Bobby Wolff


Jeff Rubens has taken the leading bridge magazine in the world and made it still better, but having said that, I do not approve of publishing what I consider simple sophistry in trying to win or even provoke a tired argument. In the March, 2010 Bridge World (under the Bits and Pieces section. p. 23), it is mentioned that sportsmanship dumping is alive and well in Texas high-school football.

It then describes a team, down by 4 points, and with little time left to play, but in possession of the ball, stalled out the last minute of the game rather than make an all out effort to win the game outright.

It then went on to say that the rules in that District made it so that if the subject team lost by 8 points or less in that particular game they would be a playoff qualifier beating out two competitors. Nothing could be further than this example being evidence of sportsmanship dumping since the rules made it such that this team had accomplished what it wanted to do which is to continue playing in the playoffs and did so by following the conditions of contest.

Sportsmanship dumping in bridge has only to do with allowing one’s status to not follow the spirit of competiton, either written or not written into the Conditions, but nevertheless playing to do whatever it takes to go on to the next level, keeping in mind that your team is responsible for representing the game as such and not using artificial negative tactics to further another team’s position rather than one’s own.

Yes, that spirit of the game means that even if the team feels that it would be better off if this team or that team could be eliminated by their team not playing up to their capabilities (and so felt justified in throwing that part of the competition), it would, in truth, be thought of rather, as a treasonous, despicable act and subject to severe discipline by the administration.

Sometimes, in the best interest of normal competition, a team may be confronted, usually by their up-to-then success, having to deal with ethical issues, not having any bearing on their direct success, but rather by what might happen down the road. In that event, every team is expected to adhere to fairness toward the rest of the field in general and not succumb to heinous, ugly unethical tactics.


Cam FrenchMarch 10th, 2010 at 10:20 pm

This is one of those issues which certainly has its polar opposites.

Bobby has never shied away from his opinion therein.

I recall Edgar advocating the oppostite. If it were in your interest to win the event to not play to the best of your ability (i.e. “dump”) then you should do just that. He blamed it on the conditions of contest which from time to time create such situations.

If I recall Beijing (2005) where Canada was a lock going into the final round. Their opponenent (Brazil?, not sure tried to look it up but couldn’t find the details) with a blitz or strong victory would get in, outsting team Nickell who was also fighting for a playoff berth.

Would you want to play Meckwell and company in the final?

Team Canada did not roll over, though I understand the issue was discussed. They played to form, ousted the contender and team USA advanced, and defeated Canada in the final.

Was it in Canada’s best interest to tank on the penultimate match? Of course. Did they do so? No. Did team USA send observers to watch? (You bet.) Was that ethical? Just asking….what if they saw something they didn’t like….then what?

They did what they thought was right. They adhered to Bobby’s philosophy. Did it cost them a world title? Perhaps, but there is little doubt their decision negatively impacted their chance to win it.

I wish I might have the same predicament.

Not bloody likely.

Was this the pinnacle of sportmanship? Or was it the high moral ground (which bridge for too seldom sees) that ultimately deprived them of the title.

I like their choice. Not sure I could do the same.


Fred GitelmanMarch 10th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Actually, if I recall correctly Cam, the issue was discussed before the World Championships. Our NPC (Irving Litvack) wanted to make a team policy with respect to dumping before we started playing. He was trying to avoid an emotional debate in the middle of the event (that might detract from our play) should a dumping opportunity arise. In retrospect that was a rather wise move on Irving’s part.

It should also be mentioned that it would not have been clearly in Canada’s best interest to dump to Brazil in the match in question for two reasons:

1) Although it was likely we would qualify even if we managed to get blitzed, it was not certain.

2) There was a major advantage to qualifying first in our group in the round robin (the right to pick our opponents in the quarter and semi-finals).

So thanks for your kind words, Cam, but I do think that “pinnacle of sportsmanship” was probably an overbid. And, for the record, I credit superior play by Bobby’s team (as opposed to our decision not to dump to Brazil) for depriving my team of the title 🙂

Fred Gitelman

Cam FrenchMarch 12th, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Indeed a wise move by Irving, remind me to ask him to be my NPC next time at the world championships. I gather the team “policy” was not to dump, regardless of the circumstances and that is indeed the high road, something you, your team and all players can be proud of.

Thanks for the clarification Fred.

GL at the Nationals.



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