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A GNT Debacle: Too Many Winners

My sense is that the outcome of the District 22 GNT tournament last weekend may be an all-time first.

In the Open event, there were 7 teams. After the first day, a round-robin Swiss reduced the field to 3 teams. Sunday involved a day of 3-way matches to determine a winner.

Somehow, the team that was the leading qualifier from Saturday and won both of their head-to-head matches on Sunday did not win the event.

Stranger, the director in charge told two of my teammates that we won the event and the electronic screen at the tournament site also indicated we won the event.

Unknown to us, the last day was determined on a victory point scale. One team member, Walt Schafer, is adamant that he asked both the tournament organizer and the director about the format on Sunday: Walt says he was told by both that the winner would be the team that won both matches and, otherwise, quotient would be used. When I reached out to the tournament organizer this morning, he indicated that he did not say this to Walt. When I also contacted the tournament director to elicit his comment in this regard, he indicated he did not wish to review any aspect of this article for accuracy.

When we compared scores after the fourth quarter, we saw that we won both matches. There were minor score discrepancies in both matches. Given that we thought the point moot, we did not attempt to resolve the differences with the other two teams.

We believe we had beaten the team later deemed the winner by 5 IMPs (later realized to be 4 IMPs). The score that the director recorded was 3 IMPs. It turns out that we did not contest the score entered, believing that we had won the event. When the director tells two team members that you have won the event and the electronic scoreboard indicates you have won the event, you think you have won the event andthe margin of victory becomes moot. We also decided to drop 2 procedural issues in the fourth quarter against the team eventually deemed the winner – one of which our teammates viewed as egregious. Frankly, it was Sunday night and we wanted to get on the road.

Two of our teammates, not living in San Diego, stuck around after my partner and I had departed the venue. The tournament organizer said that, at this point, my teammates became aware this was a victory point event. However, because of the initial victory point scale used, my teammates left the site still thinking we had won. Therefore, they were not proactive in pursuing the score discrepancies or the two procedural issues during the auction in the 4th quarter (one allegedly based on hand signals in a keycard auction).

The tournament organizer has taken the position that the score turned in would be determinative, unless there was some concession from the other team. When the organizer asked the tournament director if the turned in score ticket had been retained, the tournament director said he did not retain the score ticket turned in.

It turns out the director was using one victory point scale when we determined our team to be the “initial winners.” Later, he changed the victory scale to an alternate scale, deemed more appropriate for the length of the event, which produced a different winner.

When I asked the tournament organizer, what would have happened if even one of the 1-IMP discrepancies was agreed upon, he indicated that we would have won the event, even with the use of the second victory point scale, if our margin of victory over the “second winner” was 4 IMPs instead of 3 IMPs.

Annoying! How did we find out that there was a second winner? Hours later via ACBL Live. There was no initiated communication later Sunday night or Monday morning from either the tournament organizer or the director to any team member explaining the situation. Even more annoying!

We looked at the “Conditions of Contest” Silence on the format. What about precedent? Well, as somebody who has played on and off in D22’s Open GNT over a 30-year span, I recall at least 4 different formats. I believe I am a pretty good resource on precedent since I have played on the final day 5 previous times. The fact that the tournament director did not correctly implement the supposed Conditions of Contest was more evidence as to the confusion in running the event.

One of my teammates called the ACBL Tuesday morning and was told this: “While it is highly unusual to have a 3-way scored as a Victory Point event, it is not illegal if specified in the Conditions of Contest.” More silence from the “Conditions.”

Yesterday, I asked the tournament organizer if there was any carryover from the Saturday qualifier. Earlier, Walt had asked the same question. In both cases, the answer was “no.”

I have given both the tournament organizer (for whom I do have respect) and the director a chance to fact check and weigh in before this post. I am trying to achieve some sense of balance in this article.

In my conversation with the tournament director this morning, the director stated he explained the format – “many times” in his words. In which case, our team has significant and collective hearing problems. Was Walt somehow “confused” when he asked about the Sunday’s format?

I have attempted to be as factual as I can. For those of you who like Peyton Place aspects to a story, there is one extra tidbit. A couple weeks ago, one member of our team was kicked out of the bridge club at which the event was held due to an alleged incident. I certainly hope this had no bearing on recent events.

If there are lessons to be learned from this fiasco, tournament organizers should be very specific about the Conditions of Contest ahead of time and clearly post the Conditions on the District’s website. And, it goes without saying, effectively communicating said Conditions to all participants.

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