I both direct games and play. I try very hard not to get roped into doing both at the same time! That is a topic unto itself.
While there are differences between what transpires at the table in top-level, “World Class” events and at the local bridge club, I think most people exaggerate the gulf. Or perhaps that should be worded as “…what should and shouldn’t transpire…”.
Clearly there is a big gulf between the expert bidding and play and what happens at the local club (well, most local clubs). There is also more talk at the table in local games. But that talk at the table should be social chit-chat, not discussion of bidding system, play, what we did wrong, what the opponents did… Those things are not meant to be discussed at the table whether one is playing in the World Championships or the average Open Pairs Game at the local club.
I don’t want to be a hypocrite — we all fall from grace once in a while — however there are some players who discuss the bidding and play constantly… and often loudly enough for several nearby tables (if not the whole room) to hear. How often do you hear a player saying, “Well if the opponents had…. they would have got a ruff and then… I would have gone down two.” or similar? With the opponents still at the table! Then there are the free “bridge lessons”…
I’ve not even touched on gloating (players will defend their comments with, “I wasn’t gloating, I was just stating the facts.”!)
The ACBL is starting to emphasize the Zero Tolerance policy. I like that.
However, I think some players are misinterpreting “being nice” as allowing breaking the rules (the “Laws”) — that is not what Zero Tolerance is about. In fact, it is the opposite — Zero Tolerance is about following the bridge laws. There is a section of the Laws called Proprieties which contains five laws. Let me quote the first part of one of those laws — Law 74: Conduct and Etiquette:
A. Proper Attitude
- A player should maintain a courteous attitude at all times.
- A player should carefully avoid any remark or action that might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player or might interfere with the enjoyment of the game.
- Every player should follow uniform and correct procedure in calling and playing.
So, for example, not calling the Director (“Director please!”) is not being nice to the opponents, it’s breaking the rules (and if later you feel you do need to call the Director, you may not get the protection you feel the Law entitles you to).