Brevard Bridge Club
Release 2.19q

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Does It Matter?

Recently an interesting question was posed during a duplicate bridge session that does offer some “thought-food”.  The query came in the context of a bidding-box irregularity.  The player was “fondling” the bidding-box cards prior to making a selection and an opponent commented, “You can’t do that.”  The fondler’s response was, “What does it matter?”  Hmmmmm; well does it?  Or, for that matter, does the occurrence of any irregularity (of which massaging the bidding-box is one) matter?  And, if so, to whom?  You have any thoughts on this?  Allow me to share mine, and, of course, rebuttals and addenda are welcome.

I think it does matter, should matter and MUST matter to every player agreeing to play in a sanctioned, duplicate bridge game.  Equity is the reason.  An irregularity creates inequity(ies) within the entire room, not only at the infraction-table.  It can provide information (called in the regs “unauthorized information”) to partner that a) partner should not have and b) that might influence partner’s action/non-action which may skew the resulting score on the board in play.  That further can skew the results on that board for every pair that plays that board.  The entire session’s results (not just the results on that board) then become bogus, untrue, false and, technically, illegal.

Further, allowing an atmosphere at a club where irregularities are overlooked speaks to the caliber of that club’s sense of etiquette and fair-play.  These are two scores on which the bar should be set very high at every club.  Every player that sits at a table during a club’s sessions deserves to know that every other player plays by the rules (all of them) and infractions may lead to penalties.  In essence, a local club is usually part of a larger entity (in America that is the American Contract Bridge League) and that entity’s rules govern ad nausea what is proper/improper during a session it sanctions.  The Director in charge is required to pass a test on those rules prior to becoming a registered director, must study them constantly in order to better interpret them when called to a table and must know them so well as to assure the best “equitable” decision is reached when an irregularity is signaled.

Ultimately, though, the efficacy of a club’s equitable-posture is not the responsibility of the director.  It is most assuredly the responsibility of a club’s members.  As a club’s director must know the rules, so should a club’s members.  Not only is ignorance of them no excuse for allowing irregularities to slip by, it is also idiotic.  A non-offending player ignorant of what is proper bridge very often is taken advantage of—yes, sometimes knowingly—by an offending player. 

This leads to the main reason for this diatribe: educating our members.  Arggghhh, you moan?  Not more articles on those boring bridge rules.  You’re not going to make me plow through those are you? 
Certainly not; never intended to.  But, just like my dental hygienist says, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep”.  Let the flossing begin.  A series of short “etiquette vignettes” on proper bridge etiquette will be posted on our site over the next weeks. Floss or ignore; your choice.  Let’s raise the bar together. 

Don’t permit infractions to occur at your table that go unmentioned.  That’s not fair to everyone in the room.  Don’t get into arguments with your fellow players either.  If something occurs (or if you think something has occurred) that is “irregular”, say nothing.  Rather than even calling the director, simply excuse yourself from your table, approach the director, explain your opinion and let the director take it from there.  Good bridge etiquette is good fair-play.

Etiquette vignette Number One is posted below,

Mike Brewster, Assistant Director