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Advise The Tournament Chair: A Tale Of Three Pairs

Congratulations. By the powers invested in me as Tournament Chair by, ah, ah, well I don’t know, I am appointing you to the Tournament Committee of several large Sectional and Regional events. No need to thank me but if you do see me and want to buy me a beer, I’m in.

With great power comes great responsibility and I need your advice as to what to do with three pairs that are causing players at your tournaments to complain loudly and stop attending. As you ponder, please remember this is not a “boardroom” experiment – there are a significant number of real players complaining and then not attending. In your Tournament Committee information packet, there is a long paragraph about the main goal of the Tournament Committee being to provide the best player experience possible.

Pair 1: Player X1 – Excellent Flight A player with impeccable ethics. Player Y1 - average to above average (whatever that means) Flight A player with extreme tempo issues and playing gestures that convey a lot of unauthorized information (UI). I do not believe he is intentionally unethical but his tempo and playing gesture (slapping card subtly harder when he wants a ruff, for example, convey a lot of UI). They play an aggressive, complicated Mid-Chart legal system (possibly developed by X1 but I am not sure about that) and Y1 frequently forgets/misapplies/doesn’t know what bids mean/should mean. Based upon the number of complaints (and hands I played against these people) they appear to be averaging 2 -3 misbids/misexplanations/misapplications per two session Mid-Chart event.

Pair 2: Players X2 and Y2 are returning to bridge after 20 or so years away. I cannot really evaluate their level of play yet but from a few hands against Y2 in club games, I would guesstimate above average B players. They play in Flight B events and come with identically filled out convention cards that have many made up names corresponding to their homegrown General Convention Chart (GCC) legal system. They have a 20 page or so system document that they assure me is GCC compliant but I have not read it. The complaints on these players are just starting to roll in as, shockingly, I say shockingly, these two players are having many bidding accidents and combine partial expalanations with misexplanations/misapplications/misunderstanding of their system agreements. I do not question the ethics of these players. They feel they are giving full disclosure but when you look at their card, you see they are playing things they call Modified Mothra and Generalized Godzilla and there are just too many things that go into each of these homegrown conventions, both with and without competition, to lay out on the convention card.

Pair 3: Player X3 a National Champion and Y3 a frequent client. Impeccable ethics and full disclosure of a complicated Mid-Chart relay system that they know well. Occasionally a tempo issue with Y3 but I believe Y3 is just trying to recall agreements in some competitive auctions. The complaints here are not about misinformation but about the complexity of the system in an event where you may only play 2 (pairs) – 7 (Swiss) boards against them. There are also complaints by A players in Mid-Chart events that they often feel that asking question about the complicated relays as defenders could create a problem with UI for the defenders. For example, asking a series of questions and then doubling.

Well, there you have it. I can use any advice and beer you can spare. When I took the job as Tournament Chair, all I thought I had to do was be a chick magnet. Clearly, I was misinformed.

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