The concept of "zero tolerance" in the context of behavior and conduct regulation emerged in the 1980s but became more widely recognized around 1994. It was first discussed in an article titled "Broken Windows" by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in 1982, which highlighted the importance of addressing minor offenses to maintain social order.
Zero tolerance was subsequently applied in various aspects of society, such as non-smoking laws, silencing digital devices during religious and theatrical events, and, notably, in the game of bridge. In bridge, the lack of official conduct regulations led to a decline in organized bridge community membership. To address this, administrative bodies like the American Bridge League (ACBL) adopted a Zero Tolerance Policy in 1998 to enforce proper conduct during sanctioned games.
The policy is based on specific laws of duplicate bridge, below.
A. Proper Attitude 1.
- 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.
Law 81, paraphrased in Duplicate Decisions
The Director should never tolerate improper behavior in his game. He should not allow his authority to run the game to be challenged, or he will lose control of his game. Since he has absolute authority during the game, such challenges may be dealt with politely but very firmly. Laws 90 and 91 outline the Director’s powers to penalize or suspend a player during the course of the game.
The Director, in addition to implementing the rectifications in these Laws, may also assess procedural penalties for any offense that unduly delays or obstructs the game, inconveniences other contestants, violates correct procedure or requires the award of an adjusted score at another table.
In performing his duty to maintain order and discipline, the Director is empowered to assess disciplinary penalties in points or to suspend a contestant for the current session or any part thereof. The Director’s decision under this clause is final and may not be overruled by an appeals committee.
ACBL Handbook Excerpt (Chapter IV)
The club manager can handle many behavior problems by discussing them with the offenders, by issuing a warning or declaring a period of probation. In extreme cases or cases of repeat offenses, the manager can bar an ACBL member from the club game for a stipulated period of time or permanently.
The original policy states:
The ultimate purpose of the Z-T policy is to create a much more pleasant atmosphere in our NABCs. We are attempting to eradicate unacceptable behavior in order to make the game of bridge more enjoyable for all. Below are some examples of commendable behavior, which, while not required, will significantly contribute to the improved atmosphere:
- Being a good “host” or “guest” at the table.
- Greeting others in a friendly manner.
- Praising the bidding and/or play of the opponents.
- Having two clearly completed convention cards readily available to the opponents. (This one is a regulation, not just a nicety.)
The following are examples of behavior that will not be tolerated:
- Badgering, rudeness, insinuations, intimidation, profanity, threats or violence.
- Negative comments concerning opponents’ or partner’s play or bidding.
- Constant and gratuitous lessons and analyses at the table.
- Loud and disruptive arguing with a director’s ruling. If a player at the table behaves in an unacceptable manner, the director should be called immediately.
Annoying behavior, embarrassing remarks or any other conduct which might interfere with the enjoyment of the game are specifically prohibited by Law 74A. Law 91A gives the director the authority to assess disciplinary penalties.