Cam French

Turn Your Lights On

Big Sugar – Turn Your Lights On

Dear Bobby,


 I just re-read your chapter LOSING TEAM WINS from The Lone Wolff.  It was another in a long line of sad legacies where a team undeserving of victory, nonetheless enjoyed the same.

For those unfamiliar with the case, buy The Lone Wolff or accept this brief synopsis. This was a world championship event, semi-final match between Canada and Germany.

: All players recorded down 6. (doubled/non.vul)

: Someone called out (the players were under severe time restraints) “1100”.

: This was true under old scoring, but not under the new scoring in effect at the time.

: The real score was -1400.

: The difference was a matter of win/loss.

: The mistake was discovered a few hours after the match, but well before the next round started.

: A committee ruled (after hearing from both sides) that the result stood, so 1100 meant a German victory.

: Bobby states the committee voted along geographical lines and the strong anti-American bias (in this case a burden shared by Canadians) caused the Europeans to vote for the Germans.

You quote the German team letter wrote in part:

“We as a team would have preferred to be eliminated early rather than gain a berth in the final as a result of the tragedy that took place.”

You write:

“Pardon me, but that statement leaves me sick to my stomach. If the Germans were so distressed by the turn of events, and so regretful that they had been declared the winners when they actually lost, why didn’t they step forward and say Canada should play in the final? Do they believe the organizers of the tournament would have refused to let them make such a magnanimously sporting gesture?

 No Bobby, they held no such fantasy. If afraid of anything, they feared the committe members concurring with such a gesture, so that could never happen. Little wonder you (and many of us) are nauseous at such a miscarriage of justice. Rumor had it (and you quote it in your book) the Germans celebrating, ridiculing their opponents for their failure to catch the mistake and reveling in their Pyrrhic victory. If this wasn’t (and you state as much) a sad day for bridge justice, I don’t know what is. My question is, as the committee’s should have been, “what is the lawful correctional period?”

It should have NOTHING to do with Americans or Germans or Europeans or Canadians or anything but the laws and what is the allowable correctional period? Is that so hard to fathom? Has the rule been modified, to add clarity and certainty so that such a travesty cannot repeat itself?  As you note, it is a sad day when the rules and those charged with enforcing the same fail to restore justice. Worse yet, when the players involved hide behind those laws. Shame on them and you’re right – it should make us all “sick to our stomachs”.

On a like note, I might add that David Sacks on 3/79 did report an irregularity well within the appropriate correctional period. Of course his application was cast aside, and all further efforts from team mates and others were blocked, thwarted and would never see the light of a committee, let alone justice.

So here we have two easy, clear cut cases where losers/cheaters won, and our system of justice validated the same. Gotta love that, or get used to being sick in the stomach. I for one am tired of being sick, and hold in contempt those players who hide behind feeble laws and any sponsoring n that enables the same.

Just for laughs, how would any of us feel if we lost a National event to cheaters, especially when you had appealed in time? (Tell that to Zeke/Capp and company.)

Or failed to advance to the final of a world class event because of a scoring mistake, which was caught, albeit too late for some…..(Tell that to Kokish/Mittleman and company.)

Walk a mile in those shoes.

Have the laws been amended to prevent such miscarriages from recurring?  If not, someone better turn the lights on, before we go down this sordid road again.






David TurnerSeptember 15th, 2010 at 12:55 am

Hi Cam,

As I recall, the rule in effect at the time was that only a “manifestly incorrect” score could be corrected after the match was over (e.g. result agreed as 2 down (declarer’s side vulnerable) but score recorded as -100 instead of -200). The committee’s judgement was that -1100 was a reasonable score for a doubled vulnerable contract, and so was not manifestly incorrect.

These are ex-teammates of mine, so no one would have been happier than I to see them advance to the final, but I don’t think there was a travesty of justice here, any more than enforcing the revoke rule would be. Perhaps the rule should (and/or has been) reconsidered, but to me it’s just bad luck and carelessness coming home to roost.

— David

PaulSeptember 15th, 2010 at 9:31 am

Unfortunately ‘natural justice’ and correction periods will never sit happily together.

However if both teams said that the score should have been -1400, then recording -1100 is certainly ‘manifestly incorrect’.

The 2007 Laws are better written (“… if the Director and the

Tournament Organizer are both satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the record is wrong. “) but their use is down to the specific conditions of contest.

Bob McPheeSeptember 15th, 2010 at 11:24 am

I was of course not pleased with this outcome. At first I felt the league should have reversed the win, as the error was reported within the time frame allowed. However is it not somewhat similar to entering the wrong score on your golf card?

I also felt at first the German team should have been stepping aside and letting the winners advance. Had this happened there would have been other regrets from the German bridge community (lest we forget the Italian mishap pulling the wrong card). The team players have a responsibility to the team and country to play within the rules. Sadly this rule worked against the real (or maybe not) winning team.

The governing body had to rule, and they ruled under the laws in place at the time. I’m in agreement with Turner, hard luck.

ChrisSeptember 15th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

It’s not at all the same as putting the wrong score on a golf card. When that happens the perp is thrown out of the tournament. Hard luck? Baloney! If I write down 6 on a traveler and 1100 and the director notices (not that he would but if he did) he will ask me for clarification and put in the correct score that reflects the actual result by the scoring rules. If the contract is down 6 and the rules say this is 1400 then the result is 1400. Period.

The ability of Europeans to turn a blind eye to injustice is astounding. Just ask the gymnast who was eliminated because the judge hit the wrong key on the computer and couldn’t change it, or the figure skaters who obviously skated the best coming fourth because they weren’t in on the back room deal making that decided the next 5 Olympic champions before the events were even held.

They were down 6, That’s 1400. It’s in the rules.

ChrisSeptember 15th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

As to the Germans who wrote that they were so horrified that they got to play undeservedly?

Don’t make me laugh!

Bobby WolffSeptember 15th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

When a score is unanimously agreed that the contract in question was down 1400 instead of 1100, at least to me, that is proof that the original score was manifestly incorrect. If then, the event is not harmed by the substitution of the rightful winner for the unfortunate loser, equity should demand that the wrong be righted.

To me, all competitions need the laws to be interpreted to that effect. Since then, and for at least 15 years, I have been able to add the following caveat to both the WBF and the ACBL rules for competition. “If it can so be interpreted, the rules should always allow the winner at the table to be named the winner in fact”. As far as I know that clause is still flying high in both organizations, although I have recently heard the current chairman of the ACBL Appeals process to suggest that we must throw that clause out, probably because it then gives the committee much greater power and latitude to make their own decision. AND THE BEAT GOES ON.

Seeking the truth apparently caused Thomas Koehler, an East European sports official in the 1970’s and 80’s to make an admission in his book “Two Sides of the Medal” that those countries acknowledge that their athletes participated in widespead state-sponsored doping.

In another shocking discovery, the Earth is not flat.

PaulSeptember 16th, 2010 at 9:06 am

There are some sports, golf and snooker to the fore, where ethics are more important than the result.

Most others, basketball and football (soccer) seem to lead the way, where cheating (deliberate fouls, faking foul play) are accepted by the authorities and public alike as ‘part of the game’.

I know which camp I want bridge to be in.

Cam FrenchSeptember 17th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

To my good friend David Turner I ask – why is the wording of the law “manifestly incorrect”?

For example you and Bobby disagree on whether or not this meets said criteria.

The law should read “incorrect”, manifestly is vague, subject to interpration and therefore needlessly part of the equation.

The situation should be the question of the applicable reporting period. If you report a +140 versus + 110 is that “manisfestly incorrect”? Well it sure is if you lose by one IMP.

Clarity is the goal. If there is a mistake made within the allowable correction period why should it be “manifestly” or any other adjective we care to assign it – clear, significant, minor, modest?

How about we define the correctional period and allow corrections whatever their significance to be corrected?

Let’s keep our eye on the ball here. The objective is, or at least should be to have the winner advance or triumph. To have laws which enable non-winners to win seems at best ridiculous. Why don’t we tilt the table towards restorative justice?

As Bobby and my good friend Bob Mcphee pointed out – the Germans might have taken the high moral ground and allowed the victor to advance. Any rule that enables non-winners to advance must be “manifestly” flawed.


Bobby WolffSeptember 19th, 2010 at 9:58 pm

One pause for clarity.

Is the goal to help determine who the rightful winner should be, or is it to create power for particular others to decide? While in church, mosque or synagogue most everyone would answer the first choice affirmatively, but in reality the second makes much more sense (and sometimes dollars as well, although I am not suggesting pure bribery) for long range lucrative relationships to develop.

For bibliography check the writings of Prince Machiavelli and he lived, wrote and influenced over 500 years ago.

My intent was always to have a random committee or sometimes a TD to never have the power to use subjective judgment unless he/she or they were totally publicly accountable for his/her/their actions.

However, in a society that tends to honor winning more than morality, the corruption created becomes overwhelming.

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