Preventing Serious Problems™

First, if you’re wondering why the penalty for Improperly Determining a winner (IDaW) and Bribery is a Disqualification, you should read this article first. Done? Good, you can proceed reading!


Unlike Cheating, knowledge of the rule is not required to identify IDaW and Bribery. This means that sometimes, a player who did not know that what he was doing was wrong is disqualified and may not understand why.



Cheating and Cheaters


Let’s forget about the technical difference between Unsporting Conduct and Cheating for a moment, as it’s not relevant from a player’s point of view.

Indeed, most players believe that, if they are disqualified, it means the judge emits a moral judgement about them and treats them of Cheaters. That is understandable but not reality.
When talking about IDaW and Bribery, players committed a (very severe) infraction whose associated penalty is a disqualification.

However, if this is very clear to the judge issuing the penalty, it is just as likely very unclear to the player.

It’s therefore extremely important to make a distinction between players who commit such an offense and Cheaters, i.e. players who aimed at committing cheating.



Preventing IDaW and Bribery


We are regularly reminding players, especially at GPs that IDaW and Bribery are DQ-worthy offenses. This has been successful since the number of DQs for these infractions at GPs has gone down.

However, due to practical restraints such as:

  • Bad acoustics in the hall
  • Non-English-native players not listening because they can’t understand anyway
  • Careless players
  • Announcement happening after the first mistake of the day happened

This is not enough since sometimes, a few ignorant players still make the (severe) mistake.



Proactively act at the table


As of recently, every time I was watching one of the last tables and players were about to draw and initiated the first words of a concession discussion, I stopped them and said something like:

“You seem to be discussing about conceding to each other so before anything happens, I’d like to remind you the following:

  • First, you cannot roll a die or flip a coin.
  • Then, you cannot offer anything, including a Prize Split in exchange for a concession.
  • Finally, you cannot reveal the top cards of your library to see “who would have won”.

Now, feel free to discuss between yourselves and if you have questions, please ask them to me aside of the table.”

I’ve actually heard twice “oh we can’t do that?” since I’m actively doing it, which is a good indicator that this is something each of us, judges, need to do.



Catching cheaters, not punishing the innocent


I’ve already been argued that the IPG clearly states that “A judge shouldn’t intervene in a game unless he or she believes a rules violation has occurred […]” and what I just described actually contradicts this.
That’s a fair point but it’s invalid here: This sentence is meant to preventing judges from stepping in before, say, “echo wasn’t paid”.

The final part of the same sentence reads “[…]or the judge wishes to prevent a situation from escalating.” This is the important part: Two players discussing about conceding to each other are on a slippery slope and the situation can escalate in a mere few words (“Higher roll?” ; “Heads or Tails?”) to the point no compromise is possible.

Also, if for some reason one of the players jumps into the offer, step in before the other player had a chance to reply.

Indeed, these players who do it right in front of judges are not the ones who are dangerous for the integrity of a tournament. They’re the ones who need to learn how the rules work, and we can make this happen in a smooth way that optimizes everybody’s experience:

  • Judges helped players
  • Players learn from judges
  • Judges AND players do not need to live a feel-bad moment


Therefore, do everybody a favor and be proactive about this. And spread the word!


Finally, if you’re still wondering why the answer to these issues is not “so don’t make this a disqualification”, you really need to read this article again!


Kevin Desprez.