governors recommend to the ACBL Board of Directors that player conduct at the club level be again made subject to the ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations

Keep your fingers crossed!


Bobby WolffMarch 19th, 2011 at 10:33 am

Hi to many old timers,

Above, we are all witnesses to a myriad of problems to be confronted, or unfortunately to the preferred way the ACBL has elected to proceed.

However, let me add my opinion to the problem of the director capability at bridge clubs around ACBL territory.

In the old days (typical geezer lead-in) bridge club owners quite often were younger bridge players who while fascinated by the intrigue and excitement of a life of bridge, which almost automatically insured that the TD’s present were aware of not only the rules and ethics of the game, but the reasons for them.

Therefore, presto, the owner (TD) could quickly rule based on a solid interpretation of whatever rule or ethical situation applied.

Logistics have changed so that sometimes less knowledgeable and enthusiastic bridge players are now serving that role which is, at least my excuse for what is happening clear across our continent.

If I am at least close to being right, we need both, for us to be more patient and for just as important, the TDs involved to thirst for updated knowledge and to discard laziness and fuddyduddyness on their journey to improve.

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