As many of you well know, anyone who flocks to my table to do a bit of kibitzing is welcome. These spectators, who love to look over my shoulder, come for a variety of reasons. For them it's an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and the kibitzing entourage has now become a permanent feature of my game. The fact that kibitzers range from raw beginners to the highest level of world class players, shows that I provide great entertainment and pearls of wisdom for all.
Cynics have been quoted as describing their primary function " as making sarcastic comments about the playing ability of those involved in the game ". Moreover, they are people " who love to conduct conversations with whoever is the dummy, in order to distract the other players. Such people in my opinion are not kibitzers, but ignorant trouble-makers.
However, in the bizarre world of internet bridge kibitzers run into thousands, all hoping to see magic or mayhem at the table. They either sit back in admiration, or to rock forward in uncontrollabe laughter. Some might attempt to make unsolicited comments, but there are others, like bridge commentators and correspondents, who are looking for hands to write up about for others to apprepriate the abstract beauty of the game. Yet with so much potential to do harm, kibitzers have to adhere to certain rules....especially if they are there in person at the club watching duplicate bridge in action. These include :
- must ask for, and receive, permission to be a spectator before taking their seat
- must not speak to, or with, the players
- must not sit in such a position as to see more than one hand at a time
- must not call attention to irregularities, other than a board being placed incorrectly on the table
- must never comment on any aspect of the "play" unless specifically invited to do so
- must attempt to remain motionless as best they can
- must not display any reactions ( such as facial expressions ) to the bidding or play of a hand
- must not in any way disturb the players
- must seek advice from a TD if aware of an irregularity of fact, or law, on which rulings would have been deemed necessary
In essence, kibitzers should be seen and not heard, although I am more than happy for some of mine to ask questions, which will help them in their understanding of the game, or the reasons behind my choice of bids, and decisions in play. I also believe a kibitzer should have the right to draw attention to an irregularity that went unnoticed at the table, by asking the table if they wish to hear his/her concerns. Because let's face it, a baying crowd has often caused a football referee to consult with a linesman, as to whether or not an infringement occured behing his back.
I see no harm in keen observant kibitzers having rights of comment after the play of a hand, to match their duty of silence during the play of the hand. So long as the comments are complimentary, constructive, educational and/or beneficial in some way, and they are given in response to permission being asked for and received, I am more than happy to have them at my table.