Judy Kay-Wolff

BOBBY’S PET PEEVES

Everyone has their own individual idiosyncrasies concerning our many faceted game.  For years I have been fascinated by listening intensely to controversial situations that not only disturb Bobby but which he feels are detrimental to bridge. These practices have come about as it is such a competitive game that most people act in their own best interest. It comes in all sizes and shapes although guidelines are in place, but the powers that be are not always concerned as to what is best for bridge. His strong view emerges from decades of experience as both a player, administrator and observer. Let me preface these cautions and criticisms by stating unequivocally these are Bobby’s substantiated views from decades of first hand observance. However, do not consider that as a disclaimer as I am totally in accord.

Let me count the ways!

1.  Employing conventions and systems that are destructive rather than constructive — geared to confuse the opponents — especially inexperienced ones. Bobby endearingly has always referred to their embryonic locations as “poison gas labs” —  deliberately conceived with that evil purpose in mind. Often these methods are brought to light with ‘weak hands’ in an effort to steal the contract. Some people will do anything to enhance their image and reputation — even at the ultimate levels.

2. Taking frivolous appeals to committees, particularly after the fact. Many people are ‘famous’ for bringing appeals (sometimes more than one) following the completion of a session in which they did not qualify — hoping that they can wheedle their way back into the event by the reversal of their opponents’ deserved good fortune. Bobby recalled in one instance where a world famous player came before an AC with a laundry list of possible changes — none of which worked — shamelessly attempting to put pressure on the committee. Bobby personally threw him out of the room. I also remember hearing about a top level female who did the same thing and convinced a weak and unwitting committee to rule in her favor, thus having to make them change the movement (by allowing her to re-enter the event) in a Reisinger Team event several decades ago. It actually destroyed (bastardized) the continuity of the Conditions of Contest format but they yielded, no doubt for fear of legal repercussions. What some people won’t do! Another violation of the beauty of the game and purpose of international competition gained world attention in Shanghai when the USBF cowardly did not stand up to the challenge of legal threats protectively funded by a wealthy sponsor to protect the culprits although the organization was legally within their rights.

3. Failing to take an appeal to committee immediately after the session for fear of interrupting and inconveniencing the dinner pleasures of the members. It is imperative to do so at the appropriate time — not wait until after the match as it ‘probably’ won’t make a difference. In the recent Vanderbilt brouhaha, everyone the world over witnessed how improper and selfish it was, as indeed it made a huge difference in the outcome and the ruling committee knew so. No one can convince the public it was an “impartial” decision with so much at stake.  People are human and have their likes and dislikes. Witness O. J. Simpson and his Crimes and Punishment.

4. Using complicated systems and either forgetting them or intentionally or unintentionally failing to alert the opponents.

5. Not alerting opponents in advance of any unusual treatments and not allowing them the time to prepare a proper defense. And, for that matter — even playing such conventions which, for the most part, usually interfere with the enjoyment of the game (which is a no-no specified in the protocol of the ACBL).

6. Clocking hands by peeking or roaming up and down the aisles searching for information on upcoming unplayed boards.

7. Breaks in tempo (whether warranted or not) and the advantage taking by partner with no justification based on his or her own hand. This puts the onus on the director who did not physically bear witness to the alleged violation. Hearsay is not a very reliable witness which puts the director in an unenviable position and sometimes he or she guesses wrong. This behavior occurs more at the duplicate level and players should be educated on the ramifications rather than ownership not wanting to intimidate and lose customers. Strong adherence to the equity of the situation will be a worthwhile education for the player as they advance to tournament and NABC participation, where the no-nonsense rule is enforced.

8. USING UNDERHANDED SIGNALS WHICH IS ‘OUT AND OUT CHEATING’ which should be outlawed and the culprits barred for life — and even the hereafter. ‘Hip players’ know that there are individuals in our Hall of Fame who are guilty of such heinous behavior, but of course shall be unnamed. And by the way, there are some of them out there — yet to be reprimanded (perhaps for fear of a lawsuit if unproven). This includes both U.S. and foreign players.

9. The overbearing pressure put on ACs by the professional ‘big names’ who convolute the minds of those who sit in judgment — for fear of looking stupid by not voting in their favor. And, worse yet, by taking an opposing view while serving on the Committee will likely lose its chance of being recommended for work if the pros already have dates and are asked to point the sponsors in the right direction. Professionals have a strong brotherhood equating to a monetary camaraderie, all because of chance, but our game should adopt a Better Bridge Business Bureau (BBBB) which should be endowed with punitive power (PUP) to right the sinking ship.

10. Appeals committees should be replete with knowledgeably good bridge players who understand both the laws and the high-level subtleties of playing the game. Without that mandatory setting, those committee members (who are not qualified to serve) turn out to be puppets of those whom they know and sometimes grudgingly respect which could still be marginally OK. However, if instead, that mentor is not one of the upright members we all need, it only multiplies the inequities which exist. Bobby recently got all the printed Appeals Casebooks for the last fifteen years, and has been going over them carefully. He was shocked and saddened with the inept nature of some Committee members’ lack of knowledge about the game. He strongly admonishes that If high-level bridge is to prosper or even survive and hopefully progress in the future, there must be educational opportunities provided for Appeals Committee members to flow with how bridge is progressing worldwide because as of now, Europe (and soon China) will be far ahead of the USA in understanding what is vitally necessary for high level bridge to stay vibrant.

Proper interpretation of the laws (Edgar Kaplan’s responsibility which no one has come close to either replacing or enforcing since he died in 1997) has been in a total downward spiral — wherein the equity in the laws should be shining forth, instead of being ignored in favor of arcane narrow meanings. To enforce our laws, we need to have a bridge twist to them and also support the equity of what the law intended to accomplish, but which sometimes is difficult to spell out clearly.

11. Another source of disconcertment to Bobby (although not involving the high level plateau to which his remarks are earmarked) is what he considers the ACBL’s mishandling of the masterpoint disbursement at the club games where people enjoy the shame of wallowing in below average performances and are rewarded by master points. Let them feel good about themselves when they really achieve a decent score and recognition. He compares the approach as a scene from It Pays to Be Ignorant … or more appropriately … The Amateur Hour (for those of you who are old enough to remember it).

12. There are a host of conventions of which Bobby disapproves and considers foolish as they have a more negative impact than positive but I will leave that for a later date. The above is more than enough to concentrate upon and digest at one reading.


26 Comments

John Howard GibsonMay 17th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

HBJ : Brilliant. Insight and wisdom without rival. This commentary should be a Foreword in every bridge book, publication, teaching aid, and website.
But sadly, those who ” stand guilty ” are often deaf, DUMB and blind.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 17th, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Thanks HBJ:

It is time people faced the truth about what is (and has been) going on and make a concerted effort to clean up our once-majestic game. Few have the guts to speak out.

I appreciate your candor.

Judy

AlanMay 17th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Judy: That was quite a comprehensive revelation and I am sure no one was in a better position to expound upon the subject. Tell Bobby ‘thanks for sharing.’

Bill CubleyMay 17th, 2013 at 11:50 pm

I’ll be brief – Indeed as a far greater player than I has said.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 18th, 2013 at 1:14 am

Stealing Edgar’s line, eh?

JoanieMay 18th, 2013 at 1:37 am

No. 7 (Breaks in Tempo) really gets to me. It happens often at the duplicates and what bothers me is that it has never been drilled into their heads that they cannot bid on their partner’s implied values. I blame the directors for not setting the ground rules straight.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 18th, 2013 at 1:42 am

Joanie:

I am 100% in accord with your thinking and club directors are in a precarious position. However, they can’t have it both ways. If someone is reprimanded, they will be offended. If the bid is allowed to stand, the other side will be annoyed. It is a no win situation for the clubs.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 18th, 2013 at 2:01 am

Joanie:

Let me give you a perfect setting where justice triumphed. A 1D bid begins the auction. LHO pre-empts 2S, partner bids 3H, RHO bids 3S, opener raises partner to game and after a noticeable huddle, pre-empter passes and don’t you think (on a flat hand), a 4S bid begrudgingly came out of righty’s mouth. When it rode around to partner, he doubled. No one was vulnerable. Plus 500 for the good guys as compared to +450. And, I guarantee you this lovely woman did not know she did anything wrong — but that’s life.

ReneMay 18th, 2013 at 2:07 am

Judy, you aroused my curiosity. What conventions rub Bobby the wrong way?

Judy Kay-WolffMay 18th, 2013 at 2:14 am

Rene: There are quite a few — but all in good time. In fact, I would like him to name them, accompanied by the reasons for his dislikes. I guarantee you many of them are the favorites of most of us. In fact, the majority of them adorned my Convention Card that I brought to Dallas after we were married — but soon disappeared. And, who am I to argue?

Jane AMay 18th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Hi Judy,

Bobby named a few of the conventions he does not like after I asked you both yesterday at the club because this is a topic I am interested in also. Those of us who know Bobby are already aware that support doubles is one of those conventions, and Bergen raises are another. The one that surprised me a little was RKC however. I am sure the list goes on. I had a bridge teacher in Missouri who thought Jacoby 2NT was the worst convention ever, and this teacher was Terry Michaels. (Yep, she was married to Mr. Michaels, who developed the Michaels cue bid) Both are long gone now, but Terry was unrelenting about her opinion on Jacoby.

For us peons however, some of these conventions are what we added to our cards as we “grew up”. I am not a fan of Jacoby, support doubles, or Bergen raises either, but many people like them. Support doubles is a convention I tend to forget unfortunately, so I believe forgetting a convention makes it less than useful, needless to say.

Bobby, tell us more when you have the time. And Judy, as usual, you hit that nail on the head. Perhaps if the bridge instructors of the world would spend a period of time discussing ethics as an part of the teaching outline for beginners, it would help them, and the rest of us, realize what is considered ethical. The example you gave about the lady not knowing she did anything wrong is a good example. Knowledge is king.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 18th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hi Jane A:

It is 7 a.m. in Vegas and I surmise you must be an early riser. I couldn’t sleep myself and arose a few yours ago (about 4 a.m.), checked my computer and your comment had not yet surfaced. So, thanks for taking the time to share your pre-dawn thoughts with us. They are eloquently presented in a down-to-earth sincere manner. Knowing your persona, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yes, you leaked some of Bobby’s “unfavorite” conventions. I, for one, would not challenge his longtime high level involvement and after decades of experience has, shall we say, staunchly declined to employ some universally popular methods of bidding.

To me, at my age, no doubt the three most vital considerations are:

(1) Remembering them;

(2) Relaxing in my necessary ‘comfort zone.’ For instance, I couldn’t play anything other than five card majors although Bobby preferred opening four-baggers via his old Club System (but wouldn’t dare force it upon my weary and deteriorating brain which can only absorb so much).

3) Deferring to partner’s likes and dislikes and compromising on what is best for the twosome with an eye to attaining the best results.

In this game — it is what ‘floats your boat.’

MarthaMay 18th, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Judy,
We are fortunate to have you share these insights from Bobby. A true great in the Bridge World, it is like sitting at the feet of The Master. I, for one, want to thank you for taking the time to help us to better our understanding with this information. Will look forward to the blog revealing all of Bobby’s conventions that are on the “list that won’t be missed”.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 19th, 2013 at 1:07 am

Hi Martha:

I am sure there are others who don’t share your feelings. In the last ten years I have learned so much about how the game can be bettered. However, a lot of politics and egos stand in the way.

Bridge at one time was played merely for the fun and excitement of competing and improving one’s skills. Today it is a whole new ballgame where many good players have succumbed to it as a livelihood. And, who can blame them? It sure beats the proverbial nine to five day job and at the highest levels allows you to see the world (usually with someone else paying the tab).

All of this is fine as long as one keeps a watchful eye on the quality of individuals who are at the helm — who, of course, must be endowed with the proper qualifications in whichever department they serve.

SamMay 19th, 2013 at 1:54 am

Hi Judy:

I haven’t played bridge in ages though I do check out whatever bridge sites are available on the computer and religiously read the daily newspaper columns just to stay somewhat in the loop.

I am not up to date on what has been going on but found your topic quite informative. Bridge forty years ago wasn’t like it is today. I observe that things (not only the conventions) have changed radically since I was playing in duplicates and running to local tournaments just to win fractions of points. I now hear there is a glut of them up for grabs.

Let me digress and direct this conversation toward something else. I spotted an interesting topic on another bridge venue. It centered around controversial discussions as to what constitutes a world class player. Because you have been involved with both Norman and Bobby, I’d like to have your thoughts on the matter. In “my day” it was Crawford, Roth, Stone, Rapee, Sheinwold, Kaplan, Kay, Jacoby, Pavlicek, Root, Murray, Kehela and many more whose names were on everybody’s tongues. I know it is strictly a personal view and if you care to not discuss it, I will understand.

Sam

Judy Kay-WolffMay 19th, 2013 at 2:07 am

Hi Sam.

Thank you for chirping in. Sorry to hear you have been a bridge bystander for so many years. Hope one day soon you will come back to the fold.

Yes, the term “world class players” means different things to different people. I cannot speak for others. However, to my way of thinking, I believe that determination can be made when one world class player (of which there are truly very few) considers another one to be his or her peer. It takes one to know one. Also, one must endure the test of time. There are many of the young breed who are “world class” in the making but only time will confirm their arrival. That is my personal standard but others, I am sure, may have a different perspective.

I hope I have answered your question.

Cheers,

Judy

JSMay 19th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Hello Sam:

I am from the old school too. It sounds like you haven’t been to a tourney for a long, long time. I have! It is not the same in many ways. Not only is the elegance (for the most part) history but the mode of dress is a far cry from what I remember. I am not speaking of the fifties when Saturday night called for dress-up for both ladies and gentlemen — but the nucleus of the younger good players is different as well. With a few exceptions, there is more brashness among the wannabes whereas that did not exist among the classy top players (some of whom you named). The mode of dress is a world apart. Ragged shirts and holey jeans are more in vogue now. It is a totally different atmosphere and though not as elegant, it is probably here to stay. Bridge has lost its glamour. However, the game itself with all its nuances has improved and gained in its development. Time moves on. You can remember the “good old days” but unlikely they will return.

My views may sound a bit stodgy — but that is the way I see it.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 19th, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Hi JS:

I can’t argue with your viewpoint, but change (for the better or worse) is part of progress. We have no control over it. Yes, we can rue the present and yearn for the old days — but that is just wishful thinking and does not change anything.

What concerns me more is that other countries are passing us in teaching the younger set to play. I understand the ACBL has made strides in that direction by hiring a marketing manager to try to solicit sponsors and get bridge into the schools. I know nothing about the person selected. I sincerely hope that she is a knowledgeable bridge performer (not necessarily an expert) but has a working knowledge and understanding of the game. To me that is more important (even mandatory) than being an expert in the field of marketing. We shall see.

We can only hope we are moving in the right direction as ‘ tempus is fugitting’!!!

Steve BloomMay 19th, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Hi. I agree with most of what you right, but take some exception to #1. If a gadget turns out to be effective in high-level competition, then perhaps all of us should adopt it. We certainly shouldn’t ban it because it is tough to deal with.

15 years ago, I had teammates who played a gadget that Bobby hated, and eventually managed to bar from bridge – a nv 2S opening showed a weak preempt in any suit, while 3 bids were very constructive, typically two of the top three honors. This allowed them to bid to excellent 3NT contracts over a sound preempt, yet get in and jam the auction on lighter, shapely hands. They had consistent winning results with this bid, and not simply for its destructive side.

Seems to me, if a bid works so well, we should embrace it. Bobby preferred to ban it.

Bobby WolffMay 19th, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Hi Steve,

Let me start out by saying I have never banned any 2S bid which showed a weak preempt in any suit, nor have I ever banned any preempt, artificial or not, or for that matter ever been in a position to ban any convention or treatment within the ACBL or WBF. As a matter of fact, although I have played against similar conventions, I have never even considered that particular treatment and now, perhaps I will.

Having said that, I will volunteer the following advice pertaining to such conventions:

In events which allow that type of artificiality, written defenses need to be available from the partnership playing them, clearly stating what the writers think is an adequate (or better) defense to such bids (in this case only the 2 spade opening). My opinion is that double, similar to the popular defense against Multi, should show 13+ with any type of hand unsuitable to making a simple overcall, while 2NT should be 16-18 with, of course, all bids natural, including 3 spades meaning spades, but slightly beefed up with pass and then a minimum number of spades a fall back option, in addition to a similar defensive stand taken by the 4th seat player, depending on what the specific responses to the 2 spade opening would mean by the 2 spade bidder’s partner.

Furthermore, because of the delicate, sensitive and somewhat terrifying emotion which such a bid might provoke against inexperienced and average players, I would vote against allowing it in any event which had a significant number of those limited players in attendance. A major goal to remember by responsible administrators is not to allow intimidation (intended or even not intended) to receive windfall results.

My reasoning is that progress in bridge is very important and always welcome, but along with it comes the responsibility to not bamboozle weaker players into getting poor results because of the bridge terror it could create.

Obviously there is a fine line between ratifying controversial bidding methods (though deemed to be helpful in constructive bidding such as you mention in describing what then solid preempts at the 3 level would produce) as opposed to downright intimidating ones, which are in no way constructive — but allowing them to be turned loose on the field in that particular event.

Possible new conventions, at least in the ACBL, are dealt with by the C & C (Competition & Conventions) Committee, of which I have never been a member. If being constructive is your intent, it might be to everyone’s interest for you to refer to other commentators the procedure necessary to get a convention approved for general use, or, in some cases, for even restricted use.

True, I was instrumental, though not having the power resembling a Czar, in barring the unrestricted use of odd and even signals, simply because of the huge unfairness tempo variations play in the dual meaning of even cards (both negative and suit preference) since the frequency of pauses associated with not having both meanings fit the specific card played. While playing for a time (every day for seven straight weeks) with and against the great Italians and other teammates during the Omar Sharif traveling circus back in the 1970’s, all members of that team played strict odd and even signals and the card played plus the tempo exposed made defensive errors almost non-existent. That was true during each week, when the Aces played as partners with our esteemed opponents (open pairs during the early part of each week) or when we were playing against them.

I then suggested quite strongly that strict odd and even signalling should not be allowed and to this day it is only allowed within the ACBL on the first discard (which is still too much) but quite a relief from what was allowed on the Sharif tour and for the many years before.

Of course the Smith Echo, a convention which is also encrusted with some of the same disease, is still allowed — but that is now someone else’s problem, not mine.

Steve, I wish you were more careful in trusting your memory to distort what you, no doubt, think happened in the past. However, what you are saying here about my involvement has absolutely no credibility nor sense since I have never heard of nor been consulted about anything even remotely pertaining to your subject.

Steve BloomMay 19th, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Sorry, Bobby. This isn’t my recollection. Said teammate has started playing again, and, in St. Louis, talked about his pet 2S opening. He said, after a match against you, you called this “poker, not bridge”, and, in your role as ACBL president, helped set such convention restrictions in motion.

I never played the gadget.

As to the C&C committee, they are blind, deaf, and dumb. I tried for years to get a trivial convention approved – a 2NT opening showing a preempt with two known suits, but failed. 18 months ago, I sent them a long letter with suggestions, and never heard back from them. Finally, Joan Gerard got involved, and promised they would at least listen to what I wrote. Unfortunately, she became very sick, and has since passed. I posted my letter on BridgeWinners, but, as far as the C&C go, I don’t exist.

Anyway, sorry if I got this wrong. Passing on hearsay is always dangerous, and usually foolish. I do think destructive gadgets will fall by the wayside in competition if they are poorly designed. Those that do well, and serve some constructive purposes may have merit. Multi was considered as purely destructive for quite a long time. In fact, it is easier to defend against than regular two-bids, but frees up two bids, and so works through its efficiency, not its destructive nature.

Gary MugfordMay 19th, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Bobby,

I raged against odd/even signals for years until the ACBL saved my sanity (life?) by limiting them. We had two cheats of the worst kind playing locally and one of their chief advantages were the O/E signals and a variable playing pace that would have shamed the worst of the old cardsharps from days gone by. They intimidated newbies too, which might have infuriated me more, by being the local secretary birds … as long as you were rattled. They’d fumble their way to less than average results against good players. despite their cheating. But always seemed to be able to pluck the rabbits enough to place frequently. Luckily, one of them got caught writing results to hands they hadn’t played yet on their scorecards and justice was done. Haven’t seen hide-nor-goatee of them since then. Figured it added ten years to my life and kept me out of jail.

Thank you for whatever part you played in this particular area, the ONE on Judy’s list that I would have had at NUMBER ONE.

Bobby WolffMay 19th, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Hi Steve,

Appreciate your response. Mistakes do happen and since my ACBL Presidential year was 1987 and St. Louis was the site of the Spring Nationals, I do not recall the discussion of poker and the 2 spade convention, but perhaps my conversation may have equated such an enterprise more attuned to poker than bridge, but I can assure you that, even if so, I had nothing to do with carrying it further than that.

Next, Judy has told me about your hard work on the Junior program and for that I wanted to say thank you, I only hope that the new marketing director, hired recently in Horn Lake, loves bridge the way you and I do, because I fear that, in order to get bridge in the schools here, it probably needs to be sold by someone who is totally enraptured by the educational aspects which Europe and now, China, will certainly attest to, and send written plaudits for how well it is going in their countries. No doubt that the salesman involved will need to know the sensational arithmetical, psychological, and common sense logic involved, along with the communication skills necessary in bridge communication (bidding) as well as the special ethics required, making bridge for the ages and to be learned early in life in order to keep minds fit for our growing aged longer living retirees. We’ll just have to wait and see, but you are certainly doing your part in making good things happen.

Yes the C&C has gone and is going in the wrong direction in what they are doing. Not communicating with you is beyond ridiculous and not to be imagined, while working for the game we all are supposed to love. However, it doesn’t surprise me since I have always had a standoffish relationship with them — probably because I am not political and do not feel pressure to please anyone or anything, but rather do the best I can for the game itself, and it is the principal reason I have never wanted to serve on that committee.

Suffice it to say that professionalism in bridge, while necessary to allow many of our best and brightest to stay with the game, has many drawbacks in the form of winning at all costs being too important, and also alliances within the professional ranks allows contact with the small number of big-time sponsors, and, of course, my big contention of wanting to send three, not two, of our very best partnerships to represent us, which, at least to me, is well nigh impossible, under the current qualifying methods, to accomplish.

Finally, regarding your discussion of Multi, as you know, a very popular and universally played convention throughout Europe, there are a couple of truths you need to know.

First, I agree with you that Multi is easily defended, and as you say, is not even as tough a deal as defending against normal weak two bids.

However, a recount of one of my European experiences of about 20 years ago might jolt your keen mind in understanding a significant problem.

Suppose the bidding goes 2 (multi) diamonds by East, pass by South, 2 spades by West (for the benefit of other readers (not you) — pass if you hold spades, bid 3 hearts if you have hearts) 3 clubs or diamonds by North, what East is logically supposed to do is either pass (holding spades) or bid 3 hearts (holding hearts). Often South will ask after East passes, “I guess that means East has spades?”, but after some hemming and hawing, back years ago, West will chirp, we haven’t discussed it, and since that time (try to convince everyone who will listen, that they go out of their way not to discuss it). To me that lack of discussion should be illegal, because and I am sure that you are ahead of me, but by not discussing it, there is not room for a cue bid available (often necessary) in order to attempt to reach the best game available for the opponents of the original Multi bidder.

In an honest and better put — an ethical game — East will confirm that his suit is indeed spades (by his pass and, even more so by bridge logic) which will enable South to explore all games from hearts through his partner’s suit to 3NT). At least to me, it is West’s obligation to confirm such and anything less should not only be penalized, but also a C&E committee formed to deal with them.

I do not think I need to further elaborate except to say that In Maastricht in 2000 at the World Team Olympiad the Austrians not only violated that requirement but also psyched the response of the wrong major to the multi ask and when they did, the partner of the multi player (especially at favorable vulnerability) always had a weak hand, guaranteeing at least a game to their opponents, but denying them the ability to bid it without jumping through high hoops.

Since that time these episodes have continued and if Multi was to be allowed on this side of the pond, how long would it take before these highly unethical (but not thought of by everyone as such) would start appearing regularly wherever Multi was allowed. BTW, when and if a pair decides to cheat behind screens, it would not take much more than a medium noise (or perhaps no noise at all) to let partner know that the signaler has a weak hand and so full speed ahead and on with the ruse.

Let your imagination do the walking, but while doing so, please understand that there are reasons, sometimes not disclosed, why some bids are not allowed, while others are. While what is mentioned here at one time was highly secret — but probably the statute of limitations has run its course and especially you, are entitled to know what is going on.

Very good luck to you regarding your work with the Juniors and we need you to enlist and blaze trails in making world wide bridge the game it is entitled to be.

Bobby WolffMay 19th, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Hi Gary,

We were obviously writing at the same time and I thought I felt our messages (you to me and mine to Steve) pass overhead somewhere over Pike’s Peak, but thankful to some, not thankful to others, they didn’t collide and both arrived safely.

Your message about odd and even being restricted made my day. It did cost Kathie Wei (who was very friendly with the Italians and, of course, odd and even signalling) not speaking to me for a few years, but I am now used to such events, although I do confess that sometimes I do feel a painful twinge when they happen, which in my case, is quite often.

I hope you are doing well and it is always nice to hear from you, especially when I may have helped enrich your bridge experience.

It may be odd to say but even if so, I wish you happy hunting.

Bill CubleyMay 20th, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Bobby,

What if we limit the NUMBER of conventions/leads based upon the flighting of the event? However we allow most systems/methods. Players may play any method they can fit into the masterpoint restraint.

Ignore whether or not some players are or are not familiar with a convention. Thus if a pair plays Precision in a 49er event, they are limited to the same total number as their opponents.

Bridge is a much poorer game when players cannot play methods because another player does not like them. When I play against Multi @D, I treat it as a weak 2 bid because that5 is what it is most of the time.

As a corollary, players MUST know both Blackwood and Gerber beyond the 0-5 level games.

Or we could make any nationally rated pairs game a Yellow Card game? Incidentally, for those who fail to fill out convention cards, the director can issue them Yellow Cards on the spot to be used for the remainder of the event.

Gary MugfordMay 20th, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Bobby,

Some points for clarity’s sake. Wasn’t psyching of conventional bids and/or responses outlawed years ago?

I was playing with Jack 5.0 at home the other day and got dealt a hand with 4-0-7-2 hand, and nary a painted card in the lot. I also didn’t have a takeout to 3D available within the bidding rules I had constructed. So, I cheated and bid a Puppet Stayman 3C. The odds were good partner DID have a four-card major and I could pass the 3D response and smile every so sweetly. ‘Cept partner had both and I had to bid 4S over the 3NT and accept the down 4 NV against the opponents’ part-score. That’s something I could try in a computer game. At a real-life table? Not in a million years.

If that ban has been lifted, then it needs being put back. Like some things in life (and remember, I’m Canadian), some things need SOME restrictions. And I swear to God I’m talking about Psych’s here.

At the same time, I was an enthusiastic supporter of the Scientists and their battles with Traditionalists in the pages of the Bridge World for all those years. I LIKE diddling around with ideas. And I always had a vague distrust for table feel fueling a LOT of what passed for backing of the simple methods. It wasn’t really table feel as the understanding that defence is a LOT tougher than people understand and that REALLY GOOD Traditionalists almost always were REALLY REALLY GOOD declarers. If there was a chance to make a contract, they’d at least be aware of it. Not that all chances paid off.

So, I understand Traditionalism is very defendable. But a lot of simple players also show up with interesting ideas about tempo, table talk and leading singles with their left hands. Not all. Not even a majority. And regardless, Traditionalists need protection against predatory Scientists and 13-card bidders.

But I’m still a Scientist and rail at the restrictions Traditionalists have managed to enact.

Have partners and I forgot our complicated methods? Yep. We’ve also sat in the wrong sections or pulled the wrong cards out of our hand or reneged or dropped cards or been late for a game/round about as often. In other words, it happens, but not often. And we know our follow up bids. At least to normal continuations and interference. When the following auction came up with us playing Simple Multi Weak Two’s (no strong hand inclusion). 2D-P-2H-4H, we had never discussed the bid of 4H in the fourth chair. We all used logic that included the 2H hand not having much and the game-bidder holding a fistful of hearts and strength. The opener, of course, had to have spades. Unfortunately, the opener couldn’t double with her six hearts to the Q-10-9 and the opponents got a good score for going down in an undoubled hand in their wild misfit. C’est la vie. I do think it’s reasonable that partnerships know the logical continuations of their conventions, including the case of 2D-P-2M-3X, (We don’t confirm the suit in these cases without a reason to bid). And yes, people do have the right to learn on the job, so to speak.

But maybe conventional screw-ups should be recorded like Psych’s were in the old days. Prove you haven’t learned the convention and the club gets to ban your use of the convention once you’ve shown a pattern of not understanding what you’ve committed to. The hard part would be getting players to rat their opponents out, even when the screw-up went in their favour. Add in the inability of novices to know they’ve just witnessed a conventional train wreck and the idea has plenty of problems. But a well-run club would likely manage to weed out incompetent conventional use and still allow the local Scientists to work within their agreed-upon constraints.

And YES, I do think one of our major championships, (maybe even my long dreamed-of Winter Nationals in Las Vegas?) should feature either the big pairs event OR EVEN THE TEAM EVENT, being played with Yellow Cards. I think the after-event write-ups in the BW would revive a series I’ve missed this century.

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