Ross Taylor

He should know better

Playing in the local club’s money game last weekend, one of the stronger players opened the bidding 2 diamonds on my left in first chair, equal red. He held 105  86  AK6543  Q105.

His partner alerted, and explained this bid as Flannery (five spades, four hearts, 11-15 HCP)

His partner now responded 2NT (no alert by the opening bidder)

I was next to speak with K642  AK753  8 A64

The opponents had picked off my two best suits, and they were in a forcing auction, so I naturally passed.

The opening bidder also passed !! 

Thus ended the auction.

Had this been a purely recreational player, I would not have called the director. I would have accepted the fix, and gently explained after the hand there is a better (and necessary) way to deal with this situation.

Of course, partner’s explanation of Flannery was for the benefit of the opponents, not for the 2D opener. The opening bidder should have continued to bid his hand as a weak two opener. Passing was not an acceptable alternative.

However, the guy who did this has two or three times as many masterpoints as I do (they do count don’t they) and so I called the director. She told us to complete the play in 2NT, but later reasonably adjudicated the score to an adjusted result of 4H doubled down three. The guy was profusely and sincerely apologetic, citing he did not know what he was supposed to do.

I have always found this particular opponent to play honestly and with good tempo. If it is possble for someone so experienced to do something like this, heaven knows what is going on below his level at the tables.


JUDY KAY-WOLFFJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 3:47 pm


I always like to hear happy endings to bad beginnings. And, in response to your rhetorical question which I loved about masterpoints, the answer is Hell, no! They don’t mean a damn thing. I know lots of people in the South who live in retirement communities and play fourteen times a week where they often offer triple points (and if there were three sessions a day, no doubt they would be playing more). That example speaks for itself. Masterpoints bolster one’s ego but do little for the bad or average player’s improvement.

Professing to not know what to do when you are cognizant that you have injured the opponents by your erred methods is not acceptable. Don’t they say ignorance of the law is no excuse? Luckily, you had a fair, knowledgeable and ethical director to restore equity — but these days I believe that is the exception — not the norm.

Chuck ArthurJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I played in this same game and provided some input to the resolution of the problem, at the director’s request. Clearly the offenders ignored the protocol when this sort of thing happens. They must continue bidding as if they were playing behind screens. They must pretend that they neither saw the alert nor heard partner’s explanation. What should be an equitable result? The director’s ruling was fine, I believe, -800 to the offenders. I would have assigned a normal score to both sides (4 of a major making 5), and assigned an additional procedural penalty (¼ board) to the offenders. Does anybody know what guidelines the director or a committee should use in resolving cases such as these?

Mike CafferataJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I also almost called the director in a club game in Sarasota. I steamed for a few rounds after not calling but think I’m lucky I didn’t. My opponent was very old but I figured she heard the result from the previous table. Her auction was as follows:

1C 1S 4NT 5H “oh well” 6NT.

Dummy hit: Kxxxx , AQT , AKx , xx she made 7. I think I was too shocked by the dummy to do anything and there was no point in telling the director later.

I checked the scores later and they appeared to be inexperienced players I would have been embarrassed to have caused them embarrassment as they really had no idea.

I would have called the director on Ross’s opponent in a heart beat.

Dave Memphis MOJOJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 5:23 pm

It’s hard to believe that this player didn’t know better. More likely, he had a temporary brain fart.

Ross TaylorJanuary 22nd, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Mike’s story borders on incredulous – but again, I agree we have to pick our battles. Although this would appear to be a clearcut case of acting on unauthorized information (from another table), given the setting, and given the opponents, I would most likely also chalk it up to the cost of my entertainment that day.

But if I felt the opponent was the type who looks for an edge, or who dared to gloat over the result, then look out Madame Villain.

This incident notwithstanding, Mike will be the first to say the upcoming Sarasota Regional in February is a good tournament – so don’t be shy – head on down there folks.

Jonathan SteinbergJanuary 24th, 2010 at 12:08 am

I think even if you were playing against a “recreational” player you should call the Director when the violation is so flagrant. If truly a newcomer, he or she will learn the proper procedures/how to respond when partner alerts and gives an explanation that is not what you were expecting!

If he/she was one of the stronger club players with many times your MP total, the scenario is hard to believe. It is common knowledge among intermediate plus players to know that you bid as if you did not hear partners explanation. If they don’t, call the cops.

Chuck: my understanding is that you always give “the most favourable” result to the non offending side. Personally, I support procedural penalties — you should know what you are playing. That said, I’m not sure if procedural penalties are ACBL sanctioned — if they are, it is under very limited circumstances. I suspect Judy Kay-Wolff would know more since Bobby was/is a strong advocate of procedural penalties.

Note to Judy: At Hazel’s (Wolpert) Bridge Club in Toronto, we get excellent director rulings in a superbly run bridge club. Two sets of boards are in play so everyone plays the same 26 boards. Matchpoints are scored across the field with a large top. Wireless BridgeMate scoring is used.

Nick KrnjevicJanuary 24th, 2010 at 5:33 pm


Would be fitting if an experienced player who did this in a cash-prize game suffered a cash penalty……


Alex AlonJanuary 26th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

As a director myself (in Israel) i must say that each time a player does not call the director they are violating the spirit of the game, because they allow an unjust score to be written and thus affect all other scores. Many times the player that did not call the director also is “steaming” inside and by calling the director he could have released that “steam”.

The other nigh we were playing imp (I was not directing) and I held:

Kx, xx, Qxx, AJ10xxx opposite a partner with 2NT ( 20-22) opening

After transferring to clubs and getting preaccept response we bid 6C making 7.

We were pleased with result because 6 out of 8 scores before us were games only (all making 13 tricks). The next morning I found out from a lady about a pair that reached 7C against them and she said that she did not call the director because they were a “nice pair”.

The “nice pair” bid was: 2NT:5C ( sign off in their system):7C: all pass.

The opener held: Axx, Ax, AKxx, KQxx. Is any one would bid on with this?

So please call the director any time you fell like it and also any time you think a director is needed. A good director will do justice and explain to the offender what is wrong so he/she will not repeat it another time.


We finished second place 3 imp from first. The “nice pair” were below average.

Ross TaylorJanuary 27th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Thanks for your feedback Alex – all the way from Israel !

If I understand your story correctly, you feel the 7C bidder had prior knowledge (perhaps s/he overheard something) that 7C was a winning contract.

And you advise the opponents to call the director following the completion of the hand presumably because they feel fixed (perhaps even cheated)

Personally I feel this is a dangerous road to go down – accusing someone of cheating at bridge has always been a no no – it can do irreparable harm to reputations, relationships, etc.

I think if I felt strongly that someone had an edge like this, would the wise thing not be just to tell the director offline at the end of the game? If a body of similar information begins to form on a given partnership, then the director could initiate a private meeting with the offending pair to give them a chance to understand the seriousness of the issue and a chance to mend their ways.

As before, I still feel the manner in which these matters are dealt with has to be influenced by the perceived knowledge base and experience of the “offending” players.

Thanks again for your comment – much appreciated.

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