Tuesday, 31 May 2011

One of the oldest members of the Slaughter House BC had earned himself a reputation for never saying a thing. Indeed, many viewed him as a quiet mild mannered introvert, a man of very few words, but on the rare occasions he did speak the setting was always the club's end of year AGM.
The first time was in 2004 when the secretary asked the membership what the club needed to spend its surplus cash on. In a flash he stood up and said : " The sodding toilets....they're a bloody disgrace.......they don't flush properly and they stink to high heaven ! ".

The secretary duly noted the content of his grievance , and politely asked him to sit down.
Then in 2007 when the secretary again asked the room what the club's number one priority ought to be, the same gentleman stood up and shouted out : " Getting rid off the riff raff, slow players, cheating toe-rags, and in-your-face bad tempered loud mouthed bullies ".
The secretary duly noted the content of his grievance, and politely asked him to sit down.
And so another two years went by without him saying another word to anybody. Yet true to form there he was at the club's 2010 AGM, but this time Bigot was running the show. So guesing what might happen he cleverly chose not to address the audience first, but to ask the old man directly : " You sir .....sitting there as though your pants were on fire....what major grievance do you want to tell us about this time ? "

The gentleman rose from his seat : " Well, for a start....I don't like being picked upon in such an aggressive way......secondly, I don't have any time for committes that completely ignore my suggestions.....and finally, I am resigning my membership from this hell hole of a club, here and now ! "

Bigot stared hard and long at this rather large thorn in his side. And then came his measured reply.
" We gladly accept your resignation.....the committee has had more than enough of your droning voice...... because let's face it....all you have ever done since you joined this club is complain, complain, complain...."

Monday, 30 May 2011

A titanic struggle between the two runaway leaders was going right down to the wire. Their nip and tuck encounter on the top table was simply a matter now of who could hold their nerve on this final board.
Geronimo was partnering Yogi bear, and their opponents were the formidable Miss Piggy and Pinocchio.
However, by this stage of the match, tempers were fraying all round. Yogi was feeling particular grizzly, claiming his partner wasn't a patch on him as a player. Even Pinocchio agreed : "Yes....his bidding and play of the cards is as wooden as mine ".
Yet Miss Piggy, who had always admired Geronimo for his bare faced cheek , was quick to pull her partner up short : " I hate people who tell porkies ! .........someone should string you up and hang you till you're dead ! "
Thankfully, the bidding finally got underway, and Miss Piggy sitting South found herself in a precarious 6H. Unfortunately for her this had been axed by Geronimo. And even when Yogi Bear made an awful opening lead, she still looked upon dummy as a major disappointment.
" What a boo boo, " howled Geronimo , " that lead could have given them the contract. You talk the talk but never act. Yabber, yabber......that's all you ever do. "
Miss Piggy seized the opportunity to win the opening trick and rattle off seven more. Then all of a sudden she started to rub her eyes : " Damn this stye.....I'm sorry, but I need to go to the toilet to put in some drops ".
" I'm going too ", said Geronimo," I'm bursting........"
" I'm not surprised ", growled Yogi, " it's all that beer you drank at lunch-time ."
Geronimo quivered for a split second : " No....you're so wrong ... this is nothing more than a tea pee ".
Within minutes play resumed, and Miss Piggy faced the above 5 card ending requiring 4 more tricks. Her prospects looked bleak. She felt she was in a trough. Time now stood still as she racked her brains to find a way home.
" For pity's sake......hurry up, " yelled Geronimo, " I've got a reservation on the 10-30 train.....and I can't afford to miss it ".
Pinocchio turned towards a kibitzer, commenting " the cards must be lying badly......so who knows if she's going to make it. "
Yet, if anyone could dig herself out of a hole it was Miss piggy. Then without any warning, she suddenly perked up. She was back on track.
Still in dummy, she then played the 10 of spades. If Geronimo covered the 10 she would play low. If Yogi failed to overtake, the rest were hers on a complete cross-ruff. So Yogi quite sensibly overtook West's jack with the queen.
However, his best option was to return a trump, which he did after some considerable pause. Miss Piggy went up with the King of hearts......and poor Geronimo was shafted , being caught in an overtaking trump squeeze. If he discarded a diamond, declarer would play low from hand, and ruff a diamond to establish the twelfth trick in that suit. If Geronimo chose to discard a spade, Miss Piggy would overtake the king of hearts with her Ace, playing the king of spades next. Yogi would be forced to cover it, with East's jack well and truly pinned. This manouevre would establish the 9 of spades as the contract making trick.
Yogi thumped his chest in frustration. Geronimo was spitting feathers. Pinocchio was dancing with delight. And Miss Piggy of course was tickled pink.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

  • Sorry, I Can't Play With You Tonight......by Tara Musgoe is a gem of a book that will provide the reader with countless strategies and ideas on how to avoid partnering those dreadful people, who often beg you for a game. The author lists loads of devious ways and highly plausible excuses that will enable players, who are not used to lying, to escape the horror of partnering these numpties. Hurting their feelings is kept to an absolute minimum, except for the chapter that comments on methods that are designed to send them away for good.
  • Tsunami Type Disasters At The Bridge Table.......by Ty Dale Wave exposes the most spectacular mishaps and turn rounds ever seen in major world tournaments. The author describes in great detail unbelievable hands where expert declarers make uncharacteristic mistakes in either the bidding or the play, enabling their opponents to enjoy the carnage from their hugely successful penalty doubles. Other chapters are devoted to shocking accounts of how seemingly unassailable leads in crucial matches were frittered away by teams, who at the very end still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
  • Why Bigot-Johnson Always Partners Men ?..............By Annalee Keene looks at the gossip and rumours surrounding this most disturbing and unusual character. The author attempts to answer the question : Is Bigot-Johnson really queer ? Eventually, behind the scenes research provided the answer, when he broke into the rear of Bigot's property, and then used a back passage to enter his study. There he found numerous diaries, all of which revealed a troubled man's deep longing for male companionship, bonding and adoration.
  • Implementing Best Behaviour Policies : A Bridge Too Far.......by Angus Forshaw reveals the growing trend of bridge clubs taking extreme measures to punish troublesome members, rather than implementing disciplinary procedures to expel them. With well documented accounts of beatings, whippings, thrashings, and torture filling the book with graphic detail, readers might find the content both shocking and upsetting. The author tells of one story where an errant member kissed his small but carefully preserved trump card to ruff a trick, which declarer thought he had won. The director was immediately summoned, whereupon he initiated a complaint about the player " defacing club property ", and " breaching hygiene rules regarding hand/mouth germ contamination" . His punishment was both swift and effective : the permanent wearing of an iron mask for all future duplicate and competition events at the club.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

( The plaintiff , Percy Pantopod , appeared before Bawtry County Court claiming he had been wrongfully suspended from the Slaughter House BC. Having accused Bigot-Johnson of cheating at the table, he soon found himself hanging by his ankles from an upstairs window, and then dropped, by the chairman's hefty henchmen. Both parties to this civil law case decided to present their own case before the learned judge. A short extract from the trial's transcript appears below. )
P : Do you admit to the fact I was suspended from the club within minutes of my accusation about your cheating
B-J : Yes I certainly do........once your membership had been revoked, your status became that of an unwanted trespasser. Therefore it was necessary for the club's stewards to remove you from the premises in a way that was both expedient and effective.
P : But I was suspended......and dropped..... from an upstairs window......
B-J : Well, we had to find some way to remove you from the premises without inconveniencing the members
P : But might I remind you that that there are procedures to go through before you can suspend a member
B-J : Listen muffin head .... as soon as you made that shocking and sinful allegation about my clever and cunning signalling methods, I left the table.......collared three other committee members.....held an impromptu meeting in the corridor....and came straight back with our decision and the unanimous recommendation to suspend you there and then.
P : But I never got a chance to give my side of the story......
B-J : No point.....everyone heard you calling me a cheat......and that amounted to gross defamation of my character.......and it was agreed that to have a hearing with you present was completely unnecessary, given the extent of your guilt.
P : But it was you who was the guilty one......guilty of outrageous cheating
B-J : You just don't get it do you ?......The whole damn club is full of cheats of one kind or another.....and to single me out as " a baddie " was mean, spiteful, and malicious......an act of blatant victimisation and harassment
P : Oh.....
B-J : And what's more it is my club and I can do whatever I like....
P : But the constitution says otherwise.....it is the members' club......and only they have the power to amend the rules.....
B-J : Not if I've ripped them up first.......and replaced them with a new set I cobbled together whilst locked inside a public toilet cubicle.......... suffering, I might add, from chronic constipation
P : And what does the new one say ?
B-J : Well, to put it simply .....it allows me to Act as God......or to put it another way....prosecutor, judge and jury
Judge : Hold on there....in this court I'm the judge....and you Bigot will be subject to an order to re-instate this man immediately....
B-J : No point.....there 's no club for him to come back to...
Judge : How come ?
B-J : I burnt it down knowing this toe rag was going to worm his way back in.....
Judge : Might I remind you Bigot that's arson.....and that means there will be no insurance money
B-J : Oops...I completely overlooked that.....bugger

Friday, 27 May 2011

BIGOT-JOHNSON IS AT IT AGAIN........................
Bigot is never one to miss out on exploiting the weakness of others. Shooting fish in a barrel is without doubt his favourite pastime. Newcomers venturing out into the world of duplicate bridge are like lambs to the slaughter, such is the ruthless and deceitful nature of this dreadful reprobate.
Why just the other day he was in a hopeless 4 spade contract, destined to fail by one trick if played out to the bitter end. So with 8 tricks already in the bag and with 4 tricks still to play for, he boldly announced: " I'll give you the Ace of diamonds but I'm claiming the rest for 11 tricks, making 4S with an overtrick ".
One opponent looked perplexed and was quick to challenge his claim : " Excuse me..... but you are wrong.....I happen to be holding a master trump ".
" By God", sighed an embarrassed and apologetic Bigot, " you're absolutely right........I'm so sorry....this means you've kept me to the contract...........well done ".
" Thank you ", said the opponent.
" No.....thank you ", replied Bigot, sporting a smile that oozed smug delight and smarmy self-congratulation .
REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG........................
Dear Rebecca,
I had a great idea to improve my bidding system. This would have allowed me to open a major at the one level on just a 2 or 3 card suit. However, the sodding EBU said they wouldn't licence such a bid, and that all opening 1H/S bids must promise at least a 4 card suit.
What is the world of bridge coming to ?
Yours Ira Ted Alwright
Dear Ira,
My advice to you simple. If you wish to open on a non-existent major, use a convention that is licenced (with of course a little modification ). This particular favourite of mine is one I've been using for years with great success. However, you must only open a major at the one level when you hold a losing singleton in that suit. Should you be called upon to explain your partner's alert, you will boldly announce that is an advanced splinter bid, prior to you finding a suit fit elsewhere .
Yours taking the game onto another level, Rebecca

Thursday, 26 May 2011

THESE RARE OLD BRIDGE BOOKS KEEP ON TURNING UP........ ( More discoveries by Pun )
  • I Could Have Sworn I Played A Heart .....................Kent C. Strait
  • That Match Utterly Drained Me, Partner.................M.T. Tank
  • Pairing Them Together Is Asking For Trouble.........Laura Lynne Hardy
  • Losing At Bridge Makes Me So Miserable.................Morey Bund
  • Partner, How Should We Celebrate Our Success ?.....Noah Song
  • So What If I Crack Up Once In A While.....................Norma Leigh Lucid
  • Why Turn Simple Hands Into Thorny Problems ?....Rose Gardner
  • I Hate It When Partner Says I Must Be Blind............Wyatt Stick
  • Well, We Got Through That Match Unscathed..........Randy Gauntlet
  • Bidding : The Essential Building Blocks....................Layla Brix
  • How To Really Psyche Out Your Opponents............Eve L. Highe

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

REAL ACHIEVEMENTS IN A BRIDGE'S PLAYER'S LIFE............. ( Article by Bigot-Johnson )
By the age of :
- 4..........not wetting your pants
- 12........not being set upon for being the only smart arse kid in school who can play bridge
- 16........joining a bridge club but keeping it a secret from all your trendy friends
- 17........getting away with the first of many rule violations
- 20.......dating a woman who is not bothered when you're off playing bridge
- 25.......marrying a woman who really prefers her own company
- 30.......giving partner a " going over " the likes of which has never been witnessed before
- 32.......avoiding expulsion from your club on a clever and devious defence
- 35.......holding onto both your marriage and your job despite spending all your time playing bridge
- 45.......attaining the rank of regional master after spending well over £100,000 in the attempt
- 50......winning your first team trophy after finding 3 top players willing to sell their souls for money
- 55......standing for election onto the committee and getting voted in
- 60......getting a mention in the club's newsletter in a positive and complimentary way
- 65...... obtaining a sitting seat at the first time of asking
- 72.......still managing to get to the club on a regular basis
- 78.......still managing to fan your cards and count up to 13
- 82.......not wetting your pants and leaving your seat dry

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

ANOTHER NEARLY TRUE STORY ......... ( By Bridgemeister Gibson )
A bridge player will often claim " I am my own worst enemy ".
Why is that I ask myself ? Well, my research shows that bridge players by and large have an over-active minds, which absorb and retain all the criticism thrown at time by their annoyed and angry partners. Unable to forget these vitriolic observations, they mull over them again and again, before posting them to the areas of the brain which store painful memories, shame and guilt. Inevitably, painful flashbacks will suddenly pop into their heads at inopportune times, causing them to misbid or misplay the hands on the next set of boards.
For them life at the tables is a recurring pattern of errors and mishaps. Repeated battles go in inside their minds, as they try in vain to overcome the demons that lurk within. With past voices of condemnation still ringing in their eyes, they succumb yet again to more mistakes and further criticism. Not surprisingly, they feel beat up, down and depressed. I have seen them trapped at the bottom of an abyss, unable to find or see any daylight, such is the overwhelming all consuming darkness which has swallowed them up.
So onto my story.......
Well, the other day I witnessed an opponent, already shell-shocked and demoralised by what had transpired earlier, limply go off in a simple 4S contract , which of course was making all around the room. Looking sheepishly and forlornly at his none-too-pleased partner, he announced in a sincere and apologetic way " So sorry .... I am without doubt my own worst enemy ".
His partner leaned back in his chair, thought for a moment, and in a voice that was as cold as his piercing eyes, he made this rather cutting and devastating confession : No sir......for while I live and breath.....that particular honour certainly belongs to me ! "

Monday, 23 May 2011

No should ever deny or ignore the law of unintended consequences , because to do so would be the height of folly. Akin to Murphy's Law, it shatters the naive belief that humans can fully control the world around them.
For bridge club committees who are obliged on occasions to make difficult and important decisions , the law might well come into operation producing negative, unexpected, highly detrimental outcomes from a decision that had only positive results in mind. This perverse effect ( contrary to what was originally intended ) often stems from a well meaning solution, which then only makes the problem worse.
So why does this law blight bridge clubs more than any other social club or voluntary organisation ? The relevant paradox it seems comes down to the type of people who sit on such committees. These decision makers think they know their areas of ignorance about an issue, and go and obtain the necessary information to fill that ignorance, but neglect certain other areas of ignorance, because, by not having the information , its relevance fails to be obvious........and so the perfect scenario is created by which the law can come into being.
Indeed, Robert K. Martin listed 5 possible causes of unanticipated consequences :
1. Ignorance : it is impossible to anticipate everything, thereby leading to incomplete analysis
2. Error : incorrect analysis of the problem, or following habits that worked well in the past but may not apply to the current situation
3. Immediate interest : often this overrides long term interests
4. Basic values : these are responsible fo leading them away from the one and only decision, which could have brought about sought after positive outcome
5. Self-inflicting prophecy : the fear of a particular consequence compels people to take a decision which they hope will avoid it, only to discover it becomes the very reason why the undesired consequence came into being
So let's look at this law in action . A well meaning bridge committee sets about in a crusading way to rid the club of a troublesome member, in a gallant attempt to improve the image of the club as being extremely social and friendly. A place where members can come along and enjoy their bridge without fear of any unpleasant incidents. However, the questionable decision to expel this member, to the joy and relief of many, created an unforeseen schism within the club. With others feeling an injustice had been done, their annoyance and anger caused the atmosphere in the club to become both unhealthy and destructive.
It has always been my contention that there is never a perfect solution to a difficult problem. Whatever solution is chosen that in itself creates another problem, which on occasions can be far worse. If say two solutions each bring about a negative consequence, then we duty bound to choose the one which is the lesser of the two evils. Unfortunately, because it is impossible to foresee the negative outcomes of every decision , it means that all decision makers are, on occasions, at the mercy of the law of unintended consequences.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Well there he was in 3NT with West kicking off with the queen of clubs, which East quickly overtook with the king. Johnny naturally ducked but was forced to win the club continuation.

The play of the clubs clearly suggested that East started out with a king doubleton with West holding 6 to the queen jack. Moreover, the queen seemed to be played with an air of remote hope rather than confident relish.

Johnny could see 8 top tricks with a ninth having to come from spades, but what if the king was off-side after all ? He decided therefore his best move was to run off 4 top diamonds, looking very closely at what both defenders were pitching.

West foolishly discarded two clubs and East threw a spade. This confirmed Johnny's view that West did not hold the king of spades, because if he had he would have certainly held onto his established clubs. Indeed, West was also unlikely to have the queen of hearts, because being a possible entry card to his clubs he would have chosen to discard two useless spades instead. Moreover, with West only having 5 cards in the majors ( to East's eight cards ) the odds favoured East holding both these crucial honours.

The fact that East threw a spade was in keeping with the theory that with both 4 to the king and a four to the queen to protect, it is usually safer to throw from a suit headed by the king.

So Johnny successfully finessed the jack of spades, cashed the Ace and then end played East with a third spade to his King. East exited with a low heart towards dummy's jack to enable Johnny to register a complete top with 3NT+2.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Bigot-Johnson had surprised a packed courtroom when he pleaded not guilty to a crime everyone knew he had committed.
Conducting his own defence, he appeared to get off to cracking start, employing all the antics, theatrics, and shenanigans everyone had come to expect. However today, despite all his grand gesturing, twisted arguments and philosophical clap trap, the jury seemed unimpressed.
Then out of the blue, Bigot stopped in his tracks, walked over towards the judge to declare that he was throwing in the towel.
" Your honour..........I have decided to change my plea to guilty. I do not wish to carry on with this high creative and cooked up defence........."
" Good grief man..... you were doing great job out there......I was almost warming to you. So please tell me , what on earth made you change your mind ? " enquired the puzzled and perplexed old judge.
" Of course.......you see when I pleaded not guilty I didn't notice just how many women there were on this jury. Throughout my whole life I have never been able to put one over a woman....and that goes for my wife too "
The judge quickly interjected. " What....you mean a leg ? "
"No...", said Bigot, " I mean being able to pull the wool over a woman's eyes. And with that pack of frigid man-haters sitting over there in the jury box, I had no bloody chance "
" Well, I never..."
" So I guess there's no chance of a re-trail...... with an all male jury ? " enquired Bigot , who had now turned into a forlorn and pitiful figure of a man .
" Not a chance..... " came the devastating reply.
And on that note everything went quiet for a few seconds, before a very loud " bugger " echoed around the walls of the courtroom.
Observation was again the theme of the lesson : paying attention to detail, and seeing things that others will surely miss. However, to provide his students with some added motivation Bigot decided to offer them a bet.
As it happened none of the students had any idea that Bigot only had one good eye, the other being a glass replacement, following a tragic accident on a hotel corridor. Rumour has it that he lost an eye while peeping through a key-hole into a lady's chamber. Apparently, a suspicious , half-naked, young woman decided to shove a sharp pencil through the key-hole from the other side, as a pointed reminder that privacy laws needed to be respected.
" Well class, yet again I want you to demonstrate your ability to make the right decision on the basis of correct and detailed observation. You see...I happen to have a glass eye and if any of you can figure out which one it is.....I'll give you odds of 2 to 1......... on any wager you care to make. "
" OK then ", said one rather smug, annoyingly confident, smart alec on the front row, " I'm betting £5o on it being the left one.... "
" Bugger me....you chosen correctly ", replied a distraught and crestfallen Bigot, ".......here's your soddin' £100 ......but how on earth did you manage to suss my left eye as the glass one. Most students can't spot the difference....... and therefore always end up getting it wrong ."
" Oh I thought it was all too easy...... any one can see that the left eye has a great deal more warmth and humanity than the right one ! "

If ever there was a salutary lesson to be learned by club committees, then reference to an instructive 1998 county court case becomes essential reading.
Here the club's disclinary proceedings against the plaintiff cost them a great deal of money. Essentially, the disclinary committee was found wanting on several fronts with regards to acting in good faith, in accordance with rules of natural justice, and with procedural fairness . Their mistakes , superbly outlined by the judge , were as follows :
1. Refusal to provide information requested ( by the plaintiff )
2. Despite quite legitimate and proper requests for further and better particulars, the committee simply said "no" and went ahead
3. The hearing was motivated by malice
4. Direct and improper motives included the desire to stifle the plaintiff's disquiet over the conduct of the meeting
5. The decision to expel the plaintiff was then taken in a wholly improper way
6. The plaintiff had a right to a fair hearing, but this did not take place given the fact that rules of natural justice were breached on several occasions
7. The committtee acted as prosecutor, judge and jury
8. The committee was seeking to act as a judge in respect to a complaint by one of its own members
9. There was no proper consideration of the plaintiff's claim: the committee went straight to punishment
10. There was no consideration as to whether the punishment fitted the crime
11. Declaring their intent to " vigorously defend " any challenge to their decision was further evidence of closed minds and ongoing procedural unfairness

12. Failure to take available legal advice at a crucial stage of the disciplinary proceeedings was a further example of their short-sighted approach

So if one takes this case as setting out some very useful ground rules , then club committees need to remove their blinkers and proceed with extreme care , especially when expulsions are on the agenda. Learning from hindsight often proves costly. Therefore, adopting foresight, an open mind, and a desire to be fair to the other party, will always prove to be excellent grounds for defending an action. The aim therefore, for any committee caught up in litigation, is to obtain protection from the judge, not condemnation.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Months of research have enabled me to identify the top 20 characteristics shared by the majority ( around 80% ) of club players, who fit the description of being " bog standard and ordinary ".
Such a player ........
1. Has no other meaningful existence outside bridge
2. When not playing bridge spends most of the time thinking about bridge
3. Regarded by family and friends as having an obsessive compulsive disorder
4. Well over 50, usually retired, having reached an age when sex ceases to offer a viable, and satisfying, alternative
5. Grumpy and obstinate
6. Prefers a mental challenge to a physical one
7. Nocturnal by nature, only venturing out at night
8. Careful with money, preferring duplicate bridge to rubber bridge
9. Likes the idea of developing regular partnerships that don't involve financial and emotional commitments
10. Loves to engage in highly ritualised forms of non-physical combat
11. Keeps persevering with the game despite appalling limitations in terms of flair, skill, and table presence
12. Regards any top half finish as a real achievement
13. Believes that slating partner is the best way to improve his/her game
14. Believes that being slated by partner is nothing more than sadistic bullying
15. Is able and willing to reconcile the existence of anti-social behaviour in a friendly and social setting
16. Defines "coups " as places where chickens are kept
17. Looks at a 7 loser hand opposite his partner's 6 loser hand to conclude that with a total 13 tricks to lose his best bid is to pass
18. Harbours false notions that teaching bridge will elevate his/her status to that of an expert
19. Wallows joyously in having attained Regional Master status, oblivious to the fact it took 4000 tournament events to obtain the 25 green points qualification
20. Finds with unerring accuracy the only way to go down in a seemingly straightforward contract
Given the likely consequence that expulsions will impinge upon the affairs of the individuals, and their impact might well impeach some of their legal rights. courts have been forced to intervene. The need to protect an individual's interest may therefore involve the exercise of some control over those who are making such important decisions.
It is trite law that a court will not sit as a tribunal of appeal, conducting a re-hearing of the complaint on its merits as it came before the club's committeee. According to the Court of Appeal in Dawkins v Antrobus (1881) there were three grounds upon which a court could intervene. They were : (1) that the proceeedings though within the rules of the association were contrary to natural justice; (2) that the proceedings were not in accordance with the rules; and (3) that the decision to expel was not arrived at in good faith.
Therefore, if a committee is seeking to discipline a troublesome member, where expulsion is a possible outcome, then the following advice needs to be taken on board :
1. Utilise key aspects of employment law regarding dismissals as a benchmark for "correctness ", irrespective of whether ( or not ) such law is embodied within the club's constitution.
2. If an expulsion is possibly up for consideration,then look to seek legal advice right from the outset. This might ensure nothing gets overlooked, reducing the risk of any mistakes.
3. Committee members with personal axes to grind need to step down, since they cannot claim to remain objective and impartial. If for instance it was a committee member who made the initial complaint, then it becomes quite possible that the committee as a whole will make supportive decisions, which by implication have become " skewed ".
4. No matter how dreadful the member's behaviour appeared to be with regards to the complaint, it must only be the established and corroborated facts of the incident, on which a judgement should be made. Indeed, judgements based on assumptions, speculation and guesswork are clearly open to bias and prejudice.
5. Gross misconduct requires evidence of serious, highly damaging, misconduct, but where the committee are dealing with another complaint in relation to repeated petty misconduct, then there needs to be already in place an earlier letter of warning, which has alerted the errant member to the reality of an expulsion, should another complaint be upheld.
6. Only when all other punitive sanctions have been considered, and rejected as inadequate or inappropriate, might expulsion be seen as a fair and just recommendation.
7. If during an internal appeal process, the expelled member seeks to enhance his/her case by having counsel present, the duty of fairness does not necessarily mean that permission has to be given. Nevertheless, in cases of expulsion, it would be a very wise move for a committee to permit this right, if only to firmly establish its claim that procedural fairness has always been at the top of its priorities.
8. If there are voices of dissent both inside and outside the committee, then they must be allowed the opportunity to be heard, with relevant questions and concerns duly acknowledged and answered.
In conclusion, " the obligation of natural justice need not be met in any particular formal way, but it must be met nonetheless. For clubs, this needs to be met in broad principle, not according to precise rules. Courts will look at the nature of the power being exercised, and whether or not the individual's rights and interests have been recognised and protected " : Royal Australian College of Surgeons v Phipps (1999). Similarly, in the case of Street v BC Schools Sport (2005) the court took the view that " the aim of the association was not to create procedural perfection but to achieve a certain balance between the need for fairness, efficiency and predictability of outcome ".
Procedural flaws therefore will always be a reality, especially if the constitution is flawed by virtue of omissions, ambiguities, contradictions, or badly worded provisions. To expel a troublesome member now requires committee members to take off their blinkers and " apply the wisdom of Solomon ".
Sadly, clubs must come to terms with another reality, which is a far harsher one : " the law has become a very blunt, and hugely expensive, instrument ".
( I would like to acknowledge that several of my legal observations were based on some excellent material published by Mark von Dadelszen, a New Zealand lawyer, who clearly specialises in this area of law. )

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

TROUBLESOME MEMBERS AND BLINKERED COMMITTEES........ ( First of three articles by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi on the law regarding the expulsion of members from clubs and voluntary associations. )
Club committees always face a difficult job when having to deal with members who behave badly towards their peers. However, when repeated incidents involve just two members behaving badly towards each other, the problem is even more acute. Unless action is taken immediately, the atmosphere within the club becomes distinctly unhealthy and destructive. Therefore it seems right that the guilty parties need to be counselled in some way to avoid further incidents.
With committee members not being behavioural scientists or psycho-analysts, it might also make good sense to try arbitration, bringing the two warring parties together to agree to a truce, usually by signing up to a code of respectful, non-provocative behaviour.
Unless this happens some troublesome individuals will continue to bait and insult one another, and in these dire circumstances committees are compelled to take sterner disciplinary action against them. Often incidents involve a complex cycle of provocative exchanges before one completely " loses it " in an outwardly aggressive way. How then should committees go about the task of deciding who is at fault, and in what way blame can be apportioned ? In the eyes of the law, self-induced provocation has always undermined any defence that it was the other party's provocation that caused the violent reaction.
Sadly, it is bridge clubs where emotions can run high. The game is intense, competitive and demanding. Players put themselves ( and partners ) under unnecessary pressure and stress. Tolerance thresholds seem easily breached. Little incidents which should only cause minor irritation will on occasions trigger over-the-top histrionics, especially when personality clashes are also involved. How to deal with serial offenders without prejudice or bias requires committees to tread a very careful path. In the case Barrie v Royal Colwood Golf Club (2001) the court took the view that even if disciplinary procedures were followed to the letter, they must still be carried out in good faith and with an open mind .
The trouble is, of course, committee members often lack the skills in knowing what procedural steps to take, or if correct steps are in place, as laid down by the club's constitution, how to follow them in accordance with the law. Going through the disciplinary process as prescribed is one thing, but operating in good faith, and in accordance with the rules of natural justice is another. " The skills and abilities of those who govern and manage social clubs are very varied indeed. Most simply set out to do a job with the best interests of the club in mind, claiming decision taken were done with the best of intentions ". Yet on some occasions, decisions may have been taken with malice aforethought at the forefront of their minds.
" When committee's actions ( or omissions) fall short of what the law requires, it is usually because they fail to recognise or address their own shortcomings ". For them the primary focus is on desired outcomes, and the means will always justify the ends. Expelling bad boys might well receive widespread applause and adulation, but the process is flawed if governed by a blinkered " guillotine " mentality. Any expulsion following a disciplinary process carried out in bad faith might well be declared as wrongful. Legal actions based on breach of contract , or loss of proprietary rights to the club's assets, will then be set into motion.
Sadly, it is the product of the human condition that makes committee members jaundiced and prejudiced against certain troubesome members. Subjectivity inevitably takes over from objectivity. The blinkers are on. This bias often seeps into " the tone and wording of letters and documents which emerge from exasperated and beleaguered committees ", but these will be seized upon as further evidence of bad faith. Indeed, any aggressive and uncooperative responses by a committee, towards a club member up for expulsion, " may well take the disciplinary process beyond the stage where reason and common sense prevail ".
In amateur run clubs and societies " there is always the risk of poor communication, inadequate responses to questions asked, misalignment of ideals and direction ". Personal agendas surface. Personal feelings are allowed to take control. Quiet reflection and a willingness to reconsider matters succumb to attitudes like " we are not for turning ", and " there's no going back ". Expulsions are a very serious matter . Not only must the decisions avoid the claim that they are harsh, excessive and unjust, but the process by which they were reached must also avoid claims of being flawed, improper and unfair. Even troublesome members have a right to be treated fairly, and to have the protection offered by long established rules of natural justice.
( In the next article I shall be offering guidance as to what committees need to do if they do not want the spectre of huge court costs knocking at the club's front door ).

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

AUSTRALIA'S MOST POPULAR BRIDGE BOOKS................ ( Down under research by Pun )
  • Strewth.....We've Got More pluses Than Minuses !....Annette Gayne
  • Crikey, Where The Hell Is Everybody ?....................Mary C. Leste
  • Strewth...What's this? Licking The Chairman's Arse ?....Carrie Faver
  • Gordon Bennett , You're Storming Through The Field....Blaise A. Tayle
  • Crikey Mate, What's With These Pudding Raises ?............Raul Lee Pollie
  • Strewth Partner, What's Made You So Happy ?...............Fuller Beanz
  • Crikey Mate, I've Done Everything I Can To Save You....Dunbar Yellin
  • Strewth Woman, Have You Fallen Down The Leader Board....R. Sovertit
  • Strewth Partner, I Can't Beat About The Bush..........Ken I. B. Frank
  • Fair Dunkum Mate, But That Kick Partner Really Hurt Me....Courtney Badley
DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES...........................
It is well established that people do crazy things for a whole host of reasons. Most of these are listed and explained in the psycho-analyst's bible " The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders ". Explanations like " schizophrenia " and " depression " are of course well known conditions, but this manual unearths some very unusual ones. Strangely, many of these are bridge related, and research is beginning to prove that the most effective way to end up crazy is to take up bridge. Once a person has embarked upon this perilous journey, he/she will inevitably develop one or more of these very extreme, and bizarre, mental disorders.
For instance, one such dark and dangerous condition is the OTHELLO SYNDROME , which is defined as a delusional or morbid jealousy. Many players harbour deep resentment when it is only others who get the opportunity to partner the club's top players. Having to witness their success, while they continue to experience abject failure and disappointment, it's not surprising to see these tortured souls consumed by desperation, loathing, and hatred.
BRAIN LAG is another perculiar condition, which is evident within any group of bridge players who constantly bemoan the fact " my brain's gone dead ". Additional symptoms include blurred vision, spacial disorientation, extreme mental and physical fatigue, and random thinking. For instance, a sufferer might fail to distinguish his diamonds from his hearts, and so will make an opening 3-level red suit pre-empt ( vulnerable ) on as much as a singleton or doubleton. There was one occasion when a player suffering from acute brain lag once passed a 18 point hand, because he thought Aces were nothing more than worthless spot cards.
Lastly, bridge players might well encounter a prolonged period where their addiction to the game becomes so overwhelming, nothing else in life matters. The reality is that they have fallen victim to a disorder known as CONTRACTUS MANICA . One likely symptom will be the insane pursuit of green points, in a costly attempt to establish a ranking befitting his/her playing ability. Nothing else matters. Failing to achieve success in these green pointed events is often enough to send the addict into a downward spiral of depression and despair. Only the next event can offer some respite from the intolerable withdrawal symptoms experienced by the victim.

Monday, 16 May 2011

WHAT THE HELL IS MY PARTNER UP TO ?......... ( A Bigot-Johnson rant )
My partner is either a complete mule or a dead cert for the " Donkey Of The Year " award. Indeed, he is the past master of falling for the classic " Donkey Coup ".
This reckless manoeuvre of pure self-destruction is based on the premise that is is an excellent idea to shorten your trumps early, so that your opponents can seize control of the hand.
Without a shadow of doubt, my asinine partner has taken the donkey coup to another level, utilising all its amazing and spectacular variations.
The first one involves wasting a trump unnecessarily, when ruffing a trick which partner was about to win.
Then of course there's a variation which borders on madness. This involves playing out a key stopper in a side suit, which enables defenders to set up an early force in that same suit. This results in the opponents' small trumps eventually being promoted into outright winners.
But the variation that beats all the others in terms of sheer lunacy involves using one of dummy's precious trumps to ruff a side suit, when the superior line is to focus upon setting up dummy's long suit ......relying on that precious 3rd trump as the one and only entry to it ( with losers now in a position to be discarded ).

Sunday, 15 May 2011

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG........................
Dear Rebecca,
What is it with bridge club commttees ? Why do they take so long to reach a decision ?
About a month ago I wrote a committee member about a very important issue I felt needed urgent attention. I heard nothing and so I wrote again to this particular egit demanding to know if any action had been taken............and this was his reply:
" As a conscientious and caring committee member I felt it both prudent and correct to consult with the rest of the group, before formally initiating measures to set about a way of investigationg the issue you so kindly brought to my attention. Once we get round to putting this urgent matter onto the agenda for future discussion, we should after a period of thoughtful reflection be able to move forward in later meetings to start the process of answering your question. However, if there are incomplete pending issues that need to be adressed in the meantime, your query may have to be put on the back burner. Anyway, I hope this letter puts your mind at rest, and if luck is on your side you should hear from us later on this year. "
Well, what do you make of that ?
Yours forever, Mark N. Tyme
Dear Mark ,
As an ex-committee member myself I feel you are expecting too much from those who have so little to do, but with so much time to do it in. As I am currently deluged with 3 letters a month, I haven't the time or inclination at present to discuss fully all the issues surrounding procrastinating committees . However, I will get back you as soon as possible, providing of course you are happy to wait.
Yours marking time as well, Rebecca

Friday, 13 May 2011

ANOTHER NEARLY TRUE STORY ..... ( By Bridgemeister Gibson )
A well known but commonly disliked lady player turned up, unaccompanied, to the club's annual Christmas dinner party. She was a self-confessed man-hater, but her beautiful looks and superb bridge brain persuaded many men to step forward and ask for a game. These requests were quickly brushed aside, and any romantic advances were spurned with a contempt that bordered on the brutal.
Inevitably, rumours swept through the club that she was a lesbian, a woman who was unable to have children, and who was fearful of the male reproductive organ. Nevertheless the chairman did get up to toast the lady for her outstanding successes during the year, but he then foolishly posed the question " What were the qualities that made her such a formidable player ? "
This was the moment her spurned suitors had been waiting for.
" I know...I know ", one said, " it's because..... she's impregnable "
Another voice immediately piped up : " No.....no......the woman's inconceivable...."
Then came a cry: " Nah.... it's because she's unbearable "
At this point the lady in question rose up front her seat with a look that could turn most men to stone.
" You lot are as clueless at recognising character traits as you are at playing bridge......for my success as a player....and as a childless woman.....is simply down to two things.......I AM INSURMOUNTABLE AND INSCRUTABLE "
BEDTIME BRIDGE BOOKS........... ( Sugggestions by Pun )
  • My Partner Is Forever Falling Asleep..........................Bo Bose
  • Top Tips For Toothless Bridge Players.........................Duncan Swallow
  • There's Too Much To Learn In This Game.....................Lotta Handel
  • Building Up That Momentum........................................Hedda Steem
  • The Way To keep It Cool..............................................Stubby Holder
  • Bridge Players Live In A Secluded World.....................Ivor E. Towers
  • Non Payment Of Bridge Sunscriptions......................... Bill Owens
  • The End Of Bridge As We Know It.................................Holly Cost
  • Some Bridge Players Talk Complete Bollocks..............Lotta Krapp
  • Have You A Good Hand, Partner ?...............................Jack Meoff

Thursday, 12 May 2011

There are many bridge related disorders where overlapping symptoms make it hard to distinguish one from another. However, when a disorder has two very specific symptoms then the labelling process becomes all too easy.
Narcissus Nastica is a behavioural disorder first seen in bridge clubs in southern England, yet today it is rife within bridge communities across the world. Primarily named after the mythical character who fell in love with his own image, it comes as no surprise to see affected bridge players behave in the very same way. Their inflated egos lead them to love and admire the image they perceive of themselves. This is usually one of being a superior player, revered and respected by others, blessed with great table presence, skill and technique.
Sufferers become obsessed with the fantasy of belonging to the club's elite of top flight players, experts, full of know-how, capable of brilliance and sheer magic in all aspects of the game. Such is the degree of self-love and self-worship, anyone who foolishly dares to challenge their beliefs will regretfully encounter the other symptom associated with this disorder.
Victims react badly to confrontation and any attempts by others to force them to undertake reality checks. Often they fly into a rage and get very nasty in the process. Some psycho-analysts have observed in players who have a fully-blown inflated ego problem, the retaliatory degree of nastiness displayed can often manifest itself into murderous intent.
Certainly, severely affected victims habitually expect praise and adoration from those around them, especially partners and team-mates. Criticising them ( God forbid ) is like sticking a pin into a rather large balloon that will, of course, explode instantaneously. Indeed, as their self-delusions take hold, any threat to dispel them causes victims to develop a pathological trait, which is both unnerving as it is frightening. Turning really nasty comes with the territory.
As for treatments, self-denial and narcissism go hand in hand, and so nothing can be done to persuade them to seek help. People's fear of triggering nasty outbursts seems to condition their behaviour to adopt passive and complimentary overtones, which inevitably exacerbates the victim's symptoms even more .

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

- it's easier to remember a hand you picked up 40 years ago than the one just previously played
- you arrive at the club wearing odd socks and slippers
- any mention of a " laydown " fills your mind with comforting thoughts of soft fluffy pillows
- you call for dummy to ruff a suit when playing in a NT contract
- having been dealt a weak hand with seven red cards, you immediately open the bidding with a 3-level pre-empt
- gravity becomes your worst enemy
- you begin every other sentence with " in my day....."
- doctors become your first choice partners
- having asked partner to " support " you, he imediately rushes round the table to offer assistance
- realising the significance of being in the pass out seat, the presence of smelling salts in the club's first-aid box becomes a very reassuring thought
- having bid and made a contract at break-neck speed, opponents still call the director over bitterly complaining about your slow play
- partners having good values and great support for your major, either elect to play the contract in no trumps, or make a minimum raise in your suit
- you are never quite certain that the only spade left in play, which happens to be in your hand, is a master

Monday, 9 May 2011

Some declarers will resort to all sorts of ruses, in desperate attempts to bring home seemingly impossible contracts. Nevertheless, trying one out against the great Johnny Supremo really took the biscuit. He was sitting West defending South's 3NT.
His hand was KQJ107.....J9...73.....QJ84, and so it was no surprise to see the King of spades lead hitting the table at trick one. Declarer ducked, and so the queen of spades quickly followed ( partner showing two ). Declarer took this..... clumsily fumbled through his cards.....and then to his apparant shock and dismay accidentally plonked his last spade onto the table !
Johnny eagerly took this, but then stopped for a second. Had South played this card in error or what ? Something did seem right here. So resisting temptation to even cash his 4th spade he calmly exited with a diamond. Declarer was doomed. With partner holding 95.....Q1072.....J1095.....1073, the defence was certain to pick up a trick in each of the other suits, with declarer being restricted to 8 tricks ( 1S, 2H, 3D,2C).
If Johnny had cashed even one more spade, East would have been obliged to discard a second club. A switch now would result in declarer cashing the A/K of clubs, forcing East no doubt part with a heart. This would allow declarer to concede a heart to set up a 4th one in hand to make the contract. Similarly, if East jettisoned a diamond, declarer would then makes his contract by gleefully harvesting 4 diamond winners.
Even if Johnny cashed out all his spades, the squeeze on East was still in place, enabling declarer to see the contract home.
For the record, North's hand was : 632....8532....AQ6...K62, while South held A84...AK6...K842...A95

Sunday, 8 May 2011

( It is now well established that most avid bridge blog readers know all about Bigot-Johnson, and his bizarre and unusual take on the bridge world. So what if his outrageous material alarms and offends diehards and traditionalists : he is without doubt the inspiration behind the up-and-coming new breed of players. For them he is their hero, a welcome breath of fresh air. Moreover, this man despite all the nasty things said about him, still remains a very fine player....... who yes... does on rare occasions....... stray from the path of righteousness in his life long quest for competition success. Nevertheless, he kindly agreed to give another interview to help me unravel the twisted thinking of his warped and troubled mind )
- When did you first discover bridge ? - Ah...I guess it was when I was in my late teens. I was having no luck whatsoever with women and my social skills were non-existent. So I looked around for a bridge club which was prepared to let me in. You see, I've always loved card games, and in my view bridge was clearly the best game in the world. Let's face it.....every time you deal the cards there's a completely new set of problems to solve, and mysteries to unravel
- What is the fondest memory you carry with you from all these years of bridge ?
- Oh yes....there's one that always springs to mind. As a young impressionable young man, I had the good fortune to partner one of the best players in the club.....the very formidable Nora Smythe-Pickles......a woman of real statue and unshakable resolve. She once doubled her illustrious opponents for a juicy 1400 penalty, which considering they were two grandmasters was no mean feat. As we walked away from the table, she leaned over and whispered quietly in my ear : " You know Bigot.......I really enjoyed that "
- What do you think bridge will be in the future ?
- The current signs do not bode well....bridge if it is going to survive needs re-branding.......its image needs a complete overhaul. The game needs to be friendlier, faster, more exciting, and far more open in terms of competition. Everyone must feel welcomed and safe when they come to play bridge at any table. Slow players need to be weeded out of clubs.....they are a bloody pest. The way they drag down the bidding and play to the pace of a snail borders on the criminal. Other players of course end up losing both their enjoyment of the game, and their will to live. As for creating excitement and openness, the playing field needs to be levelled to give everyone an equal chance of winning. This will do wonders for every one's motivation. This requires every player to be given a personal handicap rating to enable a fairer scoring system to be set in place. This will take into account who's partnering who, and who against, on each and every board played. If handicapping systems work in both horse-racing and golf.....then why not bridge ? And oh yes.....don't forget about upping the prize money all round.
- Tell me about your worst memory of bridge ?
- Losing to that prat, Percy Pantopod, who in my opinion has as much bridge nous as single cell amoeba. The man is a fluky bastard , a jammy toe-rag, and living proof that in bridge huge injustices take place on a regular basis, when numpties like him walk off with the prizes.
- But wouldn't your vision of having handicap competitions produce more winners with the same skill level at Percy Pantopod ?
- By Jingo you're right.....best scrap that idea then
- Is it true that you captained the most successful bridge team ever to tour the United States of America ?
- Yes.....but those glory days may never be repeated ?
- Why is that ?
- Well, most of the team are either dead or serving prison sentences in some of the most notorious jails in the USA. Those whinging Yanks don't like to be beaten on their own soil. They accused my boys of behaving in both an unethical and unsporting way, and just because they over-reacted to some wicked, completely out-of-order provocation, most of them ended up in court on trumped up charges of assault, criminal damage and murder
- But if your team cheated and threatened opponents with violence, then how does dreadful behaviour tally with your original views that bridge should be friendlier and fairer, being the best game in the world ?
- Ah yes....it is the best game in the world..... simply because it offers the best opportunities for players to cheat and get away with murder. As for being fairer and friendlier.....well, let me remind you that all is fair in love and war........and bridge is war
- Well, your hypocrisy beggars belief..........and I don't like what I'm hearing.....so as far as I am concerned this interview is over
- Well sod off then, you useless bugger.......

Saturday, 7 May 2011

IT'S A CURIOUS THING THAT........................ ( Article Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
The world of bridge is without doubt a strange and wonderful one. Situations experienced within a bridge club bear no similarity whatsoever to those experienced on the outside.
So to illustrate this point I would like you to consider the meaning of the following words, when they are preceded by the adjective " bridge ". Their ordinary dictionary meanings simply don't apply, because in the surreal world of bridge nothing is ever quite the same.
  • Bridge ego : one that drives a player to wallow constantly " me-deep " in conversation
  • Bridge diplomacy : a way of telling your partner to " go to hell " such that he/she actually looks forward to the trip
  • Bridge courtesy : the art of yawning with your mouth closed, especially when having to listen to players engaged in social chit-chat
  • Bridge committee : an elected body that keeps minutes and wastes hours
  • Bridge experience : memories of disappointments, failings and abuse
  • Bridge gossip : stories which fly around bar rooms and corridors, never based on lies when the truth is known to do far more damage
  • Bridge match buffet : a sandwich cut into 20 pieces
  • Bridge paradox : two bridge experts who are in agreement
  • Bridge club chairmen : people who shake your hand before the AGM elections, and your confidence not long after
  • Bridge novice : a disillusioned player who initially thought bridge was a friendly social game
  • Bridge partner : someone you often wish to see the back of, as soon as the first board is over
  • Bridge party : a sombre occasion where people spend long hours sitting in silence with long faces