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All comments by David Yates
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Talk about poor reading comprehension skills.

I never accused ACBL of being criminal. In fact, I never raised that issue regarding Enron in my post. Re-read my post. S-L-O-W-L-Y if you need to.

Enron went bankrupt If you understand ANYTHING about the Enron collapse you would know that the company would have failed regardless of the accompanying criminal activity.(*) Yes, they cooked the books. But that was to hide losses from operations. (Dabhol / Puerto Plata / Broadband, etc) Those losses were not the result of criminal activity. Heck about the only profit they made was from criminal activity like manipulating California energy markets.

(*Assuming we keep the same management - proper reporting might have forced them to admit they were not as smart as they thought and might have forced changes. But my point was Enron’s management was arrogant.)
Aug. 14, 2013
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Barry,

I cannot imagine how vacuous and shallow your life is not being able to breathlessly await the Bulletin each month.

Oh wait, I never paid dues either. It is rather annoying that in the last 30-40 years the only thing the ACBL really figured out was how to trap us into supporting an organization we do not believe in. I have no problem with most of the hard working employees and volunteers. Enron had a lot of great workers too. The problem was at the top with people who thought they were smarter than everyone else.

BTW, we do have a regional in a really cool, fun place. That would be the D-3 Saratoga Regional in June. What a great town. Unfortunately, Fairfield NJ is next up.

I would probably worry less about how they waste money if the ACBL could build a could more screens for major events. When the field is deep enough to KO the defending champions in R32 and the #3 hangs on by 1 IMP to avoid going out in R64, the event should be behind screens.

But I understand that plywood is expensive. But wow, the kids were playing behind screens and their scores were on-line in real time. . .
Aug. 13, 2013
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The main issue in this type of ruling seems lost on some. The BIT makes this a legal matter with ancillary bridge issues - not a debatable bridge matter with a few legal side points.

When a player breaks tempo he commits an irregularity. It can be - and almost always is - a completely innocent ‘oops’. Much like an insufficient bid or a lead out of turn. But it is an oops nonetheless. Let me offer the following lead problem. Against 3NT at IMPs what does one lead holding:

Q9x / J10x / xx / AKQJ10 — Anyone for the jack of hearts? (Doubt it)

Here is what happened in my hypothetical example. You opened 1C. LHO doubled, pard passed, RHO decided to respond 1NT (ethically and in tempo - kudos) on a 3334 holding 9xxx-C and his partner promptly raised to game.

Then your partner quickly tracked a club out of turn. That was an irregularity. Because of that irregularity, your side no longer has full rights. Therefore, an irregularity may be costly. As it was in this hypothetical case. The declarer decided to take the option to bar a club lead and the opps quickly scored up the unmakeable game.

In this case the laws produced a result that is completely contrary to a normal ‘bridge result’. There isn’t a player in the world who would not lead a club against 3NT. Not one. But if I posted this ruling as a “travesty”, everyone would respond: partner committed an irregularity. Your options are now legally limited. Sometimes it wont matter, sometimes it will. But we always address irregularities by applying the law. We do not refuse to follow the remedy simply because “even brain dead people lead a club”. And in this case, we do not refuse to apply the legal remedy simply because we have a good deal of sympathy for the E-W players.

In basketball, if a team cannot get the shot off in time, it is over. No argument. No one says: “but, but. . .it was a tough possession”. Duh, that is the point to playing defense. In bridge, we are much nicer. If the buzzer went off minutes ago we will still give you the lay-up after a BIT. But only a lay-up.

We do not give you the jumper. Even if you are Larry Bird and it is only from 9 feet. Which is what this case looks like to me. After a BIT, the offending side gets the least favorable LA. Emphasis on “least”. And what you would have done is completely irrelevant. As with a the lead out of turn, your options are no longer fully in your control because of the irregularity committed by your side.

The reason the laws provide for a systematic legal remedy is because that is fairly easy to apply. It is also the most impartial. Just poll a peer group to see if what LAs exists. In absence of such a straightforward process, we suffer endless bridge arguments. Endless charges and counter charges and in the end the ruling is going to be random. I know, because that is the way things happened before the laws were reworked and the process smoothed out.

My heart says: these are good guys & fine players, I think they were probably always getting there. But we cannot reduce these proceedings into what we believe or disbelieve. Or who we like or do not like. There has to be a formula to follow or our TD and AC rulings will ultimately be random. Look at the NYC #12 ruling. No poll of LAs. The decisions is flawed because nothing in the writeup addresses with any finality the issues raised by each side. And the process should not have to do that. Because you snooker yourself into either telling Versace he doesn’t know how to play or Rodwell he doesn’t know how to bid. It is a mistake to get caught up in those types of discussions. The simple solution would have been to give the problem to some top clubbers without the BIT and see if any think passing 3NT is on the radar. At NYC we only had, lets see: Hampson, Greco, Grue, Cheek, Sontag, Cohen, Berkowitz, Weischel, Woolsey, & Stewart for starters. If 2 or 3 opt to pass, Rodwell doesn’t get to bid on. By law it doesn’t matter if Rodwell is ‘smarter’ than the bottom 25% of this peer group. It is trivial to poll the players and keep the specific decisions confidential. Why that did not happen in 2004, I cannot say.

At at some point every BIT-er will find themselves saddled by rule with an action they never would have taken at the table. Here is what I tell them:

If your partner can do better than the least favorable logical option, then do not take an action that may prohibit him from exercising his own judgment. Because when you BIT (or provide some form of UI) we might be replacing your partner’s judgement with the least favorable decision of others.
Aug. 12, 2013
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I doubt West wanted to play 3H-X
Aug. 12, 2013
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It was great to see a turn out from around the world.

Congratulations to all the participants and to the winners. Thanks to all the coaches, mentors & WBF officials who made this possible.

& Happy B-day, Marius!
Aug. 12, 2013
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To clarify a point:

“Self-serving” is a legal term. In this universe, some may incorrectly infer or imply pejorative connotations. It simply refers to a declaration in one’s interest that cannot be substantiated nor proven. Self-serving statements have no evidentiary value and are(/can be) excluded from a legal record - though in committees we include them in the write-up and then say we disregarded them. A SS statement is essentially the opposite of a statement against interest. The later fits an exception rule and can be admitted.

Furthermore:

For those out there who use every disagreement as a basis to indict the committee process, I wish to point out that all that happened here was that upon further review and consideration, the TD ruling was upheld.

The committee review process is important because it gives a forum to insure that all RELEVANT information can and has been brought forth, discussed and reviewed. That is often not possible in true time, particularly with sticky UI issues and particularly when a pair - as seems to be the case here - are employing methods and treatments that don’t resemble anything played in North America. Not that this side of the world has ever been a leading authority in expert bidding practices, but this is the NABCs.

I find most of the discussion in this thread meaningless. Most of it is supposition regarding possible scenarios and a rehash of second hand he said / he said offers and assertions. All of which might be theoretically interesting be has little or nothing to do with a lawful decision.

Aside:

Before anyone starts posting about killing all the lawyers. (1) I am not a lawyer. My background is forensic argumentation. (2) The US legal system is a mess and needs an overhaul. (3) Its not a bad idea anyway (4) But, by comparison to the USA legal system, committees are not too bad.


Continuing:

The reason we have laws and procedures is so that we can have something to hang onto. Otherwise, we are left with little more choice than calling one side truthful and one side liars. And THAT is about as arbitrary as it gets.

Its actually about as bad an arbitrary as naming a pair, saddling them with an irregularity (I doubt Meck has ever been called on a tank - does he ever? And does Eric ever not bid except in his normally slow tempo?) and then asserting the people in charge would have given them a pass.

The problem with ruling on this TD call is not what was said. Guess what people? Questions are supposed to be asked and answered on paper. Yes, everyone ignores that law. So now we have chaos (aside: it might be better if the TDs weren’t so happy to pull boards and let players have requisite time needed to perform this functions). If East had a piece of paper from the note pads provided that had scribbled: (X) - P =GF then we would not have polluted cyberspace with this thread. Notice that even if the question was asked verbally, it is East’s legal obligation to provide the answer in writing.

More to the point, if East could produce system notes that said pass over X in competition is GF, he would be covered. Well, more or less, the notes would presumably be written in Turkish and translate.google.com produces some really weird output for Turkish :)

Before a TD or in a committee, there is only what you can prove. So protect yourself. And if one doesn’t have a backup plan, either avoid the irregularity of tanking to begin with - or take a safe alternative after one does so.
Aug. 10, 2013
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Re: “Snappy”

While this does not apply behind screens, in theory in the other lesser contests not behind screens (the Finals of the Blue Ribbon Pairs or the first three days of the Spingold, for example) the UI can come from “unwonted speed” as defined by the laws.

Though I have never seen TD ruling about a “snappy” call. Probably, because unlike a tank, “snappy” is hard to establish. But people pass UI this way all the time. Most notably over forcing NT rebids. Apparently it is OK to open 1M without ever considering one’s rebid. 1S-1NT; (snappy) 3H is five. Regular pace is 54 and a deliberate 3H (just shy of a hesitation) is 64M. Who needs Gazzilli?

For most, “snappy” tends to be unintentional. But it really annoys those of us who devise and employ legal methods to handle the problem hands. Meanwhile, it would be nice if the ACBL would reach into their coffers (that is filled with our money) and actually buy some more screens to help reduce problems in major events. We have millions for charity, how about a few bucks for plywood?

But perhaps I ask for too much. In the meantime, I’ll just request Michael if I ever have to go to a committee.
Aug. 9, 2013
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I think in cases such as this one needs to restrict the discussion - and therefore the options - to the limits of the explanation. “Encouraging” is not the same as “accepting”. It also saves time refuting possible self-serving and unprovable after the fact assertions by players. For example, if pass accepted, then 3S must be strongest action. (Or non-serious slam-try which needs to be alerted). Why doesn't W bid 3NT as choice or XX to show first round control if this is a game auction? Etc. . .
Aug. 9, 2013
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Amen
Aug. 9, 2013
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The truth is not that the ACBL cares much about Monaco, it is that they don’t really care about the average Joe. Most local clubs - even if not run by business geniuses - will attempt to accommodate late arrivals to their games. Also at sectional and regional tournaments. These events are run by units and districts and most of the people involved are familiar with the concept of trying to keep members happy. However, the ACBL runs the NABCs and that can be a somewhat different story.

Bijoy Anand posted under the Monaco Late Entry thread that he was not allowed to be added onto a team in the Mini with a 5pm request. Interesting, because the mini-COC actually allows for late entries for an entire team if judged “to benefit the contest”. Also, it provides:

“2. The Director in Charge will resolve any request for changes to the submitted entry.”

There are no stipulations mitigating or limits on this authority, meaning that they could have easily said “yes” but opted instead to say “no”. My guess is because “no” is easy for them and “yes” might involve some effort. As I read his post, it really seems that Bijoy just got an off-hand, B.S. answer. How can the TD know he would mess up the seeding? First, he would actually have to find out how many MP Bijoy had. Then, he would have to check if that changed the team average. In a 0-5 event, that is not that easy to do. And even then it might not matter if the team still fell into the same grouping since seeding is randomly assigned in lots of four beyond the first four teams. The “customer service” response would be to tell Bijoy that he could be added if it did not materially effect the assignments. The TD could get the relevant information and go through the calculations with Bijoy. But that would be too much like extra work. Though actually, the directors could have just redone the matches if they wanted to.

IMO, Monaco did not get preferential treatment. They were treated fairly. But because “life is like a $hit sandwich. The more bread you have, the less $hit you have to eat.” Lacking resources and options, Bijoy got the BS.

Meanwhile, the TD’s - who are apparently deemed by some to be the absolute authority on the interpretation of the laws - decided that “evening” meant 3PM. Despite the fact that anyone acquainted with the English language understands that time to be the afternoon. Ever hear anyone say: “three o’clock in the evening”?
Aug. 9, 2013
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Poor Mr. Hung - trapped by MP inflation. Hampton Stevens’ “Subtractor” methodology could have kept flight levels in check while letting guys like Eugene escape.

Hand hog rules are not silly - in so far as they are merely the logical extension of decades of efforts by the ACBL to legislate bidding until we all bid as poorly as great auntie Agatha.
Aug. 9, 2013
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Re the Pakistani juniors, my info about the particulars is second hand and nearly a decade and half old. My specific first hand knowledge (and vivid recollection) is that Joan Gerard - who was directly involved - told me that for the first time in her life she was almost embarrassed to be American. Joan - bless her soul - was always about doing the right thing. She vehemently believed the sponsoring country should be selected as to not interfere with the competition. Joan also groused “I even voted for this administration.”

Because, hey, lets be real. Other than as a potential danger to successful results or common courtesy, bridge players are a pretty harmless group. However. . .

. . While “Bridge For Peace” is a wonderful concept, judging by some of these posts, it is not clear that even our small community is completely ready to embrace peace, love and understanding.

On a lighter note, I’ll relate a comment from Zia. At a tournament he noted that his team included a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu and a Buddhist. He went on to say something to the effect of “with all these gods pulling for us, there is no way we can lose.”
Aug. 8, 2013
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I am not sure of who is in charge of the underrating of teams, but the ACBL is quite good at that aspect. Bridge24 was #39 as a team. Forrester - formerly the full 50 seeding when he played on this side of the pond - was deemed only 11 seeding points now. That, despite still competing (and playing well) in world class events (European Championships, upcoming Bermuda Bowl, etc) just not in America for some years.

For the record, Monaco did not underrate Dunitz. Nor did they look past them. I was chatting briefly with Helgy after their Rd64 win. Geir said “starting tomorrow, the matches all get tough. It is not like the old days when you basically had a bye to the quarters or semis. From here on out, anyone can beat anyone and there are 25 teams who might win the whole thing.”

That the Vandy/Spingold & Reisinger attract such tough, deep fields is due to the sponsors. Some pretty good bridge players with resources have put together the finest teams that they can assemble. That they do so has made the event much stronger and therefore the win even more prestigious.

I am glad to see that the ACBL did not take the role of the petty, officious bureaucrat and exclude the defending champs on what is at worst a clerical error.

Meanwhile (on other thread re: the upset) I think Steve Weinstein just won the post of the year award.
Aug. 8, 2013
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Understand how so very important it is to properly seed a 0-5K event. And do not let the fact that the number 1, 3 & 4 seeds all lost on the first day persuade you otherwise.
Aug. 8, 2013
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Online registration???

This assumes the ACBL is technologically competent. I renewed my membership at a sectional tournament in July. In August, at every session in Atlanta, a TD has come over saying I owed more because I wasn’t a member. One TD told me he just downloaded the latest list and I still wasn’t on it.

We have fairly current scores for the Spingold only because of bridgewinners.com (thanks guys). In the past, we’d often have to wait to the next day for the ACBL to update their bracket sheet.

On-line interaction? Lets start with something a little lower tech since the ACBL is plywood challenged. The Spingold wont be behind screens until the Rd-16. Since the #3 seed was 1IMP from being ousted in R64 and the defending champions just went out on R32, a rational observer might conclude the field is so deep that the entire event should be behind screens. But don’t expect the ACBL to draw that conclusion.

Meanwhile, at the World Teams on the other side of the Atlanta venue, the ten year old kids are all playing behind screens.

Perhaps you gents from ‘Down Under’ can handle bridge technology. But just because the USA has things like Silicon Valley and builds supercomputers like Blue Gene/Q, that does not mean our ACBL can manage such things as online registration.

Aug. 7, 2013
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When the World Youth Championships were held in Fort Lauderdale in 1999, the US State Dept refused to issue a visa for one of the Pakistani juniors. That team was therefore unable to attend.

This happened during the last year of the Clinton administration and before “security concerns”. It probably would have been good for more US bridge players to have raised a fuss to help out those kids out back then. That way, at least we would look consistent when we rally for Migry.

(PS, Roland isn't a US citizen, so he gets a pass)
Aug. 7, 2013
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Judy,

Hate to break the news to you . . .

Last Thursday I was asked by a nice lady at our local club (Gail & Allison’s in White Plains) “who is this Bobby Wolff guy?” Sadly, it was the third time in the last few years I have been asked this question. This time all I could think was that she just asked Bob Uecker who Joe DiMaggio is - and I never did a Miller Lite commercial. (Joe married Marilyn so the other part of the analogy holds up).

I might start a new thread on my various responses, because it got me to thinking about the difference between baseball and bridge. At one time both games were intertwined with America, mom and apple pie. Baseball has had a lot of competition. Today’s youth - if they go outdoors at all - are more likely to play hoops than sandlot ball. Baseball has had huge scandals, from fixing the world series, to gambling to performance enhancing drugs and corked bats. (By contrast, bridge has had a foot tapping incident and Disa :)

But baseball is still a billion dollar industry and most people know about Ruth, Mantle, Musial, Mays, Robinson and Dimaggio - even if they are not fans. To be a ‘ballplayer’ and not know is really something.

Baseball survived owners like Marge Schott and will hopefully survive Loria and commissioner Selig. Meanwhile bridge - once played by an estimated 1 in 3 American adults - is fast becoming an artifact. It is sad, but this is what happens when the ACBL is in charge. Basically, if the ACBL ran baseball, they would neglect the world series and the big leagues and concentrate on little league - because that is where the most players are. If you don’t believe me, look at some other stated objections in this thread about the ACBL spending “on a small % of players” for the Trials.

When Crissy, Jimmy & John stormed out on the courts EVERY kid got a tennis racquet and tried the game. My friend was fantastic - I went and found something else to stink at less. But I still played tennis some. When a guy like Arnold or Tiger comes along they bring armies. And when Fisher played Spassky the whole country tuned in and started playing chess. Later, some marketing geniuses would take THE WORLD’S DULLEST ADULT GAME(*) and make poker a runaway success. Howard Lederer used to play at the fifty cent poker game at the Mayfair and sleep in the park. He then became a famous celebrity even before he got arrested. Because poker became big-time.

(* please do not post back that poker is not dull. The game is intrinsically boring. It therefore must be played for money or articles of clothing with attractive opponents. It is the stakes that make the game interesting. Try playing for matchsticks - you will quit. If we played bridge or chess for matchsticks, we could actually win something more valuable than masterpoints or FIDE ratings points.)

And once upon a time, promoters like Eli and later Charles made bridge America’s pastime. They did it the same way all games are promoted. By promoting themselves as stars. Most of American knew who Culbertson and Goren were during their time. The challenge matches were front page news. Today, hardly anyone reads newspapers, so it probably isn’t much of a lose that many have dropped bridge columns from the back pages. Baseball still gets reported.

People know who Doyle Brunson is. Meanwhile, ladies at the bridge club are asking me: “who is Bobby Wolff?” Un-freaking-believable. But that is only because the ACBL is a rinky-dink organization dedicated to printing masterpoints for money.

Money is simply a tool. Most people misquote the First Epistle of Paul to Timothy. They leave out: “For the love of. . .” The ACBL - despite being a not-for-profit - loves money. They never supported high-level bridge. Never. If they actually cared about high-level bridge maybe they could find a few bucks in their multi-million dollar annual budget to buy a few more pieces of plywood so their premier events like the Vandy & Spingold would be actually behind screens before the R-16. The fields are now insanely deep and I cannot imagine people thinking they should not be behind screens. But that would be too much like work and effort for the organizers. If the ACBL actually did work, bridgewinners.com(**) would not have had to fill the vacuum and post results - since the ACBL is incapable of posting timely scores. Meanwhile the WBF is completely on-line with their events.

(** big time thanks to bridgewinners.com. work often prevents me from attending NABC)

The people who put the USA back into world competition were the sponsors. Guys like Ira Corn, Seymon Deutsch, Frank Nickell, Rose Meltzer just as the main headliners. There are many, many others. These people love bridge more than their money. The sponsors provide the wearwithall that has enabled talented players to pursue their passions full time. The world is full of talent. Hard work is what prevails. The sponsors enabled people like Bob, Bobby, Bobby & Paul to work as hard as they did to become champions. Also, a shout-out to Becker for showing how bridge players - back in the day - could make money during banking hours so they could still get to the bridge club at night.

Our concern about the Trials and the USBF is that they are tasked with holding the most important high-level event in this country. Unfortunately, they are underfunded and overworked. But many - such as myself - see the Trials as one of the few opportunities for ‘real bridge’.

Meanwhile, the best thing we could do with the ACBL is put them in charge of sex education at the high schools. It would be the best way to keep teenagers celibate.



OK, so no new thread elsewhere - I posted the ACBL rant here. I was looking for some witticisms to purloin for the next time. (Sadly, there might be one). The first time I was asked who is BW? I replied glibly: “he is a Texas-sized version of Dan Hertz, but with even MORE masterpoints.” The next time I answered politely, trying not to make some nice lady feel silly for not knowing about one of the most accomplished bridge players ever. But I wanted to ask: “I don’t suppose you know who google is either”. This time I also bit my tongue about being Uecker. But I find that at least thinking something funny helps keep my little remaining sanity. Further proof my parallel universe is better.
April 30, 2013
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Hi Peg,

Just throwing out a fact for the fryer - everyone can draw their own conclusions. Michael Gottlieb retired from bridge at age 34. He played some late in life when he retired from work.

Re what Aviv said about chess GMs. There are currently a bit over 1,000 FIDE GMs. So ‘WC’ does not have to be that exclusive - as say the top 100 tennis pros. My childhood friend cracked the top 100 and once beat Jimmy Connors in the QF of a major. I basically gave up tennis when I saw him play at age 15. Couldn’t score a point.

In bridge, experts can beat WC sometime. It would be rare for an expert chess player (there is that rating level) to score a win in even one game against a GM. Winning a match is out of the question.

But before we take the ‘WC’ label too seriously, remember what Paul Morphy (who was describer by Fisher as “probably the greatest of them all” said about chess:

“To be able to play chess is the sign of a gentleman. To be able to play chess well is the sign of a wasted life.”

Hope to see you all at the table as we enjoy the process of wasting away . . .
April 30, 2013
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Merwyn Maier died at age 32. He is ACBL HOF. Maybe the ACBL ‘reasoning’ was that they waited until he would have been 70-something had tragedy not struck.
April 29, 2013
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Laws like Prohibition and Segregation convinced many people that ultimately they have a duty to serve their conscience and not observe blind subservience to code.

So I hope players and TDs understand and will forgive me when I tell an opponent who immediately establishes their revoked to put the card back in their hand, follow suit and pretend nothing happened. I do know that I am ignoring the gibberish about making rulings and waiving penalties inserted into our Laws by . . . I dunno, maybe the directors’ union :) But I am not going to call the TD and then beg for forgiveness for my opponents. Because my credo is “no harm, no foul”.

Now granted, NH-NF is not as important as equality under the law. But not doing so would be contrary to the memory of my mom, who taught me how to play this game and preached fairness, fun and no harm - no foul. Moms are a higher authority than any Laws commission. (Just ask them!)

Ultimately, this whole game is about logic and common sense and not about following concocted rules. It is OK to offend the lawyers providing the action honors the spirit of the game.

It is also perfectly fine to follow the letter of the Law. Especially when the intent is simply to be a law abiding citizen. However, in life the biggest problem is usually not the law breakers, but those who use, manipulate and leverage the law for their benefit. One can be law abiding and still be a crook. The pen is mightier than the sword and one steals more with that pen than anyone with a gun. In bridge, IMO, people who leverage the law for gain (2-way shots over MI for example) are as much a threat to the game as a cheat. BTW, not announcing one's own revoke later is NOT in that category. Not even the same galaxy.

There is an obvious reason for this rule and I don't understand the passion this post has aroused. So I will post it again: if one is required to announce their revoke later, how do we determine that failure to do so is simply due to still being clueless or a deliberate attempt to cheat? B/c a requirement to announce now makes not doing so a violation. The basis for the failure cannot, by itself, ever be proven. So we need to legally assume mistake and not cheat. Otherwise people making inadvertent errors could be charged with cheating. And most importantly, they could never clear their name because the the accusation and circumstances can always be legally repeated. (Mr Bumble might be relieved that sometimes the law is not an ass).

However, attempting to cover up that revoke IS definitive because we have an overt act.


P.S. No, I do not expect, nor care about reciprocity. Expecting to be rewarded for doing what one perceives is ‘the right thing’ is not the right thing. It is also quite contrary to life experience.
April 24, 2013
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