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Timing and slow play
Some thoughts on slow play by Peter Rowlett

SLOW PLAY

"Won't you play a little faster?" the Director said to me -
"It's a Congress, not a funeral - I was standing here to see
You trance all through the bidding; now you're trancing as you play...
Though it's Hesitation Mitchell, you can't hesitate all day!
Your playing rate would not disgrace the average three-toed sloth:
Don't think you're Tony Forrester or Raymond Brock, or both!"

But I was working out the hand (one can't afford to rush);
The speaker was distracting me. I shook my head for hush.
Now was that lead fourth-highest? No, I dare not play a card
Until I'd planned my strategy, a task I find quite hard.
Could it be third and fifth, perhaps? I stared out into space.
The wisest course, it seemed to me, was not to force the pace.

"You're holding up the movement!" The Director had returned:
His dewlaps danced with dudgeon and his eye with ire burned.
"Unless you start to play this hand, and play it like a shot
I'll send your name to Aylesbury - they'll give it to you hot!
They'll know just what to do with you, who sit and think for ages:
It's in the Laws and Ethics Book, or else the Yellow Pages!

But I was working out the hand (I've read a lot of books
By Kelsey, Reese and Mollo) so I just ignored his looks.
My gaze was fixed on dummy, and I viewed it with unease:
What entry problems would there be if I essayed a squeeze?
An injudicious card from me would quite destroy the play...
So as I fell once more to thought I murmured "Go away..."

"Get on with it!" he yelled at me. "What are you trying to prove?
Like Earth, pre-Galileo, sir, we simply do not move!
All these good folk have gathered here at twenty quid a head:
Most think you're cataleptic; the remainder think you're dead!
I just don't need this aggro: a Director's life is hard,
So will you, won't you, will you, won't you play a ruddy card?"

The experts all advise a chap impulsive play to curb.
I waved a hand dismissively and muttered: "Don't disturb,

One cannot rush these matters..." The Director struck his brow
And staggered and fell sideways, looking mad as any cow.
Well this was bad! His rude display had quite derailed my train
Of thought. There was no help for it: I'd have to start again.

He reached into his jacket then, and expertly withdrew
A standard Aylesbury Magnum (issued by the EBU).

"On fines or penalties," he growled, "I will not waste my breath!
For slow play on this scale, my friend, the penalty is DEATH!"
He fired the gun; and through the head (the hole was very neat)
He plugged my patient partner, who'd been dozing in his seat!


"You'll want an explanation," the Director calmly said.
"You'll want to know just why I shot your partner through the head
When you were the offender. Well, the whole thing is to do
With legal complications, for your family might sue!
I thought about it just in time - I had you in my sights -
Then luckily remembered that a dummy has no rights!"

Peter Rowlett

How to cope

Fact:  you should be able to bid, play and record the score on a board in seven and a half minutes.  It is normal to allow 15 minutes for two board rounds and 21 minutes for three board rounds.

We recognise the fact that sometimes a table will run late.

What can you do to help?
When you arrive at a new table, great your opponents pleasantly but briefly, something like ‘Good evening, we're playing weak NT, strong twos and Blackwood'.  The other pair responds similarly and play commences. 
You can exchange holiday snaps after you've played the round if time permits, but do keep the noise down and don't disturb the players still playing at other tables.  Be especially careful about discussing the hands - the next table don't want clues about the bidding and play!  You can always go to the kitchen to chat while you make a cup of tea.

If you are late starting try to catch up.  That may seem obvious but really crack on and get the new boards and auction on the table.
When dummy goes down everyone should take a moment to plan the play and defence, reflect on the auction, where the points are, estimate how many tricks you can take, how many more do you need to take.  After that play should flow smoothly. 

If three board rounds are being played, occasionally you may not have time to start the third board.  If this happens both pairs will receive their session average on a board the first time.  The director may award 60/50/40% to either pair depending on the situation.  Persistently slow pairs will only receive 40% on a board.  We occasionally may have pairs we give special consideration too.

The director may ask for no new boards to be started with only 3 minutes to go on a round.