Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 20th, 2020


ClarksburgOctober 4th, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Good Morning Bobby
Just curious.
At the very top levels of competition, is there any form of penalty for really slow play?

Iain ClimieOctober 4th, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

I hope you don’t mind me chipping in but I’ve heard of VP fines in top-level matches and even some tournaments barring certain players. As I’ve always found that having a fairly long think is often the prelude to a spectacularly bad result, I try to avoid it.



Bobby WolffOctober 5th, 2020 at 12:31 am

Hi Clarksburg & Iain,

Over the course of my very long active bridge life, there were many times when the pace became slow. However, during those times, I, perhaps not susceptible to any uncalled for theatrics, nor advantage taking, only responsible players meeting up with sincere problems, worth taking time to at least attempt, to find a solution.

Bridge has a right to create though, even for bridge naturals who play very well, but still, every now and then, feel a situation worth
taking time for either proofreading (eg. making sure random thoughts have some authority, and look before one dares to leap).

IOW, during many years, although perhaps waiting, or causing others to do the same, should not only be allowed, methinks it should, if anything, be encouraged, but only by straight forward players who keep their minds where they should be at that time, on the hand in question.

However, when a player starts slowing down the play in an habitual manner, with no real thought, just a selfish attitude, then subjectively a great TD should, after verifying this annoyance, say something reasonably strong to cut out the nonsense, even though the culprit will certainly rebel. All part of the sensational game all of us love. Please do not think for one minute, that the above is what does always happen, particularly at an average bridge club setting.

Exactly what to do then becomes a possible problem for the TD, but if he keeps his wits about him, he can learn to be both actively involved, but painfully consistent.

In other words, common sense, like it does most times, are the key words which should prevail, rather than a set fine, and, if it comes to a battle of egos let a committee decide, but unlike politics of today, be on track about why,rather than having a horse in that race.

Iain ClimieOctober 5th, 2020 at 8:56 am

HI Bobby,

For what it is worth, I used to have a trick when I TD’d while playing in club sessions, especially as I’ve always been fairly quick. If we were playing (say) 3 board rounds, then every other round I’d say (about 60% of the way through the time I’d allocated for a round) “You should all be starting your 3rd board or about too, while any persistently slow pairs would be given a friendly request to try and catch up please.

One problem at club level is that players insist on discussing the boards after each one, risking nearby tables hearing something (“You could have dropped that spade queen, you know…”) but also dragging things out, and some seem incapable of not waiting until the end despite knowing they can see hand records later.



Bobby WolffOctober 6th, 2020 at 9:53 am

Hi Iain,

Methinks, I like your ideas, since with them you
have conceived a plan, which if consistently followed, will be, by word of mouth, both respected and (I may be dreaming) basically followed, at least for all the key and desired actions.

Regarding slow play, which at one point or another will affect everyone (on both sides) causing what most everyone wants, a consistent method of fairlly handling it for everyone.

Sure, some feathers will be constantly ruffled, but, in time, consistent application may win out,
causing most involved to cooperate.