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Clean up the Graffiti

I appreciate all the articles on finding and outing the handful of blatant cheaters that do well in top level events.   There is no question that these are the most serious crimes in bridge and need to be fixed.   But what about all the smaller crimes.   The 50-80% of club players that have no idea that ethics matter. They rarely win, no one has bothered to take action for years.  

New York City in the late 80s and the 90s attacked major crime problems by focusing on smaller crimes;  cleaning up trash and graffiti in neighborhoods.   Strangely, it worked, though a by product was an intimidating police force that used racial profiling and abuse of power to control the population.

The challenge in clubs is major.  Blatant small violations, repeated a dozen times every day in every club game.   You don't call the director, because they rarely take action and you just scare these players away.   We need to fix the problem, clean up the graffiti, without becoming like the police in New York.

We also will run into the "snitch" problem.   Who likes a fink?  Unless we are protecting ourselves from the impact of unethical behavior, few will want to call attention to it.

Very common situations (Please, add the ones I forgot).

  • Instabid over a skip bid, warning placed or not
  • Inconsistent use of skip bid card
  • Not having at least 1 convention card completed (I know, regs say two... but I am not greedy).
  • Grabbing pass then bidding.
  • Grabbing a bid then passing.
  • Playing or pulling a card on defense while partner thinking
  • Dummy grabbing or pointing to a card while declarer thinking
  • Failing to alert an alertable call
  • Failing to wait a few seconds before calling a card from dummy at trick one.   "Instaplay" is distasteful.
  • Blatant usage of UI.
  • Leading questions.   "Michaels?"
  • Explaining a bid as part of alert where announcements not appropriate.  "Alert, 2 way checkback"
  • Fouling a board already played
  • Intentionally looking at an opponents hand, especially by dummy. 
  • Looking at dummy while opening leader ponders lead
  • Mixing your tricks before the score agreed (applies to putting your hand back in pocket after making claim but before claim accepted, applies to potential revoke situations)
  • Lies and egregious self serving statements ("we play if your pass is forcing that ours is not")
  • Illegal conventions
  • Failure to correct wrong score
  • Slow 2/1 = not forcing.  (3 times in a month I have seen this).
  • Insta-doubles or snapping the double card = penalty.  Slower = optional
  • snapping cards, or hesitating to show partner something (I have the other honor, or the signal I am about to play is intentional
  • discarding same color and attempting to flip your card before declarer can see it.

We need education:  Show players examples of the things they are doing every day, and explain why it is wrong.   I'd like to have penalties too, but I don't know how to get around the snitch/hurt feelings never coming back problem.

In my opinion, if you get rid of most of this visible coffee house behavior, that players become more attuned to the whole notion of ethics.    Perhaps they will be more likely to notice cheating, and less likely to tolerate it.

Today's beauty: weak hand makes insufficient bid in response to take out double, then makes it sufficient.  Of course she tossed 2-3 tricks in the play, so we scored a top.   Most of the time we score well despite the antics.   


Do we have any units with experience and success at training players and enforcing ethics without alienating players?   I am willing to teach if I can find a way to do it without pissing everybody off.


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