Cam French

What’s Goin’ On?

Motown Marvin Gaye – What’s Going on



Did I read the 11/2010 editorial correctly?

The November editorial in The Bridge World (TBW) spoke to an issue apparently long simmering within our game’s elite.

To see the whole editorial please get a subscription at, cite me as you impetus for buying and I am confident TBW executive editor Jeff Rubens will shower me with tangible gratitude.

The short story is this:

Pakistan vs. Sweden 1983 Bermuda Bowl

With three cards remaining, Zia reneged while defending a doubled part score. A game would have made without the revoke.

TBW: “After the score was entered, the Swedish NPC who was kibitzing called attention to the revoke. The Director ruled that the result should stand, because the infraction was first mentioned by an outside person. Sweden chose not to appeal, and the result turned out to cost it a place in the semifinals.

The Swedes seethed with anger as demonstrated by this observation (concurred to by the editorial writer Stig Werdelin) made by the Swedish captain:

“This was the most disgusting situation I have ever experienced at the bridge table.”

Werdelin confronted Zia 15 years later and

“….much to my surprise he defended his behavior and expressed his belief that when representing one’s country in an international event, every team member has a duty to try to win, no matter in what way – though whether he referred to taking legal advantage of the rules or to revoking and taking one’s chances with the tournament authorities was not clear to me.”


Zia feels today that Werdelin misunderstood or misrepresented his words. “What I said to Stig was that one should give total commitment; I did not suggest bending the rules. I imagine that he misunderstood my reaction.”

Apparently there is confusion now (and certainly confusion then) if you believe Zia (and I do) and TBW as to what the correct procedure is or should be for a player who discovers to his horror he has revoked. Jeff Rubens told me (and he might know) that TBW has done several editorials on the theme of where rules put players in untenable situations.  Perhaps TBW does not carry the flag like it used to, or lawmakers are paralyzed, indifferent or maybe – they don’t see the rules flawed. Others do.

If Jeff thinks they are, and Zia says they are, then that should suffice for the bridge community to say – a la Marvin Gaye “what’s goin ‘on?” 

What I don’t get is – if one has been “confused” since at least 1983 and “there is serious disagreement even now over what the rule is or should be” then when, if ever are the elite going to say – what the hell are the damn rules?

Jeff and TBW are adamant:

“As we have pointed out repeatedly, players are sometimes put in positions where following the requirements required to win under the rules (compounded in this case by obligation to others) conflicts with personal ideas of how the game ought to be played. In these situations, any course that a player follows will be subject to criticism; the victim controls only who does the criticizing indeed, at times one’s team mates will not speak with a single voice about what action should have been taken.”

Let’s look at that. I see the point but I find that argument tough to swallow on a couple of grounds.

1) The situation is hardly “compounded” by others, there is always a partner, often team mates and that is the standard package. The law is the law regardless of how many (2/4/6/7) have a vested interest in the outcome.

2) If there is a “requirement to win”? This is a concept – can you say dumping? – that TBW has not consistently endorsed, in fact Edgar explicitly stated the opposite: if it is in your best interest to win the event to lose a match then the rules are at fault and do so {dump} to win the event. That said, clearly no “requirement” can ever supersede the laws. Yes I know Bobby Wolff and others have an issue with dumping, but let’s stay on track.

3) …”at times one’s team mates will not speak with a single voice about what action should have been taken“; that’s what an NPC is for.  Disagreement may speak to the clarity of the rules or merely the philosophical approach enjoyed by different players.

4) That “any course that a player follows will be subject to criticismmay be plausible. That said, if a player is chastised by partner or team mates for following the law at the expense of winning I guess that comes with the territory. Get more ethical team mates.

Following that logic, (see or The Lone Wolff for more on the below incident)  recalling the 1990 Rosenblum Cup semi-final match of Canada vs. Germany. The Germans allegedly knew the correct score and in their desire to win, versus sportsmanship let alone “restoring equity” suppressed the same and eventually prevailed. The Germans, presumably motivated by their “requirement to win” made more than one observer nauseous. Bobby Wolff in The Lone Wolff said he “was sick to his stomach”.  Although the win was upheld on appeal, this was a tainted victory to many, but a trophy on the mantelpiece for a few Germans. The team collaborated and made every effort to deny the fact that they had (to be kind) danced within the rules. Clearly the laws, if properly enforced on this occasion (and certainly that is open to debate) failed to restore justice let alone equity so perhaps said laws need a swift kick in the derriere where they allow offenders to profit from their felonious actions. Wolff entitles this chapter Losing team Wins! and calls it “one of bridge’s darkest moments.”  He adds  “However, in a society that tends to honor winning more than morality, the corruption created becomes overwhelming.”

Zia sure started remorseful with “Even after all these years, I remember the incident with regret and remorse.”

If he was not at fault, why does he feel regret and remorse? Answer, because he is an ethical player and his unfamiliarity with the rules (or the apparent confusion of the rules) prevented him from doing what his heart told him was the right thing to do.

He continues…”I did (emphasis his) revoke but wasn’t aware of it until some subsequent trick. I now (emphasis added) believe that the correct procedure for a revoker who subsequently discovers his error to stop play and say I have revoked. “ (Indeed, that is NOT the case so today Zia remains confused about the correct procedure.)

Let’s look at that for a moment. Zia became “aware of it {at} some subsequent trick.” So during the hand, before its completion, he realizes he has revoked. What should he do?

The answer is not that tough. To do nothing is to abdicate one’s responsibility to the spirit of the game as no one should gain through an irregularity by one’s own side, an outcome prohibited by law and common sense.

Zia: “I was unaware of the correct procedure then and there is serious disagreement even now over what the procedure is or should be.”

Pardon me but I have some trouble with that. I whipped out the rule book to have a peek. My source is the Encyclopedia of Bridge 2001 edition. This is what it said:

Law 62

Correction of a Revoke

A player must correct his revoke if he becomes aware of it before it becomes established.

In this case the revoke was established so it could no longer be corrected.

Herein is the dilemma. Why does the law only specify that the player must correct his revoke before it becomes established?  Why not say a player must notify his opponents immediately upon realizing his revoke?

That such is obvious to some that a player might draw attention to his irregularity ASAP is apparently “misunderstood”.  Therein is a void that must be addressed. At least Zia and Jeff think so.

Law 64

Procedure After Establishment of a Revoke

And more pertinent to this incident the rule book also says: 

(d) There is no trick penalty for an establishment of a revoke if ….

iv) Attention was first drawn to the revoke after all players had abandoned their hands and permitted the cards to be mixed together …This rule provides incentive not to confess to one’s revoke.

NB: When any established revoke, including one not subject to penalty, causes damage to the non-offending side insufficiently compensated by the law, the offending side should, under Proprieties 1, transfer additional tricks so as to restore equity.

What a thought! But as the spectator mentioned it first, for all intents and purposes the revoke never happened. Certainly “equity” got lost in the shuffle, to the chagrin of all. At some point the rule makers might revise the following:

Correction of a Revoke   

A player must correct his revoke if he becomes aware of it before it becomes established. (this is the law now)

To say this:

A player must inform his opponents as soon as he becomes aware of the revoke by himself or his partner.

Part of Proprieties 1 reads as follows:

The guiding principal: The side that commits an irregularity bears an obligation not to gain directly from the infraction itself;

In the case the offending side clearly “gained directly” through the irregularity. They defeated a contract destined to succeed. They knew that and withheld that information from the non-offending side.

At present (thanks to a legal opinion) we have this:

Law 72 CURRENTLY reads as follows,

72. B. Infraction of Law

1. A player must not infringe a law intentionally, even if there is

a prescribed rectification he is willing to accept.

2. There is no obligation to draw attention to an infraction of law

committed by one’s own side (but see Law 20F for a mistaken

explanation and see Laws 62A and 79A2).

3. A player may not attempt to conceal an infraction, as by

committing a second revoke, concealing a card involved in a revoke

or mixing the cards prematurely.

Does the law 72B (2) (no obligation to draw attention to an infraction by one’s own side) supesede “the guiding principal that the side that commits an irregularity bears an obligation not to gain directly from the infraction itself”?

Lawmakers – which is it? Own up or shut up.  No wonder there is confusion.

Law 72B3 is just plain silly. If I don’t turn my last two cards up, am I “concealing” my revoke? Let’s revise that law to state the goal clearly.  Like: A player must inform his opponents as soon as he becomes aware of the revoke by himself or his partner.

It would be nice if the behavior required by the rules matched the moral action, which is to restore equity.” (Zia)  Indeed.

“Aplogetic or not, Zia was not at fault-he was a victim.” (TBW)

Wow. This sounds like Johnny Cochrane’s opening salvo. I don’t see a lot of empathy for the Swedes in this editorial and casting Zia as “the victim” is a stretch.

As much as we might empathize with his situation Zia was not the victim. The Swedes were the victims as they were the non-offending side. You can’t have two victims in one case. Or can you? TBW thinks so, as apparently the rule is ambiguous. I suggest experts and all of us follow our hearts which tells all of us what to do in precarious situations. I also suggest the rule makers address this now. But I am not a lawyer, and a lawyer will tell you otherwise.

Perhaps Zia might go to his NPC or a valued friend, or to the C&E committee to determine what he should do next time.  I think if Zia or any player of like stature didn’t know – then they should have known. I am confident the president of the ACBL, or WBF or the Chair of the Rules Committee would pick up the phone if a player of the stature of Zia/Hamman/Martel/ Rosenberg called and said – “We got a problem, let’s see if we can fix it.” I mean we have had a 25 year window here, let’s get it right.

I don’t want to pick on Zia, I know he is an ethical player and clearly he and others share a disconnect with regards to the laws in these circumstances. Let’s address their concerns.

At the end of the editorial it concludes:

“The 1983 incident should have been a sufficient clue, and it has been reinforced many times. Wake up rulesmakers! Make everyone – players, officials, spectators, janitors – responsible for correct procedure. Adjust irregular occurrences by equity. In short cut the (# censored #)!!”

“The 1983 incident should have been a sufficient clue, and it has been reinforced many times. Wake up rulesmakers!” (TBW)

Clearly that has not happened. So how do we enact change? (Not “move forward” – I hate that expression.) Time for those who feel change is warranted to step up and say so.

I have talked with rule-makers, experts, and Jeff at TBW while trying to sort this out. Could Zia be the “victim” as he failed to declare a revoke?

This is a coin with two sides and one razor-edged precipice dividing them. The Swedes were the victim in this case, and as Zia was the cause of that, he cannot share that mantle. He merits empathy, but he and all of us have a obligation to do the right thing. Forget Zia for a moment, imagine being denied a semi-final spot in a world class event because someone revoked against you and it was not disclosed. Presumably given the stature of such an opponent, one would not ask them to face their cards at trick 11/12.  That is a victim.

What should any player who has revoked do in these circumstances? I am sad to report that the rules do not ask a player to point out his own infraction, in fact they state today: “There is no obligation to draw attention to an inadvertent infraction of law committed by own’s own side….” This is the complete opposite of golf where a player is expected to call a penalty upon himself, such as grounding his club in a hazard. In golf failure to declare such a penalty means expulsion from the event.

Should the offending player own up,? Should they confess – “I revoked”, as soon as it becomes apparent. Some would say no more, no less, even if the rules don’t specifically say as much; it must be the right thing to do. And yes, let’s change the rules to explicitly say so. Make it easy. I love paint by number. Why put a player in such a spot where the rules themselves are contradictory?

Surely no one believes that the rules were designed to allow players to profit from thier own irregularity. Clearly for some they are not sufficiently clear, and hopefully with the prodding from Jeff and TBW, Zia and postings like this will help rule makers to realize changes need to be made. We need a few more from the expert realm to speak up in kind.  Of course that assumes they share this perspective. On va voir.

If Jeff and Zia feel there is a problem, that’s enough for me. Let’s cut Zia some slack and hold silly and contradictory rules in contempt until such time that they are revised. Zia in a way – was a victim, but so were the Swedes, and so is our game. Let’s change that.

TBW editorial stated “Adjust irregular occurrences by equity”.

I can imagine no better resolution. Please – lawmakers, address this issue. Add clarity and consistency to the rules.

We don’t feel like waiting another 25+ years.

And just for laughs – what’s goin’ on to change this?




UNovember 16th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Does this mean that the German team from 1990 were “victims” too? Would TBW and Zia agree with that?

Bobby WolffNovember 16th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Hi U,

For my taste and opinion, to call others “victims” in certain cases is a stretch beyond belief.

Is a youngster or not so, a “victim” if a shopkeeper presents his merchandise in a broad and obviously unguarded manner, tempting shoplifting? Or more topical, is a “Hedge Fund” creating victims by allowing huge financial, basically illegal or at the very least dangerous schemes, to be generated so that great amounts of money (risking even eventually bankrupting the country) can be won or lost by not even directly participating in them?

The reason for mentioning Hedge Fund action is to touch on why many financial experts think the unmatched economic downturn two plus years ago in North America (mainly the USA) caused such havoc which will be felt by too many to count, for at least a generation?

Most endeavors need individual discipline to make it work and the performance of democracy requires its people (particularly its leaders and prime movers) to check their greed and love their country and system of government. When that fails (as it did) all are likely to suffer.

Bridge and its rules are not exempt. Yes, it almost goes without saying that rules can always be written better, but unfortunately even people like Edgar Kaplan (the man most responsible for brilliantly writing, updating and overseeing them), fall victim to a very difficult job.

He is no longer with us, but whether he would be or not it becomes necessary for our current individual world-level and best and brightest players to always play by the highest standards available, if for no other reasons than to set role model examples of what our game is about. Yes, sometimes it hurts to do so, but no pain, no gain and worse, no leadership.

Not doing so will result in confusion and more importantly, will turn our marvelous game in the opposite direction to what we all want to aspire.

Bridge used to be known as a “Gentlemans game” with all the trimmings. Let’s not lessen that wonderful nickname and rationalize away our responsibilities.

John Howard GibsonNovember 16th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Howard Bigot-Johnson speaking :

Will someone tell me how any injustice can be done by simply recording the result that would have transpired if the revoke had not taken place. And yes if declarer spots the revoke he/she earns an extra trick. It doesn’t matter a jot as to who or how the revoke was established. Once it has been established, then in no way should the guilty party be allowed to profit by it.

If they are allowed to profit simply because it wasn’t spotted or no one is owning up, then something is horribly wrong with the game.

Let’s face it in every other sport referees are constantly present keeping an eye on the ball at all times : in bridge they only appear as and when summoned. So what’s wrong with allowing Kibitzers to point out to TDs gross infractions such as revokes ?

UNovember 16th, 2010 at 10:24 pm


Thx for replying. As a Swede, I was really offended by the editorial when it portrayed Zia as a “victim”. I recall the original article (not in 1983, but years later) by Björn Åström (the 1983 NPC) and the outrage and utter disbelief I felt reading his recollection of the incident. That article caused Werdelin to pursue the matter (again years later).

I do not think neither the Germans nor Zia was a victim. Their behavious was below the expected standard and I suspect that hadn’t one of the ‘favoured Americans’ been involved in the 1983 incident, the TBW editorial had been much differently (read harshly) phrased. Which pisses me off (Europeans judged in one light, Americans in another – not the first time).

And IMHO Zia’s “offense” was significantly worse than the Germans. The revoke was pointed out at the table, albeit in an “improper” manner (still by a member of the opposing team, the NPC – not a spectator or rama operator), directly following the offense (Zia reacting with rage, as I recollect the article, not remorse or apologizing), while the 1990 matter wasn’t disclosed until the day after. But as to degree of offense, it’s perhaps a matter of personal opinion.

Zia’s at-the-table reaction, as described in that article, was the real crime in my eyes. Wish I could find it.

Cam FrenchNovember 16th, 2010 at 10:32 pm


If a team conspires to hide the real score (as in the Germany/Canada incident) whether they profit or lose from that decision, how on earth can they be called victims? Canadians were the victims, plain and simple.

Victims are the aggrieved, the swindled, those hurt by crimes in bridge or society. To call the Germans “victims” is patently ridiculous. To my mind, as they conspired as a group to withhold the truth, their crime is far more profound than Zia’s.

A side note, at a local Sectional tournament, a player came to his opponents after a Swiss match (his scoring losing by 5) but the opponents said you by three. He did not disclose his score, nor did he verify what the correct score might have been. He accepted their score and handed in what he knew was a false result.

Happily (but not for the offender) the losers, realized upon further analysis that they were indeed the winners. When they sumbitted the new result, (uncontested by the other team) it was accepted. The person who “knowingly” submitted a false result got a 30 day suspension. That must have really hurt….as if.

If you read the present rules closely, (and they are cited above) a player is NOT required to call attention to his inadvertant irregularity. I guess if you made it intentionally you are off the hook! The rule is silly and needs redefining.

If bridge as it purports itself to be a game of ethics, where disclosure, fairness and adherence to law is woven into the fabric of the game – then why provide loopholes? Do the right thing.

As Bobby Wolff noted, when the “losing team wins”, there is only one “victim”, and victims don’t win, they suffer from the unfortunate, unlawful or felonious acts of others.


Linda LeeNovember 17th, 2010 at 4:45 am

I remember one time I accidentally revoked and my partner had a quick temper. I certainly wasn’t going to draw attention to the revoke and risk bodily harm. I was quite happy when the hand ended quickly and the revoke was never discovered.

The rules seem quite clear to me. The only “wrong” thing would be to revoke on purpose. You have no obligation to draw attention to it.

It would be too confusing if we all start operating under another set of rules based on being sportsman-like.

UNovember 17th, 2010 at 7:42 am


First let me say that I do not in any way defend the Germans; they were certainly not victims. My initial comment was more meant to provoke the thought than suggest anything else. I’m not friends with the Germans (I played the 1990 Rosenblum in Geneva myself). I just felt that the label of victim for Zia was so off base that I wanted to suggest that if that was true than the Germans must be “covered” as well.

As for which fellony is most severe, Zia was caught red-headed, in-the-act by opposing NPC and didn’t “cop” while the Germans were informed the day after. That they had known the error the same day, after scoring up, is news to me.

Btw, FYI it has been suggested that Zia’s revoke wasn’t unintentional. Some swedes on site 1983 thought so. I have no idea, but let me say that revokes are rare by world class players (not unheard of, Sementa revoked as declarer in 3NT a couple of years ago, costing his team an Italian teams championship) and even more so when defending a doubled partscore in a World Championship – and that turns out to be the only way to beat the contract! What would then be a proper reaction when the opposing NPC calls attention to the fact? Fury? How would Bobby Wolff react?

ross taylorNovember 17th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

During this year’s Canadian National Team Trials, we were playing an important third day round robin match against one of the pre event favorites. We had just bid and made a vul 3NT which rated to be a clear 13 imp pick up.

Declarer, Keith Balcombe, at the conclusion of the hand, called attention to an accidental revoke on his part – one that had made absolutely no difference to the outcome of the hand.

The director was called; an adverse ruling was made; we pushed the board and lost the match by a few imps. This was at a time when VP’s were very precious – in fact the next day it took an almost bizarre confluence of favorable circumstances in the last match of the round robin for our team to eke into the playoffs.

Virtue was rewarded but it sure didn’t feel that way until the very end of the round robin.

Some would say Keith exhibited the highest form of “Active Ethics” – but rather we feel he was just doing what he was supposed to do by calling the revoke on himself.

(After the fact others speculated that a “win-at-all-costs team mate” should quietly have tucked his cards into the duplicate board and gone on to the next hand)

UNovember 18th, 2010 at 7:54 am

My vague reference to “some swedes” (thinking the revoke was intentional) was rather vague so I decided to contact Björn Åström, the Swedish NPC at hand 1983 and the original article author to get more info. The article was published in the Swedish “Bridgetidningen” 1/1988 by then editor Tjolpe Flodqvist. Björn did not have a copy at hand, but says in an email:

“It’s a long time ago now. My recollection is as follows:

Gunnar Hallberg was declarer in 2 of-a-major doubled vulnerable. He was on the opposite side of the screen from Zia. At Zia’s side sat Bubben (dummy) who had a unique ability to relax when he was dummy (he more or less slept). So even if the contract was dramatic, he didn’t pay any attention to the play. At trick eleven, Gunnar ruffed a sidesuit with dummy’s last trumf. If succeeding that was winner no 8, making the contract. Zia overruffed and just claimed the last two tricks, immediately turning those down as winners, without showing them to anybody.

Everbody of course assumed honesty and that his last two cards were winners in another suit. That was, for a fact, not the case. I had seen his hand, knew his remaining cards and saw what happened. It’s beyond all doubt that he deliberately cheated. I immediately pointed out that he made a mistake and that it should be corrected. Zia broke out in profanity and rudeness, among other things saying I had nothing to do with it and should “shut up”. Zia’s behaviour did not exactly indicate innocence or remorse.

I called the TD, who after a long time came back and informed me that I had committed a formal error (I wasn’t allowed to say anything) and the table result would stand. Our team was shocked, especially me, but I decided that we just let it be (i.e no appeal). It was a long tournament, this was in the beginning, so it was unlikely that this deal would have a deciding influence (I was wrong about that, Sweden would have qualified for semifinal but for this deal). Another factor was that Sweden was hosting the Bermuda Bowl and I didn’t want to cause a scandal by accusing a superstar for irregularities (I simply didn’t dare then).”

This is published here with Björn’s permission, translation by me. Some additional thoughts about sportsmanship and more from Björn is omitted.

This begs some observations. Zia claims in the editorial that

”I did revoke but wasn’t aware of it until some subsequent trick.” This isn’t true AT ALL according to Björn. Zia just claimed the remaining tricks FACE DOWN, thereby basically depriving the opponents a chance to check the validity of the claim without questioning HIS honesty (i.e saying “show me your cards” implies mistrust). This type of claim is something people sometimes do, but seems like it’s in violation of some bridge law (I don’t know the law well enough to point out which one). Doing that and ranting off when getting called is really depictable. How do you feel about that, Bobby?

So, the ones with permission to call the TD about a revoke, declarer and dummy, in practise never had a chance to discover the revoke!

Cam writes “Zia feels today that Werdelin misunderstood or misrepresented his words.”. Another way of looking at it is that Zia pretty much confirmed he did it intentionally to Stig in a one-on-one discussion and he now negates on that in public view, maybe because he now is wiser and has changed his opinon of right and wrong. Or because the offense is getting publicity.

roger pewickNovember 18th, 2010 at 2:28 pm

A curious combination of words were used that can be misconstrued:

“and that his last two cards were winners in another suit. That was, for a fact, not the case.”

Was the correct fact that- both cards were not winners? or, was it that they were both winners but at least one was of the revoke suit?

UNovember 18th, 2010 at 2:54 pm

At least one of his reamining cards was in the suit led. He overruffed instead of following, i.e. revoking. Sorry for bad english.

Bobby WolffNovember 18th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Hi U,

Believe me or not, for some reason I had not heard one word about this unseemly episode until this site made me aware of it. As an aside, I attended that WC in Stockholm 1983, but didn’t arrive until the end of the RR and for whatever reason, possibly even good for bridge and its reputation, it was somehow hushed.

I am nothing short of shocked and my initial reaction is very negative for my friend, Zia, who since I have gotten to know him fairly well in the last number of years, has always acted in an ethical and positive manner at the table. His actions in Stockholm in 1983, at the very least, appear to be nothing short of despicable, and I am having a hard time accepting them.

I’ve known and believed for a long time that everyone has both good and bad in them accelerating up and down, especially during a long visible life, and as Robert Louis Stevenson, the marvelous Scotch writer wrote and depicted during the middle to late 19th century in his classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the bad sometimes just takes over.

As everyone knows, Zia would be most high-level bridge players choice as our best and brightest ambassador for the game itself, having great charisma and charm and for this hidden, up to now, story to appear certainly tends to boggle my mind.

Perhaps it represents how difficult it is to be such a great player and receive (at that time) very few, if any significant rewards and labor on with much less respect given to, than what one knows he deserves.

It is obviously almost impossible to walk in the moccasins of another, so I will take that advice and comment no further. I do know that Zia had a difficult youth while being brought up in Pakistan in which he very nearly took his own life, merely increasing the complications of trying to figure out why this happened.

While I always believed that all of us should “seek the truth and the truth shall make ye free” this information has puzzled me greatly.

In conclusion, yes I do believe that what happened in Stockholm, Sweden in 1983 was off the charts horrible and totally out of line, and how it could have been glazed over all these years is beyond my comprehension, if for no other reason than for keeping it from happening again.

The rules in bridge need a thorough overhaul to search for the truth, achieve active ethics, strictly follow a rigid allegiance to the spirit of competition (no dumping or playing less than one’s best), prosecute and then ban stealthy cheaters forever and above all, expect and receive much greater compliance from the very high level bridge community. Until that is achieved we continue to live in the dark ages, apparently never to emerge.

Cam FrenchNovember 19th, 2010 at 3:45 am

Hi U,

as I wrote:

Law 72 CURRENTLY reads as follows:

72. B. Infraction of Law

1. A player must not infringe a law intentionally, even if there is a prescribed rectification he is willing to accept.

2. There is no obligation to draw attention to an infraction of law committed by one’s own side (but see Law 20F for a mistaken explanation and see Laws 62A and 79A2).

3. A player may not attempt to conceal an infraction, as by committing a second revoke, concealing a card involved in a revoke or mixing the cards prematurely.

Reread 3 above. IF Zia, over-ruffed then put his cards away (as the writer claimed) “FACE DOWN” (his emphasis), then clearly this was an infraction. At the very least, the remaining cards should have been revealed.

I quote below….

This is published here with Björn’s permission, translation by me. Some additional thoughts about sportsmanship and more from Björn is omitted.

This begs some observations. Zia claims in the editorial that ”I did revoke but wasn’t aware of it until some subsequent trick.”

This isn’t true AT ALL according to Björn. Zia just claimed the remaining tricks FACE DOWN, thereby basically depriving the opponents a chance to check the validity of the claim without questioning HIS honesty (i.e saying “show me your cards” implies mistrust). This type of claim is something people sometimes do, but seems like it’s in violation of some bridge law (I don’t know the law well enough to point out which one). Doing that and ranting off when getting called is really depictable.


Perhaps more witnesses might step forward and state their recollections as obviously there are two rather polar opposite perspectives.

Peter GillNovember 19th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Quote: “So, the ones with permission to call the TD about a revoke, declarer and dummy, in practise never had a chance to discover the revoke!”

Only because their NPC intervened. Otherwise Law 64C applies:

Law 64C

“when, after any established revoke, including those not subject to penalty, the Director deems that the non-offending side is insufficiently compensated by this Law for the damage caused, he shall assign an adjusted score.”

If the Swedish npc didn’t intervene, then at the end of the match, the Swedes would point out what happened and

the WBF Chief TD would apply Law 64C, and all would be well.

I thnk it is not 100% clear whether Zia was merely upset that the npc intervened, nor 100% clear whether Zia was totally aware at the time that he had really revoked. In such circumstances, here in Australia we say “innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.” Therefore innocent. Other countries have different standards from us, I guess.

Bobby WolffNovember 19th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

At this point in time, I think it necessary to discuss some truths as I see them, which might help create common denominators among us, which then in turn may enable us to go forward together, in spite of the differences between thinking people about values, importance of the written laws, goals to be achieved, and the practicality of dealing with different feelings toward bridge morality, punishment, and what should and needs to be expected from others.

At this starting point I would like to step forward with my feelings about the bridge laws.

Since Edgar was in charge for so long there is likely no one who doesn’t appreciate his work ethic and immense effort, his intellect, his writing ability, his determination and his positive attitude toward applying his finished product, together with all the help he received from many varied and different world wide sources.

After the death of Edgar, Grattan Endicott, with excellent help, created his “Code of Practice” which now tends to guide the WBF in their present appeals and, although relatively new, has not necessarily solved or even addressed the problems we are now considering.

Having said the above, I prefer to use those necessary laws to:

1. Above all, interpret them to jointly agree to do what is best for HIGH-LEVEL bridge for the long run as it stands now and, for us to determine, with the realization of others taking our place and succeeding us for the long term, the most practical way to present ourselves.

2. We should never discount the importance of also providing for bridge around the world, understandable and practical laws which will serve to help and guide the vast number of social bridge players into a better and playable game to be enjoyed at all levels of playing ability.

However, my discussion will be directed at the very highest level generally thought to be WBF oriented and world competition as we know it.

With my vision of how the laws should read, it would be better put, for example, to say concerning Law 72, B2: There is usually not an obligation to disclose a violation against oneself (such as a revoke), but if the violator realizes that by so not doing, a possible significant skewed result may occur, then it becomes at least a moral obligation to so disclose. In other words if one decides to not disclose it, with the skewed result, which may occur, and then recorded, is not a specific violation of the laws, but it is nevertheless an unnecessary blight on the game itself.

I wish to confess that in my relatively long career of administering the laws through mostly appeals committees, I took the liberty of interpreting the laws to what I hoped and judged to be in the best interests of the future of high-level bridge. At least, IMO I think it was well worth it, and although possibly infuriating to all law worshippers, because of the restricted opportunities to do so, not to mention the constant changing of the ones in charge. Many of my most significant interpretations are public knowledge and have been chronicled so it obviously should not be up to me to determine, but rather up to others to so judge.

Concerning the change of Law 72, B2, in this way we can leave it up to the transgressor to right the wrong, without having to physically change the law itself.

My comment is already too long, but perhaps some person or visiting visionary can see the value of what I am suggesting. If so, please take over and lead us into joining together and making bridge as good a game as is possible, with practical, but well written laws which NEVER, or at least, hardly ever, to be advantaged by self-serving opportunities.

Remember we are not trying to write general laws to apply to the whole world wide bridge world, but only to the expert community within the WBF to apply.

UNovember 19th, 2010 at 4:17 pm


If that had happened to me, my reaction would be to thank the NPC for bringing it to my attention. Even if the revoke was unintentional, the reaction was highly inappropiate (and says a great deal about morals and values).

UNovember 19th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

“In such circumstances, here in Australia we say “innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.” Therefore innocent. Other countries have different standards from us, I guess.”

Maybe one has to deal with incidents like this differently in bridge than in criminal law? Seems like bridge authorites already do, to some extent at least. Compare this with the ‘proof’ that yielded a guilty verdict to Lanzarotti-Buratti in Teneriffe 2005. Guilt is hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt in bridge.

Richard GrensideNovember 19th, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Has anyone cosidered Law 81C especially 81C3?

“The Director’s duty and power normally includes the following, to rectify an error or irregularity of which he becomes aware in any manner”etc etc

Richard Grenside

roger pewickNovember 19th, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I am among the few that assert that the promulgations of the WBF have harmed bridge in incalculable ways in that not only have the wrong answers been put to paper but the answers themselves are often gar=bled. Much of what has been written buttresses that notion.

I point to the report of the kibitz=zer’s recollection. I am inclined to take it as accurate and at face value. Well, except that, the kibitzer doesn’t recollect if Zia’s remaining cards were in fact all winners. I know that if I had been there I would have remembered. And for that, I would not be surprised if the account was in fact less than complete. Which, in a way makes me curious as to what should have happened- not as would be dictated by emotions but as dictated by law.

this exercise will rely upon the following events: at T11 Zia revoked winning the trick; he claimed the remaining tricks without exposing his cards; acquiescence took place; a kibitzer affiliated with the other side [was first to] stated there was a revoke [at T11].

Proprieties V.B states

A spectator may not call attention to any irregularity or mistake…..

An irregularity [a spectator drawing attention to a revoke] has occurred requiring the TD [L9B1a].

At this point the TD learns of the spectator infraction and the alleged infraction of a revoke. L77C6 requires that he rectify errors of which he becomes aware [in accordance with L77B2].

The TD investigates:

1. The cards have been mixed, how am I to verify that Zia has revoked? Did Zia later play or face a card of the revoke suit? No. so how could Zia have revoked? Zia claimed the last two tricks without showing his cards immediately after the revoke trick. How could you have known there was a revoke? The kibitzer said so. Is that true? Yes. There was acquiescence and the result agreed? Yes.

2. Remove your cards from the board and reconstruct the play. Does anyone disagree with the order of the cards? No.

3. Kibitzer, is there anything that has been left out? Zia’s conduct was ungentlemanly. And just how was Zia’s conduct ungentlemanly?

4. Is my belief correct that you are a member of the non-revoking team? Yes.

l64 provides for situations where revoke penalties do not apply, and there is no such provision for the case where a kibitzer improperly participates. L11D1 does provide that the right to penalize may be forfeited when a spectator [for which the NOS is responsible]; however, the law provides no standards upon which forfeiture is to occur, and as such there is no provision in this case for precluding penalizing a revoke.

I have found as agreed fact by both sides that Zia revoked at T11, winning the trick, thereafter claiming the remaining tricks, the claim being accepted without inspection of the unplayed cards, and scored. There being no further play.

L63A3 provides that the revoke is established by Zia’a claim and L64A1 provides that for an established revoke where the revoking side won the trick and a subsequent trick then two tricks are transferred to the other side. If you feel that this ruling is not in accordance with law you may appeal.

As for Zia’s ungentlemanly conduct. Out bursts are very undesirable as they irritate, distract, and intimidate others. In this case there has been a breach of propriety by the kibitzer which I judge to be the sole provocation. An impropriety does not give license for ungentlemanly conduct. However, that does not mean that an outburst is inexcusable, after all, humans are the one’s that play bridge. And in this instance, if not for that provocation there would not have been any outburst. I see no reason to inconvenience anyone further on the matter.

As for the misconduct of the kibitzer. I find as agreed fact that the kibitzer made remarks during the round and by doing so inserted himself into the play.

Proprieties V.A2 states During the round, a spectator must refrain from mannerisms or remarks of any kind. Proprieties V.B states

A spectator may not call attention to any irregularity or mistake…..

I find that the kibitzer has breached the proprieties of section VA2 & B and done so grievously in spite of the admonition that he must not do so. By doing so he has directly tainted the outcome of a board and by the angst thereby caused will indirectly taint future outcomes. It is not lost upon me that you are a member of one of the teams so affected. Because of the lasting effects of your impropriety your team is assessed a PP of 30 imps against this match. It may not be a sufficient PP but it can be appealed within the correction period.

Further, a committee will be convened today to consider just and sufficient cause if, when, and under what conditions you be permitted access to these tournament facilities. Notice of the time and location will be posted on a 3×5 card labeled Case One to be found on the Main Bulletin Board at the earliest possible time, no later than one hour after the conclusion of this session. Until otherwise notified you must not be within 15 meters of any playing area beginning immediately. It is desired that all attend. You are expected to be aware of the notice.

Tensions are high so I suggest that a minute or two be taken by everyone to breathe deeply and try to relax before proceeding.

…..Now, that’s a far cry from what was reported about 1983. And what is curious is that the TD staff could read the law book and still do things so much differently from what was written.

I think that I’ll take the opportunity to point out that for all of these ‘suggestions’ [this blog] about what players are supposed to do, if someone were to write them as law- in law form and then set about reading it his blood would curdle. For instance this business about telling you revoked in the middle of the hand. Anyone with half a brain would realize that that means [for a defender] he effectively has named a card in his hand. And in case the ramifications are lost upon you check out the last sentence of L49 as well as L57.

What I’m getting at is that I am no masochist and you won’t find me playing by those rules- because they are wrong headed rules. Plain and simple- a player should not be his own sheriff, judge, and executioner- in spite of the cries coming forth here and elsewhere. The pilgrims tried it in 1620 when they adopted a communist society [Mayflower Compact] and it wasn’t enough to overcome what nature had in store for them. The place for deciding the hard choices is the law and that is why the law must be constructed wisely. But since it is the voices of the unwise that determine the law…and as if this brouhaha hasn’t happened before you might want to check out the report on WW3 in TBW Oct 1999 .

One thing I have noticed is it takes 52 cards to make a board and what good is it if what the players do after an irregularity doesn’t reallllly count?

John CarruthersNovember 21st, 2010 at 11:09 am

To U,

Agree with your philosphy, BUT, please note that Zia did not play for the ‘favoured Americans’ at that time, but for Pakistan…AND, there is no way Jeff Rubens would have been influenced by this (one’s Americanism) in any case. So don’t be pissed off at TBW, Jeff is as fair a person as there is (just a bit misguided IMHO).


David TurnerDecember 1st, 2010 at 2:08 am

My thoughts:

It seems clear that we need a new, simple code whose guiding principle is equity and sportsmanship. I propose an unofficial “experts’ agreement”: regardless of the laws “fess up to a revoke as soon as you become aware of it, and call the Director”. Anyone disagree? We can let the Laws catch up in due course.

From a strictly legal perspective, I think the original incident was analogous to the situation in law where a criminal goes scott free because of a technical error by the police. The kibitzer thought he was doing the right thing, but the moment he spoke up, he prejudiced the situation beyond recovery, from a strict Laws perspective.

Having said so, I imagine he didn’t anticipate the reaction to his comment (he thought the revoking player would be appreciative that he pointed out the wrongness of the result – I would be). I’m at a loss to explain Zia’s reaction, and, thankfully, it seems he is too, these many years later.

I agree with TBW that the complexity of the current rules are treacherous, and they sometimes put us at odds with what we think is equitable. I think all of us should agree to implement the new “code”, and let our conscience be our guide. If our partners and teammates are unsympathetic, there are others available.

FeryOctober 19th, 2015 at 5:13 am

Plansieg to find someone who can think like that

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