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All comments by Fred Gitelman
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The way I see it: making a serious effort to create doping rules that make sense for bridge would be very complicated. It would certainly require significant outside expertise. It would certainly never end (new drugs, new drug tests, new science). It would likely entail significant ongoing expense that would certainly be bourn by the players. It's rules would be imperfect and in some cases largely subjective. It might postpone the time until the next travesty of justice but would not prevent it. The embarrassing headlines would not end, the privacy of our best players would continue to be invaded, and all players would continue to be inconvenienced, some significantly.

(I don't know anything - if a qualified person wants to tell me that some of the above is wrong, I will take his/her word for it).

Perhaps most important… Reformulating the doping rules tries to solve a problem that may not even exist and, if it does exist, is very small compared to the other problems that bridge faces today (IMO).

So I think it would be best for the powers-that-be to not waste time, effort, and money on this particular distraction. Just give it a complete miss (at least for a while), and instead try to focus on the things that matter.
March 13
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WADAgate
March 12
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Bobby - I was not trying to blame you for anything and I am certainly grateful for your numerous contributions to bridge over the years, especially the thorny ones.

You said: “although I did not offer my opinion, and FWIIW I agree that it likely causes more harm than possible good for the future”.

You have now offered your opinion. Thank you. Please continue to say this loudly and clearly. My sense is that some of the people that matter will listen to you.
March 12
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Bobby - No doubt the WBF's motives were honorable and perhaps not totally foolish, but the results speak for themselves.

As far as I am concerned, the WBF has one and only one important purpose: to run the yearly World Championships.

A look back through WBF's history suggests that they have failed badly in this regard - the vast majority of the 60 or so WBF Open Team Championships have been tainted. You know this better than anyone.

A few years ago Boye and company offered some hope that things might finally change for the better and, for a brief while, they actually did. I don't recall any serious problems in 2016 or 2017 and 2018 was looking good too until the WADA incident happened. Now Orlando will go down in the record books as tainted. Thanks Olympics!

And while the damage produced by the CAS has so far been limited, let's just say that the community of high-level players doesn't exactly feel confident that our current leadership will manage to keep the criminals out for long. Thanks Olympics!

And it is beyond shameful that the bad guys (and their teammates) still have their titles, medals, and masterpoints. I doubt we can blame this directly on the Olympics, but it needs to be mentioned in any discussion of WBF history and leadership.

Can you honestly say you are proud of this organization, Bobby Wolff?

The subsidies you refer to are only “necessary” because the WBF has done such a good job of destroying its own brand. That makes it rather more difficult than usual to find corporate sponsors who might otherwise want to pay to put their names and logos on the WBF's product.

Imagine if, way back in the 1990s, the WBF had decided to invest in technology and security instead of the Olympics. What a different world it might be today.

Yes, I realize hindsight is 20-20 (even though there were plenty of vocal I-told-you-sos from the start). I am all for forgiving mistakes, but first there needs to be a change of direction (or a change of leadership if the current leaders won't alter course).

It is not helpful when one of our most distinguished players and leaders doubles down on the mistakes of the past. This is about the integrity of the game, not money. You of all people should be one of us, not one of them.
March 12
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The very need to ask the question seems wrong to me.

Why should the viability of the World Championships as a fair and meaningful event be compromised for
the sake of fundraising purposes?

This is not something that should be for sale. The price doesn't matter.
March 2
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Optimistic view of what will happen next:

At some point whatever “fees” WBF is paying IOC for recognition of bridge will not be enough to compensate for the negative publicity.

IOC will cut bridge loose.

We will be free!

Pessimistic view of what will happen next:
March 1
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Al Levy: “This should lead to further discussions on our Anti-Doping regulations.”

The time for those discussions was 20+ years ago. What this should lead to as an acknowledgment and a profound apology from the WBF for the idiocy of the their “Olympic dream” and the great damage it has done to our game.

Don't hold your breath waiting for WBF to accept responsibility for running yet another tainted World Championship. How Levy and his colleagues are able to look in the mirror, I have no idea.

YOU SOULD ALL RESIGN
Feb. 28
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Gary - what I wrote is not “my view” - it was (to me at least) a logical implication of your view.

Sorry if you missed the sarcasm (and sorry if your post was intended to be sarcastic and I missed that).
Nov. 22, 2018
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Yes Randy apparently you missed my point. If you think about it carefully I suspect you will see it (hint: the set of players who participate in a given tournament in a given unit/district is a small subset of all the players who live in that unit/district ).
Nov. 22, 2018
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So does Marketing Strategy 101 also dictate that, when a NABC (or any tournament I suppose) is profitable, those profits should be distributed to the participants in that tournament? OMG!!!
Nov. 22, 2018
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Max:

“Re: fairness, I see nothing ”unfair“ about having to compete with a team that has a ringer that isn't playing in the world championships- as long as I had an equal chance* (see below) to try to get that ringer on my team. If the CoC state that the top 3 players shall be allocated by board fiat, or may only play with team captains who were born in Florida, I consider that unfair. If someone else recruited a great player to their team, kudos to them. ”

To me this amounts to saying: since every team has a chance to put in a bid for (what might be) an unfair advantage, there is nothing unfair about it.

(or my neighbors can try to get away with not picking up their dog's poo so it is OK if I do)

With respect to “(what might be)” in the above, I think you need to back up a step and ask yourself if it is fair that a player or an entire team that cannot possibly qualify should be allowed to play in a qualifying event.

(No need to use examples of using such players/teams to fill out a movement or as a fill in for sick player or similar).

I believe that reasonable people could disagree in good faith on this issue. However, if substantial numbers of USBC regulars say “unfair” then I don't think we should go there - if the potential participants don't believe in the integrity of the event, that is really bad IMO.
Nov. 20, 2018
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Max…

“I understand that perverse things might happen if we change the rules as contemplated. But I also think perverse things will happen based on the current world championship structure if we don't change the rules, and I am more worried about those things.”

Agree (except for the part at the very end). So let's make a serious effort to list and weigh these perverse things so that we can intelligently select the least of evils solution! That has been my point from the beginning. If such analysis proves too complex or if we are too lazy to do it properly, to me that argues for sticking with the status quo.

IMO it would be completely reckless to adopt a new set of rules without doing this. Let's not learn about potential perversions the hard way.

“My overriding consideration is that the trials select the strongest team.”

I have two main considerations. The overriding consideration for me is that the conditions of contest are fair to all participants. My secondary (but very important) consideration is to select the strongest team.

“First, if we believe that top level players are, as regards overall impact on a team, approximately interchangeable, then I think the damage potential from having a player help a team qualify them not participate is minimal. Assuming that very strong player was hired, presumably they will be replaced by the next strongest player available with minimal loss. Hiring the ringer is a good sign for the future team because it indicates a sponsor who can attract top talent.”

While what we believe, assume, and presume may well be likely on average at this particular moment in time, I don't think we should rely on using such beliefs, assumptions, and presumptions to construct conditions of contest. It is really easy to come up with scenarios in which the beliefs, assumptions, and presumptions you refer to end up not materializing.
Nov. 20, 2018
Fred Gitelman edited this comment Nov. 20, 2018
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OK - I have it all figured out. Given that…

- Women's USBC is having trouble attracting teams
- Few seem to care that ineligible players or entire ineligible teams can play in our Team Trials (after all, we already have some “contamination” since we allow foreigners to play in NABCs)
- For a true champion, winning *any* USBC is what it is all about (qualifying for the Bermuda Bowl and possible financial renumeration are purely secondary concerns)

I propose that we allow men (along with those with non-binary genders of course) to play in the Women's USBC!!!

Of course it is possible that no appropriately-declared-all-women-team will get very far, but it will be easy to figure out who becomes Team USA1 for the Venice Cup. If no eligible teams advance out of the Round Robin, we will take the highest finishing eligible team from that phase. And if, for example, a handful of such teams make it to (say) the round-of-16 and then all of them lose, we run a qualifying playoff among those teams and let all the ineligible teams battle it out for the real honor (winning the Women's USBC).

I haven't thought through how exactly USA2 will be decided, but we can figure that out once we see how the round robin ends.

And while we are at it, we might as well let those of all ages play in the Seniors and teams with any combination of genders play in the Mixed!

Consider the advantages….

1) Surely all of our players will start playing in all our USBCs even if they are not getting paid. We will add so many tables that we will not only put the USBF on sound financial ground, we will singlehandedly SAVE BRIDGE!!!

2) No more negative talk about Women's, Mixed, or Seniors USBCs being inferior events - all USBCs will be equally (and extremely) important!!!

3) We can show the world that bridge is a progressive game that is not tied to outdated notions like gender and age!!!

And once this inevitably proves to be a huge success, let's take the next step: allowing foreigners to play in all the USBCs as well (I would suggest allowing robot teams too, but that would necessitate playing with tablets and obviously that would be bad for bridge).

After all, since we already tolerate some “contamination” why not go all the way?

Edit: fixed typo
Nov. 20, 2018
Fred Gitelman edited this comment Nov. 20, 2018
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I was hoping not to get involved in constructing and discussing possible nightmare scenarios, but since nobody else seems to be inclined to do this…

Consider the following simple scenario (and to further simplify things assume it happens in an Olympiad year so USA gets only 1 team per WBF event):

A superstar team made up of primarily of players who have already won a Trials (and declared for that Trials) decides to play another Trials in the same year. If that team wins the 2nd Trials, they will not qualify - the losing Finalist will presumably qualify instead.

To nobody's surprise, the superstar team makes it to the semi-finals along with 3 other teams consisting solely of players who have declared for the 2nd Trials.

Starting with the semis, the team unlucky enough to draw the superstars will need to win 2 matches to qualify (I am ignoring the fact that one of these matches will be against an ineligible team which, in itself, may not sit well with some people including me).

But the two teams in the other bracket might need to win only 1 match to qualify (if the superstar team happens to win their semi).

Is that fair?

To me, if there is an obvious answer to this question at all, it would be “no”.

If there is not an obvious answer, to me that is a bad sign.

(Yes I know that we already use byes so not all teams need to win the same number of matches in order to qualify - to me this is very different).
Nov. 19, 2018
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Michael: “But if they DO bother you, perhaps trying something else that has no clear definite flaw is not so awful.”

They do bother me (not enough to use capital letters) and of course I would be in favor of a flaw-free alternative. It is the unclear flaws I am worried about. It doesn't sound to me like these are being taken seriously enough.
Nov. 16, 2018
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Michael: If I were to get involved in trying to analyze various potential scenarios under various possible sets of rules (I won't be), I would consider things like:

1) Are there necessarily or potentially any conflicts of interest? How bad?

2) What is the risk that we will get a worse team USA than we would “normally” have?

3) Are the rules fair for all the teams in the event, even those with no team members who are directly impacted? If “no” then IMO we are in non-starter territory and it would be bad to figure this out later rather than sooner.

4) Can the rules be clearly articulated? For me, if it takes 10 pages to describe the new rules and all contingencies, that is a sign that we have collectively lost our minds. Sorry but I don't buy your notion of having a committee that can subjectively grant exceptions to an inadequate set of rules - everything needs to be codified in advance IMO.

5) Whatever else I haven't thought of.

Michael: My main point is that, if we are going to take this seriously, someone should eventually be making a fairly methodical effort along these lines. It is not going to be me and I am not asking you to do it, especially for the sake of trying to convince me that your preferred rules are “best” (which, for all I know, they may well be, but I don't have time for that discussion).
Nov. 16, 2018
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Try exploring Robb Gordon's “gunslingers” concern. For example…

Some truly excellent 6-women team wins the Women's USBC. 3 of the players plan to play on Team1 in the Mixed and declare “we will play in the Mixed if we win”. The other 3 players plan to play on Team2 in the Mixed and declare “we will play in the Women's if we win”.

In both Team1 and Team2 the men players are “experts” but not the sort of players who are expected to be able to compete effectively at the world level. Still, both teams are real contenders in the Mixed due to their great women players.

Can you think of anything that might go wrong if either Team1 or Team2 wins the Mixed? What about if they meet in the Finals? Make sure to consider that the Women's team might have a sponsor and that sponsor could be on either Team1 or Team2. Also consider that at least 1 partnership from the Women's team will be “split up” for the Mixed.

I am not suggesting that this particular scenario necessarily leads to a problem so terrible as to kill your proposal (in fact I haven't even tried to wrap my head around the possible implications - there might well be no real problem at all). And of course I am not suggesting that the type of scenario I described is likely to happen in real life.

But IMO this is the sort of analysis that needs to be done.
Nov. 16, 2018
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I wasn't planning on voting since it is unclear if I will eligible to play in any of the next 8 or so years of USBCs. In general I think it is reasonable to at least try to solve problems like this by doing whatever the majority of the players want and since I am not a player I don't think I should get a vote.

But since you asked, I haven't made up my mind yet and I don't think I will do so unless/until I see more detailed analysis of the various proposals (especially pertaining to dealing with possible problems that might arise). If such an analysis is not forthcoming, I would vote for sticking with the status quo (since I prefer to avoid playing with fire, since the status quo is hardly terrible, and since, like you, my head or at least my gut is with Mike Becker on this one).

I will say:

1) When I first heard about the concept I thought it was completely crazy.
2) After reading and thinking about Sylvia's post, I realized there was something to this.
3) Instinctively I don't like your idea of “declaring” as much as Sylvia's idea of “play on the last team you win with” (sorry), but I could imagine being convinced otherwise.
Nov. 15, 2018
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Sorry - put my response in the wrong place. See below…
Nov. 15, 2018
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“To crown the winner of that USBC. Winning a USBC should be a big thing whether it qualifies you for anything or not. Just like winning a Spinderbilt (or a World Championship!) is a big thing.”

Of course I agree it is a big thing just to win, but it is still the case that the USBC has a purpose beyond making the winners feel good and perhaps getting a bonus. I am concerned that changing the conditions of contest without carefully considering (and being able to reasonably address) all the things that might go wrong risks compromising the primary purpose of the event.

“Yes, someone can always dream up scenarios where my proposal could lead to a problem. But I think those scenarios mostly involve shenanigans or devious behavior - I don't think there is much likelihood.”

I think it is *really* important to try to list all cans of worms we would be opening even if the scenarios in question are unlikely and/or would involve devious behavior. My instincts suggest that many such cans of worms will come into play.
Nov. 15, 2018
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