Thursday, 24 September 2015

( As told to Bridgemeister Gibson by a little bird ) 

As two eagle-eyed members approached the gate entrance of their local bridge club , they spotted and recognised an old man sitting down by the roadside kerb , obviously upset and very distraught 

- Hey Goosey ......what's troublin' you ? You look as though you've had your feathers somewhat 
- I've been removed from the club house by a couple of crowing committee members
- How come ?
- Well , I hadn't paid this year's subs....I just hadn't got round to it
- Couldn't they let you in as a visitor until you sent them the money ?
- seems I had already used this year's quota of 3 visits as a non-member 
- Good God....this committee lot a real sticklers for the rules !
- Not half....they love to rule the roost
- So I take it you asked for another membership application form ?
- Sure did.....but I was told " I needn't bother "
- Good grief....why possessed them to say that ?
- Quite....because I asked them the very same question and their reply was " it's likely to
  get refused......which prompted me to say  " on what grounds ".....and their answer was " we  
  don't care for late-payers like're the kind of member we can do without "
- Well shag me with a rag man's trumpet....I'm shocked to the core to hear such a sad and
  sorry tale........this all smacks of expulsion by exclusion
- thoughts entirely.....I was a sitting duck waiting to be shot.... in fact when I was being  
  shown the door I asked them " Isn't this meant to be a social and friendly club ? "
- And what was their reply ?
- " That's what we aiming for..... for as you know there's a pecking order in this place and it's 
  essential for those at the top to remove the trouble-making riff raff at the bottom to create a 
  sanctuary of love , mutual respect and harmony "

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


The other night at the Slaughter House BC ,  board 17 produced the following hand :

Bigot opened 1S  and on hearing a 2NT reply from partner immediately jumped to 6S. Not surprisingly , West laid down the King of clubs for the opening lead.  With dummy's hand now exposed , we can now enter declarer's world to discover the thoughts that flashed into his mind as the play unfolded.......
" Fuck me.....that's not the dummy I was hoping for......Christ almighty I got 2 diamond losers with nothing to pitch them on..........this is a disaster......Ah well... I'll take this first trick and go over to dummy with a spade......what now ?...........Ah yes......I can play the jack of clubs from dummy and pitch a diamond.....but my LHO will take his queen , see what I've ditched and fire back a diamond for sure.......the tosser.......So maybe ......just maybe......pitching a small heart might work ......because if he instinctively switches to a heart I'm home.... "
So at trick 3 Bigot leads the jack of clubs and pitches a small heart.....careful not to remove the last spade for fear of a signal from East calling for a diamond. Sure enough West dives in with his club queen and plays back a heart. 
" What a prat.....the silly bugger has fallen for I'm going to watch him squirm as I draw the last trump. unblock the hearts......enter dummy again with a trump .....and lob away my two losing diamonds on the king of hearts and the established ten of clubs.....sheer I love this game.....but thank bloody God he didn't take note of his partner's 4 of clubs on the play of the jack as a suit preference signal......he knows damn well that East started with three , so the play of the 4 after the 3 must be a signal for diamonds in anybody's book....."
So as it happens Bigot made this unlikely slam , only to brag about it to countless folk in the bar afterwards.  

Monday, 21 September 2015

MODERN POETRY AT ITS BEST......( A little masterpiece by Dr.Sigmund T. Schukelgruber entitled " I Know What You're Up To In Chesterfield " )

Prying eyes
Internet spies
Lots of peeping
Dossier keeping
You're out to tail me
You're out to nail me
You're out to flail me
Yes I know your names
I know your games
But no way will I yield
With truth as my shield
My dear Chesterfield
You see it's out of your reach 
To deny me.... 
Freedom of speech

Sunday, 20 September 2015

LOVELL'S BIG MISTAKE : A CAUTIONARY TALE .....( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

If you ever have the misfortune of being slung out of your club then jumping the gun and going straight to court ( to seek a declaration that the decision should be aside as null and void ) may be a very big and costly mistake. 
The following case illustrates this point all too clearly :

Lovell v Pembrokeshire County Cricket Club

Reference [2003] ISLR, SLR-39 
Court Haverfordwest County Court
Judge Neuberger J
Date of Judgment 1 May 2002


Sports law – Amateur sport – Rules as a contract – Incorporation of terms – Breach of natural justice – Exhaustion of domestic procedures – Declaratory relief


Mr Lovell (‘L’) was a cricketer playing for a club affiliated to Pembrokeshire County Cricket Club (‘D’) in the Pembrokeshire County Cricket League. During a match in August 2001, L claims that he was verbally abused. At one point, when L was at the crease, he claimed that a rival player threw the ball at the stumps when the ball was plainly dead. This led to heated arguments at the time and subsequent formal complaints, lodged with the League, that L had sworn at rival players and the umpire and had manhandled a rival player. L was charged with misconduct. At the hearing L and each of the witnesses were only permitted to attend while they were giving evidence. Only the members of the Disciplinary Committee were permitted to ask questions. L was found guilty and debarred from playing for four months (including two months suspended). L did not pursue an appeal after being told that the same procedure would be used. He sought a declaration that the decision was null and void.


(1) Did L have a right in contract (or on some other private law basis) to enforce D’s disciplinary procedures against D?
(2) If there was a contract, were its terms as regards disciplinary procedures breached? (3) If L was successful so far, should he be refused declaratory relief? (4) Should L be refused relief due to his failure to exhaust the appeal procedures?


Dismissing the action: (1) D’s disciplinary procedures were contractually enforceable. It is undesirable to interfere in amateur sport, but where a league has detailed rules, with teeth, including disciplinary procedures, and is organised under the auspices of a rule-making body (such as D) then the rules will be legally enforceable, although the Court should be careful before granting any relief. (2) D was in breach of L’s rights. The rules provided that a player charged has a right to attend the hearing, entailing a right to attend the whole hearing. D also presented L with evidence against him on the door of the court, and denied him the right to make submissions in mitigation. (3) But for the issues relating to appeal, L would have been granted the relief sought. (4) It would be inappropriate to grant relief given L’s failure to exhaust the appeal procedures, and the fact that an order for a re-hearing would place L in a worse situation than the appeal offered by D.


The Court expressed a reluctance to “go poking its nose into amateur cricket”, but given the detail of the rules, and the sanctions they contained, held that these rules were legally enforceable. From an observer’s point of view it is difficult to ascertain what Mr Lovell thought he would gain from these proceedings: during negotiations the Defendant had offered him an appeal heard by a panel with a majority of independent members and an independent chair, meaning that, as the Judge observed, what they were offering was better than the re-hearing that the Court could offer him.

Clearly , the club committee were guilty of making procedural mistakes , which suggested that the disciplinary process was possibly flawed , and that Lovell may have been wrongfully suspended. Certainly he had good grounds to challenge the decision, but unfortunately for Lovell the committee as required by the club's Constitution did offer him a right of appeal to an independent and impartial body. This offer he chose to ignore. Not surprisingly the judge viewed his failure to accept this option as a major oversight on Lovell's part.
The courts see themselves as a final option , a last resort , when all other avenues to resolve the dispute in a fair and proper way have been explored and exhausted. Quite rightly , courts do not wish to interfere with the affairs of clubs and societies . Court time is extremely valuable and too precious to waste on matters , which often come down to personal feuds and vendettas. Nevertheless , if a real injustice has taken place despite the best efforts of both parties to settle the dispute out of court , then judges may well feel obliged to make a ruling.
And so the moral of this case can be summed up as follows : woe betide the party who comes to court having flatly refused to consider a sensible and available option , which could  (and should have ) resolved the dispute in a quick , fair , expedient and cost effective way.       

Saturday, 19 September 2015


Friday, 18 September 2015

GETTING INVESTIGATIONS RIGHT ......... ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

Procedural fairness in a club's disciplinary process involves , amongst other things , ensuring that a proper investigation of alleged misconduct occurs, and that all parties are heard and relevant submissions considered. It is not enough to say " we carried out an initial investigation as required under the Constitution " : it has to be done in a manner and way which satisfies the requirements of natural justice.
What is established as a point of law is that clubs are not bound by strict rules of evidence. Nevertheless, investigating officers must recognise there are certain guidelines which need to be followed.
Firstly , no investigating body should employ or resort to methods of inquiry , which favour the complainant and in doing so disadvantage the member accused of misconduct. In such circumstances there is a grave danger of an injustice being committed. In other words every attempt must be made to administer " substantive justice ". Therefore investigations must not accept gossip or hearsay. Nor must they attach weight to evidence provided by the complainant , simply because that person believes that their evidence should carry more weight.
Moreover , given that the standard of proof for investigations in not-for-profit organisations is " on the balance of probabilities , it would be far more prudent for investigators to attach an extra dimension where the offence under consideration is considered as serious. If certainty can not be established for a more serious offence , then a lesser offence must be substituted accordingly in any published findings.
Any allegation of misconduct , where the gravity of the consequences are serious indeed , then the case against the accused member must be proved to a reasonable satisfaction.  In such instances reasonable satisfaction should not be produced by inexact proofs , indefinite testimony or indirect references. To report back with a statement that the misconduct was inappropriate at best and aggressive and offensive at worst is wholly unsatisfactory. If the latter cannot be established or proved , then the former view is the only conclusion which can be safely arrived at. 
It is also very important for all available witness evidence to be obtained. So if a key witness , especially an impartial and objective observer , refuses to make a statement , then this huge absence of evidence seriously compromises the investigation. To proceed without his/her neutral evidence is dangerous , given that evidence submitted by the complainant and the accused are likely to be tainted with subjectivity and personal bias. For example , in one Australian case an investigator was criticised because she failed to interview any of the witnesses , who could have given a contrary view of events to that put forward by those making the allegations.
Finally, the investigators themselves should be neutral , as with the decision makers . This means that they have to be , and also seen to be , objective and impartial. So if either one , or both , have declared their intent and desire to see the accused member slung out of the club , long before the alleged misconduct took place , then serious questions about their objectivity and impartiality are bound to be raised. The duty to remain impartial is a basic requirement in any disciplinary process , and those who harbour bias and prejudice need to step down ......or otherwise be accused of having a conflict of interests. Such unfortunate circumstances might just convince a court that natural justice  has been cruelly denied to the accused member.

Postscript : An illustrative case from the world of sport :

Carter v New South Wales Netball Association 2004

When a complaint is made about the conduct of a coach, spectator, player or official, the sporting body must follow a proper process in handling the matter. Otherwise the decision arrived at may be held to be null and void.
Ultimately, those involved in sport need to behave in an appropriate manner and in accordance with these policies. However, as the following case will illustrate, there can be a fine line between what constitutes “abuse” and what does not, such as “excessively enthusiastic coaching”.
This case involved the conduct of a volunteer junior netball coach and life member of the Mount Druitt Netball Association, Sandra Carter. Dissatisfied parents who formed the group “No Excuse for Abuse Committee” wrote to the New South Wales Netball Association (NSWNA) and alleged that Ms Carter was guilty of “physical and psychological (abuse), gross neglect of duty of care, medical mismanagement, deprivation of prescribed medicine and basic human rights, deception and cheating”. This letter was forwarded to Ms Carter for a response. The letter did not particularise any person alleged to have been abused and was therefore hard to refute in any detail.
The NSWNA appointed an Investigator to investigate the allegations and conclude whether or not Ms Carter had breached the NSWNA’s Anti Harassment Policy (the Policy). After what was a poorly conducted investigation, the Investigator concluded that Ms Carter had breached the Policy. The NSWNA’s Disciplinary Committee then proceeded to ban Ms Carter as a member of Netball NSW for a period of five years. As per the Policy, the NSWNA then notified the Commissioner under section 39 of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 (NSW) of this finding of guilt.
The Court overturned the decision and noted that the Disciplinary Committee was required to afford Ms Carter procedural fairness. Further, the Court held that the Disciplinary Committee should have amongst other things:
  • Informed Ms Carter with sufficient particularity of what she was accused and by whom;
  • Given Ms Carter a reasonable opportunity to consider the specific accusations in advance of her interview with the investigator, so that she could consider her position and obtain legal advice if she thought it necessary;
  • Afforded Ms Carter an unbiased, fair and reasoned decision on the part of the Disciplinary Committee of NSWNA, after conducting a fair hearing and impartially considering the evidence on both sides.
The community rightly demands serious penalties for those who breach policies designed for the protection of children. However, club officials must not give in to community pressures at the expense of the rights of individuals. “Officials responsible for the application of these policies should exercise caution to ensure that legitimate concerns do not manifest themselves in a blinkered and zealous crusade, where natural justice and the rights of the individual are sacrificed in order to achieve an expedient Machiavellian outcome”.
We have seen in Carter that innocent parties can be wrongly found guilty if officials do not conduct a fair investigation or unbiased hearing. In the case of Carter, the conduct which was construed by some as “child abuse” was construed by the Court to be “excessively enthusiastic coaching”.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

WHAT IS A TRAGEDY ?........ ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi as a tribute to the Chesterfield watchers )

A disaster waiting to happen ?  A sad and painful ending to a story , which was both unnecessary and avoidable ? An event causing great suffering and distress. ? A series of interconnecting events which as they unfold lead to an unhappy ending.
It seems there are as many definitions of tragedy as there are different kinds of tragedy , some personal and others affecting large numbers.Yet whatever type the tragedy unfolds , observers are left experiencing  fear and pity. They fear for the worst possible outcome , and they pity those who are the tragic victims of such unfortunate consequences. Bigger tragedies can involve a huge range of emotions , such as anger , indignation , nostalgia , desire and anticipation. Often this complicated mixture of emotions matches the unfolding sequence of events.
When tragedies are the consequence of people's shortcomings and failings , their ignorance , moral weaknesses , lack of foresight and/or personality defects , the finger blame is immediately pointed at those responsible. Yet the beginnings often appear as harmless , innocuous ,  small and insignificant events , but once the die has been irretrievably cast the tragedies can not be averted.
At present I am helplessly watching a tragedy unfold , which has been brought about by human folly. A fleeting almost theatrical act of petulant behaviour triggered an avalanche of prejudice and mistakes as severe and unwarranted reprisals were doggedly pursued. What started off as an insignificant incident at a bridge table has developed into a bitter legal battle , where there will be no winners ......only losers. 
The tragedy is that hindsight can never make up for lack of foresight , and that whatever disasters befall the two parties concerned ,  the fact remains they were both predictable and avoidable. Common sense was never allowed to prevail over prejudice , pride , self-denial and anger. 
Indeed , while the sheer scale of human folly increases ever more in a seriously insane world, tragedies will never cease to occur. People , despite best advice , continue to ignore history , the mistakes of others  and , of course , their own.   


Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Monday, 14 September 2015


Saturday, 12 September 2015

........( Another true story of what went off at a bridge table by Bridgemeister Gibson )  

There are some bridge players who can never be pleased, quick to condemn your bids but never their own. 
One night I was partnering a player who firmly believes he is always in the right , despite his penchant for making outrageous psychs and off-centre bids. A great lover of  pre-emtive opening bids, he opened a non-vulnerable 3H , as I was purring over a lovely 20 HCP hand :  AKx....Axx....KQ109 .....A109. Without any hesitation I bid 3NT ultra confident in seeing this contract come rolling in.
A few minutes later I was entering a rock bottom 3NT- 3 result onto the score card. His hand was an entry-less , and with 2 spades , 2 hearts, 2 diamonds and a club to lose did I hear any words of comfort or an apology ? Not a chance ! But what I did hear was this sharp-tongued condemnation of my bid.
" Partner.....get it into your thick head that I only open at the three level on ABSOLUTE FILTH ! " 


Friday, 11 September 2015


After another purge of undesirable members one at least felt it necessary to go to court claiming damages for wrongful expulsion. Bigot of course decided to conduct his own defence confident in the knowledge he was going to win. A short extract from the trial's transcript appears below. 

Council for the plaintiff (CP) : On what grounds was my client thrown out of your club ?
B-J : Because he was in breach of the club's dress code
CP :  Really ?
B-J :  Yes......the man wore hooves instead of shoes.... and had pointy horns sticking out of his head.....and what's more he always came dressed in a tight full-length black leotard , holding a trident in his hand
CP : Is that it ?
B-J : More or less...
CP : So what's your defence then to his claim of wrongful expulsion ?
B-J : Well , it's mainly based on a character assassination .....because let's face it ....the man's a devil....a nasty , evil bastard who should have been thrown out the club long before we were elected onto committee. Once we were in control his days were numbered ........
CP : I take it he got a fair hearing ?
B-J : No
CP : Are you saying the hearing was unfair ?
B-J : No.....
CP : I'm a little tell the court what sort of hearing did he get ?
B-J : None at all.....we dispensed with such an irrelevance
CP : What no hearing at all ?
B-J : You see we had a job to do and by God we made sure it was done in a ruthless and efficient manner. We all knew what the outcome had to be there really wasn't any point in giving him a hearing
CP : But surely even the most obnoxious and vulgar are entitled to respect , and according to the law be given an opportunity to defend themselves. My client was never given proper notice and an opportunity to confront his accusers before losing his membership.
B-J : Under the club's Constitution we used our discretionary right not to hold a hearing in his case given that the outcome was a foregone conclusion  ....... and we as a committee believe that things are best done in secret behind closed doors
CP : Well  in my book ......when expulsion is on the cards......holding an initial hearing becomes essential if rules of natural justice are to be adhered to
B-J : Sod them.....they don't apply to a small club like ours.....a privately owned and managed unincorporated association......surely to God we are exempt from judicial scrutiny......we are all amateurs when it comes to quasi-judicial matters....and we know that judges in past cases have allowed committees a fair bit of slack make a few mistakes here and there in carrying out disciplinary procedures
CP : But quite a few of your committee members had a legal background......and should have known better than to deny my client a hearing. Moreover , you stated earlier how ruthlessly efficient and professional you were in carrying out this hatchet job 
B-J: Oh dissident member......a smart-arse , trumped up Garrick room lawyer piped up with a load of awkward questions and concerns....and then had the audacity and nerve to say he felt obliged to act as the devil's advocate in his absence
CP : Did any of you listen to what he had to say ?
B-J : Hell no.....given that our minds were already made up , we weren't in the mood to discuss or debate any of his comments.... might is right ....and therefore the observations of this treacherous loner had no relevance or merit whatsoever 
Judge : Was this the same sane person who begged the committee to reconsider its decision and to seek mediation.... right from the off....... to resolve the dispute in a sensible , cost-effective , impartial way
B-J : Yes....but we engineered a mandate from the membership as a whole to hold our position and not to waiver
Judge : I'm speechless !



Wednesday, 9 September 2015

BRIDGE PLAYERS!  THEY ALWAYS HAVE AN EXCUSE ........( My fondest memory by Bridgemeister Gibson )

Many years ago I was playing in a team of eight intercity match away at York. As the away team we all had sitting seats with the home side moving tables. Boards were passed on clockwise in sets of two , with imp scoring up taking place after each round.
When the match was over there was a quick review of where the match had been won or lost , and which pairs were worthy of praise or recriminations. One pair I recall had a wretched time coming back with some shocking scores. So when one was asked " what went wrong ? " we all heard the best excuse ever made.
" Listen you lot......we were in a downstairs room on our own with no other tables in play. So we didn't get any opportunities to listen into what was being said at nearby tables about the hands heading our way. "
I never knew whether the answer was a tongue-in-cheek comment or a genuine observation about the form of cheating that goes on in such matches. But as an excuse it certainly made me smile.

Monday, 7 September 2015


Many rank and file bridge players harbour dreams of partnering one of the club's top players. This preference , or burning desire , to partner one particular player is a classic case of oneitis.
Often this unrequited admiration or love never goes away leaving sufferers to remain unhappy and dissatisfied with their current crop of partners. They yearn for the one who they believe will give them kudos , status and success. This person represents their best chance of making into the big league.
Oneitis is a common affliction, especially amongst ambitious players desperate to remove themselves from the faceless masses. Symptoms therefore  include their feelings of inadequacy , low self-esteem,  frustration, hopelessness, depression , and anxiety. Left untreated ,  sufferers often become so dysfunctional their game goes completely to pieces. This loss of form exacerbates their inability to persuade anyone , let alone their preferred choice , to consider the idea of becoming their partner. Once this vicious circle gets established  victims usually succumb to alcoholism ,  along with stress related outbursts at the table , and indecent acts of self-mutilation. 
Indeed , other symptoms include :
1. Spending all their time and energy on figuring out a way to achieve their dream
2. Allowing their obsession to develop to the point when gross neglect and contempt for others become a routine habit
3. Misinterpreting anything said or done by their idol, which gives them false hope , such as a polite response just falling short of a direct " No "  
However ,  this illness can quickly develop into a chronic mental condition ,  causing sufferers to become fixated with the idea that bridge now offers them no meaningful pleasure whatsoever. So when this feeling of despondency kicks in  , victims react by relentlessly berating their regular partners as useless toss-pots responsible for their misery, poor form and shameful results .   

Sunday, 6 September 2015



Friday, 4 September 2015


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

PINBALL LOVE....... ( Written by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber in 1976 before he fell in love with bridge )

Oh you long legged beauty
How your cute little roll-overs
Turn me on
Such magnificent bumpers
Such a wondrous playfield
With so many bonuses on offer
I'm bound to score
Yet...I must get the entry right
With an oh-so-careful release 
Of the plunger
And then
With the skilful touch
Of my fingertips
I can keep the action going
So what does it matter
If the play comes 
To a premature end
Via an exit lane
Because thankfully
I still have in my rack
A load more balls
To get that precious replay 

BRIDGE BOOK REVIEW........ ( By Pun )

" Sniffing Out Those Missing Honours " by Bill Hooter has been voted bridge book of the year. Indeed it is a god send for all those players who experience great difficulty in locating missing honours.
The author attempts to educate readers into mastering the arts of logical deduction and table presence. On every page there is an illustrative hand which the author himself played with great aplomb, sniffing out the location of critical honour cards with remarkable success. Describing how inferior players always resort to a 50-50 guess, he proves by clinical analysis , inference and intuition how the odds can change to 90-10 in his favour. 
Bill maintains that bridge players need to develop the skills demonstrated by professional poker players , who rely on their observation of " tells " with startling success. The subtle nuances of changes in body language and facial expressions all too often give the game away.
Renown by his peers for having a real nose for accurate card reading , the author has won many prestigious trophies in his time. His partner B. K. Snout claims that without Bill's tuition he would have remained a nobody in the world of bridge. When defending they never fail to glean crucial information about each other's hand , simply by putting effective sniffing into practice. According to them big decisions should never be left to chance.