I was having a conversation with a member about something else entirely when he said “It’s time you put another piece on the web site”. Well, never one to disobey a direct order, and eager to take the opportunity to indulge in further attention-seeking, here we are.
Unfortunately, the first thing that I have to do involves slipping into headmaster mode. It’s no secret that there are several examples of cheating going on on-line. There have been accusations on social media, and confessions, none of which are edifying. The method is usually “self-kibitzing”, which has morphed into a synonym for cheating, perhaps because those who self-kibitz think that somehow by calling it that it softens the blow. It doesn’t, it’s still cheating at cards, the sort of thing that in the old days would have resulted in a face slapped with a white glove, seconds arriving at the house bearing calling cards, and weapons of choice at dawn. In EBU pairs games, we don’t allow spectators, as simple as that. In team games, the captains have to agree to no spectators. Asking for that should not cause offence, but if you’re going to, be consistent. Don’t allow spectators against team A and then forbid them against team B. That’s sure to nettle Team B good and proper.
The L & E have several cases before them. Their jurisdiction is not limited to EBU games. If you are a member of ours and cheat anywhere, we can and will take action, and sanctions will be published in English bridge, and henceforth in the L & E section of our web site. If this subject is of interest to you read this. If you have any suspicions, please bring them to our attention – just revealing them on-line is a) potentially libellous and b) can derail a properly-brought case.
At the beginning of the time of Covid, I wrote that I believe the vast majority of EBU members are honest souls. I still do. This isn’t aimed at them, other than to reassure them that we are doing, and will continue to do, everything we can to catch and sanction people who spoil the game for everyone else.
My next topic is hardly going to win me a “Little Ray of Sunshine” award, either. When can clubs reopen? What guidance can we issue? Well, there’s more detail here, but the short answer is that guidance is all we can issue. The main thing every club must do is carry out a proper risk assessment and document it. Forget insurance claims, and all that sort of thing, how would you feel if you opened your club, a member was a carrier (unbeknownst to them) and brought the virus to the club, where another member caught it and died? I know the probability is slim, but before you open, you must do everything you can to make it infinitesimal. And as I write, news breaks of a spike, or a “second wave” being on the way…
So, what to do for jollity? I have found a certain satisfaction in watching old episodes of Midsummer Murders, impressing my wife with my ability to spot the murderer early doors. Having seen it three or four times before helps, of course. Perhaps I should report myself to the L & E for “self-kibitzing”. Did you know, by the way, that there’s such a thing as a dibitzer? A dibitzer, of course, is a kibitzer’s assistant. Perhaps not the most sought-after of positions.
Our on-line games go from strength to strength, which suggests to me not only that the online game has a future after the virus has left our lives, but that we must find a way of incorporating it into our normal lives, as people return to play in real life, but don’t want to lose the convenience of being able to log in for a quick game at any time. On another matter, for bridge teachers, watch out for communications regarding our friends at EBED’s latest venture, which should help those of you struggling to come to terms with on-line teaching.
Is the future looking bright? I’d say it is, sort of. We’re coming to grips with the main problem with online bridge, we are ready with help and encouragement when clubs do decide to open and the Board is busy beavering away planning for the future. The future will be different, but different doesn’t automatically mean worse. Bridge is a wonderful game (probably the first thing I’ve written that will be met with universal agreement, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this) and it’s a robust game. It can take everything that’s thrown at it, all we have to do is make sure that, during our temporary stewardship, we look after it properly.
As you should all be looking after yourselves, and each other.