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Women’s Pairs Also Decided by “BridgeMate Top”

Bridge Winners has learned that in addition to the scoring error in the Open Pairs Championship in Wroclaw that may have affected the final standings, another obvious error affected the outcome of the Women’s Pairs:

On this deal, from the first session of the Women’s Pairs finals, the normal result was E/W playing in spades, taking 10 or 11 tricks. At table 34, the result was misscored as N/S declaring 3 and taking 11 tricks, on the lead of the A (a card held by North). N/S scored a top (16/16 MP) instead of the proper result of 13 MP.  Although the difference was only 3 MP in N/S’s favor, N/S went on to win the event by less than that margin.

To their credit, both the N/S and E/W pairs attempted to get the score corrected the following morning. The directors did not change the score, because section 24.1 of the WBF’s COC did not allow a change: “An agreed-upon score that is proven to be erroneous to the complete satisfaction of the Head Tournament Director may be corrected up to thirty minutes after the posting of scores at the end of play on each day. Only the results of boards played that day are subject to correction.” Compare this to the language of the ACBL’s COC: “For director errors, the correction period expires 24 hours after the completion of the event or 30 minutes after completion of the last event of the tournament, whichever is earlier. The DIC in consultation with the ACBL Senior Director of Bridge, however, may in unusual circumstances elect to make a correction of a director error at a later time.” (emphasis added)

Multiple sources reported that it was logistically difficult for the players to submit corrections within the official time window. Only individual pair results were available between sessions —  not results for the field — so it was not feasible to check other pairs’ results. Some of the sessions only had a 15-20 minute break before the next session, and there was reportedly often a mob of players trying to get their individual results from a limited number of (working) printers. Even finishing early wouldn’t help because then the scores for the last round wouldn’t be in. Players could only print out results at the venue for the most recent session, so if they missed getting their results for a session they would have to wait for the official results at the end of the day to check their scores. Given these limitations, it does not seem reasonable to impose tight restrictions on when scoring corrections could be made.

There is obviously a serious problem here that needs to be addressed. The accuracy of reported results needs to be verified. This cannot be the responsibility of the players. There is no rule requiring players to check official scores after a session, nor should there be. If such a rule were to be implemented, tournaments would have to adjust their procedures and rules to make it practical: full-field results would need to be available in a timely and easy-to-read manner, the process of reporting scoring errors would need to be simplified (preferably electronically alongside the results), and the window for reporting and fixing scoring errors would need to be widened substantially.

As things stand now, the responsibility and blame fall squarely on the shoulders of the tournament organizers: they should have both a technical solution (scoring software should easily detect errors of this type) and a manual double-check. (At the very least a policy such as manually checking all 100% scores would have caught these two errors.) We have been told that the software was expected to catch these sorts of errors and that official scorers were on duty every round responsible for checking the scores. Obviously both of these systems failed. According to Michael Gromoeller, the chief scorer says all scores were checked, but excused the error in session 7 based on an aberration due to issues with BBO vugraph. Multiple egregious errors like these invalidate excuses about one-off errors due to special circumstances.

Without sufficient systems to detect errors and reasonable means for players to check scores and report errors, imposing tight time limits for scoring corrections is absurd. Since the overriding goal must be getting the scores right, providing ample time and opportunity to check the scores and report errors is essential. We would like to see justice served in the events from Wroclaw, with an official checking all scores, fixing any errors, and crowning the correct champions. More important is solving this issue going forward: improving the technological and human checks on results, giving players sufficient time and access to the results to check them, simplifying the process of reporting scoring errors with an online option, and amending Conditions of Contest to extend the reporting period to a reasonable time (we would suggest at least 24 hours).

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