Educating Players About the Rules — At Our Club
I thought of commenting on Judy Kay-Wolff’s post, Abiding by, and Knowing, the Rules, but decided on a post of my own. The particular issue involves the “good of the game” versus “pragmatic, don’t lose players to another club”.
I’m a certified club director in zone 5 (the CACBF) and zone 2 (the ACBL) and assist some of the time at a local bridge club. I also direct some of the games. I happen to have very strong feelings about how the game should be played — I’m not talking about bidding or defensive systems, but conduct at the table and, as Judy put it, “Abiding by, and Knowing, the Rules”.
I can understand, and forgive, actions that break the rules that are done in ignorance of the rules, but I cannot stand, and it makes me fume, when players that know better break the rules (“The Laws”) — and what truly makes my blood boil is when players are not even willing to hear about the rules, even when spoon-fed in 5-minute chats before starting a game.
What prompted this post was that I have, for several months, been giving 5-minute, or less, chats before many of the games I direct. It would probably have been all games, but sometimes things are a bit hectic before a game, especially if I’ve been roped into also playing so there won’t be a sit-out. I dislike playing in a game I’m directing, but that is a different topic.
When I gave my first few chats, I urged the players to provide feedback: Did they like the chats? Did they hate the chats? Were there topics (about directing or the rules) that they would like me to talk about?
I got very little feedback. What I did get appeared positive (“I didn’t know that!”, “I’m glad you discussed that, it’s a constant problem.”).
Now I hear that some players (I don’t know how many: it could be one, it could be a few), don’t like the chats because, “That is my time to discuss system with my partner” and have complained to the club owners. Now I don’t want to get into the futility of attempting to sort out a system in the 5-minutes before a game, but the attitude is a problem. I’ve been told about this feedback by one of the club owners.
We discussed the problem. Obviously they don’t want to lose players, especially if those players take their partners with them and influence other players. I mentioned discussions I have read on-line about making education about the rules a part of teaching bridge to players. The club owners would like to incorporate the “5-minute Chats” into the bridge lessons and we’ve agreed I’ll drop them as part of the open games I direct.
I love that idea and am glad; however, I have mixed-feelings about not doing it before open games. Many (most of?) the players that offend in the open games are not the new-comers to our game. They have been playing for decades and wouldn’t dream of attending a lesson series. As I’ve been giving these chats over the past few months, there has been a marked increase in director calls by many of the novice/beginner/lower-intermediate players as they have absorbed some of the rules (poor claims, failures to alert, misleading information, declarer leading from the wrong hand…). I’d also like to think that has influenced the behavior of some of the long-time players, but I cannot be certain about that.
So, what do you think?
If you are curious, I have some of those chats posted on my own site: Bridge in St. John’s.