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Bridge is a timed event
As I started to write about this I went on the ACBL website to find some wording to back me up. I had already had a discussion with two other directors – one claiming it was in the rule book and the other quickly getting the rule book and of course we could not find anything definitive. All I could find on the website is that the timing is set by the organizer and that usually at tournaments pairs games are set at 7 ½ minutes per board. And people kept bringing up knockouts which can be very short or excruciatingly long. I wanted to find the YOU MUST. There is not a you must. But it still a timed event and we all want it to be. A director could set the pace at 10 minutes per board. That is 2 ½ minutes slower than normal. Doesn’t sound like much until you realize that the entire game would be an hour longer for the shortest game.
What is important is that each pair be given the same amount of time. If I get 3 minutes and you get 10, then I am not likely to do very well. But things happen – perhaps a very long director call, a lost card, a unplanned bathroom run – and we want the game to go smoothly for all. How can we balance these competing forces?
My favorite tool and quite underused in Virginia Beach is the Late Play.
With a late play the pairs unable to finish a round in a timely manner – no matter the cause – are given a late play on the unplayed board and move on to the next round. Thus all are caught up and able to move forward. They then play the skipped board at the end. Being given a late play is not a punishment. It is a tool the director can use to keep the game running smoothly. The first time I gave a late play in the Tuesday night game, you would have thought I had utilized my entire unvocalized cuss word vocabulary on those involved. In that game, as there is an absolute you must exit by time, it meant that the entire field got to play 28 boards and those two pairs got to play 27 (no time for the late play). Otherwise all would have only played 24 boards (no time for the last round).
Other things that really speed up the game