Paul Cronin

Zero Tolerance Poll

My Zero Tolerance poll is at Bridge Winners  Рplease take a few moments to let us know how you think Zero Tolerance is working out.


John Howard GibsonAugust 7th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Zero Tolerance is a flawed concept. Read Howard Bigot-Johnson’s recent posts for a valid explanation of why.

Paul CroninAugust 7th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Hi Larry,

The link I gave for the Bridge Winners website does work – when there, look for “Recent Polls” halfway down the right hand side, then select “Zero Tolerance”

Paul CroninAugust 7th, 2011 at 10:09 pm


I don’t think Zero Tolerance is a flawed concept just because Rebecca Rood doesn’t agree with it, and HBJ thinks it doesn’t catch the really serious culprits. Everyone is enttled to their opinion, but we still have to go on believing that players are entitled to an enjoyable game, and that there should be some recourse when something interferes with that enjoyment. Easy to curse the darkness, but more illuminating to light a candle.

John Howard GibsonAugust 8th, 2011 at 4:38 am

Hi Paul, Zero tolerance is flawed because ” some measure of tolerance ” is required in cases where a person charged with unpleasant behaviour may be the victim of both subtle and repeated provocation. Whenever society has a problem say with bad behaviour the solution does not lie with zero tolerance lock-the-offenders up, but identifying and tackling the root causes such as bad parenting, bad housing, poor education and poverty.
Like you I am desperate to see bridge played in an atmosphere of goodwill, mutual respect and friendly banter. If a club wants to see the back of explosive outbursts, then seek out and root out those who provoked such behaviour through their persistent slow play, needling and cheating ways. Yours John Howard Gibson

Paul CroninAugust 8th, 2011 at 9:24 am

Some of the ZT discussion brings to mind the picture of a starving man crying out to a crowd of people for some food, but the crowd doesn’t give him any as they are too busy arguing about what would be the best food to give him, and the best way to serve it. A few in the crowd are even saying that he shouldn’t be given any food at all, as it’s his own fault that he’s starving. Maybe we could just get started on ensuring that players always get an enjoyable game, and then look for perfection later (if ever).

Robb GordonAugust 10th, 2011 at 12:20 am

“Zero Tolerance” Is a flawed concept wherever it has been applied. It has led to thousands of non-violent drug abusers crowding our prisons. It doesn’t work in bridge because it is not uniformly enforced, both laudably when compassion is applied to one-off situations and less admirably when personal bias on the part of the director affects him either consciously or unconsciously. We should have rules of behavior and they should be enforced fairly and with compassion.

Paul CroninAugust 11th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Robb Gordon’s comments highlight exactly why ZT should be made part of the “Laws Of Duplicate Contract Bridge” rather than being just a “policy”. As part of the Laws, ZT would be uniformly enforced, just as revokes and leads out of turn are enforced uniformly, with no room for either local interpretation or director bias.

Bobby WolffAugust 17th, 2011 at 1:11 pm

HI Paul, JHG, and Robb,

Please allow me to enter your extremely relevant discussion about Zero Tolerance (ZT).

At least in my opinion, the application of how ZT is enforced are the keys to its future.

When I was a young bridge player (yes, once upon a time, that was the case) and getting ready to play a very important match in a later round of the Spingold, an universally well thought of bridge personality along side of being a great player and, of course, on the team we were getting ready to play queried me about my then girl friend (who obviously had other interests as well) “I wonder where Gertrude (not her real name) is and what she may be doing”?

Is that Zero Tolerance? At least my adversary was intending to distract me from playing my best and very definitely was not civilly intended, allowing me to claim that he was trying to interfere with my enjoyment of the game.

ZT needs to be clearly defined since in addition to profanity laced rants there are more subtle forms of it. How about slow play beyond belief or references to the opponent’s shortcomings. What about stating that the opponent’s system or lack of same is beneath what should be expected or, of course, alluding to unethical or worse behavior, without concrete evidence, by their opponents?

A discussion, or for that matter, the implementation of ZT is not worth having unless it is carefully defined, both for prevention and especially for legally prosecuting it. To do otherwise is merely to put a band-aid, soon to fall off, on a perhaps lethal body wound.

My rather long experience with the ACBL enables me to understand that their lawyers almost demand that they not clearly define most cheating or ZT behavior so that the culprits will not be able to design a plan to legally get around whatever is defined.

BTW, all three of you have written excellent, to the point, comments, all worth reading, but at least at this time, not forceful enough to cause the ACBL and maybe even including the WBF, to do what they need to do to satisfy its consistent application.

In other words some person or better yet, crusader group, needs to perhaps write the laws necessary to get the job done. Do not anyone hold his breath till the ACBL takes on that task.

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