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Covered in proposed rules

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Sunday, 20 October 2013, at 11:18 a.m.

In Response To: Ft Lauderdale so farů. Thoughts? (Rod)

When Jeb and Chuck and I offered our proposed rules for tournament play, we covered spectators responsibility in far more detail as we believe this has not been spelled out properly in the past. Here is our recommendation:

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1.3. Responsibility of Spectators

1.3.1. Spectators are required to remain still and quiet and not say or do anything whatsoever to distract the players. They may not offer opinions, advice, or comments on anything, even after a game has ended, as long as the match or set is still in progress.

1.3.2. If a question or dispute arises, spectators are not to offer their comments unless asked to do so by both players or by the TD.

Example: If the players disagree about what the previous roll was, spectators may not state what they saw unless asked by both players.

1.3.3. Spectators must wait until the end of the match to cheer, applaud, or offer their comments and should not do so between games or between matches in a set of matches.

1.3.4. If a spectator sees a problem or irregularity of any kind, he should immediately notify the Tournament Director or staff. If, for example, a spectator sees that the cube has not been centered or that one or both players have the wrong score, the spectator should inform the Tournament Director and let him handle the situation. The only exception to this is if a spectator sees that the clock is running when it should not or is not running when it should, and then he may say something to the players.

1.3.5. When a spectator walks up to a match in progress, he should not ask about the score or call attention to the score by overtly looking at the score sheet, as that could alert a player to take cube action. A spectator should also not take pictures of positions on the board unless requested to do so by both players, as taking a picture might alert a player that a position might be a double, or might be a close play, or that he might be making an error.

Now, as an ethical matter, if you make a bad play and you are alerted by a spectator, if you correct it for that reason, even if you are not sure and it is a close call, you are a cheater if you change your play because of that alert. Its that simple. I know at least 3 very top players who make all kinds of faces and even hand motions when they see someone make a dumb play, and it amazes me that someone of that caliber of player can't restrain himself. If top players do that, you can imagine how common it is of "typical" spectators...it happens all the time. How should it be handled? The first time either player sees or hears something like this from a spectator, play should stop and the TD should be called over, and the player should tell the TD what happened, and let the TD handle it as he deems appropriate.

If I were the TD I would take the spectator aside and nicely tell him why his actions are inappropriate. If that same spectator did it again, I would take much stronger action. If I believed that spectator could have intentionally be signaling or warning a friend or spouse, I would immediately take stronger action. But the point is, it is NOT up to the players to police the crowd or handle problem...it is their responsibility to notify the TD and let him/her make the call.

Further, any spectator who sees another spectator saying or doing anything inappropriate should also alert the TD.

If there is an ongoing problem at my tournament and I am the TD, I would make it a point to make a couple of special announcements reminding everyone about the rules and responsibilities of spectators.

Step 1, however, is having a set of rules that state that spectators do have responsibilities and what they are, and that is just one of many things that have been lacking in the existing rules that we have been lobbying to change for the past 20 years without success. I think we might be making some headway now as several Federations who have seen our proposal can finally see the need for change and the benefits of having clearly, more well-defined rules.

Whether the ABT will ever accept any recommendations for change in this area I have no idea, but we have already seen individual ABT directors adopt these new rules (with modifications) and we hope that will spread. Then, situations like this will be less of a problem.

That is what "good" rules should do: specify what is required of all parties unambiguously and completely so that conflicts and misunderstandings are minimized before they occur.

This is such a simple, clear concept....why is it so hard for people to get it?

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