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Campaign to amend Law 7 to cater for Slow Play at Club Level.

I’ve read all the comments in the recent “Slow Play (Again)” thread.
I was particularly interested to see Gordon’s comment:-
“”The laws don't allow for removing a board once it has started.
I remember being taught this, but I've never understood the basis for this in the laws.
I see in WB "The TD should not cancel a board because the table is late, once the auction period has
commenced." But the use of the word should here suggests it is merely advice, not a law.””
Whilst I’d be a strong advocate for not removing a board in a major Competition or Congress.
At Club level, for playing TD’s, and time constraints, this has long been an issue to keep the room at a reasonable pace.
The fact even Gordon has never understood the basis for this, gives rise to my question;
How do we set about requesting amending this Law 7A (or Regulations) to allow the Club TD to remove the problem board and awarding the appropriate Ave/Ave-/Ave+.
This is so the effect is only on the players at the Slow table and no other tables are affected.


  • If a pair, let’s say they are playing the last board of a round (but it might be the first) are destined to get 0% on a board (or just a bottom) because of some mix-up in bidding or play, then they can “start thinking their way to AV-“

    Such a law would would be open to abuse. We would need a law to prevent that law being abused? What would that law be, what would be the penalty?

    Rather than adding simplicity, it looks like it would add a complication.

    Must is used when there is no alternative. Should is used when there is an alternative, but there has to be compelling reasons to use that alternative.

    “Slow play” is not any kind of compelling reason.

  • edited November 2023

    @SteveMap You're quoting me there, not Gordon. I'm the one who's confused about where WB comes from.

  • Apologies Gordon and David
  • Thank you, Jaded said : quote “”If a pair, let’s say they are playing the last board of a round (but it might be the first) are destined to get 0% on a board (or just a bottom) because of some mix-up in bidding or play, then they can “start thinking their way to AV-“”” unquote.
    Thank you for the comment. I would expect this to be dealt with by Law 74 B4 Etiquette and Law 90 B2 Procedural Penalty.
    It’s genuine cases of particularly slow play which I’m hoping to address. Generally we usually know who are the slow players at the Club.
  • There is no provision anywhere in the Laws that I can see for taking away a board once it has been started. In particular we have:

    8 B. End of Round
    1. In general, a round ends when the Director gives the
    signal for the start of the following round; but if any
    table has not completed play by that time, the
    round continues for that table until there has been
    a progression of players.

    I do however recognise that some rare and extreme circumstances might lead to a board not being able to be completed. I'm thinking here of a player collapsing and having to be taken to hospital, or a power cut (although the only time I have known that, at Bournemouth about 25 years ago the entire event was abandoned), or the caretaker of a building throwing everyone out while a table is still in play.

  • edited November 2023

    74B4 isn’t particularly helpful, unless the player confesses they were prolonging play “for the purpose of disconcerting an opponent.” The TD can’t be expected to divine the player’s intentions.

    90B2 is not particularly easy to apply, especially for playing TDs. It might be useful in the scenario I described, but the TD would likely have to be stood over the table to understand the delay. Though the presence of the TD would likely have influenced the speed at which the board was played.

    A further example of when a board is stopped is when the TD instructed a table not to start the board, but they started it anyway (WB8.81.4.1): The board is averaged, even if it was played to a result.

    All the TD has to say is, “If you are not on the last board, please don’t start it.” Then keep a watchful eye on the final round, if you have reason to doubt the players willingness to comply.

    There’s no need for a special rule. A TD, that makes it known that boards should not be played once a particular point has been reached can take “boards in play” away from those that shouldn’t be playing them.

    But failing that, Gordon’s approach of averaging the next board is the best (only) way of applying a penalty to the slow players.

  • edited November 2023

    @gordonrainsford said:
    There is no provision anywhere in the Laws that I can see for taking away a board once it has been started.

    I think that may be true, but:

    • Which Law allows the TD to take away a board before it is started?
    • Does that Law actually limit its application at all?

    It does seem that the Laws are lacking an explicit instruction to the effect of, "once the auction period has started, the TD must allow the board to be played to completion". Without this, we seem to be looking around in the wording of other Laws which were primarily meant for some other purpose:

    • Law 7A sets out what the physical position of the board should be.
    • Law 8B defines the term "round", since that definition is needed for other Laws.

    I don't really find it plausible that the authors would intend one of these Laws to have a second meaning, wording them in such a way to imply that a board must be played to completion, rather than making that explicit.

  • In any case, yes, I feel it would be better if the TD's discretion to remove a board didn't immediately end at some fixed point in time. It doesn't mean a TD would use that discretion very often, or that players would be able to deliberately run down the clock. Personally I can only think of two situations where I'd want to be able to remove a board that had been started:

    • If the TD would have taken the board away before it was started, but was unable to get to the table in time to do that. (ie. they were busy or distracted, or unaware that the board remained to be played)
    • If the players at a very late table have taken their cards out of the board, but no calls have been made because they're still continuing their post-mortem of the previous hand.
  • Yes David, you mirror my thinking. The playing TD can’t be everywhere at all times, when they are playing, ruling or looking ahead to the calling the movement.
  • edited November 2023

    The law I believe you are looking for is 8B. In particular, 8B.2 that gives the TD the option to allow the board to be played at a later time or cancelled.

    Yes, the law limits itself to the postponement of a board. It does not allow for interruption or abandonment of a board.

  • “…wording them in such a way to imply that a board must be played to completion, rather than making that explicit.‘

    If the word ‘must’ was used, it would mean unequivocally that that a board had to be played. The TD would not have any discretion to cancel a board that had been started against their instructions, they could not cancel a board because a player took ill and they could not cancel a board because the caretaker wanted everyone to go home.

    I’m sure that the authors did not want to create such perverse circumstances, which is why they didn’t write the laws to be so inflexible on this point.

  • Yes, thanks Jaded,
    8B2 appears to allow the Director to exercise his authority for postponement or cancellation of play.
  • At my club there is a recorded message which tells us when to move, when to skip and when it is tea break. Also it says " if dummy is not on the table, do not play this round". It kind of contradicts the time period, as most of you are saying, once the bidding has started a TD cannot remove a board. Is a club allowed to make it's own rule on this?

  • edited November 2023

    An event organiser, in this case the bridge club, is free to adopt procedures as long as those procedures are not in violation of the laws of bridge.

    There is sufficient latitude in the laws to allow a club to follow the procedure that your club is following because there is not a direct prohibition on abandoning a board once it has started.

    It is worth noting that if the club is participating in a regional or national competition, for example a sim pairs event, they would not be the event organiser, but simply a host. Consequently, they would have to follow the event organiser’s rules, they would not be authorised adopt their own practices, such as the one you have mentioned.

    Personally, I would adjust the timing of the message and change it to, “If you have not started bidding…” because once the players have seen the cards, it can influence the speed of the auction and opening lead and so be susceptible to manipulation. But if it works for your club, then leave it as it is.

    I would add that this is my opinion :-)

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