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Matt Smith Promotion

I read in Sunday’s Daily Bulletin from Toronto that Matt Smith got promoted; he will be the Head Tournament Director at the World Championships in Lyon.

I heartily applaud this decision. For my money, Matt is the best of the best. Whether it’s the World Championships, the Spingold, or a sectional side game, if Matt’s in charge you know the event will be run professionally. In my experience, his rulings are always well thought out and explained clearly and thoroughly; even when a ruling goes against you, you might disagree, but you understand why the decision was made. I have sought this clarity on rulings he wasn’t involved with that I didn’t agree with or understand; he doesn’t blindly defend the directing staff, he has always patiently heard my issues, talked to the other parties involved, and considered the nuances of the ruling.

Perhaps his greatest gift is a talent for diffusing tension. Bridge players can get a little heated sometimes, and Matt has a remarkable ability to calm a combustible situation down. I remember one such incident from a charity pair game at a regional in the Bay Area. I was declarer and did a poor job of keeping track of my tricks. (Not the first time.) I thought I was down 1 and the opponents happily accepted that result. But as I ran through the play in my head, I realized I had made it. When I told the opponents, they got very upset. “You said you were down 1!” I tried to go over the play with them, but they kept insisting, “You said you were down 1!” With tempers flaring, I called the director and Matt came to the table. I explained the situation. The opponents insisted I was down, fixating on the fact that I had said I was down. Things continued to go downhill. Matt calmly said, “Let’s humor the young man and go through the play trick by trick just in case he is right.” He calmed them down and they eventually agreed on the result.

It’s always a pleasure to work with people who are the best at what they do. Bridge is very lucky to have Matt Smith as a tournament director, and I’m sure the Bermuda Bowl will be a great event under his stewardship. A hearty congratulations, Matt. See you in Lyon.

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