LAW REPORT : EBU v. BIGOT-JOHNSON (2015)
The EBU , acting on behalf of all its members , decided it was necessary to sue Bigot-Johnson for libel in order to preserve the good reputation of the game. What upset their members the most was Bigot's claim that all bridge players were clinically insane, and should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. A short extract from the trial's transcript appears below.
Counsel for the plaintiff : Did you publish a blog which stated that all bridge players are insane ?
B-J : I certainly did ......and what's more is that they are all clinically insane
CP : So how do you define insanity ?
B-J : Well , let's look at Einstein's definition.....which states insanity is when a person does the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Bridge players are notorious for adopting the same inferior lines of play with the expectation that this time they will produce a good result , when all that happens is yet another horrendous bottom is added to their card .
Judge : I must admit....behaviour like does raise doubts about their sanity
B-J : Yes....the product of magical thinking. But that's only the tip of the iceberg.............because how does one explain why players who are clueless about the game start out each and every time expecting to win ?
Judge : How odd ....
B-J : You see insanity can also be defined as the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. Bridge players in particular fantasise about about their great ability and lofty status when in reality they are nothing more than born losers. Most view themselves as experts even though the opposite is true.
Judge : Surely , it's natural for people to think positively about themselves ?
B-J : Not so.....in other walks of life people recognise and acknowledge their failings and shortcomings......but not bridge players.....who are so delusional they have completely lost touch with reality
Judge : Well , I never...
CP : Can I interject here......defamation is defined as a false statement of fact which has damaged a person's reputation and standing within the community to which he belongs. EBU members by and large come from a managerial and professional background , being eminent people in their local communities. These are intelligent , well-educated people. So to suggest that they are insane is both malicious and libellous.
B-J : Have you ever seen them behave at the bridge tables ? No....you haven't. Given that insanity can be defined as extreme foolishness or irrationality , I can assure you that in the bidding and play of the cards these two qualities are in abundance. You only have to hear the incessant chastising and berating which takes place after each and every hand to realise how true this is. The game is so littered with irrational and foolish decisions , the winners of an event are simply the ones who make the fewest.
CP : Again I say to you that in every aspect of our lives we will all make bad decisions , some I agree are based on foolish and irrational considerations....but it's human nature to make mistakes.
B-J : Listen muppet head......in bridge there are many, many maxims which dictate what the right course of action is. If insanity is the inability to distinguish right from wrong , then clearly bridge players meet that criterion. They will take finesses when the bidding clearly suggests that the king is off-side , rather than doing the right thing. This of course might involve engineering an end play , playing for the drop....or executing a squeeze.
Judge : Yes Bigot.... a valid argument there
CP : Is there any more evidence to justify your claim ?
B-J : I should say so. Nothing is as insane as spending thousands of pounds in the quest for green points to climb up the rankings ladder. The whole process is a complete farce because everyone knows that promotions are based on attendance not ability. I've seen complete numpties reaching regional master status, but no one is prepared to tell these trumped-up emperors that they are not only lacking clothes.... but ability as well
Judge : Is that true ?
B-J: Too right it is......have you ever known a sport where you can improve your ranking simply by turning up at an event and yet again never being placed in the top half ?
Judge : Unbelievable
B-J : But what really hammers home the fact that insanity pervades the world of bridge is when bridge players get themselves onto committees. All rational thinking and common sense flies straight out of the window
Judge : Can you give me an example ?
B-J : By what reason other than insanity...........would a committee decide to take a legal dispute all the way to court costing the club tens of thousands, when (a) there was never any guarantee of winning ,and (b) far cheaper options were available earlier on.... by which a mutually acceptable resolution could have been achieved ?
Judge : You've got me there.....I can't think of one
CP : Me neither....
Judge : Well , on that sobering thought.....I agree with you Bigot..... bridge players are insane..... and that the world which they belong to is indeed the theatre of the absurd