Paul Cronin

“Signs” of the times!

Lots of good comments on the great new Zero Tolerance signs the ACBL is using regarding behaviour that interferes with people’s enjoyment of the game. Let’s hope everyone will help out and follow through now by calling the director whenever necessary.

When the signs were first put into use at the Phoenix NABC, someone went around and defaced them by adding an “ly” at the end of the slogan “Play nice”. Someone, I suppose, who wanted to flaunt their knowledge of grammar – not entirely unlike flaunting one’s bridge prowess at the table.

And someone who also has never heard of “phrasal verbs”, the usage of which is now very common in modern English. Would anyone say of a hockey player that “He plays dirtily” ? Phrasal verbs are often used as well to complete a thought beginning with “Be……” as in “Be nice to your mother-in-law when she’s visiting”. Hopefully the one who ruined the signs in Phoenix would not say “Be nicely”. So when it says “Play nice” on the signs, it means “Be nice while you’re playing”. And so, to the misguided grammarpolice-person who defaced the signs, be nice as well when you’re anywhere in the playing area -try to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.    


Judy Kay-WolffMarch 2nd, 2014 at 6:05 am

Hi Paul,

Pretty sad! Some people just like to stick their two cents in. I think the casual terminology catches one’s attention and cutely gets the message across — in a relaxed manner.

Zero tolerance is a marvelous concept and I did not know until recently what a huge part you played in its introduction and adoption by the League. Good job!

As my mother always said, “consider the source.”

Paul ElsteinMarch 3rd, 2014 at 2:30 am

“Nicely” probably is correct grammatically. But the person who defaced the sign is not a nice person

Bill CubleyMarch 4th, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Great comments

pod12@msn.comMarch 6th, 2014 at 10:14 am

JHG : I am amazed how one can wax lyrical about a concept ( zero tolerance ) which is utterly flawed. Perhaps you should read the recent article on HBJ’s blog which is based reviews where ZT has been seen to both a unjust and misguided concept.
Natural justice has no place for it.

paul croninMarch 6th, 2014 at 5:43 pm

It is not news that you are opposed to Zero Tolerance, JHG, and your recent blog on same is more to be pitied than scorned. What would be actually helpful is your providing some real cases where ZT has done the harm to which you constantly refer. But somehow I don’t think you’re going to do that. Your call for “less tolerance” or “measured tolerance” is ……….interesting………would you make the same call in instances of pedophilia, ethnic cleansing, or torturing people? If not, then how can the concept of Zero Tolerance be “totally flawed”? You always make me think of the line from Hamlet “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. But, given that the primary penalty for a ZT infraction is 1/4 of a board subtracted from your score, perhaps I should be thinking instead of “Much Ado About Nothing”.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 7th, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Whoa, guys!

No one can deny that bridge is an instrument that does not always bring out the best in people. Pride and egos are involved. To some it is a means of passing the time of day; to others, it is a matter of life and death. However, your reason for playing matters not.

I believe the problem may lie in who determines where you draw the line and, if guilty, to what degree. Sometimes rules must be bent and exceptions made. That principle applies in making so many determinations at the bridge table. I don’t think hard and fast rules can be employed. Each case is unto itself.

To me, malicious intent should be the target of punishment. Lesser reprimands should apply to unthinking errors in behavior. No one is perfect .. especially in the world of bridge!

Bobby WolffMarch 7th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Hi Paul,

Some years ago I was playing, at a Regional Swiss Team, against unbelievably slow play by a specific opponent to which I had very little respect (because of past performance). During that time I called for a TD twice to, at the very least, monitor the play, only to get perfunctory compliance (with absolutely no enthusiasm to right the ongoing wrong), which in turn allowed my table to only complete 4 boards of the seven demanded.

Obviously as circumstances would dictate, my teammates had 3 superior boards on the 3 boards which had to be thrown out, causing us to lose the match by a small margin. I then left my seat, found the TD who was there in name only and who confided in me that he hated having to deal with the player who individually had orchestrated the disaster, fully admitting his error. I then told him what I thought of him and his alleged responsibility to our game and no doubt said so in a very clear, somewhat profane but definitely too loud a tone.

The ACBL, perhaps because of several reasons, did not give me a ZT charge, but he, the TD is the one (along with the playing miscreant) who deserved the award. If they had taken me to Committee they would have been justified, but how could I possibly impart to the Committee just how badly this situation was handled (from the womb to the tomb).

Methinks the ACBL, after the transgression, handled it reasonably, but what about the result of the match. It totally distorted the final results of that Swiss team and yet, up to now, no one (or at least very few) are even aware of what happened.

Without objectivity and the always greatest elephant to ever be in any room, the cold truth, which sometimes cannot be proved, especially against unsavory people, will any improvised law or hoped for discipline ever be able to help, rather than severely hurt the cause.

Paul, that to me, must be taken into account which includes the specific law, the paid administrators involved with that law (usually TD’s who at times are either subjective, cowardly or just downright incompetent), and most of all the politics connected with the law.

As always there are usually two sides to every story, but this one had only one and although my director calls were clearly valid evidence, who knows what lies my opponents were going to perpetrate?

Finally after perhaps waiting 10+ years I am able to get that aberration out in the open and am thankful to you and HBJ to be able to furnish me with the vehicle to do so.

Until the TD training in Horn Lake demands more than they ever have up to now (my guess) this episode possibly has been duplicated, perhaps many times, with different circumstances, but still totally transparent and incompetent behavior fills the air, allowing evil distortions (or impossible situations to correctly adjudicate), to occur.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 7th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Hi Paul:

When I read Bobby’s accounting of the above situation, I felt compelled to tell you the part of the horror story that he omitted. The culprit who was not reprimanded was the wife of a world class player and the director involved was the sweetest guy in the world. However, the latter is what is commonly known today as a “wuss” .. someone who avoids confrontations like the plague. After waiting for what seemed like forever for declarer to play a card (while playing a part score where only an overtrick was involved), Bobby got up and summoned the director who accompanied him to the table, waited a few minutes for play to continue and when nothing happened — just left the scene. When Bobby sought him out for his apparent lethargy, he confessed to Bobby .. “I just couldn’t do anything.” Is that what directing is about? As long as situations like this exist .. ZT does not serve the better good!!!

Leave a comment

Your comment