You will be aware that there is a widespread feeling that, although the National Grade System works well most of the time, when stronger players play with weaker players the stronger player’s grade is disproportionately reduced by a poor result. I have spoken to many who believe it and Jim and I are completely convinced of it.
The EBU have always denied that there is any such anomaly.
It was therefore a bit of a surprise when a new release of ScoreBridge, at the end of any session, offered the facility to exclude the results of up to two players from the National Grade System. We blithely assumed that this was a tacit nod to the problem and meant for hosts to exclude bad results playing with someone weaker.
Our club is a proprietary club and we include hosting in the staff’s duties, so members are not asked to host. We provide a host at all pairs and coaching sessions, and I do most of it, so I generally host about twice a week. I used the facility to exclude some of my worst sessions playing as host with some of our weaker members. It was a very small proportion of the sessions I hosted at my club, and even smaller proportion of my playing overall, about half of which takes place outside the club.
At a voluntary EBU county working group meeting, this topic came up, and I described what I did to compensate for a lot of hosting. I was immediately denounced to the EBU by Darren Evetts, EBU director.
It turns out that the exclusion facility is supposed to be used only by agreement with the TD in advance. It is clearly written in the guide and I should have known, but obviously I didn’t.
I imagine that this came about because members’ clubs were finding that some of their stronger players were refusing to host because of the potential damage, as they saw it, to their National Grade. The EBU response is presumably meant to allow the club to say to such members, in advance, that their results will be excluded from the calculation. Perhaps this reassurance means that the stronger player will relent and host after all.
In our environment it makes no sense. Twice a week I would have to look at the person I am going to play with as host and bet whether the result is going to be a bad one. Or, technically, under the rules, I could simply inform the EBU that I intend to exclude all my results playing as host, which would be more than eighty-five sessions a year! Obviously, after this disciplinary action, I can’t exclude any more results, so I am just trying to gently reduce my hosting duties.
Since all this blew up, I haven’t excluded any results and have avoided some hosting, and my grade has shot up!
Now that the EBU is aware of this issue, they are checking other clubs’ activity. I would imagine they would expect to see only a handful of exclusions a year, always by the host or host pair. Unless you email them at the beginning of the session I don’t know how you prove the decision was made before the session started, but that should be the case.
You might ask why Darren denounced me (I really can’t use any other word), didn’t just approach me after the meeting and ask me if I knew what I was doing was against the rules. I couldn’t possibly comment.
The EBU Laws and Ethics committee's conclusion was as follows:
“A disciplinary hearing was held recently to consider the charge that Mrs N Bainbridge knowingly used the facility provided by the National grading Scheme to opt out of certain sessions after the event had taken place. Mrs Bainbridge admitted the fact that she had done this to an EBU Board member at a meeting where other county representatives were present.
The charge was admitted by the defendant and the disciplinary committee accepted the plea. It was decided to issue a reprimand to Mrs Bainbridge based on the belief that there was no dishonest intent and on the mitigation put forward. The disciplinary committee wished the findings to be published.”
Since this incident there has been some highly regretable correspondence which I am still hoping will be retracted.
There is an urgent need for improvement in the relationship between the EBU and its stakeholders.
Please pass this on to anyone who wants know.