Friday, January 9, 2015

Wiggins is "useless"

In 2013 I was accused of calling Murray Wiggins, the now chief director of NZ Bridge "useless". I unequivocally claim I did not utter any words that anyone with the listening comprehension of an average five-year old or better would interpret as such. Wiggins claim that I called him "useless" was uncorroborated. He and NZ Bridge could find no one willing to back up what he said. Another director Alan Joseph who was present did not corroborate his story. Three other players present did not corroborate his story. One, the only one I talked with has no recollection of those comments. Nor of his claim that he asked me to apologise for the same fictitious comment. Nevertheless the disciplinary committee of Kris Wooles, Judith Medlicott, Alan Dormer and Graeme Stout chose to believe Wiggins version of events over mine because I just remembered that I had been "kicked out" on the day of the hearing three months after the event so my memory must have been poor. The problem is those committee members fabricated that I had just remembered that I had been "kicked out". One or more of them simply made up that evidence and convinced at least a majority of the others. How do I know this was made up? Because I went to the hearing with multiple bound documents that I had written for my defence some of which included statements that I had been "kicked out". It was a cornerstone of my defence. A premeditated cornerstone not one I dreamt up or recalled suddenly on the day. I haven't gone back to count as I write this but one of the documents, which hadn't been edited for weeks before the hearing repeated that I had been "kicked out" of the order of twenty times. This was an incompetent fabrication from a committee who had predetermined to rule against me and not listen to the facts and arguments. Wooles, the chairman stated at the hearing that the fact was where there was smoke there was fire - an unashamed thinly veiled admission that he was predisposed to rule "fire" because the officials had created "smoke" and I was the arsonist. Many people have talked to me about these incidents. Two well respected international players when I said that Wiggins had claimed I called him "useless" responded with almost identical reactions to the affect - well that is true. I didn't call Murray Wiggins useless in 2013 but it 2015 it is opinion that he is a "useless" director. I have had different experiences with Wiggins and his predecessor Arie Geursen, who I have caught out in multiple lies, but in my opinion the one thing these two directors have in common is their incompetence.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Geursen a Low Life Liar

Dr Arie Geursen chairperson of the New Zealand Bridge Board, Life Member of New Zealand Bridge, erstwhile Chief Director of New Zealand Bridge, Officer of the Order of New Zealand for services to science and disgraceful low life liar.

This man despite his many accolades is nothing but a low life liar. I make this conclusion based on evidence he gave at a disciplinary hearing into my supposed inappropriate behaviour. In general his evidence was exaggerated and embellished but when questioned about his discourtesy towards me, he had told me to "shut up and listen", he broke into outright lying. That lying continued a couple of weeks later when he responded in writing to some written comments that I sent to his advocate, I mean the Disciplinary Committee Chair Kris Wooles.

Here are the details:

First a transcript of Geursen lying at the hearing 8th January 2014:

Wayne (I was speaking to Kris Wooles): Arie told me “shutup Wayne … shut up shut up and listen”

Liar Geursen: “When?”

Wayne: “That’s pretty discourteous”


Wayne:“At the congress on…”

Liar: “What congress?”

Wayne: “The NZ National Congress“

Liar: “Which congress?”

Wayne: “October 2013 on the 4th of October, Friday morning”

Liar: “I can’t recall that”

Wayne: “Can’t you?”

Liar: “I would categorically deny it”

Liar: “I think it’s a figment of your imagination”

So the liar Geursen made a fuss of when exactly this had happened as if he didn't know. then adamantly denied making that statement. Its hard to imagine a statement more adamant - "categorically deny". And for good measure he threw in an attempt to mock me "its a figment of your imagination".

A couple of weeks later he responded to some questions and comments I wrote to Kris Wooles. In those comments I wrote:

"In the audio he tells me to "shut up and listen". This seems discourteous to me. He denied saying this.

Again this questions the veracity of his testimony?"

To which the liar responded:

"I have no recollection of being questioned at the recent hearing about me telling him to shut up. I do recall Dr Wiggins being questioned at length about it and denying it" 22 January 2014 email response attachment to Kris Wooles.

Its surprising to the extent of being unbelievable that he could not recall the testimony. He made such a fuss, pretending to not know what I was referring to and as I have pointed out adamantly denying he had uttered that discourtesy.

While he responded on 22 January the email suggests it was a second attempt and my email with the comments were sent to Wooles on the 15th January so he would have had the comment sometime between a week and two weeks after the hearing on 8th January. Probably closer to one week.

Is it credible that such a distinguished scientist would not recall the details of a discussion only a few days earlier when he had uttered the lie that was so adamant that he had not told me to "shut up". No! I would categorically deny it was credible. If you think that then I think that is a figment of your imagination. If Geursen thinks that then it is definitely a figment of his imagination.

Why can I be so sure?

In between the oral hearing and responding to the written questions Geursen had the benefit of listening to the audio from 4th October 2013 in which he can categorically be heard uttering the phrase "shut up and listen". So now it was convenient for him to try and weasel out of his lie by denying the lie had ever been uttered. Sorry Liar Geursen I have the offending conversation from October 2013 and the lie from 8th January 2014 both recorded. You don't get to lie then deny that you lied. Essentially that is just another lie.

What is more Geursen knew I had recorded him telling me to shutup. Here is the transcript of the relevant part of that conversation in which immediately after telling me to "shut up and listen" I informed him the conversation was recorded - NZ law allows the recording of a private conversation by any party to that conversation. I think the exception in the Crimes Act 216B2a is written deliberately to protect citizens from low life liars like Geursen. Enough here is the transcript:

Geursen : Wayne, Wayne,

WAYNE : There is no regulation

Geursen : Wayne shut up and listen you’ve got a simple answer

WAYNE : There is no regulation thank you. I have got that recorded.

So he was informed that he had been recorded telling me to shut-up but some how he conveniently forgot that he had told me to "shut up" and that he had been recorded. Very foolish.

It is unbelievable and sad that a man so willing to lie, even knowing he will be caught out, is the Chairperson of the New Zealand Bridge Board.

We are in very unsound hands.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Open Letter to the Board of NZ Bridge

Wayne Burrows

10 Glen Place

Palmerston North


To whom it may concern,

Open letter to the board of NZ Bridge.

I read the minute quoted below in the NZ Bridge minutes 24 August 2014. It interested me as it obviously references the case involving me that was before the Bridge Appeal Tribunal. I am deeply concerned that the information provided to the NZ Bridge Board appears to be unrelated to any facts of the case and therefore that the NZ Bridge Board was manipulated into any decision made.

“Bridge Appeal Tribunal

Moved that as it appears that the appellant is not offering to settle consistent with the Tribunals Memorandum a further memorandum be authorised to be filed by our Counsel confirming that the Board seeks that the appeal be set down for hearing subject to each party providing appropriate security for costs, or otherwise be dismissed.”

In particular there is no basis for the statement “it appears that the appellant is not offering to settle consistent with the Tribunals Memorandum”. After receiving the ‘Tribunals Memorandum’ I had direct contact only with Fergus More the NZ Bridge honorary solicitor. There were two telephone calls and an email exchange in which Mr More sought information and I responded. The first telephone conversation was the most substantial. The second very brief, initiated by me and only clarified whether Mr More still required some additional information that we had previously discussed – he did not.

At no time in any of those conversations or emails with Mr More did I in any way indicate that I was unwilling to settle as per the ‘Tribunals Memorandum’. Any suggestion that I did so by Mr More or by any board member in the discussion, for example Graham Wakefield, was not based on any factual information.

I had what I considered were by and large constructive conversations with Mr More throughout the appeal process. In the significant telephone conversation in the period covered by the board minute Mr More offered to find out what assurances could be given to me that NZ Bridge would accept the conditions of the ‘Tribunals Memorandum’ going forward and indicated clearly to me that he would recommend to the board that they accept the resolution proposed in the ‘Tribunals Memorandum’. The following are direct quotes from Mr More in the conversation 15 August 2014:

1.        “... my advice to NZ Bridge will be to accept what the tribunal is suggesting.”

2.        “I want to ask of you what would you say would be enough to bring closure to the appeal?”

3.       “Well why don’t you write to me, without prejudice to yourself with what you would want to be guaranteed in the sense of it going away. Do that for me.”

4.        “I am going to go back to NZ Bridge and indicate that if we are to try and achieve an outcome to this appeal we wont look at what brought us to this point but we will look at the future to see what assurances can be given you in terms of how it is that you could continue in the future to play the game in circumstances where we dont actually have any of these old issues resurfacing”.

As stated the conversation was constructive and I believed Mr More and I were working towards a resolution in terms of the ‘Tribunals Memorandum’.

Subsequently NZ Bridge filed a memorandum as per the above minute from the NZ Bridge board that stated

“Counsel has indicated to the appellant that NZ Bridge would have accepted closure of the appeal proceedings as initiated “without prejudice” by the Tribunal Chair…”

Such statement was entirely false and inconsistent with any conversation or email that I had with Mr More. The memorandum filed also included the statement:

“Given Mr Burrows chooses not bring closure as the Chair has proposed”

I filed a letter to the tribunal chair that included:

“I never indicated at any stage, to NZ Bridge nor to Mr More, verbally or in writing, that I would not accept the conditions of the memorandum from the Tribunal Chair.”

Therefore the NZ Bridge memorandum based on the quoted minute was plainly and I believe deliberately false.

I am not writing to revisit the issues of the appeal nor of the prior decision by the CDDC, however I think it is particularly concerning that someone, superficially Mr More – as he was the only NZ Bridge representative that I had direct contact with (save for Graham Wakefield’s attendance at one teleconference with the appeal tribunal) – although I speculate more likely a board member, manipulated the NZ Bridge Board by providing them with false information that I would not accept a proposal and then subsequently wrote a memorandum to the Appeal Tribunal that was knowingly false with regard to information that NZ Bridge had ‘indicated’ to me and again indicated I was unwilling to settle, when no such information had been given to NZ Bridge from myself.

I hope that you would be equally concerned that as board members you have been manipulated by some seeking to be deliberately untruthful.

I also hope that as board members you would call to account those among you who have provided the board with false information in this regard.

Yours faithfully


Wayne Burrows

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Palmerston North Open 18th October 2014

PN Open

Two hands from the Palmerston North Open with a common theme illustrate that it is not always correct to lead your 'longest and strongest'.

The first was perpetrated against us by Amy Thomson. On lead against 3 NT she spurned her five-card heart suit and led the  K. This was spectacularly successful when partner cooperated with jack-fifth. Note a heart lead, simultaneously, knocks out partner's entry, establishes two heart tricks for declarer, and gives declarer the time to set up their diamonds.

East's hearts are certainly her longest but its moot whether they are the 'longest and strongest'.

Board 10
East Deals
Both Vul
A 10 4
K 10 6
A Q 5
A Q 7 3
J 9 8 7 3
9 8 7
8 5 2
K Q 2
9 8 7 5 4
K 10 2
10 6
6 5
Q 3 2
J 6 4 3
K J 9 4
Pass1 Pass2 
Pass3 NTPassPass
3 NT by North
Lead:  K

We did some double dummy analysis, similar to Bird and Anthias, to test the best lead. We dealt 1000 hands consistent with the bidding and looked at the double dummy result with forced leads from spades and hearts. The  K lead resulted in an average of 9.376 tricks for declarer while a heart lead resulted in an average of 9.454 tricks for declarer. Further the  K defeated 3 NT, 234 times in the sample whilst a heart lead defeated 3 NT only 213 times. While this was a moral victory for the non-standard short suit lead neither difference (average tricks and proportion defeated) were statistically significant. Subsequently we did a larger sample of 10000 hands and there the spade lead was a small, but statistically significant, amount better in terms of both beating 3 NT and the number of tricks for the defence.

Board 16
West Deals
E-W Vul
K 10 8 3 2
J 10 6 5
A 9 6 5
A 7
J 9 7 5
K 9 8 3 2
10 4
9 6 5
K Q 4
A Q 4
K Q J 2
Q J 4
A 10 8 6 3 2
8 7 3
PassPass1 2 
PassPass2 NTPass
3 NTPassPassPass
3 NT by East
Lead:  Q

A session later, I faced a similar problem. Again the lead from honour-honour-ex was spectacular.

In fact I had additional information. West had waited out the ten seconds while I had the stop card on the table and then decided to question my partner on the meaning of 2 . How it could help her decision - I do not know. What she was thinking of bidding - I do not know. All those sort of questions can do is convey information to the table which may help the opponents and constrain her partner. Apparently her partner did not feel constrained as she made the gross overbid of 2 NT. The expert I polled - an unbiased sample of one - said "I will have to pass" when given the auction "1  (2 ) Pass (Pass); ?"

The laws require east to not choose from among logical alternatives one suggested by the additional information. Partner having values certainly suggests action rather than inaction. I believe 2 NT is taking advantage of the unauthorised information and should be not allowed and punished under Law 73C.

On this occasion karma delivered -300 for the 2 NT bidder.

Again a statistical analysis of the double dummy results found that the  Q lead average 9.053 tricks for declarer and defeated 3 NT 391 times. This time the difference compared with a heart lead was marked with the heart lead resulting in 9.997 tricks (nearly a trick worse for the defenders) and defeated the contract only 142 times. These were statistically significant.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How much respect does the chief director deserve?

I treat preople with respect. The respect they deserve. The chief director of New Zealand Bridge, how much respect does he deserve? 

Today I asked him if there was a regulation that meant the law (law 91B) should not be interpreted as written. His answer was a succint, emphatic, all encompassing, "No!" 

Let me remind you of the laws, which I would hope Geursen has at least a passing acquaintence. In particular law 81A2. Law 81 deals with the tournament director's duties and powers. Quite an important law to know and understand if one is a director one would assume. 

"Law 81A 2. Observance of Laws and Regulations The Director is bound by these Laws and by supplementary regulations announced by the sponsoring organisation"

To me this seems quite a strong law. "bound" to me is suggestive of tied tightly, cannot vary from. 

In my question to Geursen it was implicit that the law should be followed. The director after all is bound by it. According to Geursen there is also no regulation that suggests any different interpretation. One would think that therefore any director with any remnant of integrity or just a sense of duty to that which he is charged would be "bound" by the law and further influenced by the quite obvious negative inference from there being no contrary regulation to rule according to the written law - "these laws". Not so Geursen. For reasons unknown, as he has made no attempt to explain, he appears to believe he is above the law and had some god given or inate right to flout the law and rule any which way he himself chooses. And that his charge, director in charge Murray Wiggins is similarly unconstrained by the laws. 

I cannot begin to comprehend the arrogance of that position. I am a NZBridge qualified tournament director. Not to inflate my own position, but simply to illustrate that I do have at least a semi-decent understanding of the law, when I qualified as a club and tournament director I received one of the highest marks obtained in those examinations. In my view, as a director myself, the primary role of a director is to be a servant to the players, in part that is done by applying the laws and announced regulations of the game. It is not achieved by making up some regulation or interpretation to achieve your own end. That is arrogance. What possible motive can a director have for knowingly misapplying the laws and regulations? Remember Geursen freely admits that there is no regulation that allows a ruling contrary to this law's plan meaning. 

This is not the first time Geursen has ruled according to his own agenda. There have been many occasions over the years. At the 2006 national trials he allowed an opponent on the same side of the screen to point out an infraction that had not transferred through the screen. The screen regulations unambiguously said that was an infraction. In a previous NZ pairs he allowed a fouled board to be corrected using a different formula than was written in the regulations. In one interprovincials he refused to allow an appeal by the CD youth team because he thought the time limit in the announced regulation meant 'match' when it said 'session' and two matches were being played in each session. Even if he thinks that was the intention he is bound by the announced regulation. Simply it is not the director's right to write the laws and regulations after the fact. It is the director's responsibility to rule according to the laws and announce regulations. It is patently absurd for the director to make up rules or equivalently rule contrary to existing rules after the fact. 

So basically Geursen and his underling Wiggins are knowingly willing to rule contrary to the written law when there is no regulation nor interpretation that allows them to do rule. 

How much respect does this deserve?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

congress fun

Yesterday I was informed that I was disqualified from the national bridge Congress. No reasons were specified.

Mr Wayne Burrows

The Director-in-Charge of the National Bridge Congress had disqualified you from further participation in the National Bridge Congress. This has been confirmed by the tournament organiser as required by Law 91B.

Richard Solomon
National Bridge Congress Organising Committee

This is a clear and flagrant abuse of the laws of bridge. Law 91B is

Law 91B The director is empowered to disqualify a contestent for cause, subject to approval by the tournament organiser.

It is unclear to me what was considered 'for cause' as no reason has been formally given to me nor was I given any opportunity to attend a hearing.  I will write more on the events leading up to this later.

Law 91B clearly gives the director the right to disqualify a contestant.  However I was not a contestant to which such disqualification can be applied.  I was playing in the New Zealand Teams on a six person team.  That team and not any individual player such as myself was a contestant in this event.        

Contestant: in an individual event, a player; in a pair event, two players playing as partners throughout the event; in a team event, four or more players playing as teammates        

This is plain that the team is the contestant so the director would have to disqualify a team as the power is only given to disqualify contestants.

The events leading up to this incident began in round six of the ten qualifying rounds.  We were playing against National Recorder Noel Woodhall and George Masters. Noel indisputably hesitated over my two club overcall.  This fact has not been challenged. George doubled.  At which point I attempted to establish the facts of the hesitation. George commented, perhaps inappropriately but this was not challenged,  that he had his bid. While my attention was with George on my right, on my left Noel threw his cards and pen on the table so the made an noticable bang. I turned to find him looking intently at me and he made an audible scoff. It was obvious to me that he was showing dissent at me drawing attention to his break in tempo. Although as stated above he never disputed the tempo break.

The director was called. While he came back late to get further information I am unaware of any ruling being made.  Although that is by the by.

The director, Alan Joseph, was also made aware of Noel's  discourtesy. In my view the director essentially ignored the discourtesy.  I briefly left the table to get some water and calm down a little as I was visibly shaken and literally shaking.

Later in the match when we were already well behind time Noel and George had a long uncontested relay auction which was slow which resulted in them taking 12-13 minutes to play one board.  It looked like we were going to forfeit two boards. We ended up forfeiting one board although I suspect we started the last board after time had elapsed.  I couldn't read the time clock nor did I hear the director's announcement of the end of play. When the director was at the table Noel gave an additional back handed insult that we might get finished if I stayed at the table referring to when I left upset.

At the end of the match I approached the director in charge Murray Wiggins to emphasise that I was unhappy with Noel's discourtesy.  Murray talked with Noel and I in the presence of Pam and George and maybe some others. He did not in my view address the discourtesy at all.

I am not completely sure of the sequence of events at this point. The conversation degenerated though. At one point Murray physically pushed me. I was distressed by this so much that I told him that if he touched me again I would call the police. At another point in frustration I said "this is useless if nothing is done about discourtesy". I challenged Murray that it was in his view ok to be discourteous and that if so I would be rude to my opponents. He made it clear that he would send me home if that happened. In my view this is a clear double standard when he allows the National Recorder to be rude to me. There were further threats from Murray that he would send me home. When I showed ambivalence to his threats he acted on the threat.

Later I was informed,  I am not sure by whom but discussions involved Alan Turner, team mate and NZBridge board member,  and Kay Nicholas, chairperson NZBridge, that I was allowed to play so I played the next match. Late in the lunch break I was informed that I was not allowed to play and did not play the last three matches.

Alan Turner and Kay Nicholas both independently asked me to apologise unreservedly to Murray Wiggins. He believed apparently that I said he was useless. I have no recollection of this nor do I believe that he challenged my comment quoted above. I was unwilling to make such an apology. However I did go with Kay Nicholas as a witness to Murray and said I believed that there had been a misunderstanding and that I did not intend any comment I made to be personal to him.  I stated I believed I said that this is useless not he was useless.  Murray did not accept this apology and the conversation degenerated into a he said you said type dispute.

Later Richard Solomon told me that there was no mention of this apology when the committee discussed the decision that resulted in the above letter. He was surprised to learn that an apology had been offered. This illustrates the problem of not allowing me to be heard when they make a decision to impose sanctions against me.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


My friend, Richard Hills, Australian bridge and bridge laws expert often describes Law 74A2 as "...the most important Law in the Lawbook". Law 74 is entitled "Conduct and Attitude" and A2 is specifically about causing annoyance or embarrassment to other players. Fortunately in the few encounters I have had with Richard across the green baize he has reported that the matches have been played with fine spirit.

Naturally Law 74A2 follows immediately from Law 74A1 which instructs players to remain courteous. Here is the precise wording of those two laws:

A. Proper Attitude
1. A player should maintain a courteous attitude at all times.
2. A player should carefully avoid any remark or action that might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player or might interfere with the enjoyment of the game."

Courtesy is defined at as "excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior".

I am currently in Auckland at the Air New Zealand Koru lounge on my way home from the excellent and thoroughly recommended Gold Coast Congress hosted by the Queensland Bridge Association. By and large the huge majority of players at that congress are courteous and a pleasure to play against. Sadly my eight days of bridge was marred by three discourteous incidents involving five or six players (three pairs). One incident occurred in round eleven of the teams and two occurred in the Swiss Pairs in rounds one and nine.

I will discuss each of the three incidents. However, one incident stood out in that one of the perpetrators of the discourtesy and rudeness, Dr Alan Doddridge, had an official capacity at the event of Recorder. A Recorder is someone a player goes to when such discourtesy and rudeness occurs at the table. Dr Doddridge was not only a Recorder at the Gold Coast Congress but in New Zealand he is the Recorder for the Central Districts Region. As such, I believe he has a special responsibility to behave in a manner that embodies Law 74. Sadly, in my limited experience this is far from the first occasion where Dr Doddridge has behaved poorly at the bridge table.

As I stated above, the first incident occurred in round eleven of the teams in a match against the SAWICKI team. We were playing against Henry Sawicki and Rachel Frenkel. This pair play a non-standard system which they call "Medium Club" and is based on a strong but limited 1C opening with other openings at the one level limited and canape in style. That is they frequently open a shorter suit and rebid in a longer suit.

On the hand in question, board eight of that match, the uncontested auction from my opponents was:

1H 2D; 3D 3S; 4S 5D; Pass

There were no alerted bids. I was on lead and asked for an explanation of the auction - "Can you explain the auction please?". The obligation of the opponents at this point is to provide all information they have from partnership agreement, explicit or implicit, and partnership experience. The wording in the law is:

"When explaining the significance of partner’s call or play in reply to opponent’s enquiry (see Law 20) a player shall disclose all special information conveyed to him through partnership agreement or partnership experience but he need not disclose inferences drawn from his knowledge and experience of matters generally known to bridge players." Law 40B6a.

To be fair I got some good information from Ms Frenkel. She said she believed her partner was 4441 and indeed he was. However this was a summary of the whole auction and I wanted to know what inferences were available at each bid. In this regard Ms Frenkel was initially unwilling to tell me the minimum length for the 3D raise. Mr Sawicki's answers were far less revealing. He told me the auction was "just normal bridge". Whatever it was, a potentially canape auction, is not just normal bridge. So obviously I felt I was entitle to more information. In particular, at some point he added 3S was "natural". "Natural" would normally mean a four-card suit. However the subsequent auction seemed to reveal that 3S was not "natural" since when the suit was raised his partner retreated back to 5D, which while not unheard of it is extremely unusual to retreat from a major suit fit to a minor suit fit. These opponents were an experienced partnership and I felt I had an entitlement to more information about their partnership experience in these situations. Indeed the auction suggested that they had some experience as Sawicki correctly divined that Frenkel's 5D was a correction and not a slam try. Additionally, it turned out that Frenkel had three card support for Sawicki's hearts which she had not mentioned so there seems to be an inference at 3D that Sawicki did not have five hearts. This information was never conveyed to us.

Anyway that is just background. The purpose of writing is to illustrate the discourtesy. Rather than attempt to answer my more probing questions Sawicki's response was "this is ridiculous", "you are childish", "this is not bridge". These sort of comments continued when the director came to the table, some of which were repeated. Sawicki not content with insulting me added to the discourtesy by insulting the director, Jan Peach. While Peach asked for the comments to cease she did little to enforce Law 74 and essentially allowed Sawicki to continue his barrage of insults.

The second of the three incidents occurred in the first round of the Swiss Pairs, where my partner and I were pitted against Alan Doddridge and Jenny Wilson. Early in the match, I was on lead with AKx club. I lead the club ace and five to the QJ came in the dummy. In this situation I expect my partner to give me count. We play reverse count and he played a high card which showed me he had an odd number of clubs. Doddridge followed. This meant that partner had 1 or 3 clubs. If one I could give him a ruff and if three which I judged much more likely the second club was cashing. On the actual hand the danger of setting up the clubs was minimal as the dummy was short of quick entries so I continued club. Partner completed his echo confirming three which left only two clubs for Doddridge. However on this trick Doddridge partially pulled out a card, sat back in his seat, then leaned forward before fulling detaching a card and playing it. I trusted my partner and was not deceived by this byplay and so switched to another suit. Unfortunately, though when my partner got in he thought I might be out of clubs and so continued a club.

At this point, I tried to get agreement about the slow play on the second round of clubs. Doddridge did not deny the slow play and invited me to call the director. However in doing so he showed obvious dissent. Before the director arrived he sat back and said "deja vu" which I believed was designed to taunt me and certainly wasn't in compliance with Richard Hills' most important law - "carefully avoid any remark or action that might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player or might interfere with the enjoyment of the game."

When the director arrived at the table, Doddridge said in an agitated way "He is accusing me of cheating". Again this is not carefully avoiding any remark or action that might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player. It is also in violation of the etiquette Law 74B5 "summoning and addressing the Director in a manner discourteous to him or to other contestants." Just to be clear, Doddridge's statement to the director is discourteous to me since I had made no accusation of cheating.

A complaint of a player playing (or bidding for that matter) out of tempo is never in the first instance considered an accusation of cheating. There is a presumption in the laws that players do not cheat at bridge. A tempo break may be made for many reasons, most of which are accidental or otherwise unintentional. That is not cheating. Nevertheless, the laws allow for redress whether or not there was intent. This is explained clearly in Law 73F for violations of Law 73 - Law73D deals with variations in tempo such as Doddridge's slow play on this hand. The key phrase is "who could have known".

"When a violation of the Proprieties described in this law results in damage to an innocent opponent, if the Director determines that an innocent player has drawn a false inference from a remark, manner, tempo, or the like, of an opponent who has no demonstrable bridge reason for the action, and who could have known, at the time of the action, that the action could work to his benefit, the Director shall award an adjusted score" Law 73F.

The "could have known" clause essentially means that even though you are not cheating, for the purpose of redress but not for disciplinary penalty, you will be treated as if you were cheating since your actions may have disadvantaged the opponents. The distinction is subtle but it is significant and a director call on a tempo issue is not ipso facto an accusation of cheating.

I would have hoped that Doddridge a regional recorder would have had a good understanding of this distinction but apparently not.

I consider his dissenting remarks and niggly comments which continued beyond that described above to be a form of bullying. The way I interpret things Doddridge's rude, discourteous comments were intended to make me feel bad for calling the director.

In this occasion after the director settled things down and play continued I received further abuse from Jenny Wilson who said in a demeaning way "This is why we don't play at the Palmerston North Bridge Club any more." Maybe I have it wrong and it was an honest statement applauding the standards at the Palmerston North Bridge Club where directors are called for infractions and players are not allowed to be abusive to their opponents but I think not. In case it needs to be pointed out this comment by Wilson is a clear violation of Law74A2.

Wilson and Doddridge both continued their disregard for Law 74 by repeatedly telling me to stop when I was simply calling the director for their repeated improper behaviour.

Unbelievably, Doddridge (and Wilson) seem to believe that I have done something wrong. I was accused of both being a bully and being rude. I talked at length with the chief director Laurie Kelso about this incident with respect to asking his advice on how I am supposed to behave when there is an infraction at the table and the opponents (with a history of this sort of behaviour) make rude, discourteous, niggly, annoying and hurtful comments to me. In the final analysis he offered the opinion that I had done nothing wrong in this incident. From which I interpret and it seems obvious that it is proper to call the director when I perceive there is a possible infraction or irregularity and that it is proper to call the director when my opponents are repeatedly rude to me.

The third incident was similar when playing the ninth round of the Swiss Pairs against Jeanne Hey and Joan Valentine. On this occasion I was declaring a no trump contract on the S9 lead with J74 in dummy and Q852 in hand. I asked about the leads and was told that the lead 4ths, tops of sequences and top of nothing. Consequently I decided to play the jack from dummy which lost to the ace and a spade came back which I ran to the seven but the opening leader played the ten and then cashed the king. So the lead had been from KT96. I played out the hand and then asked the leader about the leads and was told "I can lead anything". I called the director. Subsequently she also told the director that they had the unusual agreement that if they lead an odd card they want the suit led back. The director adjusted the score one trick in our favour based on the misinformation. Then the fun started. Both opponents started making snarky comments aimed at both myself and my partner - although what my poor partner had done I have no idea, he had sat there as dummy. The comments included "I am disgusted in west", "I am disgusted in both of them", "Don't worry he has to live with himself" etc.

I suppose I could report this to the recorder. Oh but Doddridge is the recorder. He probably thinks its fair game for my opponents to insult me. After all I did call the director.

In my view its unacceptable that any one behave like this at the bridge table to fellow competitors. Its particularly bad when this behaviour is perpetrated by Doddridge and Wilson given Doddridge's responsibility as recorder. Yes I include Wilson's behaviour on a similar level to Doddridge given that by playing with her he, as recorder, is giving tacit approval to her behaviour whilst simultaneously modelling that poor behaviour.

This is far from the first time that Doddridge's behaviour has been substandard at the bridge table and around other bridge related situations. New Zealand Bridge is well aware of his poor behaviour and has so far chosen to take no action against him.

I call on New Zealand Bridge to take action against Dr Alan Doddridge for his repeated inappropriate behaviour.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More Unauthorized Information

Palmerston North Club Swiss Pairs

Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
♠ —
Q J 10 6 2
10 7 2
♣ K Q 10 7 3
♠ A Q 10 6 4
K 7 4
A 5
♣ A 6 4

♠ K J 9 2
A 3
J 6 4
♣ J 9 8 2
♠ 8 7 5 3
9 8 5
K Q 9 8 3
♣ 5
1 ♠Dbl3 ♣13
4 ♣Pass4 ♠All pass

  1. Invitational Spade Raise but explained as weak with clubs
4 ♠ by West

Made 4 — +420

It is strange how things happen in themes. This hand turned up at the club on Tuesday night.

West misexplained their partnership agreement as a weak jump shift.

The question arises, as east, what are your responsibilities over partner's 4♣ given her misexplanation?

Lawfully you "must carefully avoid taking any advantage from that unauthorized information".

To my mind bidding 4♠ is the bid most likely to clear up the misunderstanding and therefore you 'must carefully avoid' bidding 4♠ if there is any reasonable alternative. Here there is such an alternative. Partner's 4♣ looks like a cuebid in search of slam. (For some it could even be Gerber!) In either case 4 is a logical alternative. The law is clear that is the bid you 'must' make. It 'must' be made even though you know that after 4 the auction is highly likely to spiral out of control. Bidding 4♠ is deliberately taking advantage of the unauthorized information and therefore an illegal option.

After 4♠ is chosen the director is empowered to adjust the score. It can be difficult to decide what to adjust to. Its certainly not clear here where the auction will go after 4. Perhaps west will bid 4♠ as another cue bid and then east is free to pass - a lucky escape. Perhaps west will bid 4NT Blackwood in search of a club slam. Perhaps west will attempt to sign-off in 5♣. After which east may bid 5♠ with nothing else to cue-bid but its not completely clear how west will interpret that bid - maybe west will pass but maybe not.

You can see how the auction can spiral out of control leading to imminent disaster. Your job as east as much as it might go against your natural instinct is to not avoid the disaster by making bids that are more likely to wake your partner up. That would be taking advantage of the unauthorized information.

In the event the director adjusted the board giving a split ruling - 50% of 4♠ making and 50% of 5♠ down one. My feeling having thought about it overnight is that this is too generous to the offending side here. Superficially there are two actions from west that might lead to a higher contract and only one that will lead to 4♠. Further if the auction goes beyond 4♠ who is to say it will stop at 5♠.

In addition to any adjustment the law almost demands a penalty be imposed on east for bidding 4♠. Remember the law is "must carefully avoid taking any advantage from that unauthorized information".

"Must" is a very strong term. The laws of bridge include an interpretation of such terms. Here is what it says:

"“must” do (the strongest word, a serious matter indeed)"

The weaker term "shall" has this comment:

"“shall” do (a violation will incur a procedural penalty more often than not)"

If a failure to do what one "shall" do incurs a procedural penalty more often than not then a failure to do what one "must" do by extrapolation should almost always attract a penalty.

And in my opinion so it should be. The player is deliberately trying to gain an advantage from their partner's unauthorized information. This needs to be discouraged and imposing penalties on such actions is perfectly reasonable.

That it is not done only encourages players to take advantage next time and contributes to the reason why these issues of misusing unauthorized information are rife in our game.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Do You Cheat?

In recent bridge publications there is little written on ethics and cheating. Not so in days past. Victor Mollo and Nico Gardener in Bridge for Beginners devote a section to ethics in the second chapter.

"What a player should bid will be discussed in the next lesson. How he should bid can be laid down firmly this minute. The manner must be impersonal and the voice even."

"Intonation and inflection, and even bouncing up and down in one's chair, all are frowned upon in the best circles. The word for these emotional aids to science is 'unethical', and that is almost a synonym for cheating."

The 1947 book Steamlined Bridge or Bidding without Tears by Mollo has an entire chapter devoted to the subject and from there I have stolen the title of this blog.

"A number of honest and highly respected people cheat at Bridge. They don't mark their cards or slip Aces or even signal to their partners by means of snorts and kicks. If they did anything so crude, they would be quickly exposed and disgraced. But many a man with a virtuaous past and many a woman with a rosy future, pursue tactics that are fraudulent, both in the letter and in the spirit. Sometimes it is practiced in a moral twilight, consciousness being obscured partly - though not wholly - by ignorance. Occasionally it is quite deliberate."

How have things progressed in the sixty plus years since those words were written? Very poorly. With little or no education how could they? In a word the cheaters flourish. By and large they are not reprimanded and there is therefore no incentive for them to mend their ways.

Sure there are a few high profile cases where players are penalized or even banned for cheating. I am not writing about those incidents.

And on the other extreme we all or almost all probably commit some minor misdemenour from time to time. It can be hard to do the right ethical thing every time when faced with extraneous information from partner etc. Again I am not writing about those incidents.

I am referrng to a significant number of players who always or almost always bid based on their partner's hesitation or mannerisms. Who never deliberately choose the losing option when their partner has illegally and perhaps subtlely indicated the winning option.

For me this issue came to a head last weekend at a tournament where two hands in my mind very similar in nature came up two boards apart. The closeness of the hands emphasised the use of unauthorized information.

Swiss Pairs (IMPs v Datum)
Board 5
North Deals
N-S Vul
♠ 5 4
Q 9 8 7 2
9 8 6
♣ Q 6 2
♠ 3
A K J 7 5
♣ A 9 8 4 3
♠ 7 2
10 6 5 3
Q 10 3
♣ J 10 7 5
♠ A K Q J 10 9 8 6
A 4
4 2
♣ K

PassPass4 ♠
DblPass5 ♣All pass

5 ♣ by East

Down 1 — -50

Swiss Pairs (IMPs v Datum)

Board 7
South Deals
Both Vul
♠ —
A K J 10 4
Q 5 2
♣ 9 8 6 3 2
♠ J 8 2
Q 5 2
A K 8 7
♣ A K 5
♠ Q 5 3
8 7 3
J 9 6 4
♣ Q J 10
♠ A K 10 9 7 6 4
9 6
10 3
♣ 7 4

3 ♠
DblAll pass

3 ♠ x by South

Down 1 — -200

As you can see one double was taken out and the other left in. So what its a game of judgement and these things happen you say. However I have not told you the whole story. This pair were playing their version of optional doubles. A method that is very sensitive to unauthorized information. Its very easy to leave in or take out an optional double when partner's speed or mannerisms convey additional information.

When asked East explained the double on the first board as "Either takeout or penalty. I have to decide". In the presence of the director West concurred with this saying "Yes we play optional doubles".

Perhaps this is not what everyone would call an 'optional double' but that is what was said at the table.

When the second double was made the specific question asked was "Do you play this double the same as the previous one?" This was answered in the affirmative.

So why was the first double removed and the second double passed?

The secret is in the tempo of the double.

These hands were played where a stop card is required before a jump bid. South on both occasions used the stop card and waited the required ten seconds before removing it.

On board five west angonized for a further 20+ seconds (30 seconds in all) before doubling and her partner pulled the double.

On board seven west doubled immediately after the bid was made and while the stop card was still on the table. Surprise surprise this double was left in.

Amazingly the director allowed both actions.

Superficially 4♠ fails on the first board so at first glance you might see no damage. However the play is interesting. After three rounds of diamonds, the third ruffed in hand, declarer can put west to the test by playing the ♣K. This may give the illusion of trying to create an entry to dummy in order to take a trump finesse. And even if west takes the ♣A it is not completely clear how to continue - a trump or a diamond defeat the contract and a club or a heart see declarer home.

On the published datums declarer is winning 13 IMPs or losing 3 IMPs in 4♠ doubled. While 5♣ -1 was worth 4 IMPs to north south. So the misdefense needs to occur a little less than one time in two for declarer to in profit on average playing in 4♠ doubled. One commentator has suggested that 4♠ might make around 60% of the time. On that basis an adjusted score of 60% of 13 IMPs and 40% of -3 IMPs, a total of 6.6 IMPs, would be justified.

The second hand was taken to appeal.

The relevant laws are:
Law 73 C
"Player Receives Unauthorized Information from Partner
When a player has available to him unauthorized information from his partner, such as from a remark, question, explanation, gesture, mannerism, undue emphasis, inflection, haste or hesitation, an unexpected* alert or failure to alert, he must carefully avoid taking any advantage from that unauthorized information."

"Extraneous Information from Partner
1. (a) After a player makes available to his partner extraneous information that may suggest a call or play, as for example by a remark, a question, a reply to a question, an unexpected* alert or failure to alert, or by unmistakable hesitation, unwonted speed, special emphasis, tone, gesture, movement, or mannerism, the partner may not choose from among logical alternatives one that could demonstrably have been suggested over another by the extraneous information."

Law 73 is the most interesting. The player "must carefully avoid taking any advantage" this is a very strong statement. The pattern of the two boards suggests that for this player taking advantage of partner's tempo is routine rather than something to be avoided.

Board Five established that for this player removing one of these 'optional' doubles it a logical alternative with balanced rubbish. On the assumption that the fast double suggests leaving the 'optional' double in Law 16 disallows that action.

To me this seems clear.

Nevertheless the appeal committee allowed the pass. Thus east west gained an advantage over the two boards of up to 23 IMPs (or perhaps even more if their final contract had been doubled had the double of 3♠ been removed). 9 IMPs on the first board losing 4 rather than losing 13 IMPs if 4♠ doubled made and 14 IMPs on second where they won seven rather than losing seven (more if they get doubled).

These sort of rulings are patently absurd. The offenders gain a significant advantage whilst the non-offenders are left to lick their wounds.

In fact in addition to the redress for the damage caused I believe east west should have suffered a sizeable penalty. The word "must" in Law 73 is very strong. The preface to the laws state that the weaker term "shall" when not complied with will be penalized more often than not therefore for failing to do what one "must" do ought to receive a nearly automatic penalty.

Failing to give redress and failing to penalize whilst contemporaneously failing to make any attempt to educate these unethical players just encourages them to continue with their skullduggery. Sadly this is born out in that in some circles these tactics are fast becoming the norm rather the exception.

Well then "Do you Cheat?"