Judges Corner for July 2012

Just Annoying Behavior or Cheating? - I

Perhaps no rule has been amended more times than the so-called "Behavior Rule" in the Equations and On-Sets Tournament Rules. The list of examples has, sadly, grown over the years.

Certain forms of behavior interfere with play and annoy or intimidate opponents. If a player is guilty of such conduct, a judge will warn the player to discontinue the offensive behavior. Thereafter during that round or subsequent rounds, if the player again behaves in an offensive manner, the player may be penalized one point for each violation after the warning. Flagrant misconduct or continued misbehavior may cause the player’s disqualification for that round or all subsequent rounds. Judges may even decide to have the other two opponents replay one or more shakes or the entire round because play was so disrupted by the third party. In some cases, judges may order the shake replayed by all three players.

This rule applies to use of a cell phone, constant talking, tapping on the table, humming or singing, loud or rude language, keeping a hand or finger over or next to the challenge block, making numerous false accusations of illegal procedure, and so on. It also includes not playing to win but rather trying only to ruin the perfect scores of one or both opponents (for example, by erroneously challenging Now or Never at or near the beginning of each shake so that both opponents will score 5 for the round), saying one variation but circling another, constantly charging illegal procedure erroneously, counting down the ten-second warning in an obnoxious manner, etc.

Let's focus on these words from the rule itself:

Flagrant misconduct or continued misbehavior may cause the player's disqualification for that round or all subsequent rounds.

None of the examples are classified as "flagrant misconduct" in order to give judges leeway in deciding whether a player's action in a situation warrants the ultimate penalty of disqualification. Judges should consider each instance on a case by case basis. And strong penalties should never be imposed unilaterally by just one person, even if that person is the highest authority in the division or league, but only after consultation with several other judges.

To be continued ...

Judges Corner 08/12

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