8 December 2014

EBU Panel Weekend

The EBU TD panel consists of those TDs the EBU will use to direct at its events, including trainees who serve a probationary period before “donning the purple” blazer, or not. (We no longer have purple/maroon blazers, so I guess it should be “donning the red polo”). Every two years, the panel meets for a weekend away to share best practice and remind ourselves how to sit in a bar until “a bit after two”. Some topics come up two-year after two-year, and a workable and consistent approach to Law 27 is such a topic.

One more go at Law 27 (2007)

It is getting to the stage the new Law 27 is no longer new and in a few years will become the old Law 27. We (EBU TDs) continue to oscillate about what the different players at the table should be told about the options available to the offender in replacing his insufficient bid. I think the truth is that we do things differently depending on the auction and the experience of the players at the table. We also continue to discuss particular cases of what calls constitute “rectification calls” under Law 27B1(b) — that is, calls that will not silence offender's partner. Here again we oscillate between a more or less liberal interpretations of the law. But there seem to be nothing much to be learnt as general principle, but just to look at each case separately.

The case we looked at was 1NT –(3♦)– 2NT; with responder holding ♥AJxxxxx. The point of the exercise was to distinguish the application of Law 27D (after Law 27B1) from the application of Law 23 (after Law 27B2). But we had to know whether a replacement bid of 3♥ would silence partner.

Responder intended 2NT as Lebensohl but was confused about what auction he thought he was bidding Lebensohl in, so it was not clear if his intended 1NT –(2X)– 2NT – 3♣ – 3♥ was to play or invitational. It was also not clear whether the partnership had an agreement as to whether 1NT –(3♦)– 3♥ was invitational or forcing. So we were forced to conclude that 3♥ as a replacement for the insufficient bid did not necessarily have the same meaning as 3♥ after the insufficient Lebensohl and so did not have the same-or-more-precise meaning as the insufficient Lebensohl.

We concluded that 3♥ would only be a non-silencing replacement bid, if responder knew what strength of 3♥ bid (to play, invitational or forcing) he was intending to show via Lebensohl, if the partnership (in particular, opener) knew what strength was shown by the proposed 3♥ bid, and if those two meanings (in terms of strength) co-incided. This all requires a lot of investigation by the TD during a live auction, possibly wanting to ask questions of both members of the non-offending side independently and without giving information to other players to which they may not be entitled.

WBF have another go with Law 27 (2017)

Meanwhile (in another part of the forrest) the WBF laws draft subcommittee are considering how to fix/improve this law. Any radical redrafting has been rejected: for instance suggestions that the insufficient bid should be an unauthorised withdrawn call (see open season on law 27). It is possible that the “meaning” of the insufficient bid, instead of being the “intended” meaing, becomes the “apparent” meaning (or the information conveyed by the insufficient bid). So the TD does not need to ask the offender what he was trying to do, instead he has to decide what it looks like he was trying to do. It is also possible that any unauthorised information generated by the offender (for example, “oops, I thought he had passed”) will be wound in to the restrictions on offender's partner.

We shall have to wait patiently and see what happens.

Coming up

So, there may not be much more to say here on Law 27 for a few years. At the panel weekend, I lead a session on scoring and we (again) recognised the value of sharing our experiences with the different scoring systems. So I might try and write up some details of scoring system problems and achievements over the last year and post them here.

16 August 2014

Brighton 2014 - weak one

More ramblings and some deliberate puns/typos from the last seven daze.

The first weekend was intense: I was scoring all sections from one computer. The computer was networked to another computer on the balcony with its own bridgemate server and large display screen. The results from upstairs were collected on the upstairs computer and written to the database on the master computer; and the rolling scores were displayed on both floors. Everything worked but the computers did run a bit slowly at times – database access over ethernet is just not the same as accessing a database on the same computer.

We kicked off with ruling and appeals from the off: the first appeal related to a ruling in match one. During the midweek events there have been less actual appeals but lots of threats and “french” appeals (haranguing anyone who has to listen about how unfair it all is).

RIP: Robin Williams, a clown who couldn't live any more; Lauren Bacall, a goddess who should have lived forever.


and then I went to look at the end of Friday point-a-board teams scoring and got involved in fixing the pianola uploads; and then setting up the networked computers for the Swiss Teams; and before you know it, it was another 1:00am finish.

8 August 2014

Brigthon 2014 Day 0 - Setting up

Arrived at the venue earlier than scheduled – due to mad dashing in and out of lifts and up and down escalators/stairs at Gatwick, so I made an earlier connection – looking like something out of the Fast Show. So plenty of time to set up a few more computers for the midnight late-night (11:30pm) speedball.

So now I have set up another computer and (more importantly?) connected to the internet and social media.

I knew most of the setting-up was already done because the EBU had posted a picture on twitter before I had got on my second train #ebubrighton.

Other TDs arriving now for briefing meeting; and it's Sarah's birthday – happy birthday to you!

7 October 2013

Too clever

Lots going on, not all of it good, and not all of it can be reported.

At the EBU AGM, I was elected to the Laws and Ethics Committee, following my work on the White Book earlier in the year. This gives me a certain privileged position (for instance, with respect of disciplinary matters) and so constrains what I can post unofficially. Thanks to all who supported my election.

Meanwhile doing some TD and some L&E-like activities:

  • Referee for an appeal from a neighbouring county event.
  • Mobile phone call on alerting of Pass, see “I wouldn’t have passed” on BridgeBase forums; but not easy without a Blue Book to hand.
  • Started a series of Club TD training course — looking forward to insufficient bids later this month.
  • Acted as an Appeals Advisor when playing at the weekend — difficult to know what to say: the players seemed to understand the law, and the judgement involved, and thought they were right.

Board 20, Dealer West

K Q J 10 9 8 5 3A
10 5  W   E  Q 9 8 6 2
10 5A J 4
5J 8 3 2

I declared 4♠ on the ♣K lead and ♦9 switch. I ducked to the ♦Q and ruffed the club return. Then ♠A, another club ruff, and a top spade from hand. LHO revoked with a small heart and corrected with a small spade, leaving the heart as a major penalty card.

I checked that the opponents knew the law, including possible lead restrictions, and we did not call the TD. So I played my master stroke, taking the diamond finesse immediately. This lost (not unexpectedly) but I banned a heart return hoping South would only have red cards and I would make ♦A anyway. RHO produced ♣Q and I looked as stupid as the other declarers who had been given (and taken) the opportunity to finesse twice in ♦.

Relating the hand at the tea break, a friend remarked that only a director would find that line: a friendly enough remark but not intended as a compliment!

18 August 2013

Brighton Day 9 - things fall apart

Session 2 of the Swiss Teams was when multi-section Australia movement really kicked in. During the session the teams had a new team number which was the same as their new home/NS table number, but the overall results were expressed in terms of their initial team number. The BridgeMates use the 'in session' number whereas the scoring program used (mainly) the initial team number. This was all new for everyone but players/TDs/scorers got the hang of it after a couple of rounds.

I scored the first session of the day, which was interesting when the computer screen failed before the start of play. We could still attach a monitor and use that to duplicate the desk top — so we could copy the data files. Copying the data files to a spare computer and we were able to resume before play started.

In the evening, I had a session off from scoring — although I was involved as 'assistant to the scorer'. I had unauthorised information rulings in both sessions: whether I was TD or scorer. In both cases, it was clear there were logical alternatives but the real question was what was suggested by the disallowed information from partner.

A more interesting ruling involved 14 exposed cards during the auction period. The TD made a ruling that allowed played to continue (with fewer penalty cards). One side had just been on the club TD course, the other side included a number of national referees: and both sides thought the ruling was wrong!

17 August 2013

Brighton Day 8 - Multi-section Australian Swiss Teams

A mixture of administration, playing, scoring and more playing.

The morning included another iteration of masterpointing PWTE and I had the afternoon off and played in the Open Pairs. Nothing remarkable happened in the bridge but it did mean I now have results on Pianola — so when I uploaded results later in the day, my Pianola login showed a breakdown of my percentage for the afternoon session.

The Swiss Teams was scored as multi-section Australian — meaning teams play at the same home table in each session, but may move sections between sessions. The software is relatively new and we did face some organisational and technical issues, but the session happened with no obvious problems. The assignments at the end of the session were complicated because we had to put some teams back where they were before to allow for various disablements. Nevertheless we were assigned, with the results and assignments on the internet, soon after midnight.

Chief (gordonTD) and I wandered into the Midnight Speedball to find there was a half table: “We could fill in” TD: “but the half table is in the movement and we have moved for round 5”; “we can fix this”. So we updated the movement (in much the same way as in the Mixed Pairs yesterday) and were able to play two thirds of the speedball. So that is two sessions of results on Pianola — the only bridge achievement is that in the speedball we were the only pair to bid and make a slam.

16 August 2013

Brighton Day 6 / Day 7 - knees up

Upstairs/downstairs events on Tuesday led to knee problems for the poor scorer but it now feels like we are over the worst for Brighton.

The Mixed Pivot Teams was complicated as ever but seemed to go smoothly, although we continue to have BridgeMate configuration problems. There were also awkward rulings and talk of several appeals — one of which happened. Some players and appeals committees seem to expect the TDs to do extensive player-polling before giving any judgement ruling; but in some events polling can be difficult to organise and can take up a lot of time for the TD — time they could be dealing with other incidents/rulings.

Wednesday was sufficiently less 'full on' than Tuesday, that I stayed to do scoring for the Midnight Speedball and I played one board for the winning pair. The speedball went to time and we had results on the internet and photographs of the winners by 1:35am.

Thursday involved more BrigeMate configuration problems in both the afternoon and evening sessions. There was other problems in the evening Mixed Pairs, with one player unable to continue playing, due to 'illness', which meant a change to the movement. Nevertheless, the operation to merge the earlybird session with main session data while the main session was still in play was again successful.

The biggest outstanding problem in scoring is the Play With The Experts: the masterpoints have the unique combination of two winner movement, stratification, and a mixture of green/blue points. Any pair of those issues would be problematic but the combination of all three involves iterated construction of a spreadsheet with all the constituent masterpoints, and the spreadsheet has to be rebuilt by hand every time we find a problem with the previous data.

The masterpoints for the Mixed Pairs is a combination of stratification and a mixture of green/blue points: so I left that for Friday morning and we were back at our hotel until midnight. Unfortunately, the bar was open and an early night was avoided — instead the TD tradition of 'a bit after' 2am was observed.