Deliberate Slow Play

What do the EBU suggest that TD's do about this. Typically more experience players against weaker ones, spent too long over each card as a method of inducing a lack of concentration in the opposition and putting them under time pressure

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  • Assuming they are causing late finishes on the round, you give them a warning about their slow play and then start taking boards from them, with prejudice, i.e. 40-60.

    You could even go so far as to tell their opponents for a round that you appreciate that they've been delayed starting, whilst also telling the slow pair please to speed up else you'll be taking boards from them.

  • I view taking boards away as very much a last resort. I've had that done to me and it wasn't my or my partner's fault. I was most annoyed and getting an ave+ is no recompense. I go to a club to play bridge and it's up to the director to move slow players along.

  • @450759 said:
    What do the EBU suggest that TD's do about this. Typically more experience players against weaker ones, spent too long over each card as a method of inducing a lack of concentration in the opposition and putting them under time pressure

    I think you should have evidence before imputing motives to slow play, but of course slow players can be penalised in any case.

  • TagTag
    edited March 20

    No one likes having boards taken away and not every club has a break where people can catch up. If the session does have a break then you can ask players to play it during the break or to play it at the end. Not everyone is willing and able to play out a board at the end of the session.

    What's the director going to do, though, to keep the drive moving? Some directors happily allow the drive to run over but some players have baby-sitters or a taxi booked and letting the drive run over time isn't acceptable for some. Catering for a slow pair can hold up the whole drive.

    Equally, you can't be standing over them, ready to apply a PP if you think they are over-thinking a hand to the detriment of all. Taking a board away should, ideally, be preceded with a warning that you are prepared to do it and then there's little real alternative to doing it.

    I usually just call the round-change on the clock. If players are habitually late then I ask them to make an effort to catch up. The original post, though, suggests that some players are deliberately playing slowly. It's hard to prove but giving them a low score against a pair they expect to do well against can correct their behaviour. Of course, if you think that a pair is deliberately wasting time then you can apply proper penalties. You still have to deal with the run-over, though.

  • With three board rounds I quite often take one away for slow play.
    If most have finished and a few are nearly finished it's not fair on them to let one table start the third board late.
    It's not often easy to determine responsibility for the slowness. I generally award 60-60 and warn both pairs.
    For repeat offence I award 40-60.

    Alan

  • @16248 said:
    With three board rounds I quite often take one away for slow play.
    If most have finished and a few are nearly finished it's not fair on them to let one table start the third board late.
    It's not often easy to determine responsibility for the slowness. I generally award 60-60 and warn both pairs.
    For repeat offence I award 40-60.

    It's hard to imagine that it will often be the case that both pairs are "in no way at fault", which is the requirement for awarding 60/60. This would just give an incentive to those who are having a good game to play slowly!

  • Unfortunately it's a matter of evidence. I am almost always playing when I direct and all I see is the slowness. If I ask they tend not to be very forthcoming. ;)

    Alan

  • Ones I can think of are:

    A board is deficient in a card and it takes the TD a while to search for it and then reconstitute the board.
    Calling the director under 16D could be regarded, I think as being "in no way at fault" in some circumstances.

  • @16248 said:
    Unfortunately it's a matter of evidence. I am almost always playing when I direct and all I see is the slowness. If I ask they tend not to be very forthcoming. ;)

    Then 50/50 would seem reasonable. That's already generous compared to the 40/40 you should be giving if you believed them both to be directly at fault.

  • Having a clock with an audible warning some specified time before the end of the round, and a rule that no new boards are started after the warning has sounded, is one way to help, particularly, a playing director. Even if the director is concentrating on the board he is playing, he can listen out for the warning, and remind the room not to start any new boards.

    If a pair starts a new board in defiance of these instructions, this is an exception to the normal rule that you don't generally scrap a board after it has been started. And you penalise them on top unless they are very convincing that they didn't hear the warning.

  • We've had problems over the years with slow play but it's not as bad now as it used to be.

    Recently we have focussed on the time wasting between hands, and have given people reminders about making the opening lead before reaching for a scorecard, letting dummy manage the bridgemate, skipping the viewing of travellers.

    One curiosity is that on the few occasions where we have, in a low key manner made visible a (screen) timer, people seem to have speeded up. Another curiosity is that the last twice we have run an individual, the speed of play has been seriously faster than in our usual duplicate.

  • @450759 said:
    Deliberate Slow Play
    .... Typically more experience players against weaker ones, spent too long over each card as a method of inducing a lack of concentration in the opposition and putting them under time pressure

    The first word of the thread title jumped out at me, and I would not just echo, but go further than Gordon and completely disagree with the incentive you assert for experienced players. If they take too long, they won't complete the boards due to be played in the round, and then they will lose the opportunity of getting an expected good board.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • I'm rather of the view that inexperienced players are more likely to be fazed by fast play by experienced players whose speed of analysis is so much faster than theirs, than to worry that experienced opponents are deliberately slowing things down.

  • TagTag
    edited March 22

    I remember one session a long time back, playing against improvers. The lady to my right piped up with, "I hate it when he does that; it makes me nervous". I just grinned and didn't ask. A couple of tricks later, she said, "There, he's doing it again!". Finally, I asked... "Thinking", she said. "Stop thinking. It makes me nervous!".

  • @Abbeybear said:
    Having a clock with an audible warning some specified time before the end of the round, and a rule that no new boards are started after the warning has sounded, is one way to help, particularly, a playing director. Even if the director is concentrating on the board he is playing, he can listen out for the warning, and remind the room not to start any new boards.

    If a pair starts a new board in defiance of these instructions, this is an exception to the normal rule that you don't generally scrap a board after it has been started. And you penalise them on top unless they are very convincing that they didn't hear the warning.

    This does not help the Director in deciding what to award for the unplayed board. I am strongly against such clocks.

    Alan

  • edited March 23

    @16248 said:
    This does not help the Director in deciding what to award for the unplayed board.

    If neither side called you and said "the opponents are being really slow, we are in danger of running out of time" then 50/50.

  • @16248 said:
    I am strongly against such clocks.

    Why? What is wrong with something that tells everyone how much time is left before the move is due to be called?

  • Well it is only a short step from that to having chess-style clocks that people push once they have made a call or a play - and what happens during the clarification period or if a player requests an explanation from opponents - in whose time should that be allocated?

    As regards a simple clock - well it will need to have four faces on it (or maybe two if pointed diagonally) - not an impossible state. The clocks would probably have to be wireless-connected to the master one the TD has since rounds can be delayed for other reasons (i.e a clock which is programmed in advance for - length of each round - and then a simple button: start next round. I would also suggest a confirmation button for North and East to press when everyone is seated at the start of the round).

    And this still doesn't solve the problem of what happens when a table over-runs.

  • @weejonnie said:
    Well it is only a short step from that to having chess-style clocks that people push once they have made a call or a play - and what happens during the clarification period or if a player requests an explanation from opponents - in whose time should that be allocated?

    As regards a simple clock - well it will need to have four faces on it (or maybe two if pointed diagonally) - not an impossible state. The clocks would probably have to be wireless-connected to the master one the TD has since rounds can be delayed for other reasons (i.e a clock which is programmed in advance for - length of each round - and then a simple button: start next round. I would also suggest a confirmation button for North and East to press when everyone is seated at the start of the round).

    And this still doesn't solve the problem of what happens when a table over-runs.

    Straightforward countdown digital clocks such as the ones we use for EBU events are very effective.

  • @weejonnie said:
    Well it is only a short step from that to having chess-style clocks that people push once they have made a call or a play - and what happens during the clarification period or if a player requests an explanation from opponents - in whose time should that be allocated?

    I don't agree at all. That sort of thing would be a very big step.

    @gordonrainsford said:

    @weejonnie said:
    As regards a simple clock - well it will need to have four faces on it (or maybe two if pointed diagonally) - not an impossible state. The clocks would probably have to be wireless-connected to the master one the TD has since rounds can be delayed for other reasons (i.e a clock which is programmed in advance for - length of each round - and then a simple button: start next round. I would also suggest a confirmation button for North and East to press when everyone is seated at the start of the round).

    Straightforward countdown digital clocks such as the ones we use for EBU events are very effective.

    The one we use at my club just displays on the scoring laptop which is at one side of the room, facing inwards, where it can readily be seen by anyone who wants to look at it. And it can be paused if need be.

    @weejonnie said:
    And this still doesn't solve the problem of what happens when a table over-runs.

    Not of itself, I agree, but I haven't generally found it difficult to make a decision which the players regard as fair.

  • I have tended to go 50/50, sometimes 50/60 if I know a slow pair is involved. It's not that hard to take note, even when playing, of which tables start late.

    You can get cube/Tetrahedron timers which would measure each player's thinking time. Applying automatic penalties for overrunning would be a big step I agree. I guess as a chess player it doesn't seem arrange to me, and it would solve arguments about who was slow. I think they do something similar in to level tournaments already don't they? It's probably not necessary at lower levels though, I've found most slow players quite trainable.
  • Chess clocks might also help solve disputes about the length of hesitiations. (I do worry, though, that having an accurate-to-the-second timing source available might give a very easy signalling method for people who want to cheat; we spend a lot of effort in trying to conceal tempo, not in making it very easy to measure. So we might want to display only approximations of the actual times until they get low.)

  • What I find works very well is at the end of the round removing one of the boards for the next round and saying " you are very far behind the room, but if you catch up you can play this board which I am now putting on my side table"
    Invariably this makes the pair play in tempo so as not to miss a board, and it also stops them saying "we 'll start this board even though we know the clock has gone for the end of the round"
    I have never had a problem with this and it does speed them up!

  • @Abbeybear said:

    @16248 said:
    I am strongly against such clocks.

    Why? What is wrong with something that tells everyone how much time is left before the move is due to be called?

    As a player I feel stressed when the software clock operates, even though as a pair we almost always finish before everyone else.
    As a Director the clock does not help me. I decide when to call the move.. It's generally when all but two tables have finished.
    And when I take a board away I have to decide how to allocate the scores.
    "Due to the called" is not a meaningful concept.

    Alan

  • @JamesC said:
    I have tended to go 50/50, sometimes 50/60 if I know a slow pair is involved. It's not that hard to take note, even when playing, of which tables start late.

    I don't think you should go for a total of more than 100% unless the delay has been caused by something that is nothing to do with either pair at the table (e.g. in a Howell both pairs may be ready to start a round, but the table to which they are to move is not ready because the previous round has overrun at that table).

    Pursuing the chess analogy I have always been surprised at the propensity of the generality of bridge players not to "think in their opponents' time", a thing that is second nature to chess players. If your opponent is "in the tank", then of course you don't know what he is going to do, and he may do something completely unexpected, but it makes sense to plan your action over some of the things that he is likely to be thinking about doing.

    @stayman said:
    What I find works very well is at the end of the round removing one of the boards for the next round and saying " you are very far behind the room, but if you catch up you can play this board which I am now putting on my side table"
    Invariably this makes the pair play in tempo so as not to miss a board, and it also stops them saying "we 'll start this board even though we know the clock has gone for the end of the round"
    I have never had a problem with this and it does speed them up!

    Seems a good idea to me.

    @16248 said:
    "Due to [be] called" is not a meaningful concept.

    We will have to agree to differ about this. The average speed of play at your club may be different from that at mine, and some rounds at both clubs may take longer than others, but I know how long I expect a round to take in general terms, and I think it is helpful both to the players and to me as director to know "how long is left". Of course I am not a slave to the clock. If nearly everyone is finished, I call the move early, and if everyone is behind I give them some extra time.

  • @Abbeybear said:
    Pursuing the chess analogy I have always been surprised at the propensity of the generality of bridge players not to "think in their opponents' time", a thing that is second nature to chess players. If your opponent is "in the tank", then of course you don't know what he is going to do, and he may do something completely unexpected, but it makes sense to plan your action over some of the things that he is likely to be thinking about doing.

    I play both chess and bridge, and although I think in my opponent's time in chess, it's normally a case of predicting the most likely move I'll see from my opponent, and thinking entirely about continuations over that. Any other move will cause me to restart my thoughts when it's played.

    Doing that in bridge would inevitably cause tempo-based UI, because either you wait to the same length of time whatever the opponent's action (in which case you had no benefit from thinking ahead), or else you bid much more quickly after seeing the expected action (in which case your partner knows that you were expecting the action in question).

    As such, pretty much all you can do is either try to think of what you'll do over every possible action (excluding Stop card bids during the bidding – you'll have an extra 10 seconds over those), something which less experienced bridge players struggle with and is quite different from the typical chess behaviour; or else, pick one specific action (e.g. Pass) and always plan your next bid over that, even if you aren't really expecting it.

  • @ais523 said:
    Doing that in bridge would inevitably cause tempo-based UI, because either you wait to the same length of time whatever the opponent's action (in which case you had no benefit from thinking ahead), or else you bid much more quickly after seeing the expected action (in which case your partner knows that you were expecting the action in question).

    If you have been clever enough to anticipate what your opponent actually did, then of course you should not make your call at the speed of light just because you have already done your thinking, but it does (sometimes, at least) have the benefit of enabling you to bid in normal tempo rather than having to have an extended think of your own.

    And sometimes asking yourself "what on earth can he be thinking about?" while your opponent is thinking just helps you work out what is going on, whereas (in my experience, at least), if one's own thinking is in purely reactive mode one can sometimes miss inferences one is experienced enough to get right.

  • Well, it's usually not all that difficult to work out an opponent's likely action. 3/4th in, I'll decide what to open, then which bids I'll overcall. Making the first bid in tempo is easy. Later in the auction you're sometimes surprised
  • You might be interested in the following which a friend sent me.

    the question of Directors and rulings appears to be more and more of an issue at the highest level. Zia and his partner recently won the major pairs event in the USA after gaining from this ruling.

    Dummy has
    AT76 of spades

    on the lead of the 4 Spades against 3NT (4th highest style leads) dummy plays small and you hold the 5 and the 2 of spades. How long would it take you to follow suit? At the table Kevin Rosenberg (Michael's son) playing with Gold against Zia as declarer took more than 30 seconds to play the 2S, even though Zia took 15 seconds before playing from dummy. As a result Zia took the wrong line in playing 3NT and made 1 trick less than the average for the room. After appeal it was changed and as a result Zia and his partner won, they would have come second with the original result. It seems perfectly reasonable to correct to me but what and why was he thinking about? (there was nothing in his hand or dummy or the bidding to suggest any sort of obvious switch etc.)

    Gold and Rosenberg came 4th

  • @AlanB said:It seems perfectly reasonable to correct to me but what and why was he thinking about? (there was nothing in his hand or dummy or the bidding to suggest any sort of obvious switch etc.)

    He was clearly thinking about the whole hand. For anyone who is interested in the case, you will currently find 246 posts about it on Bridgewinners.

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