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Director's action? Part B

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Wednesday, 26 June 2013, at 1:03 p.m.

In Response To: Director's action? Part B (Daniel Murphy)

The disagreement between Tom and the rest of us is confused by two things.

Tom is arguing what he thinks the rules SHOULD be: basically that the TD should not intervene when he sees rules broken or irregularities and therefore, there is no reason for a spectator to point it out to the TD in the first place.

Most of us disagree--we believe that the TD should intervene and correct and stop these kinds of irregularities and/or rule violations. Most of us believe this makes for a fairer, less contentious competition.

As for what the rules say, both the existing rules and our proposed rules clearly give the TD the right to take any action he deems appropriate to see that the rules are maintained and that fair play is maintained. So whether Tom likes it or not, that is what the rules allow. The major difference between the old rules and our proposed rules is that we explain the intent and actions more clearly and also take away any question about what a spectator should or should not do. I haven't heard anyone disagree with the concept that the spectator should not directly take action or intervene, and most of us agree that the spectator should inform the TD or a tournament official when he sees anything questionable or irregular or illegal or cheating or unsportsmanlike.

As for what and when the TD should take action, we simply have to trust his/her judgment, but some day I would even like to see a "guide" for TD's to help establish some minimum guidelines there, as I would like to see TD's around the world pretty much handle the same situations in the same manner. (That is clearly not the case today, and I can give you many examples of TD's right here in the U.S. that interpret and enforce different rules differently and disagree on when and how to handle specific infractions.)

Let me give you a couple of quick examples. You see two players taking excessively long breaks during a match, or simply deciding not to start when they are supposed to because one is eating or has to make some phone calls. If notified, some TD's would require them to start immediately; some would give a strong warning; some might give both players penalty points so that the match will not take as long and to penalize them for their delay; some TD's will take no action if they don't believe they are holding up the tournament. Some TD's might think the best action is to penalize both of them points in their next match, because that is a true penalty for their delay and will reward their next opponent for possibly having to wait longer. And some may penalize or warn just the player who was eating or who asked for the delay and not blame both players.

I am not sure, myself, which of the above is the best action, and I do believe it depends on the circumstances, the length of the delay, and other factors, and that is why the TD is given great latitude. But I do believe it would be beneficial if the TD could point to a set of rules or guidelines that states that such delays should "generally" be penalized in some manner, either in the current or the next match, and this would make it easier for him to impose the penalty and make it clear to the players that their actions are not appropriate. And if there were such a guide or statement in the rules, the infraction would likely be treated more consistently from tournament to tournament, and that is one of the goals of our new rules: if players and TD's all clearly know what the rules are, and what to expect, and what the penalties are for infractions, going in, there will be fewer infractions and less friction and a fairer, more pleasant event for everyone. And when penalties are imposed, it is less an arbitrary, mean-spirited action by a nasty TD than by a TD who is simply doing is best to follow the accepted rules and guidelines for the benefit of all present. (It's pretty hard to give or accept a penalty point or forfeit when you know that at another tournament they would not be so strict.)

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