Saturday, 28 February 2015

" WE DID NOTHING WRONG " : THE MANTRA OF ALL COMMITTEES............ ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

Albert Einstein once said " it is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil from the spirit of man ". Indeed , the main problem in life is not one of physics but of ethics. If no one can overcome his/her inner demons, instincts and feelings when making decisions , how can anyone expect committees to behave any differently. Decisions are imperfect because they are shaped by imperfect human beings.
Put together a group of people into a world of inflated egos ,  domineering personalities and petty politics , then we have a recipe for disaster. Decisions become the product of " collective failings ", which always exceed the sum of the individuals' failings. Negative synergy for want of a better term. 
Sir Barnett Cocks had a rather amusing but perceptive of a committee , being nothing more than a " cul-de-sac down which common sense and rational thinking are lured and then quietly strangled ", such is the dominance of those in control to maintain control over the others. For me the real weakness of a committee becomes savagely exposed , when it is required to take on a quasi-judicial function over disciplinary matters ,  combining the roles of  prosecutor, judge and jury in the process. The likelihood of getting things wrong becomes all too inevitable. 
Because let's face the facts here. Committees are made up of amateurs , non-experts in the field of law. Legal issues involved in contentious suspensions and/or expulsions in the realm of unincorporated associations and small private social clubs are never clear cut. Nothing is ever black and white. In short , the topic area of law is a legal minefield , where legal certainties are few and far between. So how a committee could ever say " well , we did nothing wrong " beggars belief , when a more sensible approach needs to be adopted , such as asking " Well did we do anything wrong  ? " .
Arrogance and ignorance are two notorious bedfellows who all too often climb into bed with committee members . Once committee members believe that they know best , well intended warnings and advice fall on deaf ears. Over the years , countless articles have been written on the failings of committees , and my research has come up with a list of 10 classic mistakes that disciplinary committees have been known to make.

1. Solving problems with a gung-ho approach . Failing to recognise that there are no perfect solutions and that cost-benefit analysis is a useful technique to find the best way forward.. 

2. Lack of proper research on the financial , economic and legal implications following a particular decision. Knock-on effects can be endless. Long-term implications need to be into account alongside the more obvious short-term consequences . 

3. Not fully understanding the nature, roles and responsibility of the job they are being asked to do. The first and foremost duty a committee member is under is to ensure the long-term financial viability of the club, and therefore not to invite potential law suits and costly litigation.  

4. Blindness to personal prejudices. It's all too easy to see bias in others while failing to see bias within themselves. 

5. A tendency to focus on their own interests and agendas , often to the exclusion of what's best for the members of the club. Committee's develop an introverted view that they are the " club " , and that their vision for the club's future represents the membership as a whole. 

6. Choosing to put gut feeling and instinct ahead of cold logic and rational thinking

7. Avoiding the difficult questions. Also known as the elephant in the room. Choosing to step or skirt around a crucial issue just because it might cause an unpalatable change in direction is not the way to go about decision making. 

8. Taking themselves too seriously and perceiving themselves as " masters " rather than the " servants " of those who elected them into office.

9. Believing that they know best. 

10. No training or natural orientation to do the job in question. Acting in a quasi-judicial capacity requires a certain skill set. When it becomes evident that the task might well be beyond their level of competence , then now is the time to seek advice or all in outside expertise. 

In conclusion , I would like to leave you with the words of Paul Valery , who had this to say about those who sit on judgement upon others : " Our judgements judge us , and nothing reveals us , exposes our weaknesses more ingeniously than the attitude of pronouncing upon our fellows. "    

Friday, 27 February 2015





















Tuesday, 24 February 2015

AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT : For the first time ever we have published a law report which breaks all censorship boundaries. Using all the latest joke-gathering techniques , including state-of-the-art satirical pieces , pin-point parody and good old fashioned toilet humour, Bizarrebridgeworld has pieced together a masterpiece.


With the purge still in full swing , Pandora found herself at the mercy of a rather cut and dried disciplinary process. Fuming that the internal club appeal failed to set aside the committee's initial decision to sling her out , the case eventually found its way to the Supreme Court In London on which a landmark precedent was going be set. Bigot-Johnson , stubbornly refusing to heed best legal advice, went ahead as usual to present the club's case. A key extract from the trial's transcript can be seen below.

Judge : Are you telling this court, Bigot , that poor Pandora Pantopod never got an initial hearing ?
B-J : Too damn right she didn't . Her fate was sealed as soon as she brought that dog muck onto the premises , stuck to the soles of her shoes. The criminal damage she caused to the carpets was unforgivable. It was a foregone conclusion as to what the committee's decision was going to be.
Judge : And what about the fact that many members on the committee were known to harbour extreme negative views about her , which to even impartial observers amounted to bias? 
B-J : Good God man , have you ever played bridge against this infernal woman ? Because if you had .... you would also harbour the same degree of hatred and loathing I have towards her.
Judge : Well , I hate to upset you....... but Pandora was entitled to be treated with fundamental fairness , which requires an initial hearing comprised of committtee members with open minds, free of pre-judgements and bias.
B-J : But the silly bitch never asked for a hearing ?
Judge : She didn't have to.....the onus was on you to offer her one......and in the light of the punishment you had planned.....strong words of advice should have been sent out for her to attend and be heard. 
B-J : But the punishment was proportionate given her appalling disciplinary record over the years  
Judge : Sadly we are not here to review the decision , just the manner and way the disciplinary process was carried out.
B-J : Give me a break..... we spent hours and hours collected dirt on her.....if she hadn't got enough already on the soles of her shoes. Why we even held a re-enactment that cost another few hundred pounds in cleaning costs , hiring off an off-the-street tart to play her part.
Judge : And according to evidence provided by the plaintiff's counsel , it was your dog's random droppings , which she inadvertently stepped on while crossing the lawn of the Slaughter House BC gardens. Moreover , all the outside lighting was out of action for lack of proper maintenance ...... which therefore places a big burden of blame upon yourself.
B-J : Oh shit....but hey I have a real Ace in my pack to play here today
Judge : Yes.....please enlighten me ?
B-J : Pandora did get a hearing after all in the form of an internal appeal which took place two years later
Judge : So I take it then the ban was put on hold until the appeal panel had its say ?
B-J : Like hell it bloody point.....the appeal panel also figured her expulsion was nothing more than a foregone conclusion
Judge : What didn't set out to find panelists with completely open minds, who were prepared to consider the possible shortcomings and errors of the committee?
B-J : Please allow me to put you right on a point...... the three names randomly selected from the hat were all members of the club...... who the committee trusted
Judge : Trusted ?
B-J : Trusted to do a good job and back the committee all the way. 
Judge : What other names were put in the hat ?
B-J : Just those three fact the only hat we could lay our hands was a barbie doll hat just big enough for three bits of paper
Judge : Who were these members ?
B-J : Freddy Axman , Chopper Harris......and MIke McChete
Judge : Three good men you reckoned would do a great hatchet job
B-J : Too right !  And if you name the right price......they'll do any job you want...... cleanly and questions asked
Judge : Like at the appeal ?
B-J : Hold on a mo....their job was to listen to one side's case... and ignore the other. Goddamnit the whole charade ooops appeal....took over 8 hours with Pandora going on and on about injustice , spurious allegations of bias and unfairness and breaches of rules of natural justice. The whole debacle could have taken less than 2 hours if she had bothered to let legal counsel do her talking
Judge : But she did bring legal counsel with her , a respected member of the club , only to be told by the panel that he was not welcome and to keep his mouth firmly closed
B-J : Oh yes.....that was a unfortunate oversight. 
Judge : Just the like the one of failing to acknowledge fundamental mistakes made by you and the committee, requiring them to declare your decision invalid. These mistakes were so flagrant .....and so obvious. And with evidence suggesting that the appeal process itself was similarly tainted with procedural misgivings .....this appeal was never going to be in a position to make things right.
B-J : Yet ...the chairman stated weeks before how right were were....... and much he was in support of our decision to sling her out
Judge : Enough.....I find for the plaintiff .....and I'm sure my colleagues will concur with my analysis and decision 


Friday, 20 February 2015



Thursday, 19 February 2015


Sunday, 15 February 2015

LEGAL MINEFIELDS : THEY ARE EVERYWHERE....... ( A revisited topic by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

The law relating to small private social clubs remains sketchy at best. The impact of a member being suspended or expelled is not quite so devastating as a dismissed employee , who suffers as an immediate consequence serious economic or financial loss. Courts would prefer to wash their hands of the affairs of small private clubs, leaving the parties in dispute to resolve their disputes by any other available alternative.
Nevertheless , when a real injustice has been done,  courts have been prepared to intervene.

The bottom line for the courts is club members , who are subject to disciplinary proceedings , are entitled to be treated in a fundamentally fair way. The two key elements to this fundamental fairness is ( i )  the member gets a hearing and ( ii) the committee members involved in the decision making are not biased.
Straightforward you would think ?  But no. Nothing is ever that black and white.
The audi alteram partem rule holds that a man shall not be condemned without being given a chance to be heard in his own defence. The rule is so basic to jurisprudence that it is often termed a rule of natural justice. Fairness is the overriding factor in deciding whether a person may claim a legitimate entitlement to be heard. 
So what would an observer make of a situation where a member was expelled without a hearing , with the ban taking immediate effect. Should a decision made in violation of natural justice be set aside , especially if it is to be implemented immediately ?
Moreover , once a decision has been reached in violation of natural justice , even if it has not been implemented , can a subsequent hearing rescue the situation as a meaningful substitute ?
At this point we enter the legal minefield. 
The starting point is to assume that the prejudicial decision will be set aside as procedurally invalid. Yet there are , quite rightly , some limited situations where a subsequent hearing or appeal will constitute compliance with natural justice , but only if , in all the circumstances , it was sufficiently fair to have the effect of curing the failure to hold a hearing before.
Previous cases suggest real difficulty in resolving this question. 
Any failure of natural justice at the initial hearing ( if there was one at all ) cannot be cured by a sufficiency of natural justice at the appeal appears to be the starting point, but there are of course obvious exceptions. Clubs must be allowed to correct their mistakes , even the gravest ones. However , the Privy Council were keen to point out that if the effect of whatever it was that vitiated the initial decision is perpetrated so as to taint the appeal process , there can be no question of the latter curing the former.
Moreover , even if the appeal process were not intrinsically tainted by the earlier proceedings , the circumstances may be such that consideration of fairness demands that both the initial decision and the appeal process , judged separately , be lawful and procedurally fair. As Lord Wilberforce correctly stated " naturally there may be instances when the defect is so flagrant , the consequences so severe , that the most perfect of appeals or rehearings will not be sufficient to produce a just and fair result . Rules are now in place which anticipate such a situation ,  giving power to the courts to remit for a new hearing. " 
As to whether a court will entertain the proposition that damages may be awarded for wrongful expulsion of a member from a private club , there are very few authoritative precedents to go on.  Nevertheless courts around the world have been moving in the direction of comparing benefits and obligations of the club's by-laws to a contractual relationship between the member and the club. In one South African  case the court reached the conclusion that such an analogy was appropriate. Other commonwealth common law cases were cited where damages were awarded for breach of contract , regarding members who were expelled in a manner not in accordance with the clubs' rules. Thus , it appears theoretically possible to claim damages for breach of contract upon wrongful expulsion from a private club.
As I said before it's a legal minefield.



Saturday, 14 February 2015


Yet again the Walnut Tree Allotment Society BC committee were forced to severely reprimand Bigot-Johnson for a flagrant breach of the club's rules with regards to its revised dress code. Having been slung out after the briefest of hearings , Bigot decided once again to argue in court that the expulsion was both wrongful and invalid. This time he decided to hire a top barrister from London to fight his corner. A short extract from the trial's transcript appears below . )

Counsel for the plaintiff  (CP ) : Your Honour....I represent Howard Bigot-Johnson , who is by all accounts a world famous blogger and household name 
Judge : Never heard of him......he looks likes a sailor in that ridiculous outfit
CP : He's a trifle odd I must admit , but I am indebted to your Honour for your astute observation. However , let me assure you that he is a familiar face in the bridge scene here in the UK, and his face is well known in the bawdy pubs and brothels , which are in close proximity to tournaments venues up and down this country.
Judge : I don't suppose you have details of these establishments ?
CP : Well , as a matter of fact I do....
Judge : Well pass them over please....
CP : There you go your Honour....But if I may return to the matter in hand , which is the mean , vindictive and wrongful expulsion of my client from this club. 
Judge : I do recall the counsel for the defendants establishing the fact that Bigot turned up to a teams event with three young , gorgeous looking , well endowed , topless slappers in his team ,
of which many photographs were taken as evidence of his misconduct. Moreover , the defence counsel established that the club had the strictest of dress code policies anywhere to be found in the world of bridge.
CP : Indeed they did , the puritans. However , close scrutiny of the dress code regulations lists hundreds of items which cannot be worn , but there is no mention of a lack of clothing which would constitute a breach of the rules. In short a birthday suit was not on the list. As it happens all three ladies were from nudist colony bridge clubs , where hundreds of men and women regularly play bridge in the buff
Judge : Are they here as witnesses ?
CP : Unfortunately not
Judge : That's a shame
CP : But I have a dossier , packed with photos , of these nudist colony bridge clubs which demonstrate how well attended... and popular.... their duplicate sessions are. This provides clear evidence of how times are changing and how more liberal minded our society is becoming...
Judge: May I have a look at this dossier ?
CP : Of course
Judge : Phew ! Is it me or is it getting hot in here. Please tell the staff to turn off the radiators , open the windows ....and to fetch me a bucket of ice-cold water.
CP : Therefore , I submit to you your Honour that there was no breach of any dress code rule , and as a consequence there are no grounds whatsoever for the committee to charge my client with misconduct . The expulsion was both wrongful and invalid. 
Judge : I'm terribly sorry but I missed all that.....I was still catching up with the contents of this dossier
CP : I understand. Your attention to detail is both admirable and commendable. So allow me to recap.....there was no breach of the dress valid charge against my grounds on which to expel my client from the club
Judge : I agree.....that was a very succinct , cogent and logical argument. Freedom of dress should be enshrined in our laws like freedom of speech. Just look at the ludicrous gowns and wigs we have to wear. In a liberal society like ours , there should be no place for people with fixed, rigid rules about dress . God was happy giving fig leaves to Adam and Eve....and keeping fleshy bits under wraps restricts people's ability to absorb sunlight into their skin to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D .....essential for fighting off infectious skin diseases. Therefore I find for the plaintiff
CP : I'm indebted to you , your Honour for seeing sense , and it would seem most appropriate for you to keep the dossier as a memento of this momentous trial 
Judge : I am forced to admit my eyesight is poor. Is there any chance of getting hold of some blow ups ?
CP : Photographs or plastic dolls ?
Judge : Both please
CP : Take it as done....
B-J : Bugger that's what I'll call a result


Dear Committee ,
I am so sorry about being caught on camera cheating at the table. I really thought my timed doubles and hesitations were a foolproof way of communicating my point count. Obviously not.
I'm so sorry about letting down all those other club members , who regularly practice the dark art of soft cheating. Sadly , I have raised suspicions of those few honest players , who were once blissfully ignorant of what was going on around them.
I'm so sorry that I have put yourselves into an invidious and embarrassing position of having to acknowledge the problem , which indeed compels you to do something. I'm so sorry about letting the elephant enter the committee room. God , with so many others there I bet there's no room to breathe. 
Mind you , I was personally shocked and taken back by the fact a member actually caught me out when that damned infernal internal security camera was pointing at my table. Then of course he had the gall to check out the video tape for back-up evidence of my stop-watch antics. Heavens above, what the hell is this club coming to ?. Have members suddenly developed a sense of awareness along side a resurrected moral conscience ? 
But what's awful about this whole affair is that my dear old partner was mortified when he accused of being an accomplice and co-conspirator. The poor man was beside himself on learning that our so-called perfect system of communicating unauthorised information was far from perfect. Now he fears his results will go from bad to worse if made to play by the book.
However , it is important for you to remember that we are small tiddlers in a pond filled with menacing sharks with far more sophisticated methods of cheating than ours. We are just the visible tip of a dark , corrupt and immoral iceberg. If you choose to dig deeper into this endemic problem within the club , you'll be digging holes for yourselves. You see ....... I know what most of you get up to at the tables. Therefore , you can't allow yourselves to get carried away by making a dingo's bollocks out of this tiny unfortunate incident. 
Just accept my humble apologies , and do what all previous committees have done : turn the proverbial blind eye , or simply brush the problem under the carpet.

Yours sincerely,
AN OPEN LETTER TO CARP..............

Sir , 
Like so many of the other run-of-the-mill players , I was appalled by your inference that given the numbers involved with soft cheating , the best thing clubs can do is to allow and approve such antics.
Are you stark raving bonkers , or what ? Don't you realise it's doing the forbidden , which gives the soft cheaters their biggest kicks. Being naughty is fun. We all know that the administrators subscribe to the notion that rules are rules , and that the game of bridge would become a pointless farce if rules are not adhered to , but that notion now belongs to a bygone age. One which needs to be scuppered for once and for all. 
With any competitive game the key objective is to win by circumventing , bending and breaking the rules. This is what any self-respecting , committed-to-win, sportsman and woman believes in. Golfers for instance see the game as having three major obstacles to overcome : the opponents , the courses, and lastly but not least.... the rules. 
Over here in England , cricket fans will remember a famous test match at Trent Bridge in 1992 , when the number four batsman hit a ball towards the mid-off boundary , only for a dog to run onto the pitch ,pick the ball up in its mouth and run off. For twenty minutes the canine dodger successfully managed to evade all attempts by the fielders to recover the ball. Meanwhile , the unsporting batsmen kept running between the wickets to clock up 89 runs in the process , before the ball was eventually retrieved and returned to the bowler's end. When the opposition captain was asked afterwards what he would have done in the same circumstances , he promptly replied : " I would have run a damn sight faster and clocked up a century ! " 
Clearly , dedicated sportsmen will seize any opportunity coming their way which could help them on their way to glory, fame , success ,and hero acclaim. The innate desire to exploit loopholes in the rules is as strong as the desire to ignore them. No one wants to get rid of the rules , but most people believe the rules don't necessarily apply to them. In fact , it is needs to be noted that the umpire correctly took the batsman aside to give him a lecture alongside a gentle reprimand , but then seemed more than happy to confirm with the scorer that 89 runs should be added to their total.
All games need rules to set boundaries, which ( for me ) are there to be crossed , when it seems sensible to do so. Therefore , the idea that we should allow and approve soft cheating is both repulsive and insane. The challenge that many bridge players relish is to see how far " they can get away with murder ", and how far " they can cheat without being caught ". Legalising soft cheating would simply turn the game of bridge into joyless and fun-starved activity.
Winning may be the ultimate goal , but it is the manner and way in which a player goes about the pursuit of success where the real pleasure lies. Pulling fast ones over opponents. Conning TDs. Developing and trying out new secret signalling codes. Being devious and deceptive. Being naughty in fact. 
Surely , no one can deny the fact that forbidden practices , like fruit , provide a much sweeter taste .....not to mention a much more rewarding experience. 

Yours at it more than most ,
                                      Ima Slighfox       


It's all too easy , isn't it , to turn a blind eye to a problem you are a part of , and think  " Oh stuff it.... trying to stay ethical , honest and fair is just too hard....when the choice is between allowing the human condition to prevail , or attempting to discipline yourself by selflessly adopting a strict moral and ethical attitude ( which will more than likely likely to impair your results ) . Surely , one's natural inclination is to achieve the best results possible ".
And why not , I ask myself ? If everyone is up to no good , with their dodgy practices and coffee-housing tactics , then keeping par with them requires me to follow suit, so to speak.  Recent surveys , carried out by The Institute of Pointless Studies, reveal that most players subscribe to the same mantra of " if you can't beat them then join them " and " isn't life a rat race after all ? ".
So unfortunately , there really isn't an alternative. Why ? Because the sad truth is the game of bridge would die a sudden death if players were made to behave in a completely honest and ethical way. The large majority would rather give up the game than change habits of a lifetime , and sacrifice of what limited chances they had to achieve even a modicum of success. 
Just think about it for a minute. A bridge event where all the participants bid and play the cards in tempo , never passing on even a smidgen of unauthorised information across to their partners. Total honesty. Total integrity. Total trust. A perfectly level playing field.  No cheating of any kind whatsoever. Now tell me that isn't wishful thinking ?  A pie-in-the-sky dream ? An amazing Utopian world of bridge ? 
Well, because the reality of the game today is the total opposite of the above ,  I feel it is a necessity for all bridge clubs ( including Bob MacKinnon's ) to accept the inevitable , and declare categorically to all their members " ANYTHING GOES "  and  " DO UNTO OTHERS WHAT THEY DO UNTO YOU ". This official sanctioning and approval of soft cheating will mean players are no longer under any pressure to conform , or go through the pretence of conforming , to those burdensome ethical standards and rules. Now they are in a position to really enjoy their bridge ,  giving free reign to their human condition to push their moral consciences aside. Moreover , if everyone comes to accept soft cheating as a legitimate aspect of the game ,  then the world of bridge might not seem too bad a place after all. 


One member of The Slaughter House Bridge Club committee passed on information to a group of ordinary members what appeared to be  the truth.
This sensational departure from custom and tradition had all the senior committee members spitting feathers and planning severe retribution. This inadvertent act of whistle blowing has resulted in a major cover up and damage limitation response.
The errant now ex-committee member immediately apologised, telling reporters " I don't know what came over me. I guess my moral conscience got the better of my commitment to honouring the sacred oath what's said in committee stays in committee. I just blurted it out without realising I was in breach of my duty to keep all committee shenanigans absolutely secret and confidential ".
Asked if he was going to resign his club membership on the grounds that he was unfit member, he said " You're right. I have let everyone down. The chairman , the committee, my colleagues and the membership as a whole. It's was clear that club members weren't interested in the truth, let alone have the mental resolve to handle and cope with it. Even my long standing partners have treated me like a pariah at this difficult time, and I deserve everything that happens to me. Being dubbed as the committee man who told the truth is something I've got to live with , and regret , for the rest of my life. "
At present secret discussions are taking place within committee as to what steps need to be taken to ensure that this kind of whistle blowing outrage never occurs again. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015


" The path of the law is strewn with examples of open and shut cases which , somehow, were not : of unanswered charges , which , in the event, were completely answered : of inexplicable conduct which was fully explained : of fixed and unalterable determinants that , by discussion , suffered a change . "

Yes , far too many club committees foolishly fall into the trap of treating complaints about members' misconduct as nothing more than simple , open and shut cases. Yet the road they embark upon is a quasi-judicial one with potentially dangerous legal consequences and law suits. This means that each step of the process has to be made with open eyes and minds, exercising extreme caution at all times to find that essential solid ground on which to move confidently and safely forward.   

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


( 2008 photo )

A man with many alter egos...... but a man blessed with two beautiful grand-daughters and a grandson ( shown above ) who have made him so very proud and happy   

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

CULTURE CORNER....... ( With yet another stunning example of the Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber's poetic genius )

Entitled  " NIghtmare Blues "

Saw a grown man crying
It wasn't a pretty sight
Oppo could do no wrong
On that cruel and fateful night
Slams went down on 5-0 breaks
Penalty doubles cost him dear
All that early confidence
Quickly turned to fear 
As tears rolled down his face
He just couldn't take the strain
Each and every small mistake
Doubled him up in pain
One rank bottom followed another
But not from want for trying
Bridge gods were against him
And now the man was dying
His will to live was ebbing away
Lady Luck had left his side
There was no one he to turn to
Nowhere to go , nowhere to hide
By the time the session ended  
His mood was very black
He said farewell to his partner
And placed his head upon the track

Monday, 9 February 2015



Sunday, 8 February 2015


It is my most considered view that bridge clubs are nothing more than centres of approved cheating. What has reached epidemic proportions is the low-level soft cheating that goes on , whether it be deliberate or done in bloody-minded ignorance. It is there for all to see if people are prepared to open their eyes and acknowledge the reality of what is going on in front of them......and perhaps the truth about themselves.
Cheating is without doubt the most unfriendly and anti-social act you can commit against others. When a player verbally attacks another , there is one victim. Cheating on the other hands adversely affects and damages everybody participating in the event. The consequence of cheating is that it invalidates the final scoring , the final placings and the event as a whole. To sabotage, degrade and ruin an event is a both selfish and evil act , which defiles the purity and abstract beauty of the most wonderful game in the world. 
And what do the club committees and bridge governing bodies do about this problem ? 
The answer is nothing. Often it is lack of proof , corroborating evidence and the reluctance to investigate , but the most likely reason why cheating of this type is allowed to continue is the irrational and cowardly decision to turn a blind eye and let it happen. At best , alleged culprits are politely asked to play more in tempo , to refrain from asking oh-so-cunning questions , and to desist from making comments , body gestures and facial expressions which partner can glean unauthorised information from. Reporting is never encouraged , rarely takes place and more often than not conveniently forgotten.
But what really takes the biscuit is when cheats , who have been hit with a volley of accusations and insults from irate and frustrated victims ,  have the brass-neck audacity to put in a complaint about their  offensive loud-mouth behaviour. A clear case of the pot calling the kettle black. Inevitably , the cheat's misdemeanors are conveniently brushed aside as the committee throw the rule book at the member clearly found guilty of loud and boisterous criticism. No friendly or honest acknowledgement from the cheats that they were guilty of unethical acts : just more unfriendly and anti-social behaviour in the form of blatant hypocrisy , and lies by denial or omission. 
It needs to be pointed out that cheats have neither a legal nor moral right to do what they do. Not so with a member choosing to be loud and boisterous in criticising an opponent of cheating. As it happens he does a legal right to use speech to deride or expose a player's ethical shortcomings. I agree that the victim is under a duty to help make the club a pleasant and congenial place for others to enjoy their game , and the right to call a TD when seeking redress for any damage to the score the cheating may have brought about. But freedom of speech is right firmly enshrined in English law , which can be exercised in nearly all public and private places. Providing the comments reflect the truth and/or represent fair opinion , the victim of cheating is entitled to have his/her say. 
Cheats commit highly provocative and unfriendly acts. But for the provocation the victim would not have responded or over-reacted in the way he did. At what point then do "  sharp and pointed " remarks overstep the boundaries of " acceptable behaviour " , moving into the realms of venomous abuse possibly bordering on defamation ? Not an easy call.
However , what really matters is that the game needs to be cleaned up. One starting point is to get rid of serial, persistent soft cheaters ( along with the annoyingly provocative slow players ) , and many of those prone to emotional outbursts will revert back to being quiet, pleasant and harmless pussy cats. I would rather be the victim of an unforgiving partner who called me a " useless prat " for missing his suit-preference signal , than the victim of opponents using unauthorised signalling systems. But that's me.
IS THERE ANY POINT AT ALL TO HAVING A DISCIPLINARY HEARING ?................ ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

Not when the committee believe the outcome is a foregone conclusion , it seems.
If say a person viciously attacks and injuries another member in front of dozens of witnesses , it would seem that under any rules of unacceptable conduct , this one-off unprovoked violent act warrants immediate expulsion and permanent loss of membership. So why afford the member the right to a hearing, when the obvious outcome is going to be a life ban ? 
Yet the answer is this : a hearing is an absolute requirement given that the committee is under a legal obligation to do so under its own regulations and/or the law of the land. To say " we didn't hold a hearing because there was no point " contradicts logic , commonsense , fairness, equity and justice , which all subscribe to the creed there is always a point to having a hearing. Justice in order to be done has to be seen to be done.
In one highly instructive case from America , La Gorce County Club v. Cerami , the judges were appalled to discover that the expelled member was denied a hearing : to present his version of events, raise counter-arguments , challenge his accusers , and/or make  pleas in mitigation.

The following pronouncements reflected the judges' determination to restrain club committees from subjecting members to disciplinary proceedings more in keeping with a kangaroo court  .  
" From the authorities before us , it appears to be the majority , and we think the better reasoned view , that if expulsion of a club member is accomplished without notice and hearing , the denial of these minimum safeguards is violative of the principles of natural justice , and judicial intervention is indicated. " 
" To accept this ingenious argument would result in usurpation of the prerogatives  which the club by-laws , and legal precedents , have delegated to its own governing body. And since this body is the final arbiter of the sufficiency of causes for expulsion , we cannot presume , under any circumstances which we are able to foresee at this moment , that a hearing before it would be vain and useless ." 
Moreover , these appeal court judges were quick to support the trial judge's ruling that Cerami was entitled to an opportunity to be heard ,  in order to give the hearing both credibility and value. Cerami should have been given notice of all the charges laid against him. This procedure need not have been formal, or in any way ponderous , but it was INDISPENSABLE as a matter of law. 
Although the club tried to argue that Cerami's petition was defective for failure to allege a demand for hearing , the court held the onus fell upon the committee to schedule a hearing date and give notice to Cerami of his right to attend. The club's responsibility-shirking argument was of course rejected out of hand in that the duty rests with the committee " to afford the member an opportunity to be heard , of which he may or may not avail himself , and to impose no requirement that the member must demand a hearing ".

And so for all club committees desperate to conduct disciplinary hearings within the law , I have one piece of advice. Make sure you go to great lengths to be over-accommodating , providing the member perhaps with more rights , benefits of doubt , and concessions that he/she is entitled to .  That way , should the outcome be a decision to expel the member, he or she will have no justifiable grounds whatsoever to challenge that decision ,  or the manner and way in which it came about.
Rules on natural justice apply worldwide. 


Friday, 6 February 2015


Yet another ruthlessly executed expulsion ended up in court for a judicial resolution , with the plaintiff demanding reinstatement and damages.Bigot-Johnson , club chairman and owner , was once again forced to defend his position claiming that the expulsion was fair and correct. As usual he elected to conduct the club's defence  , and a short extract from the trial's transcript can be seen below.

Counsel for the plaintiff ( CP ) :  My client has been the victim of a real injustice 
B-J : Like hell he has !
CP : Many of the issues involved in this case have entered the realms of equity law 
B-J : Well , I never .....
CP : Indeed , it needs to be noted that one of the fundamental failings of this committee is that they failed to treat my client the same way as they would another member who had committed a similar transgression. Equity requires all members to be treated the same , irrespective of how liked or disliked they are.
B-J : Listen muppethead .....what do you know.....this man is a serial loud-mouthed troublemaker , whose final straw act broke the camel's back. He deserved special treatment given all the grief and misery he has inflicted upon the club over many many years.
CP : Yes , his past history of misconduct may be relevant to the business of determining an appropriate sanction , but with regards to the actual complaint made he was entitled to be treated the same as any other member up before the committee on a similar charge of misconduct.  
B-J :  Exactly...
CP : However , where you and your committee failed was in the manner and way you  set about dealing with my client's alleged misconduct of slamming a door in the face of a member following close behind. 
B-J : That behaviour was disgraceful ! 
CP : So if other members had behaved like that .....  would they too face similar disciplinary proceedings ?
B-J : I've no bloody idea
CP : Well , like me remind you of what did actually take place. The committee member who made the complaint , on behalf of the alleged victim , admitted he had chosen to take this course of action because  he knew  " it would carry more weight if it came from him ". Clearly his intent was to ensure that the committee would respond differently....albeit in a stricter and unforgiving way......... towards my client ,  as a consequence of his committee status. This represents a clear breach of the equal treatment rule.
B-J : Which committee member said that......I'll have his guts for garters
CP : Moreover , the same committee member also admitted  that " if anyone else had done the same thing , he or she would have been treated differently ......and by that we can assume ......   .....more leniently. So yet again another breach of the equal treatment rule.
B-J : I'll have him.....I'll have him
CP : It is my contention that your committee would be more inclined to regard the slamming of a door as a thoughtless, inconsiderate , innocent perhaps wind-assisted act in most instances.....but in the case of my client you all decided to treat the same act as a violent assault...... using a door as a deadly weapon......just because he was on your hit list .
B-J : How in the blue blazes did you get to know about that ? 
CP : In terms of natural justice and equity my client was treated unfairly..... in a disturbingly robust and adverse way , 
Judge : I agree.....but I do believe the plaintiff is requires a lesson or two in shutting doors 
B-J : I've heard enough of all this bloody nonsense ( and at that point in the trial Bigot stormed out of the courtroom slamming of course all the doors behind him )

( Author's note : This spoof law report , like many others before , is based on a real life case , where the plaintiff successfully obtained a judgement for reinstatement as a member of his local yacht club. Having been expelled from the club following an altercation on a towpath with a son of a committee member , the judges ruled by a majority that the expulsion was wrongful , since the misconduct of the other party was completely overlooked. 
This contrast of outcomes clearly represented an invincible bias in favour of the committee member's son , condemning the plaintiff to be treated in a different , adverse and unjust way. 
As for the incident itself , the plaintiff found his way on the towpath blocked by the son's car , who was still occupying the driver's seat. Refusing to move the vehicle , the plaintiff elected to climb on the bonnet and walk across the car roof in order to continue his journey. Although the dents to the vehicle were paid for by the plaintiff ,  the committee still decided to discipline him , but in the process exonerated the driver's spiteful and provocative behaviour. )  


Thursday, 5 February 2015


  • How To Read What The Opponents Are Holding........................Lena Cross
  • What Is It About My Partner That Makes Her So Special ? .......Janice Saikwar
  • A Winning Strategy For Intermediate Players............................P. K. Lott
  • He Always Rushing Off To Partner Other Women.......................Fanny Hunter
  • Bridge Club Committees Are Usually Full Of Them....................Des Potts
  • My Partner's Cancelled Again With Another Lame Excuse.........Ivan Hedake
  • To Win At Bridge You Need To Be Resolute And Bold................R. D. Ness
  • Anything Goes At The Slaughter House Bridge Club..................Anna Kay Reines
  • The Only Guaranteed Way To Win At Bridge.............................Mark Dacardes
  • Mastering The Art Of Deception And Cunning.............................Bess T. B. Sligh 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


According to the highly controversial bridge blogger , Bigot-Johnson , women are not up to the standard of men and should therefore more segregation is needed.
After years of studying club duplicate results and prestigious open tournaments , The Slaughter House BC chairman  has produced a dossier of evidence to prove that performance women players generally was well below that of the men. Consequently , it appeared that women were simply there to make up the numbers , and to offer themselves up as sitting ducks or fish in a barrel.
" Women are , by and large , a lot of hassle in many other ways " , he added. They clutter up the kitchen , get over-emotional even over the smallest incidents , and forever want to talk about their feelings , holidays , and families , instead of much needed changes to their system card, bridge technique , and important/interesting hands.
" I'm not saying that segregation needs to be permanent and final , or anything like that , it's more in keeping with what is happening at top level competitions. Governing bodies both sides of the Atlantic put on special ladies pairs and teams events , but men of course are restricted to enter just the open events  ( alongside the women ). If segregation like this occurs in favour of women then why can't the same be rolled out into club duplicates and competitions as well.
Not surprisingly, one lady member of the SHBC was incensed by such a proposal. " This man is nothing more that an ignorant male chauvinist pig , a sexist of the worst kind. To suggest that women are in some way not up to the standard of men beggars belief., when half the women in this club have a higher national grade ranking than this buffoon of a man. He sees us no doubt as a highly desirable source of club income , but completely undesirable as possible partners or team mates. To him lady players are just succubi. "
On hearing this Bigot -Johnson was flabbergasted . So much so , he was determined to have the final word. " Men need to play in an all-male field , where they can be free to enjoy themselves swearing , farting , ribbing each other , and throwing major tantrums .....without fear of being reported or complained about. And what's more the games will involve numerous bitter rivalries , vendettas , and arguments , adding of course a real sharp competitive edge to the proceedings. Men like to engage in vicious bloody battles , and not in namby-pamby zero-tolerance stuff , typical of a day out at a Sunday church garden party. "    

Sunday, 1 February 2015


Male bridge players in particular experience real difficulties in adapting to social situations away from their local bridge clubs.  They struggle to communicate and converse with non-bridge players when invited to a social get-together or party.
The big problem for them is their inability to talk on subjects that are not related to bridge. Apart of making the odd glib statement here and there ,  they quickly run out of conversation . This clearly reflected both a general lack of interest or boredom on issues which have no relevance or meaning in their bridge-dominated lives.
Researchers at the Institute of Pointless Studies found that men , well over to the right on the autistic spectrum ,  were hard-wired to only focus on ( and be obsessed about ) the bidding and play of problem bridge hands. In some social situations most men appeared quietly confident to be part of , and mix in with ,  a large group. They would seem happy to be involved in group photos , asking the odd questions , nodding in agreement when required , but always looking to excuse themselves at the first opportunity. However , beneath the veneer of fake bon hommie , they were clearly experiencing both pain and despair . Not surprisingly , all those surveyed admitted to being ill at ease when conversation drifted into the world of art , culture , politics and economics.
Bridge players , programmed to spend all their time waxing lyrical about aspects of the game they love and cherish , are therefore compelled to find ways to steer conversations back into their comfort zone. If unsuccessful , they quietly drift into a comatose state , lost for words , and staring blankly into space. Not surprisingly , they will suddenly switch themselves back on the moment they are asked an open question as to what been happening in their lives. Having previously nothing to say , they would now jump in all guns blazing on a personal bridge-related matter of concern . In other situations , conversations would be steered back towards bridge , by strategically butting in with topic changing bits of gossip.
On rare occasions , one or two of bridge players  were actually seen initiating an intellectual non-bridge conversation , in which they volunteered opinions and exchanged views on a subject for up to 3 minutes , before smartly twisting the conversation round to their chosen area of expertise. Others who lacked this particular skill spent most of their time in social groups with an apparent anti-social attitude, by religiously adopting a non-communicative state of mind.
Researchers concluded that male bridge players who found themselves marooned from their clubs floundered helplessly in all other social situations.  To suggest they were like fish out of water was by all accounts a gross understatement , given their appalling inability to adapt to different almost alien surroundings.