Monday, 31 March 2014

BEDSIDE BRIDGE BOOKS GUARANTEED TO SEND ANY READER INTO THE LAND OF NOD........ ( As recommended by Pun , a cured insomniac ) 

  • Bridge Club AGMS Are Extremely Tedious And Tiresome..................Eva Sue Boring
  • Committee Members Love To Behave Like The German SS................Gus Tarpoe
  • Partner , You Must Let The Oppo Know My 2NT Was A Lucas 2  ........Noah Lurt
  • You Can Relax Now Partner , The Chairman's Left The Room..............Stan Dattese
  • Take It From Me Partner That Woman Is The Kiss Of Death.................Honey Trapp
  • That Player Can Bid and Make Slams On Tram Tickets.......................Azif  E. Khan
  • How Big A Mess Is The Club In Right Now ?........................................L. Hoverhole
  • If I Win This Court Case I Will Sing From The Rooftops..........................Barry Tone
  • What Possesses Me Play Contracts Without Direction Or Planning ?.....Willie Nilly
  • I Played A Similar Hand Like That About Two Years Ago.......................Ben Herbie Forr
WHATEVER NEXT..... A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WON BY CHEATING !                           ( Article by Carp )

What a pair of conniving Germans they must have been. The damage they must have done to the image of this beautiful and sacred game doesn't bear thinking about. Cheating at this level or indeed at any other level needs to be stamped out. The fact that the two culprits were highly respected German doctors just goes to show how difficult it is to judge character........until of course they push their luck and allow their dishonest signalling system to be exposed by an alert ,  highly suspicious , eagle-eyed , or should I say sharp-eared opponent. Once the video evidence produced a correlation between their " carefully timed coughs " to particular short suit holdings and preferred leads , the WBF had every right to strip them of their gold medals , and impose a 10 year ban. 
But part of me believes this story can't be true given that the illegal signalling system , based on coded coughs , is both ridiculously crude and naive.....not to mention absurd and obscene. Not only would constant bouts of coughing irritate those at the table, but attention is bound to be drawn to them should these coughs come across as unnatural and artificial.  However , amazing coincidences were observed when these artificial coughs happened to precede spectacular leads and inspired reading of the cards, and so the culprits' defence to the charges ( falling foul of the humid Balinese weather and an ineffectual air-conditioning unit ) seems very flimsy indeed . Yet remnants of doubt about their guilt are still lodged in my mind. Bridge at that level requires participants to possess genius , logic, precision of thought , subtlety , intelligence , inspiration , and an analytical mind capable of solving highly complex problems. Therefore,   one would expect cheating to be incredibly subtle and wickedly ingenious,  so devious in fact that no-one had a cat-in-hell's chance of ever recognising  , let alone , proving how it was done. If it is true that  the two German doctors did foolishly sell their souls to the devil ,  then they were numpties in the dark art of cheating. Their dishonest system was not only detected but conclusively proved by video evidence.

Yet , this is not my point of my article. For me cheating is not a rare occurance. It is commonplace. Of course their form of cheating represents " reprehensible conduct " as it is deliberate , planned , and no doubt well practised. It involves going out into the competitive arena with intent.  It involves taking calculated risks in the pursuit of the ultimate prize, where the desire to earn glory and adulation instantly over-rides conscience and integrity . Yet , in clubs all over the world low level cheating goes on to such an extent that many cynics have considered redefined their clubs as centres of " approved cheating " .....which in essence is soft cheating.
Regular partnerships can't help but develop a level of understanding , which assists their ability to consciously and even subconsciously communicate, receive and process unauthorised information. This happens because in the absence of screens players instinctively read the nuances and habits of their expressive partners. Often it is a one-way situation where one player is oblivious to the fact he is sending out body language signals to his/her partner, who of course can't help but read the signs. 
Therefore at club venues a startling reality exists. Players find themselves reading the signs , either consciously or subconsciously : the senses of sight and sound work endlessly and automatically.   A hint of a smile on an opening lead against no trumps is just as much as an encouraging signal as the play of a high card. Players of course will deny their " dishonesty " on the grounds that ( a)  there was no intent to pass over unauthorised information or commands, and (b ) what prompted any inspired decision was nothing more than gut feeling and/or instinct. If crucial albeit extraneous information gets absorbed into our sub-conscious , then it often triggers some inspired decisions at the table , without us ever knowing how or why that happened. Soft cheating is often completely unintentional but that doesn't stop it undermining the sanctity of this game..
The two Germans were condemned as " scoundrels who took deception and cheating to a new horrendous low " , but who are we to sit in judgement when we have our own demons to deal with. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Most bridge commentators believe that the gravity of their offence required the WBF to throw the rule book....and what a hefty rule book it is..... at them , in an attempt to rebuild the game's tarnished image. But can anyone out there tell me,  what can be done to tackle all the other " dodgy stuff " that goes on in these centres of approved cheating ?           

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Best behaviour at bridge sounds like a very admirable thing. Indeed , all players should have a legitimate expectation to be treated in a civil , polite and respectful way. I say " legitimate " in that if a player rudely snubs an opponent , then he or she cannot legitimately expect the abused person to turn the other cheek..... and be  " nice " in return. 
As a consequence irrelevant emphasis seems to be placed on greeting players warmly , and being prepared to congratulate them should they display a moment of great skill in defence or declarer play. So yes ,  cracking down on rudeness and bullying are worthy goals, but not if players are barred from engaging in witty sarcastic banter , making sharp critical remarks , and dishing out a few home truths. If a mother is entitled to verbally reprimand a small child for disobedience , then why can't a player do the same to his partner for a flagrant breach of the agreed convention on their system cards.
But all that aside,  my real beef is this. Best behaviour policies completely overlook the kind of behaviour which really does annoy decent folk and newcomers alike ,  far more than rudeness and bullying.  Yes , I'm talking about....
sexist attitudes
smugness and smirking
unhygienic personal habits
patronising and condescending attitudes
divisive system cards
targeting ( psyching against weaker opponents )
inflated egos
seething contempt
superiority complexes
Where does the best behaviour mission statement refer to the eradication of these sickening character traits ? Nowhere !  And it is my contention that players guilty of the above do far more damage in putting people off playing , than any outbursts of rudeness and condemnation. These are distasteful aspects of the human condition which are truly cancerous ,  and as such ought to be included in the remit of problems which best behaviour policies should be addressing , especially if the appeal of bridge is going to be restored. 
But dear oh dear.....I still haven't mentioned the two biggest evils of all.....the two foremost reasons why people are put off from enjoying the bridge experience. Two aspects of the game which best behaviour policies , along with weak committees , conveniently ignore and refuse to address
So I find myself attending clubs where false bon hommie and hollow compliments are now common place. Where volatile players have trained themselves to hold their tongues and to pick their time and place before saying what needs to said. But of course slow play and cheating still enjoy a kind of immunity , along with all those other unsavoury aspects of the human condition , which as a result leaves me in a state of disbelief and despair. 
Best behaviour policies , like ZT , are totally misguided and hopelessly inadequate in terms of both scope and prioritisation. Even worse is the fact that they often target the wrong people , namely highly strung players who unfortunately over-react to behaviour far more obnoxious and provocative than theirs.    



Saturday, 29 March 2014





Thursday, 27 March 2014


Yes , by all means promote the myth that your club is a " social and friendly " one, when in reality a far more important objective is being pursued . Namely ,  restrict at all costs the opportunities for members to socialise and chatter. 
It is of paramount importance for any committee to be in control of both information passing to members, and passing between members. The less time members have to chat , the less risk there is of any awkward questions being raised , speculative answers being forwarded , and shocking conclusions drawn. Keep members blissfully unaware in cleverly woven cocoons of ignorance. Don't give idle gossip the chance to flourish. Remember silence is golden. Therefore , in order to keep club members permanently in the dark , every effort must be made to achieve the following : 

1.  Start all bridge sessions five minutes after opening the club doors , forcing members to go straight to their tables
2.  Close up the club no later than 5 minutes after the bridge session is over
3.  Encourage directors to meet a 9 board an hour target in order to restrict time available for end-of-round conversations
4.  Close down the bar ,  and convert the now defunct bar area into an additional committee room. ( This removes at a single stroke the breeding ground for tittle-tattle gossip and rumour spreading )
5. Convert all toilets into single cubicles
6. Use ZT rules to crack down on table talk while boards are still in play elsewhere in the room
7. Ban any kind of newsletter which is likely to contain uncensored articles or letters of concern submitted by free-thinking members  
8.  Make sure all committee minutes are extremely brief and vague , and that the content is completely harmless , trivial , boring, sterile and of no real interest 
9. Also pull out all the stops to see that every committee report and notice board bulletin has been carefully sanitised , and extremely economical with the truth
10. Clamp down on rogue committee members in an effective and decisive way. It is vital that everyone adheres to the rule " what goes on in committee , stays in committee "
11. Brainwash all committee members to become ardent disciples of collective responsibility and confidentiality
12. Create within the club a climate of total apathy such that members can't be bothered to ask searching questions , or to seek the truth 
13. Set up a propaganda sub-committee to generate lots of " positive spin " bulletins 
14. Develop the art of releasing misinformation and/or disinformation to hide the truth and side-track those members with nasty inquisitive minds 
15. Eliminate any club member who seeks the truth and is prepared to spill the beans , using whatever tools are at your disposal   

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Not for the first time Bigot-Johnson came unstuck when a hurriedly convened disciplinary hearing saw a desperate committee rushing to find him guilty of gross misconduct at the tables. The following exchange which took place resulted in one of the shortest hearings ever to be recorded at the Cardinals BC. 
Chairman ( C) :  You Bigot have received several complaints relating to your behaviour at the Friday night duplicate
B-J :  They'll all be a pack of lies......this club is full of two-faced rats and lying bastards !
C : Well , even if that is your honest opinion .........the fact of the matter is that none of them were lying with respect to what happened at their table when you sat down to play against them
B-J : What.....I never said a bloody word to any of them . I kept all my seething and contemptuous remarks under my breath. Not one word passed my lips. Why on earth would I even bother making remarks to such a lot of wooden tops , pansies and puffs ! 
C : Excuse me , Bigot.....on numerous occasions you insulted your opponents whenever they won the bidding auction.....just by doubling them doubt out of spite and annoyance of being denied opportunities to be the declarer
B-J : So what.....I'm entitled to double's in the rules
C : Yes....but every time you did , your opponents made the contract.....usually with overtricks....only to point out in that the scoring  " 50 needed to be added on for the insult " 
B-J : This is insane...
C : insulted your opponents time and time again by doubling makeable contracts...    
...implying of course that they were complete imbeciles , guilty of reckless overbidding ....when in fact the opposite was true
B-J : But doubling makeable contracts can't surely be treated as " insults "
C : The rules say otherwise......and so do we. And on the sheer number of valid complaints sent in by mail ,  the committee have decided to suspend you for 3 months 
B-J : I'm not taking this lying down.....I going to Sue
C :  Sue who ?
B-J : Sue mistress......
C : Thank God for that.......I thought you meant something else
B-J : ......before heading off to see my lawyer
C :  Oh bugger

Monday, 24 March 2014


1. You must first take an oath of allegiance that reads as follows : " The committee's decisions are always right. Long live the committee. Down with anyone who even dares to challenge any of its rulings ".
2. You must pull out every stop to deny the appellant's right , and/or wish , to be legally represented, especially if he/she is looking to enlist the services of a qualifed lawyer 
3. You must also deny the appellant the opportunity or right to have anyone there to assist or befriend him/her at the hearing , who may be blessed with a modicum of legal knowledge. This ensures both isolation and overwhelming odds , leaving the poor wretch completely bereft of any guidance , advice or support whatsoever.
4. Even if the appellant is mentally incapacitated in any way , or has the intellectual capacity and wit of a child , rules 2 and 3 still apply.
5. Now that you have this disreputable member presenting his/her own case , you must reach the conclusion that his/her bad behaviour has indeed resurfaced again at this hearing. This of course will completely undermine and invalidate any of his/her pleadings.
6. There will be no need to question any of the appellant's witnesses , simply because they are all tarred with the same brush. Should you feel obliged to hear their evidence you are under no duty whatsoever to take any notice of it. Clearly , if they are disputing evidence laid down by the committee , then everything must point to them being liars.
7. You must ignore all the arguments , contentions , opinions and conclusions made by the appellant's witnesses. In an ideal set up , you must insist that they make only statements of fact , which of course pose far less of a threat than any meaningful interpretation of them.
8. You must at all times replace any notions of fairness , impartiality, and objectivity with devastating prejudice , bias and subjectivity ( in favour of the committee )
9. You must always remember that in hearings of this kind there is an irrefutable presumption of guilt. Coupled with that there is also the well established view that the appellant ,  by putting in a frivolous and groundless appeal ,  is only doing it out of spite , and thereby wasting everybody's time. Nevertheless, you must do your utmost to give the impression that you are ( a) listening , and (b) preparing to give a ruling based purely on the merits of the case. 
10. You must not permit hearsay evidence to be introduced by the appellant or his/her witnesses. That privilege is only reserved for the committee and their witnesses. The fact that the original complaint was based on questionable evidence is irrelevant , and should therefore be ignored.
11. You must strive like crazy to ensure the hearing is short and abrupt , looking to adopt the same cut and dried approach the main committee used at the original hearing  , when they upheld a petty complaint and implemented a grossly disproportionate punishment.
12. You must adopt the position that the only requirements to be imposed on the committee are those laid down in the club's constitution and regulations. Strip from your mind any notion that rules of natural justice apply to the kangaroo court proceedings as conducted by the main committee in the first instance. Believe in the fact that tiny little social bridge clubs are exempt from any such legal requirements , and are at liberty to flout the law as they please.  

Yes the scene depicted below certainly provides great material for a humorous poem and an an even more blistering cartoon . This was bridge belonging to a bygone age. This was bridge without players having to wear the strait-jacket of zero-tolerance conformity. Instead this was world  full of wild, passionate , outrageous , beastly and shocking characters , who brought embarrassment on themselves , widespread sympathy for their victims , and unbelievable spectacles for those looking on. 
So would I trade in such scenes this for the alternative  bland , compliant , wooden behaviour demanded by the servants of the zero tolerance ? No bloody way. If members want to live in a world where everyone has been programmed to be utterly subservient and obedient then I suggest they should emigrate to North Korea. Give me the flamboyant gung-ho colonels any day of the week. The old geezer might well be a lovable and endearing man of exceedingly good manners and charm , except for his occasional outbursts at the table.   
He may also be the owner or patron of the club !

Saturday, 22 March 2014


I have always wondered why madness and hysteria only seem to penetrate and pervade the minds of bridge players.
Well now , I believe I have the answer. Nuclear scientists have already demonstrated that the splitting of an atom releases powerful short-wave radiation , which can alter genes and chromosomes in animals and plants leading to the creation of unusual off-spring or mutations. Indeed , many years of my life has gone into ground breaking research , which seems to suggest that the splitting of personalities also causes short-wave radiation to take place , adversely affecting those in close proximity.
Having established beyond all shadow of doubt that bridge clubs are overrun with players with split personalities , it came as no surprise to see other players falling victim to their explosive reactions. As soon as clouds of negative energy were released into the air , a chain reaction phenomenon would then take place. Players who were once mild mannered Dr. Jekylls suddenly turned into monstrous Mr.Hydes. Madness and hysteria would radiate once again turning victims into another batch of explosive bombs , and so by the end of the session dozens of players found themselves as demented as those who originally came in with split personalities. 
Moreover , I have irrefutable proof that bridge clubs members are constantly being bombarded by tiny particles of misplaced schizophrenia , using the same apparatus by which nuclear physicists were able to identify dark matter in underground tunnels deep down inside the earth's core. But what was most alarming was the fact that at the Slaughter House BC , the emanations from the chairman Bigot-Johnson alone  could bleach muslin at a distance of 25 yards. Not surprisingly , that in such dark , dank , chill , morbid surroundings as  this infamous club house , the genes of other members were always going to be adversely affected. They were. And after incredibly short periods of gestation new breeds of Mr. Hydes were being created week after week.   

Friday, 21 March 2014

( Book review by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber  )

Of all the humorous bridge books I have ever come across none surpass this particular masterpiece of poetic genius and cartoon brilliance. Whenever I dip into Bridge Without Sighs ,  I am amazed how both the author and illustrator capture the very essence of what we so often see at the bridge table :  the stark but comic reality of what really goes on inside the these hallowed places we now foolishly strive to convert into  " friendly and social " sanctuaries.
The one thing we can say for certain is that bridge in the 1930's ( thankfully ) had no zero tolerance policies curbing unacceptable bahaviour ,  in that it was perfectly acceptable to vent one's spleen and to express one's emotions. These were very things that brought colour , life and character to the game. It is only because of these extreme behaviours the world is blessed with great and amusing bridge stories , not to mention wonderfully comic bridge books like the one mentioned above.
So no more needs to be said other than to offer you a classic example of what frustrates us most of all at the bridge table , along with the body language we have all come to recognise..... and on many occasions display ourselves.   

Thursday, 20 March 2014



1.  Louden Rawcus
2.  Fuller Spite
3.  Constance Sniping
4 . Paul N. Faces
5.  Leah Ring
6.  Mona Lott
7.  Mickey Takin
8.  Joe Kinner-Round
9.  Jack N. Hoff
10. Ivor Wright-Temper
11. Eve L. Glairs
12. Adam Mennis
13. Ruth Leslie Meen
14. Cort Trumping
15. Arthur Greeting
16. Bea N. Corse
17. Kent B. Havewell
18. Ima Badden
19. Callum Alsorts
20. Paddy Thrower
21. Randy Aldman
22. Sasha Payne
23. Jay L. Byrd
24. Helen Leggs
25. Duncan Des Ordaleigh
26. Ava Sharpe-Tung
27. Alec Toby Rood
28. Gus Hipp-Monger
29. Con R. Tiste
30. Dick Flasher

Wednesday, 19 March 2014



( Up before  a ruthless committee was Spooner Isham  facing numerous charges of using  foul and obscene language. Advised to keep quiet throughout the whole proceedings , he decided to have another member speak on his behalf. A short extract from the hearing's transcript appears below . )

Chairman ( C ) : What on God's earth are you doing here, Bigot?
B-J : I'm Spooner's legal representative ...
C : On what grounds ?
B-J : Self-incrimination is obviously in his best interests if he shuts up and doesn't say a thing. You never know what is likely to pop out of his mouth
C : Well, since this is an open and shut case I don't suppose it matters a jot if you're conducting his defence........we've got dozens of complaints .....all corroborated by countless witnesses who are prepared to testify that Spooner used on several different occasions vulgar and obscene language .....upsetting many of our delicate and sensitive what we consider to be a very social and friendly club
B-J : Spooner disputes that.......
C : First off..... there was the club's annual fancy dress dinner party ..... and just as several members arrived all dressed up as Robin Hood and his merry men , Spooner shouted across to one of them .....
B-J : " Hi Friar Tuck "..... or so I am led to believe.....
C : Sorry no.....something far more obscene....and later on that night when he was talking to a fellow member he was heard to say..... 
B-J : " I love Joe Blobbs ".....from what I've been told....
C : Well Bigot..... you have been told wrong....and as for what happened two months ago......the committtee and I are utterly appalled.......Spooner.... at the AGM...... stood up and asked if anyone had seen.....
B-J : " Betty Swollocks " I recall
C : That's not what I and many others heard ......his question was both rude and offensive....and not only that he referred to our secretary..... the Reverend ..... a man of the cloth, as .....
B-J : " My Dear old Queen "......
C : No ....something far more offensive...... and totally uncalled for....and what's more Spooner then stood up again and asked if anyone seen .....
B-J : " Ted Rodgers "......if my memory serves me well...
C : doesn't.... as you are well aware of the truth Bigot....because let's face are flogging a dead horse here.....Spooner is a foul mouthed member you needs to be banned forthwith
B-J : I've read all these letters of complaint .....and there is nothing wrong in calling an opponent a " smart feller "...
C : But he didn't .....he insulted the poor man in a very derogatory way...
B-J : And there was nothing untoward in wanting to play a game with  " Tex Soys " ......
C : That's not what he said.....
B-J : And this business about wanting to kiss a certain Mary Hinge under the mistletoe was just a harmless Christmas party request....
C : Bigot-Johnson are only alluding to what Spooner intended to say.....and not what he actually said.....the man can't stop himself......he laces his comments and questions with all manner of crudity and obscenity .....and the committee have heard enough....the ban for life starts as of this moment
Spooner : Hold on....this hearing is a's a set up's nothing more than ...
B-J : A cunning stunt ?
Spooner : Almost exactly what I was going to say !

Monday, 17 March 2014


  • That Flying Bridgemate Was Really Travelling................................Gus Hugh Threwitt
  • Who's Now Left On The Committee's Hit List ?.................................Jess Ewan Mee
  • I'm Always After Fit Young Female Partners.......................................Dev L. Forrett
  • Do That Again And You'll Find Yourself In Serious Bother...................Sue Watt
  • The Committee's Decision to Ban Him Was Taken Very Badly............Zoe Sudem 
  • What Drives Him To Partner Women Who Are Nothing But Cows........Kat L. Farmer
  • Rumours Have It That The Club Is About To Fold................................R. U. Shaw
  • That Big Donation Has Saved The Club From Bankruptcy...................Evan Scent
  • Partner's Not Arrived So I'll Try Phoning Him At His House..................Willie B. Holme
  • As A Bridge Raconteur I Would Describe Myself As A Shining Wit,,..,,Spooner Isham 

Friday, 14 March 2014


  • How To Get On In The Murky World Of Bridge Politics.....................Paul N. Strings
  • I Like To Play Bridge Around The Clock...........................................Diane Knight
  • Partner , I'm A Complete Bag Of Nerves..........................................Shay King-Badleigh
  • Just Watch The Way An Expert Plays The Cards............................Luke Hancy
  • Whatever You Do , Don't Let On You Cheated ................................Faye K. Storey
  • Good God Partner , That's Your Seventh Psych Tonight...................F. N. L. Mann
  • Careful Thought Is Needed To Make This Contract...........................Enid Saplan
  • The Club's Finances Are In A Right Mess.........................................Owen Moore
  • What Is It About My Appearance That Causes So Much Alarm ?.....Buck Naykid
  • Partner , We Need To Reconcile Our Differences............................Claire D. Ayre  

Bigot-Johnson , the club chairman , was trying to explain to a new committee member about the ethical dilemmas he and other officers often faced on a day-to-day basis ,  and decided the best way to illustrate his definition of ethics was to get him to consider the following question:
 " A little old lady comes into the treasurer’s office, and being the only committee member present she hands over a £50 note in payment for her annual subscription. After she leaves, you realize you actually received two £50 notes stuck together. The time has come now for you to make an an ethical decision : do you inform the treasurer or not about this over-payment ? "

Thursday, 13 March 2014

COMMITTEES : DO THEY EVER LISTEN TO SOUND ADVICE ?............... ( A nearly true story by Bridgemeister Gibson )

Water Anyone?

After a crash landing in the Sahara desert the surviving air passengers , all committee members of the same club , soon found themselves in desperate need for water.  After wandering around for days in aimless disarray ,  the chairman saw something, far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, they walked towards the image, only to find a little old man sitting at a card table with a bunch of neckties laid out on it.
Then one of the committee spoke to him :  "Please,…. we’re all dying of thirst.  We desperately need some water?"
The man replied "I don't have any water to sell, but you should all buy a tie instead. There is enough here for everyone. Please allow me to explain why…..
The chairman immediately cut him short and shouted back : "Listen you idiot, We need water……not a load of bloody useless ties. Why on God’s earth do we need ties when we’re sweltering to death underneath this red hot sun ? "
Unperturbed by this vitriolic outburst the man politely replied :  " Yes , it’s your choice not to do as I suggest, or  not to hear what I have to say. But what I can tell you is this ….....over there on the other side of those massive sand dunes , about 4 miles away, is a very exclusive private members’ club. Walk that way, and you will see that this place has all the water and liquid refreshment you want."
The chairman thanked him with an air of contempt , and straightaway the party slowly but surely headed off to find their salvation , eventually disappearing from sight.
But eight hours later the same bedraggled lot ,  all close to dying from dehydration  ,  came crawling back to where the man was sitting behind his card table. “ Didn’t you find the place I told you about ? "
The Chairman looked up at him, with just about enough strength to say a few departing words, as the shadow of the grim reaper loomed menacingly over him : " Oh yes , we found it alright, but the bastards wouldn't let us in without a tie."

( And so the moral of this tale is clear :  committees have an unfortunate habit of believing that they know what course of action is best , never willing or prepared to take on board the advice of outsiders , who happen to be in a far more knowledgeable position than them. )

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

( By Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

Being on a committee is like being on a train to nowhere ......

- you don't need a ticket to get on
- you don't know why you ever bothered to board the train in the first place
- you don't know where or when the train is going to stop
- most of the the other passengers are feeling the same pain as you 
- moreover , if it stops you certainly don't know whether or not it is the best place to get off
- and if and when you do get off you will find yourself utterly distraught , lost and bewildered ,
  having endured the most mind numbing experience of your life , namely one of tedium,   
  wrapped up in weariness , and buried under piles of boredom

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


AM I BEING OVERLY SUSPICIOUS ? ......( Article by Johnny Supremo )

The other night my partner and I had a torrid time. We made quite a few uncharacteristic mistakes, but somehow the Gods were on the side of our opponents. 
However , there was one board we played , against a regular pairing of some standing , which made me feel very uneasy indeed. More often than not they deliberate over their bids as you would expect of players who think intelligently about the game ,  always looking to make highly constructive bids whenever possible.
Well, on the hand shown opposite , my LHO opened 1S , and no sooner had my partner passed , my RHO immediately plonked a 2S bid on the table. The change in tempo had all the hallmarks of a super light raise.
Despite having 14 HCPs and a 4 card heart suit , the vulnerability was not in my favour. So rather timidly I elected to pass , and duly took my medicine as 2S came rolling home. 
But what really stuck in my craw was that my LHO also passed quickly despite having extra values. For if responder also had the king of hearts or clubs ( still justifying a 2S response on 6 HCPs ) , then 4S has more than a reasonable chance of making.
Was it unfair of me to have suspicions about an enhanced , albeit tacit understanding on their part  ? Or am I right in assuming there is more to the art of bidding than correct card selection ?

Monday, 10 March 2014


Sunday, 9 March 2014

( From Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi ) 

Having listed many of my concerns and observations about ZTP in my previous blog , along with a posted comment to Paul Cronin's " Signs Of The Times " article , I received the following reply. This I felt was a personal attack on me rather than an attempt to endorse the merits of this new flagship approach to tackle bad behaviour at the bridge tables. Certainly , his reply was not in keeping with the spirit of ZT , given the extent of negativity contained in his remarks.

paul cronin
March 6th, 2014 at 5:43 pm
It is not news that you are opposed to Zero Tolerance, JHG, and your recent blog on same is more to be pitied than scorned. What would be actually helpful is your providing some real cases where ZT has done the harm to which you constantly refer. But somehow I don’t think you’re going to do that. Your call for “less tolerance” or “measured tolerance” is ……….interesting………would you make the same call in instances of pedophilia, ethnic cleansing, or torturing people? If not, then how can the concept of Zero Tolerance be “totally flawed”? You always make me think of the line from Hamlet “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. But, given that the primary penalty for a ZT infraction is 1/4 of a board subtracted from your score, perhaps I should be thinking instead of “Much Ado About Nothing”.
Well , given that this much revered ZTP aims to crack down up negative comments ,  on which on a second transgression requires offenders to be barred from future competitions , I can't help but wonder whether the punishment is in far excess of the crime. The problem in this instance  is being able to distinguish negative comments from sharp constructive criticism seemingly justified in certain circumstances. 
However , my main concern is the subjectivity and potential bias of the director , which raises questions as to whether his/her judgement is going to be fair and impartial. Given that particular circumstances of the alleged incident are not going to be taken into account with regards to possible mitigating factors ,  ZT certainly appears to have its flaws.
Anyway , Paul asks whether or not I had any examples of failed ZT policies,  which as it happens are numerous whenever one reviews its impact in schools. Consequently , I would like all those who are interested in this debate to read the following article lifted from the net.    

Zero Tolerance = Zero Common Sense = Zero Justice

This page is devoted to challenging and exposing primary and secondary school administrators' mindlessly inflexible enforcement of so-called "zero-tolerance" policies, which dictate that all infractions -- however minor or inadvertent -- against certain regulations will be punished as major offenses.
Don't get me wrong -- I understand the desire to make a strong statement against drugs, weapons, and harassment in schools. I can even understand it when school administrators reserve for themselves the right to punish infractions according to their own discretion and judgement, after taking into account the individual circumstances of each particular case -- even though the violations may sometimes appear to be minor, or merely technical.
What I can't understand is when school administrators deny themselves such discretion, and refuse to take into account the particular circumstances of each case -- elevating "zero-tolerance" into a rigid and absolute standard that is more important than teaching and learning, and also more important than common sense and justice.
This intentional self-lobotomization on the part of school administrators, this deliberate choice to turn themselves into mindlessly inflexible bureaucrat-droids, has produced results that would be pathetically ludicrous -- except that it's no laughing matter when innocent children, who have no criminal or malicious intent, have their learning disrupted by long expulsions, or are labelled as "drug-smugglers", "weapons-carriers", or "sexual harassers" in semi-permanent academic records that may be shown to law-enforcement officials or potential employers.
Apparently some bureaucrats feel that the highest purpose of educational policy is to produce a maze of rules and regulations in the spirit of "CYA", a code which will prescribe administrators' minutest decisions -- and so allow them to fend off all legal or political second-guessing by pointing out that their actions were dictated by, and were in full conformance with, sub-section §547862(b)(xcvii) sub-paragraph ±37½ clause 97-D. Well, I have news for these so-called "educators": taxpayers pay their salaries in order for them to make wise decisions in the furtherance of learning (remember "learning"?), not to be automatons with well-shielded rear ends. When administrators (or school boards) bind their own hands in this way with rigid and inflexible codes, what they're really saying is that they have no confidence in their own ability to do the job that the public expects them to do (to make good decisions based at least partly on the particular details of each individual matter) -- in which case they should perhaps consider going into some other line of work.

[7/99 note: This page was originally written in 2/98, but nothing that has happened since then has caused me to change my mind. The zero-tolerance policies which have caused so many problems -- and held up so many school authorities to national and international ridicule and derision, not to mention lawsuits -- have never been those which prohibit actual firearms; and in any case, the way to prevent crime in schools is not to expell 10-year-olds whose parents happen to have packed a butter knife in their lunchbox, but rather for adults to be perceptively aware and responsive to the conditions of individual students.]

This next page is very much under construction; it was pretty much dormant for a year and half, but I have started working on it again, and hope to regularly add brief summaries and/or links to media accounts of some of the more ridiculous and sad cases that have gained public attention, and also links to various commentaries and discussions on "zero tolerance" extremism in primary and secondary education. I will also include on this page any thoughtful comments (they may be vehement, but must be reasoned) that I receive at the e-mail (Please feel free to copy the small image at left for use on your own web-page.)


(This page contains numerous links that are only checked and updated once every several months or so, so that most of the time there will probably be at least a few bad, outdated links to external sites.)

 A few noteworthy articles:

Quote: "Test cases of school district zero tolerance policies reported in the media from 1988 to 1993 did involve difficult judgments about the severity of the punishment, but they were also clearly concerned with weapons and drugs [...] Over time, however, increasingly broad interpretations of zero tolerance have resulted in a near epidemic of suspensions and expulsions for seemingly trivial events."
Quote: "When did using your judgment go out of style? Why are people frantically trying to abandon what slim responsibility they possess in favor of rigid rules and procedures? What is wrong with letting individual educators decide on a case-by-case basis? If we trust them so little that we need rules for all they do, then they shouldn't be left alone with kids in the first place." 

So yes , I still remain unconvinced that " zero " tolerance is right , preferring instead a much more flexible common sense policy , where the focus is to train directors to use their discretion wisely , freeing themselves , as far as humanly possible , from questionable subjective interpretations and bias. The above quote says it all.

Saturday, 8 March 2014


Nearly all bridge players experience a run of bad results in their time at the tables, all of which eat away at their self-belief of being good at the game. However , for some players this nagging doubt manifests itself into the full blown naff player syndrome. Indeed , once this syndrome locks in they quickly start to accept that their earlier successes clearly over-exaggerated their true ability , and that in truth they are not as good as they first thought . Victims of NPS reach an unpalatable conclusion that they are both inept and clueless when it comes to bridge.
Sadly , the syndrome is not one linked to feelings of self-doubt or loss of self-confidence. Neither is it linked to negative feelings or fantasies about themselves.  The condition is more associated with a higher level of self-awareness and self-appraisal : a new acquired ability to see themselves , their own shortcomings , failures and disabilities. Therefore , as a consequence the treatment required involves a crash course in self-delusion and ego inflation. 
Clients are encouraged to believe in the opposite of what is true.
As a pioneer in successfully treating NPS victims , I have devised a foolproof 4 step plan, which is outlined as follows :
1. When and if other players scorn you , then simply don't believe them . They are just projecting their failings and shortcomings onto you. 
2. Believe that your best results reflect the gifted type of player you really are , and that your worst results have only come about as having the hideous misfortune to encounter bad luck , naff partners and cheating opponents.
3. Actively seek out clubs where the standard of opponents is woefully weak , in order for you to build up unprecedented levels of confidence following the non-stop butchering of these bunnies week in week out.
4. Write articles on bridge , or blogs , giving yourself credence that you are now a celebrity and expert on all matters related to the game : a person fully endowed with pearls of wisdom on how the game should be played. 

Every bridge player has this syndrome to one extent or another. No matter how full on they look at something , not everything in the picture is duly noted or recorded. 
For instance when players sit down to play , they might notice which honour cards have been played but remain utterly oblivious as to what spot cards are left outstanding. Hence the origin of the term " blind spot " syndrome. As the condition becomes more acute , players fail to see their partner's signals , or take notice of opponents' discards . Blind spots then cause them to miss out on the fact that they had established winners to cash ,  which inevitably went begging. In extreme cases , victims with this affliction fail to see any of the clues which help flag up the full distributional layout of the hand. 
Sadly this affliction is not restricted to what goes on at the tables. Indeed , the most serious cases of BSS affect those who sit on club committees. Whenever they are faced with a problem , their blind spots restrict their ability to see the enormity of it. Some psycho-analysts equate this phenomenon to having an elephant in the room ,  which represents the cold truth which no one wants to face up to , or recognise. This suggests that blind spots are not random or accidental , but are selective and deliberate , a form of self-delusion and denial.
Further studies on bridge players have concluded that part of the condition is the ability to magnify a blind spot ( akin to closing an eye ) to shut out all painful realities, which would otherwise stare them straight in the face. This ability to avoid seeing the truth suggests that all those suffering from BSS have acquired nearly all the characteristics of either mad men or fools.
In some cases the blind spots relate to themselves , as they do with all of us. " It turns out that we all have these particular blind spots , and the only way to identify them and deal with them is to ask someone , who has a different perspective and who will be honest enough , to tell us the truth about ourselves ". No easy task when blind spots hamper one's ability to see the truth and be honest.
Latest research regarding bridge players with BSS has revealed 4 different types  : 
1. Resisting the truth at all cost
2. Refusing to change direction even when logic and reason dictates otherwise
3. Maintaining a detached personality at all times
4. Avoiding any attempt to find an obvious or optimum solution to a problem
Not surprising then that treatment of this condition has become so difficult ,  special courses have been put on with the aim of increasing the number of psycho-analysts capable of dealing with such awkward and obstinate clients. 



Friday, 7 March 2014


Thursday, 6 March 2014


Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Without a shadow of doubt it is a FLAWED CONCEPT and should be scrapped. It flies in the face of wisdom handed down over the centuries , and the most recent reports on its use in schools , work situations and policing paint a damning indictment. " Why bother with it ? " one might ask ? Why indeed. Well, allow me to make the following observations about zero tolerance policies :
- often target the wrong behaviour and punish the wrong people
- sound like a good idea in theory but in practice they go very , very wrong
- force administrators to show no tolerance for things which do require a degree of tolerance
- encourage discrimination by opening the doors that allow anybody to be got at
- play into the hands of unscrupulous people who will target certain individuals 
- help create a climate of fear since any violation will be observed and ruthlessly dealt with
- fail to take into account the particular circumstances of the case
- fail to embrace the principle of " mitigating factors " so essential in administering justice
- have proven to be a minefield of unintended consequences
- are potentially dangerous if administered by the spiteful and vindictive people
- are inherently and morally wrong
- may be right in some cases, but these are few and far between
- by attempting to create unambiguous statements about right and wrong , true justice becomes
  impossible objective
- usurp common sense in that they stand for zero discretion
- fail to provide safeguards for the innocent
- imply ( by the use of the word " zero" ) that any behaviour deemed unacceptable is wrong
  from the start , an absurd concept which can never be right
- adopt a heavy-handed approach to problems often best solved by a softly , softly one 
- are nothing more than psychotic in nature , in the strict sense of the word : where     
  psychotic means " out of touch with reality "  

So no, I am not in favour of zero tolerance polices .  Less tolerance yes. Measured tolerance yes. But " zero " smacks of medieval justice and hanging a starving child for stealing a piece of bread. If behaviour in bridge clubs has sunk to a level where administrators believe zero tolerance is the solution , then there is no hope at all for the survival of the game. One evil simply replacing another does not make any logical sense. Zero tolerance is a totally flawed concept.

( Footnote : One famous quote by Jean Jacques Rousseau always sticks in my mind : " Do not judge , and you will never be mistaken " )

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


There's no doubt about it , the inmates have taken over the asylum. This club's much trumpeted sub-zero tolerance policy has really back-fired big time. It was about five years ago when I first visited this venue , which at that time went under the name Fun Palace BC. It was full of colourful characters ,  weirdos and oddballs , many of which possessed eccentric personalities. What made them fascinating and appealing was their loud , opinionated , boisterous , and argumentative banter , often enhanced by cheeky rudeness , sarcastic quips and mischievous asides. They were always at the center of controversies , scandals , shocking rumours , great stories and amusing incidents. They gave the place a real buzz  , not to mention the excitement in the anticipation that something newsworthy was going to happen. And although some members felt uncomfortable or intimidated by their awesome presence , the majority accepted them in the same way we learn to accept the bumping , pushing ,  hustle ,  bustle , and argy bargy that happens whenever one goes shopping a busy department store. 

However , when I revisited the club ,  appropriately renamed  "Benign "  ,  I was struck dumb. In fact I was shocked to the core , and deepened saddened by the transformation that had taken place.  Table numbers had fallen by half , and the ratio of men to woman had changed dramatically in favour of the fairer sex. Prudish , prim and proper attitudes were clearly in ascendancy. Members moved about as though they were walking on eggshells. Conversations were quiet , polite , superficial , shallow and annoyingly cliched. But worst of all was the lack of atmosphere in the place. Dead was not a word that could fully describe it. Even morgues offered a more lively alternative. Members seemed racked with fear and trepidation . careful not to offend anyone by word or gesture.  Indeed , they had all developed the knack of maintaining a dead pan facial expression plastered with a well manufactured smile. Emotions were held firmly in check. They all wore best behaviour badges on strait jackets of conformity. It was horrible to see.

So can anyone name me a competitive sport where the participants are forced to behave like mice and not men , lambs and not lions ,  bunny rabbits and not wolves , or a bunch of goody-two-shoes and not demons ? I doubt it. Who wants to play in an arena full of pussy-footing, overly sensitive, extremely delicate Mother Teresas . Not me for sure. The purification of the bridge scene here at the Benign BC represents the end of bridge as I once knew it ....and cherished.

What options then am I left with if zero tolerance becomes the future of bridge. Well , thankfully there is a place in little old England where bridge is played in a hot-bed of passion , incident , excitement and intrigue.  A place where men are " real " men , and where woman also know how to mix it. Yes....I'm talking about the Slaughter House  BC , run and owed by Howard Bigot-Johnson.....a modern version of Sir Francis Dashwood's infamous Hell-fire Club......the perfect place for card-loving , sado-masochistic , pleasure seeking hedonists who like to experience life on the edge.


Monday, 3 March 2014


-  Is it safe to talk here ?
-  God only knows...... walls in this place have ears.....
-  You see , I 'm beginning to have doubts about the committee's wisdom in ruthlessly pursuing  
    this insane sub-zero tolerance policy 
-  Why's that ?
-  Well , the other night the director had to deal with 45 table incidents .....but what was even
    more alarming was the fact that 31 other people wanted him to deal with the same bunch of 
    out-of-order opponents.........only to be told to put down their complaints in writing 
-  And what were these complaints all about ?
-  Oh...the usual things .....coughing into their hands and not their handkerchiefs.......speaking 
   out of turn.....moving bridgemates across the table without the keeper's permission........ 
   cracking jokes........making harmless jibes..... failing to greet opponents with a warm smile an
   and hello     
-  My God......whatever next
-  Yes....this business of having to call directors over , simply because players have been 
    encouraged to spill the beans , has turned this place into one massive hell-hole.....where
    nobody dare say anything..........not even boo to a goose. Why can't members be allowed to
    take the initiative and call a spade a spade.......or a cheat a cheat ?     
-  Well, the policy makes sense to me because members mustn't be allowed to let altercations 
    escalate in full blown shouting matches
- just don't get it....this damn policy is turning members into snitches . informers , 
   stool-pigeons , tell-tale betrayers well as moulding them into compliant , pretentiously  
   nice , ever-so-creepy , obsequious, personality dead robots