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Experts playing against newcomers and director calls

Recently, there have been quite a few posts regarding club directors’ rulings. I was intrigued that at least some of the writers worried about calling the director against weak/inexperienced/new players (I’ll call them newcomers) as it might make them nervous leading them to perhaps misplay/misdefend the next hand or two. I’ll like to expand on that theme.In this post, I am ONLY concerned with experienced players (I’ll call them experts) playing against newcomers and calling the director when there is an irregularity. Before starting, let me say that in tournaments (national, regional, and sectionals), one should always call the director at any irregularity. [Note that I did not say “must,’ just “should”]

First, some simple facts (hopefully everyone will agree with these):1. Membership in ACBL is declining and we must do whatever it takes to reverse this trend.2. No matter how calmly or nicely an expert calls for a director, many newcomers become nervous and/or confused (as if they have committed some big crime).3. Being nervous/frightful, at least some of them will misplay/misdefend the next hand or two.4. If these newcomers face this experience (directors calls) too often, they will simply drop out and never return to play duplicate bridge again.

So I am proposing that in club games (ONLY) experts playing against newcomers should be generous and courteous and “let go” of minor infractions and not forfeit their gain of a trick or two, a reward for the irregularity. However, if the irregularity resulted in the loss of a trck by the non-offending side, by all means call the director.

I offer some examples of irregularities which might be overlooked by experts playing against newcomers in club games.1. I am playing in four hearts and on the second lead of the trump suit, my LHO (a newcomer) discards 4 of spades, only to discover he still has a heart in his hand. I suggest that we let him play the heart and leave the spade 4 on the table. Draw another round of trumps (as long as it does hurt declarer’s play of hand) to let the offender discard the penalty card. [Against experts, I might stop drawing trumps, purposely lose a trick to the offender forcing him to play the spade 4 into my doubleton AQ.]2. LHO opens one spade and partner overcalls 2 spades (a conventional bid). RHO, a newcomer tanks for a while as he is not sure how to describe his hand and finally passes. I won’t protest since the poor fellow may have never faced this situation before.3. On the run of trumps (say hearts), a newcomer discards and on the next trump lead produces a heart. Assuming this was an honest mistake. I won’t enforce the revoke penalty and let it pass (he just played the two cards in reverse order!).4. I led a heart ruffed by the declarer who won that and the next 11 tricks only to find herself holding a singleton heart ace on trick 13 (this was the subject of another post and has been rehashed before). In this case I waived the 2-trick penalty.I invite other to add any other situations where they might let newcomers get away with minor infractions.In all cases, where I waive a penalty, at the end of the hand, I very politely explain to the offender what he did was an irregularity and what the penalty would have been if I had insisted on calling the director. This was always done in a very polite and respectful manner.In responding to this post, please remember I am ONLY talking of experts playing against newcomers and waiving only those penalties which did not affect the number of tricks that the expert would have won in the absence of the penalty.

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