Bridge Base Online
The first thing I have to say is that I do not like the idea of a TD allocating an artificial score on any hand. It is a very arbitrary decision and should only be done as a last resort. However I do see it as the only way to prevent the more unscrupulous players from getting away with "murder" by running out the clock on some hands. Also, as far as I know, no major governing body has issued any guidelines about how to deal with deliberate slow play online. So in a way we are making our own laws here. There is no backing from any authority for our actions. But since all our tourneys are proprietary there should be no problem. If anyone doesnít like our decision on any hand itís just too bad. They can play in some other tourney. Now having said that, of course we want to be as fair as possible. None of us want to be seen as a dictatorial tyrant who adjusts scores purely to satisfy his/her own whim.
I had a long discussion with Fred on this subject. I get the feeling he is not too keen on the idea of TDís giving artificial scores for the very reason I have stated above. He does recognize that there is a problem and he is hoping to introduce several things into the software which will help to solve it. e.g. Identifying persistent offenders and producing a "black list" for all TDís running tourneys. However he cannot promise when this can be done as there are many other priorities with regard to bridgebase. In the meantime he will try and support us in any actions we take to try to contain this problem.
Now allocating an artificial score is not one of the easier tasks, but it is certainly very close to the other end of the difficulty scale. In a sense one is playing the role of God here, and who can make claim to having the qualifications for that role ? All I am trying to do is to lay down certain general guidelines in the hope of making your task easier. You as TD will have to use your own judgment on each individual hand. Above all, I must stress that it should only be done as a last resort, when it is perfectly clear that the guilty party is trying to run out the clock to avoid a disastrous result. If there is any reasonable doubt then the prudent thing is to fall back on the 40-60 adjustment.
The most common scenario you will face is one of declarer trying to run the clock out when faced with a bad result. It is very rare for a defender to know in advance that he is headed for a bad result, unless he is an extremely good player. By the time your average "expert" defender realizes that he is facing disaster the hand would have more or less played itself and the score relatively easy to allocate. I wonít go into that scenario right now but we can certainly discuss it at a later date if anyone wishes to.
Now bidding disasters come into 3 main categories :
First example :
N. AKQ3 AQ52 A107 J9
S. J852 KJ643 32 52
N/S bid to 3NT and a club is led. Any competent player will know, even before playing to trick one, that this is a disaster. 4S and 4H both make and 3NT is at least one down. So the blatant unscrupulous expert (referred to as U/E from now on) will cease playing forthwith. The more subtle U/E may play a card every 60 seconds, timing it so that the clock runs out by trick 9 or 10. The artificial score here is easy to allocate. You just count the number of clubs the defense can run and give declarer the rest of the tricks. Now if the clubs are irretrievably blocked e.g AKQ10 opposite 87643 then 3NT must make and you cannot alter that. However if there is any way at all that the defenders can untangle a possible blockage then you must give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they will do so.
Another example :
N. A83 KJ1097 Q8 AK3
S. 2 Q84 A6543 QJ54
N/S arrive at 3NT and a spade is led. Now this time the defense cannot run 5 tricks immediately but 3NT is no less hopeless than in the above example. Declarer cannot possibly make 9 tricks without the hearts and the defenders can cash at least 4 spades when in with the HA. It is also quite clear that 4H is an easy make. Again this is easily diagnosed at trick one, and the U/E will act accordingly.
This is the easiest of the categories to deal with, and most of the time allocating an artificial score will not be too difficult. If there is some uncertainty as to how many
tricks the defenders can make then assume best defense.
First example :
N. J10985 J 9 AJ10875
S. AK72 Q3 A632 KQ2
N/S bid to 3S. One look at dummy will tell declarer that they have missed game, except against the most bizarre of distributions combined with card perfect defense.
Again the U/E will get to work here, trying to run the clock out. In allocating a score all you have to decide is if the SQ drops in two rounds. If it does 12 tricks are there, if it doesnít 11 tricks make.
Next example :
N. 9 K82 AK1052 A762
S. A87 AQJ5 QJ864 5
7D is an easy make, and again quite easy to diagnose. Pairs that bid only to game will stand to get a very poor result. Allocating a score will be easy here because 13 tricks are there for the taking barring accidents.
This is the most difficult of the 3 categories and a fair bit of bridge expertise and judgment may be required. The best I can do here is to give you the general principles which should guide you. You will have to use your own judgment on each individual hand.
First example :
N 98 32 A32 AKJ1064
S. AK65 84 KJ105 Q87
N/S bid to 6C and a heart is led. The contract is obviously down but by how many ?
If you suspect that U/E is operating here then you must assume he will take the wrong diamond view, whatever the lie of the suit. In cases like this the benefit of the doubt always goes to the non offending side.
Another example :
N. K J109543 AKJ3 107
E. J1096 A2 94 KQ985
S. AQ8753 K76 62 J2
W. 42 Q8 Q10875 A643
This time I have given all four hands to show the lie of the heart suit. N/S arrive at 5H and defense cash first 2 clubs. Now declarer can go one or two down depending on how he plays the hearts. Again you should follow the general principle of giving the benefit of doubt to the defense and allocate a score of two down.
One final light hearted example. Some time ago a lady and her partner came to our table. She demanded an apology from him for what he did the previous hand, and refused to bid until he did so. I pleaded with her and said that this was unfair on us as we are doing rather well and hope to finish in the top three. Finally with about 3 minutes to go she opened 7NT saying "I hope this is compensation for you". I called the TD and we both got average. Now what would you do if called to the table ?
If you think I am going to give you guidance on that you have another think coming Hehehe !!!