By Bill Michael, Colorado Springs, Colorado

It occurred to me that, while I’ve discussed many specific aspects of the director’s job, I haven’t laid out what the duties of the director entail. Law 81 outlines the director’s responsibilities.

“A. Official Status. The director is the official representative of the Tournament Organizer.” “Tournament” refers to the single session or multiple sessions that make up an event. This can be anything from a club game through the Nationals. The “tournament organizer” is the person or board who or which is responsible for hosting the game(s). This would be the club manager at the club level and the Tournament Chairperson(s) at tournament levels. Often, the club manager and the director are one and the same. I do know of some “clubs” that operate under the auspices of a unit board.

“B. Restrictions and Responsibilities.1. The Director is responsible for the on-site technical management of the tournament. He has power to remedy any omissions of the Tournament Organizer. 2. The Director applies and is bound by these Laws and supplementary regulations . . . .”

“C. Director’s Duties and Powers. The Director (not the players) has the responsibilityfor rectifying irregularities and redressing damage.
  1. To maintain discipline and to ensure the orderly progress of the game.
  2. To administer and interpret these Laws and to advise the players of their rights and responsibilities thereunder.
  3. To rectify an error or irregularity of which he becomes aware in any manner, within the correction period established in accordance with Law 79C.
  4. To assess rectification when applicable and to exercise the powers given him in Laws 90 and 91.
  5. To waive rectification for cause, in his discretion, upon the request of the non-offending side.
  6. To adjust disputes.
  7. To refer an matter to an appropriate committee.
  8. To report results for the official record if the Tournament Organizer requires it and to deal with any other matters delegated to him by the Tournament Organizer.

This has a couple of ramifications. Any part of the game that deals strictly with the technical aspects of the game, such as movements, applications of the laws, fixing technical errors, etc. are entirely within the purview of the Tournament Director This tells us that if a pair goes to the wrong table, it is not an issue for the Tournament Organizer, but for the Director. There are times that the Tournament Organizer asks for a specific movement, but it is ultimately the decision of the Director-in-Charge whether to run it. If there has been an oversight, such as too few sets of boards, guide cards, or the like, it is up to the director to solve, or help solve the problem. There is communication between Tournament Chairperson(s) and Directors to help eliminate these problems.

The director does not have the right to disregard the application of the laws, and is required to follow them, just as players are. The director assesses situations and applies  the laws to the best of his ability. It is not the director’s option to determine the fairness of what the law requires  in situations such as revokes, nor may he adjust a board simply because he doesn’t like what occurred. For instance, if a player makes a mistaken bid and a correct explanation is given (and the director can verify that it was in fact a correct explanation) there is no basis for an adjustment, even if the error damages the opponents - no law or regulation has been violated.

D. Delegation of Duties. The Director may delegate any of his duties to assistants, but he is not thereby relieved of  responsibility for their correct performance.”
Law 82 (Rectification of Errors of Procedure) is more specific about the way the Director is expected to fix problems:

“A. Director’s Duty. It is the responsibility of the Director to rectify errors of procedure and to maintain the progress of the game in a manner that is not contrary to these Laws.” This includes keeping time, assessing penalties, administering the laws, and reviewing boards in which irregularities have occurred. If there are movement foulups, it is the duty of the director to repair them in a way that is as fair to all contestants as possible.
“B. Rectification of Error. To rectify an error in procedure the Director may:
  1. Award an adjusted score as permitted by these Laws.
  2. Require, postpone or cancel the play of a board.
  3. Exercise any other power given to him in these Laws. C. Director’s Error. If a ruling has been given that the Director subsequently determines to be incorrect, and if no rectification will allow the board to be scored normally, he shall award an adjusted score, treating both sides as non-offending for that purpose.”

In all, it is the job of the director to have a good, working knowledge of movements, laws, people interactions, and communication. The director is also responsible for attempting to restore equity in questionable situations. A good director has a strong sense of fairness. It is also important to check your ego at the door. Even experienced tournament directors discuss their rulings with other directors at tournaments, to double check that nothing was missed, for suggestions on the correct application of a given law, or even whether the correct law is being applied. There are 93 laws, consisting of more than 100 pages, and five pages of definitions for some of our specific words. In a perfect world, every director would know, every one of those laws and definitions, and never get rattled. Additionally, there are many pages of regulations, including the Alert Chart, four different levels of allowable conventions, and a number of “Board Decisions” about the way we are required to apply various laws.

For the players: you are entitled to have laws read to you. You are allowed to think. You are allowed to, respectfully, disagree with a ruling. Please remember, everybody, that the director has a great responsibility, which should be taken seriously. Everybody should try to remember to take it easy on each other; the game is for the benefit of all.

Please send ruling the game questions to me - These can be general questions about any aspects of directing, or come from specific rulings that you have faced. In situations where specific rulings are being asked about, please include as much information as you can, except for names.

See you at the tables.

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