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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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Absolutely NOT. The Laws require the right to appeal. This debate is over who the appeal goes to - a player appeals committee as currently exists for NABC events or a tournament director panel committee that currently exists for events at ACBL NABCs below the NABC level.

The ACBL Tournament Director(TD) panel appeal committees involves input from other players. The process is continually evolving and being improved. ACBL TD training is ongoing and continuous. All rulings are written up and reviewed.

Only a select group of the top ACBL TDs would serve on NABC level appeals.
July 23, 2013
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The discussion item in italics was taken from the ACBL web site – it was posted by a current ACBL Board member (not me). I retired from the ACBL Board at the end of 2008. My thoughts followed the discussion item. I am not sure of the relevance of knowing how the 10 remaining board members from 2007 voted - the vote is posted and a matter of record so one could do the research, look up the names, compare the 2007 ACBL Board with the 2013 ACBL Board and you would have your answer. The future is more important: What is the best appeals policy for the game of bridge going forward…
July 23, 2013
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A family affair! Jenny playing for the Venice Cup, Gavin playing for the Bermuda Bowl, brother Darren playing for Canada in the Bermuda Bowl, and Mom Hazel is the NPC for the Canadian team.

Congratulations and GL to all the Bali bound winners.
July 18, 2013
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Whatever happened to bridge play deciding the results and winners? Now it is Appeals Committees, procedural penalties, ringing phones… don't forget that around the same time cell phones were ringing in Mexico, The European Bridge Championships were determined by Zia arriving at the table late!

From New In Bridge:
Ostend (Belgium), June 29th, 2013

“Sabine Auken (Denmark) and Roy Welland (USA) won the gold medal in the Open Pairs at the Ostend EC. After 5 days of gruelling play the couple stayed 3.5 match points ahead of Jan Jansma (The Netherlands) and Zia Mahmood (USA/UK/Pakistan). Immediately after the play was over the chief tournament director confirmed that Zia Mahmood was penalized early today because he arrived too late at the table. The penalty in fact was exactly 3.5 match points. Well, that information was told your editor right after the play finished. Later we were told that the penalty was slightly more: 4.4 matchpoints and therefore decisive indeed.”
July 18, 2013
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The appeals was only regarding 1 imp but that was enough to send the teams into an 8 board playoff after a 60 board 131-131 tie! Lebi won the playoff 10-2.
June 6, 2013
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I lived through those years so re watching it brings it all back to life. If you haven't seen the video (or even if you have), please take an hour of your time and enjoy it. There are a few gaps (commercial breaks), but the video will continue.

Andy Pedersen made the game exciting to watch. A monumental achievement.

Best is that despite the highs and lows, here we are in 2013 and all of the major participants (especially Gavin & Vince) have both done well and will undoubtedly continue to do so for decades to come.

Great memories!
May 21, 2013
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Remembering Joan… 33 photos at:
http://imageevent.com/jon911/rememberingjoangerard
April 5, 2013
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment April 6, 2013
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I discovered that many players are not aware that the TD panel model of appeals from table rulings is how appeals at NABCs (below the NABC+ level)have been handled since 1999. Even fewer realized that for the last few years when the Cavendish Calcutta was still in Vegas, TDs decided the appeals, not players.

Perhaps few were aware because the transition has been so seamless, is working so well, and there have been no mega controversies such as the most recent Monaco/Auken brouhaha.

I am still waiting to hear from the under 40/under 30 players who are the future of our game. What do our young junior stars think of current and future appeal procedures?

There is no doubt in my mind that TDs will take over from player-based Appeals Committees. The European Bridge League
is moving that way. The only question is how long it will take the ACBL Board to change.

I urge all of you who are interested to make the effort to talk with the ACBLs top ranked TDs and learn more about how
TD panel appeals work. Discover how TD training has evolved over the past decade.

And please remember we are talking about NABCs, not local sectionals and Regionals where both player and TD expertise may be limited.
April 1, 2013
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Jan M and Henry B have questioned my comment regarding how appeals were handled at the Cavendish Calcutta. I confirmed with Sol Weinstein this afternoon (he is the District 2 Field Supervisor and is working this weekend at the Toronto Regional). Sol has been working at the Cavendish Calcutta for the last 25 years!

About 3 or 4 years ago the Cavendish organizers switched from player-based appeal committees to TD appeal committees.

The EBL is now moving forward to TD appeal committees.
_________________________________________________________

Jean-Charles: And the last point is that all this confirms that we should move very fast in order to cancel the Appeal Committees : when there is a group of very good TDs, who discuss the case and take a decision after a long discussion, how is it possible to have an Appeal Committee with lower level TDs and lower level players?? Really a joke in this case (who knows the members of the Appeal Committee??), but it often happens…

Sabine: As Jean Charles undoubtedly knows there will not be an appeals committee at the European Championships in Ostend later this year. I have lately become very impressed with the standard of TD decisions at the European level. All the directors are very skilled and knowledgeable and they take every case seriously, discussing it thoroughly with one another for a long time and polling true top players on all the relevant questions. So I welcome that change to no appeals committee.
Sadly I cannot say the same thing about TD decisions in ACBL territory. That is not to say there aren’t any good ACBL directors, there actually are many. But the overall standard is simply not nearly as high as at EBL tournaments. Personally I do not feel ACBL is ripe for the no appeals committee era.
_______________________________________________________

I find Sabine's disparaging comments towards the ACBL Tournament Directors to be misinformed and somewhat insulting. I served on the WBF Executive Committee from 2009-2011. Matt Smith is always at WBF tournaments as well as interacting with the WBF Laws Committee. He is considered to be one of the top Tournament Directors in the world.

Sol Weinstein and Chris Patrias have been the Chief TDs at the USBF Trials for years. Their rulings are excellent. Appeals are exceedingly rare.

Matt Koltnow and Olin Hubert, among many others, are top ranked ACBL TDs who would be involved in TD Appeals Committees.

There are misconceptions as to how a TD Panel Committee for NABCs would work. It would not apply at your local sectional or Regional. It is only at NABCs where you have the ACBL's top ranked and most knowledgeable TDs working.

ACBL TDs have been handling Appeals for all events at NABCs (below the NABC+ level) for almost 15 years. They have been trained and are ready and prepared to take on the additional task of handling NABC+ appeals. Just review their work over the last 15 years – no controversial uproars that pop up regularly with player-based NABC Appeals Committees.

As Sabine wrote regarding the EBL TDs, the ACBL follows the same model. Consultation with expert players (who do not know the names of the individuals involved), proper write-ups and reviews of all decisions.

The ACBL TDs do not claim to be better or smarter than bridge players. Nor will they be perfect. But they have been well trained. They will be more consistent, rulings will be more timely, there will be less bias and conflict of interest, and there would be even be a modest cost saving to the ACBL.

Surely it is time to give the ACBL TDs a trial run for one year and then review their performance.

March 30, 2013
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This type of post is pure garbage and unfortunately illustrates what is the worst about unmoderated forums.
Perhaps Bridge Winners will come up with a solution. Censorship is not always bad.

RE: Sabine interview. What I found most objectionable are her final comments:
________________________________________________________

Jean-Charles: And the last point is that all this confirms that we should move very fast in order to cancel the Appeal Committees : when there is a group of very good TDs, who discuss the case and take a decision after a long discussion, how is it possible to have an Appeal Committee with lower level TDs and lower level players?? Really a joke in this case (who knows the members of the Appeal Committee??), but it often happens…

Sabine: As Jean Charles undoubtedly knows there will not be an appeals committee at the European Championships in Ostend later this year. I have lately become very impressed with the standard of TD decisions at the European level. All the directors are very skilled and knowledgeable and they take every case seriously, discussing it thoroughly with one another for a long time and polling true top players on all the relevant questions. So I welcome that change to no appeals committee.
Sadly I cannot say the same thing about TD decisions in ACBL territory. That is not to say there aren’t any good ACBL directors, there actually are many. But the overall standard is simply not nearly as high as at EBL tournaments. Personally I do not feel ACBL is ripe for the no appeals committee era.
________________________________________________________

For those who have read my posts on Appeals Committees, you know I believe having TDs handle all appeals is the way of the future (the sooner the better). The objectionable part of Sabine's comments are the way she praises the European TDs but puts down the ACBL directors as not being good enough. Frankly, I find it insulting.

Finally, what do our young players think? Do they favour player based middle of the night appeals committees? or would they prefer to let the players play and the referees referee? They, after all, represent the future of our game.
March 29, 2013
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Allan,

It has been more than 4 years since I retired from the ACBL Board. I doubt if BOD expenses have doubled. My recollection is that ballpark $350K was the figure and the total amount spent on “governance” was around 2.5% of revenues – a number that compared favourably with other similar organizations.

Convention disruption originally came from Bobby Wolff who advocated automatic penalties. But that is not ACBL policy
(nor anywhere else in the world that I am aware).

Both of the above topics may be of interest to some but are not germane to the issue of whether Player-Based Appeals Committees or TD based Appeal Committees (with player input) are best for the game of bridge.

Michael K's observations are dead-on!
March 29, 2013
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This is an excerpt from interviews with the President of the Monaco Bridge Federation and Sabine Auken:

Jean-Charles: And the last point is that all this confirms that we should move very fast in order to cancel the Appeal Committees : when there is a group of very good TDs, who discuss the case and take a decision after a long discussion, how is it possible to have an Appeal Committee with lower level TDs and lower level players?? Really a joke in this case (who knows the members of the Appeal Committee??), but it often happens…

Sabine: As Jean Charles undoubtedly knows there will not be an appeals committee at the European Championships in Ostend later this year. I have lately become very impressed with the standard of TD decisions at the European level. All the directors are very skilled and knowledgeable and they take every case seriously, discussing it thoroughly with one another for a long time and polling true top players on all the relevant questions. So I welcome that change to no appeals committee.
March 29, 2013
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I have great respect for Barry R as an expert analyst, writer, and bridge player. Barry has served on/chaired hundreds of appeals committees so yes, as he states, he is biased in favour of them. But most telling is his “no opinion” comment on this appeal. Really? I can understand not wanting to go public - who wants to incur the wrath of Roy Welland or Pierre Zimmermann - but that is the problem.

I congratulate Rich R who had the courage to publicly state his beliefs in this forum.

One candid NABC Appeals Committee member (a bridge professional, well paid at the table)told me about the time he found himself on a committee that would decide the outcome of a Spingold match between Cayne and Nickell. He felt that whichever way the committee ruled he might “get shot”! An overstatement to be sure, but it illustrates the problem.

The player-based appeals committees are no-win propositions for the committee members, the players, and the game of bridge. When professional players who make their livelihood from the game are involved, the optics are bad.

Some of you may have read Appeals case 7 on page 15
http://www.acbl.org/nabc/2013/01/bulletins/db9.pdf
of the Saturday, March 23 Daily Bulletin. It involved an “inferior” line of play by 23 year old Shan Huang, a Toronto player - 5/8th in the Vanderbilt - who has a great bridge career ahead of him.

What you don't know is that he was recently in a skiing accident and is temporarily on crutches and in a wheelchair. As Shan informed me: “The director who made the ruling actually warned me that I had to attend the hearing, otherwise I'll probably lose no matter what. I couldn't do that in St. Louis because no one's there to wheel me back to the hotel if I stay there for another extra 2 hours.”

As a result, only the appealing side who gave the misinformation attended the hearing. Shan had no chance.

The current systems caters to those who can afford to stay at the over priced ACBL host hotels, who are still awake and available in the wee hours of the morning, and who are best at “lawyering” their way to victory in front of tired appeals committees.

With all due respect to the volunteers who serve, the current system sucks.

Bridge players should play bridge, Referees should referee.

This will be my final comment. In two and a half hours, the premier event at the Toronto Regional, the Percy Sheardown seeded KO will commence. I will be playing bridge for the next four days.

I invite you to join the 331 unique visitors who have viewed my photos from the St. Louis NABC at: http://imageevent.com/jon911/2013stlouisnabc

Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all my friends (if I still have any :)!
March 28, 2013
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No. It is at NABCs where you have the necessary manpower and training for TD panel appeals. All appeals below the NABC+ level at NABCs are handled by TD panels with input from players. NABC+ events still have player-based appeal committees.
March 27, 2013
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Jeff L asked what is wrong with having your peers as your judge? For more than a decade Appeals Committee administrators have attempted to do just that…without success. Look at the Auken/Monaco Committee as an example.

There are a few basic issues. 1) Consistency of rulings.
Player-based appeals are not consistent - it depends which bodies are available on any given day. Further, the “experts” never agree. From my perhaps reasonable sample (perhaps not?) the overwhelming majority believe the Auken Committee got it wrong. A minority think they were correct.
Look at the second appeal in the same Daily Bulletin also involving misinformation. Some believe there should have been an Appeal Without Merit Warning. Others believe the player was robbed - the exact opposite! Some draw parallels between the two cases - others do not.

Trained ACBL TDs will at least be more consistent - players will never agree or be happy but the rulings will be more consistent and easier to understand. Hey, the TDs have been doing it for Regional events at NABCs for almost 15 years! No complaints that I have heard.

2)Bias and conflict of interest. Wake up and smell the coffee, folks! There are tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars in play. There are far more wannabe bridge pros than there are wealthy sponsors. There is BIG money at stake. The bridge world is incestuous - everyone knows everyone. The appealing party may be your next bridge partner or sponsor or best friend or not. This is not the forum for specific incidents, but bias and conflict of interest are very real and self-evident problems with player-based Appeals Committees.

Don't deceive yourself. Trained ACBL TDs will be significantly more impartial and fair.

3) Many top bridge professionals will not go near an Appeals Committee - on either side of the table. I've spoken to them. I hear them clearly. They want to maintain their good reputations. Player-based Appeals Committees are a no win situation for everyone.

4) Tim D makes some excellent down-to-earth and practical observations. Having tired players make middle-of-the-night rulings that overturn the table results and TD rulings are bad for everyone. Let's not have to wait until the next day to discover who won a team event.

Bottom Line: Bridge players have humongous oversized egos. Get over it! Bridge players should play bridge and let the TDs direct, decide appeals, and do their job. The game will be better for it.



March 27, 2013
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In North America, large for profit, full-time, full-service bridge clubs have always been in the minority. Community Centers, churches, synagogues, unit run not-for-profit clubs have been the norm.

The ACBL has made it clear that they are not in the Franchise business. All they do is sanction masterpoint games to private clubs. The ACBL sells masterpoints. They do not get involved with rules and regulations as to how to operate a business.

This is not a new problem. Perhaps the most publicized case involved two large NYC bridge clubs that operated across the street from each other – I believe their “war” made front page news in NYC. One club survived, one is gone.

Several years ago, three clubs in close geograhic proximity in the Toronto area did battle – it was not friendly. The City Public Health department was called in regarding one club serving coffee in China/ceramic cups. The club did not have a dishwasher that met city standards. They had to switch to paper/plastic disposable cups!

Regrettably, I do not know if there is a viable solution to this problem. I had been told that the ACBL Board was going to discuss this issue in San Francisco last November. I have not heard anything further. Perhaps ACBL management can provide us with an update and the current ACBL position.

I have been in the Boynton Beach, Florida area for the past 10 days. One could open a small club just with all the Toronto snowbirds who are here - even most of Hazel's family & relatives spend the winter months in Florida. It is one of many difficulties that Toronto and other full-time Canadian bridge clubs face.

Personally, I have played at and been a member of Hazel's Bridge Club since day one. It is very sad to watch her current struggles.

Jan. 19, 2013
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I believe it is a pretty standard agreement. Against transfer responses, double shows the suit they bid. Bidding their suit is Take Out.
The choice is between the TO double or a natural 2C. One usually assumes the 1C opening is a weak NT.
Far better to get into the auction early rather than having to wonder about how (if) to balance later.
Aug. 21, 2012
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My expert/world class partner who Danny was lucky to play with in the CNTC & Lille has always told me: at match points, you don't want to give up a trick, at imps, aggressive leads are called for. With AJTx of Spades in the auction given, a spade would be led. Why would 87xx of hearts be led?

Thus the 9 is the correct play catering to QJ87.

Agreements on opening lead strategy/style is critical. Bridge is a partnership game.
Aug. 20, 2012
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I would bid 2C over the double. Far more likely that pard has both minors and we are now well positioned to compete intelligently. Bidding 1H is a very narrow target (anti-percentage IMO)and leaves you in an awful position as the auction (not surprisingly) unfolded.
Aug. 18, 2012
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