Paul Cronin

Professional ID ?

Had a chance to listen to an interesting discussion the other day about whether professionals being paid to play in tournaments should be required to identify themselves in some way. One point of view was that they should make their status known to the director selling them their entry. Others felt that there should be some way to indicate to opponents at the table that they are being paid to play. Although the mechanics of any kind of IDing system are problematic, such IDing might help TDs to properly assess table calls where paid professionals are involved, and to avoid selecting same to sit on committees, where their paid status might lead to conflicts of interest. Anyone have any thoughts on this? 


Bill CubleyJuly 24th, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Most TDs know who the pro players are. Might be a problem if one plays far from home.

Care should be made to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The practice of conceding blitzes to another pro team when the actual score was much closer should also be looked at.

Claveat OnkJuly 25th, 2015 at 10:46 am

The pro-client relationship may not be immediately known. If most of the field knows who is the pro and who is the client, they have an advantage over those who don’t know. A scarlett letter on the convention card may suffice.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 25th, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Hi Paul,

Your subject blog has been a thorn in my side for many years, witnessing some of the atrocities that have been perpetrated upon the bridge public (both newbies and experts). We can all produce a laundry list of some of the ridiculously embarrassing rulings which will go down in history. No need to further elaborate!

I see the problem being twofold: (1) The selector/s of the Appeals Committee members must have abundant expert knowledge of the game itself .. and the appointees must weigh the issues without bias or prejudice. Being a ”decent” player’ in itself is not the bottom line. (2) IMHO, one who serves on a committee should have NO personal or financial arrangement or entanglement with those on trial for realistic fear of compromising the resolution. RECUSAL seems to be a ‘dirty word’ nowadays. Need I say more?

There is no easy solution. but to me, it is one of the most sensitive bridge thorns of our modern era and is worthy of examining and improving the selection process as it stands today.

Bobby WolffJuly 26th, 2015 at 12:10 am

Hi Paul,

FWIW, professionalism can and has in the past created strange bedfellows for appeals committees. Obviously conflicts of interest tend to abound and although selecting professional players to serve may be considered, even the possibility of bias should trump that impulse, leaving none to be selected.

In the matter of professionals (and therefore sponsors) to be ID’d I think that a horrible idea, no valid reason to be singled out (how about just friends playing but one consisting of a mentor and a mentee or even when an excellent player is playing with a novice family member or friend) and thus, at least to me, a direct invasion of privacy long protected by our government, but recently sorrowfully relaxed.

To me, ones who suggest such a thing might check the green monster, possibly growing inside of them.

Again, and possibly only my opinion, the more excellent players playing in any kind of bridge tournament (with pairs being more varied than teams, because of the large amount of players who will play each other) the better off all the players will be, if only for being able to improve much faster.

Has America gone from a nation of trying to be the best one can be, to one which prefers the easiest way to walk off with a victory or, at least the Holy Grail known as masterpoints? If so, and I am afraid of that answer, none of us should want to admit to such a feeling.

In my dotage I am not liking what my eyes and ears, as well as my heart, is disclosing.

Paul CroninJuly 27th, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Hi Bobby,

Many thanks for your insights – much food for thought as always!

The people I heard talking about this were not trying to single out professionals as such, but rather to identify professionals who are being paid to play with someone. They didn’t see any problem with professionals playing with other professionals on an unpaid basis, or a professional acting as a mentor without pay to a mentee. Their point seemed to be that paid professionals have a very real monetary interest in the outcome of the partnership’s game, and that that monetary interest might lead to a conflict of interests, or worse.

In other sports tournaments, like golf, amateur and professional statuses are carefully noted.

Bobby WolffJuly 27th, 2015 at 10:57 pm

Hi Paul,

Right on.

And in regard to the whole subject, bridge and its different nuances has gone IMO a predictable course, allowing us to arrive at about where we expected to be.

But when random twosomes experience not measuring up to pro-client type partnerships, possibly due to sponsors improving or sometimes trying to get their money’s worth out of the relationship so learning more than ones without at least one talented player, they sometimes rebel against their current position.

Perhaps about 70+ years ago when bridge was the thing to do socially in the states (before the real popularity of TV together with so many sports being broadcast) there was much socializing at people’s houses playing bridge and that too also didn’t last too long since the winners got bored and the losers cried luck, but now at the bridge clubs or at larger tournaments the losers can now blame it on those horrible obnoxious pros who take advantage of everything they can to win.

And the beat goes on which only reflects on humans continuing to be human in blaming others for their normal plights.

Amir FarsoudAugust 1st, 2015 at 9:41 am

And here I thought TDs were supposed to properly assess table calls based on the facts, and not based on who it was that perpetrated, or is reporting the alleged infraction.

As for the rest, as someone who has, on more occasions than I care to count, been subjected to an almost complete lack of ethics by many non-pro, average club players on an almost daily basis, I wouldn’t worry too much about having Eric Rodwell’s ethics deserting him if he is called to serve on an appeals committee.

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