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A Statement From the Continuing Committee

by Charlie Plaine & Maggie Geppert, Continuing Committee Chair & Vice-Chair

29th July 2016

On July 17th, 2016, evidence was presented to me that a player during the 2015 World Championships had started several of his games with an extra card in hand. Ordinarily, this evidence would be presented to the Director of Organized Play, who would then also handle the subsequent investigation. In this case, the player in question, Ken Tufts, is the sitting Director of Organized Play, and thus I took charge of the investigation.

The evidence presented consisted of recordings of the games in question. The investigation confirmed the facts presented: in several instances during the 2015 First Edition and Second Edition World Championships, Ken drew an opening hand of eight (8) cards. There were no rules or cards in the pool available at the time that would allow this situation to happen legally. However, there was no evidence that suggested intent, premeditation, or collusion.

Decipher had long had a policy that neither the tournament director nor other players may interfere in a game even if they saw something incorrect or problematic. Only if asked for a ruling by a player, or only if the opponent notices the error, can a TD interfere. Likewise, they had no policy for retroactive changes, with tournament standings being final at the conclusion of the tournament. These same policies were carried on by the CC and have been the official policy since. There is simply no precedent for this situation. There are no rules, policies or procedures in place to apply retroactive punishment for procedural errors.

I, along with Vice Chair Maggie Geppert, conducted an interview with Ken to review the facts and allow Ken to explain the situation documented. It very quickly became apparent during the interview that Ken had no conscious knowledge of the errors and that there was no intent to cheat, deceive or defraud the event or the players participating. Ken was distraught to learn of them and his genuine, emotional reaction to the news strongly suggested he had no prior knowledge of the errors. Therefore, our conclusion was that while Ken committed several procedural errors during the events, they were unconscious and accidental. Ken accepted responsibility for the procedural errors and apologized.

The Vice Chair and I discussed options with Ken and came up with a tentative set of sanctions that we felt reflected the severity of the procedural errors, and the reality of the time and distance from the event itself. However, after further consideration, Ken offered the following alternative (edited slightly and taken from a larger, private statement):

I just don’t know what more to say. There is no two ways about this. I feel you must take significant action to that end:

1. Effective immediately, I step down from any and all CC posts including the DoOP position [and others].
2. I feel I should be striped of those titles. I can not feel I deserve them or earned them after watching these videos.
3. I believe I should face some kind of sanction regarding organized play participation, and you must consider everything up to a life time ban.

A brief aside about Ken: he is one of the most intelligent, honorable, and kind people I have ever met. In his long career, he has represented creative play at all levels of the games and has been a man of integrity throughout. I do not doubt the facts presented, but I also have no doubt that they were a result of lack of sleep, lack of focus, and mental and physical exhaustion during several long days of Trek. I witnessed the intense sadness and regret as we explained the situation, and empathize with his deep sorrow as the facts have slowly sunk in. These things do not excuse the original procedural errors, but they do suggest than Ken is a man that values his competitiveness and his integrity, not his pride. The fact that his suggestions for sanctions are significantly harsher than what was originally proposed says a lot about his character.

In fact, it is because of his character and how emotionally compromised Ken seems to be at the moment that I have rejected his proposed sanctions almost entirely. I will not allow Ken to self-flagellate in his grief because of mistakes made nearly a year ago.

After significant discussion, Ken, Maggie and I have agreed to the following:

1. Ken's earned byes from the 2015 events will be cancelled. In addition, Ken has recused himself from the 2016 World Championships as well. However, he will still be attending and hopefully we will see him participate in many of the events in London.

2. Ken has agreed to take a leave of absence from his position as Director of Organized Play, not to exceed six (6) months. Ken feels terribly about the errors and has requested some time away from competitive play and his responsibilities as Director. Given that the alternative was his resignation, I'm happy he's agreed to take some time off to focus on his well being.

The Continuing Committee values the experience of players at events of all types, especially those of high level that attract travelers from across the globe. We apologize to all the participants of the 2015 World Championships for this situation. Ken has expressed deep remorse and regret for his procedural errors and hopes that we all take this as a lesson. We are human, and we make mistakes; even people that value integrity and honesty can violate the rules. We encourage our participants, especially at high level events, to be vigilant in their games. It's perfectly acceptable to ask your opponents to verify information, or to explain their actions. But above all, we want each player at each event to have fun. Ken and I, on behalf of the entire Continuing Committee, apologize for the situation and any fun that may have been lost because of it.

It is clear that the Continuing Committee needs to update its tournament documentation to account for modern technology. We need to scrutinize our judging policies, as well as define rules for discovering issues after the fact. We encourage everyone to comment with suggestions and questions on these topics, as well as the information outlined above.

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