Judy Kay-Wolff



The auction has proceeded 1S 2H P* followed by a pass to the opener.  Your opponents are experienced, better than average club players.  Obviously the (*) indicated a noticeable huddle.   As the opening spade bidder in second seat, do you think your action is automatic (V vs. NV) – holding:

AKQ84   4  J62  AJ109

Coincidentally,  in conjunction with the upcoming season, I have FOUR QUESTIONS for you

1)  What would YOU DO?

2) What do you think THE FIELD WOULD DO?

3)  Would your partner’s NOTICEABLE hitch AFFECT YOUR OWN CALL?

4) Do you think YOU ARE ENTITLED TO AN INSURANCE POLICY knowing your partner wanted to do something?

Just asking!!!!!


tomApril 2nd, 2011 at 10:40 am

i had that hand yesterday and i x witout a hitch but i thot it was automatic because i had a good hand and could be happy with anything my pd bid including if he passes.

Claus HastrupApril 2nd, 2011 at 11:01 am

Just answering:

1) Double

2) Double

3) No

4) No

TonyApril 2nd, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I would normally double in balance, but what else could the hitch be if you can’t make a penalty double. Everyone has different values and much as I would hate it, I would pass. If I was forced to do anything it would be to rebid 2S.

ChuckApril 2nd, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Of course, I would double without a hitch — but that makes all the difference on the planet. I agree with Tony, but I would teach my partner a lesson not to put me in that position. Bid in tempo and don’t challenge my strong feelings about hitches.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 2nd, 2011 at 1:43 pm


Of course, it is automatic without a huddle, but you now have a safety net. You know he wanted to do something and whatever it is — is o.k. with


Bobby WolffApril 2nd, 2011 at 2:18 pm


Someone recently asked me what I thought a player thought about (while making the hitch described) before passing and I answered:

To me it is universal and could be explained … I might bid 2 spades with my doubleton, overbid with 2NT, or even make a slightly off-center negative double, but I am going to pass, because after these few seconds delay my partner will surely know what to do, and truthfully when this type of thing happens, my partnership somehow benefits a disproportionately large number of times.

At least to me, there is nothing left to say — that is, if you are among too large a group who don’t give a whit about how the game should be played, but only value the winning at all costs.

BenApril 2nd, 2011 at 2:32 pm


I was taught something slightly different. While never to abandon active ethics, I was expected to make the bid I would normally make and let the chips fall where they may.

Please explain how these two caveats should be entwined? Thanks.

Bobby WolffApril 2nd, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Hi Ben,

Since the black magic which hitches seem to provide partner, in effect, we are helping the so-called slower witted player (in reality it could easily, instead, be a more clever fast-witted player) and punishing a quicker witted player who, in a flash (and usually because he has seen these types of situations many times before) after only 2 or 3 seconds decides to ethically maintain all choices and passes in tempo, therefore not issuing the insurance policy described previously and frees up his partner to do what he thinks best.

Instead, if the responder gets caught in a boondoggle of breaking tempo in considering his options, then his choice reverts to either making (using the subject hand as an example) a 2nd best bid of 2 spades, 2NT or negative double and lacking that resigning himself to basically barring his partner by passing, unless he is lucky enough to catch his partner with a barn burner type hand which, of course, would demand some action other than pass.

With this subject comfortable in our ever improving world of Active Ethical bridge, the scope of the game improves geometrically as well as even more importantly, the vital respect which goes along with the WBF’s motto of Bridge For Peace.

Delving even deeper, the honor systems demanded in Law Schools and the Service Academies are too often compromised, make the news and in effect, severely reduce our built-in respect for what those hallowed institutions should represent.

Then turn to the simple playing of bridge, and at many different levels. Bridge, by its very nature and because of its unique partnership characteristics, demands ethical compliance (without which our game is simply not worth playing), so why should we tempt players to not fall into ranks. Until every echelon of our superior game echoes what we are now discussing and overtly practices the ethics required, the rest of the various levels will not rise to the occasion.

Ben, I sincerely appreciate your simple question and hope that you and all other readers understand the magnitude of what is involved.

JeffApril 2nd, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Although I certainly understand the issue, I don’t understand the application to these cards. I have shortness in hearts, I have defensive tricks. The reopening double seems so automatic that the hitch can be disregarded. My understanding — and I am no bridge law expert — is that I am supposed to choose a call that is a Logical Alternative to the call that partner’s hitch suggests. But I can’t think of a LA to double. So, double is what I do, and then I would try later to impress partner with the need to try to avoid placing me in a losing situation where I feel foreclosed from making the call I want to make.

Although my opinion is that the double is so automatic that the hitch can be disregarded for this round of bidding, that is not the end of the process. I have to be sensitive to not taking advantage of the hitch in the play, too. … As if bridge isn’t hard enough to play …

Riki TikiApril 2nd, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I would make my normal call

John Howard GibsonApril 2nd, 2011 at 9:40 pm

HBJ : What is going on here !! If my partner ” stalls ” like that I can almost guarantee 3 things : (i) he’s got a tolerance for spades which is nice to know (ii) he hasn’t got clubs and diamonds otherwise I’d hear a negative type double, which is also useful to know, and (iii) he’s sitting there with hearts probably length but no substance. His dilemma is whether to support spades on tat, or pray I’ve got a re-opening double which is easy to convert into a penalty one.

Well, once he’s puts his pass card down I’M STYMIED. Therefore I PASS AND LET HIM WITNESS THE CONSEQUENCES IF A COLD GAME IN SPADES DRIFTS BY. Then I get a new partner. Yours HBJ

Larry LowellApril 3rd, 2011 at 6:44 am

I agree with JHG, I PASS as my partners know to pass in tempo or bid if they break tempo.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 6:56 am

Dear HBJ:

Although we’ve never met other than through cyberspace, you fascinate me no end by your ingenious use of words, your incomparable sense of humor and your love of the game when it is played by the rules.

After the huddle, however, different thoughts raced through my mind .. What could he be thinking about after an obvious hitching pass? Should he fill his tank up on the way home? What was his wife making for dinner? Who should he bet on in March Madness? OF COURSE NOT. He was considering the possibilities what to do since he could not make a negative double because his real interest was his heart length and two outside defensive tricks consisting of an ace and a king (AND 9 POINTS) presented a problem.

However, his pard got the message across loud and clear by his consternation — not like when someone has pulled out the STOP CARD in front of you. It was quite obvious to all that he wanted to make a penalty double (but of course was playing like the world today) a system of takeout doubles. BUT, he got the message across loud and clear.

Perhaps my morals and ethics at the table are unlike others. I had good teachers — Edgar, Norman and Bobby. I would bet my bottom dollar that after a considerable hitch followed by a green card, they would have followed suit.

Not everybody adheres to those rules, but I am smart enough to catch the significance whyfor his huddle and realize exactly what his problem was. It didn’t take an Einstein — and was I ever right.

The ACBL does not like to get involved (nor certainly the club directors) so it is only a waste of breath to call the director because few realize the significance and implications of the scenario. They feel all is fair in love, war and bridge.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 7:07 am

Dear Larry:

I’m with you. I was taught (and recently I cited an example where Bobby punished me for studying and passing) in an auction that went:

1H 1S 2H 2S

3C 3S P* P


(*) huddle by me and pass

Bobby had seven solid hearts (and I promised three) — knowing we had ten hearts between us (hardly a valuable defensive holding) — but ALSO an outside jack and an ace. However, he passed to teach me a lesson. The opponents made 3S. A lesson I will never forget!!! He chided me, “when you study so long, BID, OR YOU ARE BARRING ME FROM BIDDING (unless we are in a forcing auction)”. I have since adjusted my timing and my bids.


EllisApril 3rd, 2011 at 9:07 am

Dear Bobby,

Unless the point of this specific hand is to teach your partner the huddler a lesson, then I cant see pass as a logical alternative. (Once again Iam talking about this specific hand).

LHO did not double so he probably doesnt have an 18/19 HCP hand, RHO did not take any action which probably gives LHO 13 or so HCP leaving 12 or so divided by partner and RHO. even if ther is an equal split we still rate to be holding the majority og hcp and Ihave a second suit with shortness in opps suit. This is one of the most clearcut reopining doubles you will ever see.

You might make a reasonable argument that bidding 3cl here is an LA but passing is not.

Il reopen this hand because I seriously beleive that this hand if polled to a group of my peers would come down as 100% reopening.

Given that I understand that you guys have a very laudable and commendable campaign for active ethics and I both agree with the principle and the concept, and the fact that this is a personal blog in which your views are expressed, might I make a suggestion.

Would it not be better to post this hand as what would you do with this hand without mentioning the BIT, If everyone on the planet reopens then there would seem to be no ethical problem reopening, if a percentage passes say 15-20 percent then pass becomes an LA.

Forcing an action on a partnership which is not logical is probably active ethics overload.

Bobby WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 9:21 am

Hi Jeff et al,

Yes bridge is hard enough to play without adding special ethical strictures. Although bridge IMHO is easily the most spectacular intellectual game ever invented with inspiration from detective work, numeracy, partnership coordination, intense psychological battles with worthy opponents, and enough of a luck element present to jazz it up, it becomes a virtual nothing with little to recommend it, if and when it is not played actively ethically by all who attempt it.

In the very old days, (perhaps before 1958) doubles of overcalls were always penalty oriented and there was little added to the built in ethical standards required. However when Al Roth brilliantly invented negative doubles to add to a pair’s ability to find its best contract, along with it came a pass, which was later to become a penalty double after one’s partner doubled back in and, of course his partner then made what has become to be known as a penalty pass.

All well and good, but at that time the special ethics of bridge became even tougher since that future penalty pass must be made in a circumspect manner (perfect tempo).

Jeff, you are 100% correct in your interpretation of what currently are the rules, and in this case, if the hand went to a TD and then even later to an appeals committee there would be no doubt in my mind that your reopening double would win the day.

However, your partnership’s ethics would just be another in the line of turning the other cheek when it came to special people practicing Active Ethics in punishing themselves for others to follow to honor the game itself.

Until undoubtedly honest and forthright players like yourself would become role models for what the game should be, bridge will always continue to stay buried by too many players who only value crossing the finish line at the top, rather than honoring the game the way it should be always played and then consequently remembered.

Again, there is no doubt that you and others, are merely following the supposed bridge law which suggests what you say, but unfortunately following that direction will only reduce the value of our wonderful game to depths none of us would wish to go.

Nothing is lost at this time, and will only be considered so, when erudite and conscientious people like yourself turn a blind eye to what needs to be done.

Bridge needs your help as well as all who want to be honest and constructive future stalwarts of the game itself.

Thanks for listening.

EllisApril 3rd, 2011 at 9:38 am

Dear Bobby,

The gist of your thoughts seems to be that, even in a position that obviously demands a bid one should uphold the principle of active ethics in order to advance the integrity of the game itself.

However would that not now skew the result on a specific board and therby possibly change the outcome of a tournament .And in general terms would you now be in violation of article E6. Bid or play with the specific intent to achieve a poor result on that hand.

Which by the way carries a 90 day probation or suspension of up to 90 days.


Bobby WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 10:10 am

Hi Ellis,

Obviously our comments crossed in the mail. I had written earlier but, which sometimes happens to me, I must have hit a wrong key and presto, chango, my comment went scurrying into cyberspace.

As you no doubt now know, I agree with you about this particular hand and fully admit that it would almost be the poster child for what Al Roth’s invention would suggest as a balancing double, however merely stopping there and admiring the auction is not the solution to a growing fearful problem.

The bridge world is made up of a few super players, not enough of them totally ethical themselves and certainly not to be thought of as role models or anything close. Add to them a much larger group of wannabe bridge experts, with potential talent to match as well as several more echelons as we go down the ladder in talent and ability. Finally the great and enthusiastic bridge lovers made up from many types of bridge levels which constitutes the largest single group.

Unless our better players join together and crusade toward the way our off the charts great game should be played and instead give off hand advice “OK, yes, you can ignore partner’s huddles or other tells here and there and therefore always look out for your best interests in getting your highest score” how can we even get out of the batter’s box on our way to bridge nirvana.

Granted, my feeble effort alone is far from enough, but if somehow, others join the crusade, take notice of the dragon, and eventually slay it, I will be able to forever relax (regardless where I am at that moment) in my reciprocal favor for the joy that bridge has brought to my life.

As always, your comments are right on and given with the best intentions.

JaneApril 3rd, 2011 at 10:47 am

I have a question. How much “time” is allowed before a break in tempo occurs? I have been told when the stop card comes out, the opps are supposed to wait ten seconds before bidding. So is ten seconds an OK time to study your hand and then decide to pass? I tend to play fast, so it would be unusual for me to need that long to make a decision to pass. If ten seconds is considered OK, but I personally took ten seconds on a hand such as you described this time to pass, I think my partner would know I was facing a dilemma, even though ten seconds might be perfectly legal. I believe our decisions have to be made on what is typical for a partnership, but would like to have a time guideline on what is considered a break in tempo if there is one.

The hand in question screams for a reopening double, and without any unusual hesitation, I would have done so. If my partner hesitates too long, I pass. But what is actually “too long”?

Bobby WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 10:58 am

Hi Ellis,

Again our comments crossed in the mail.

However, to suggest that while practicing Active Ethics (and I am not now, nor ever suggested doing anything detrimental to the game itself) a player could be held in violation of intentionally trying to get bad results. That rule was put in effect to prevent intentional dumping in order for some particular team to win and another to lose and basically not living up to the spirit of all rules of competition wherein all the contestants are expected to play their hardest.

Perhaps your example suggests that some of us do not understand the reasons for the rules and therefore it makes it considerably harder to ethically follow them.

At least to me, the special ethics of the unique game we play are totally necessary to follow, lest we wind up playing a game many of us wouldn’t waste our energy to merely try and compete in such a fiasco.

Obviously stealthy cheating which has a long and horrific history worldwide (which includes the USA) has unfortunately left its indelible mark on our pastime, but my recent comments have had nothing to do with that, only trying to cure a spreading disease, but one which should not be ignored.

EllisApril 3rd, 2011 at 11:10 am

Dear Bobby,

Although I fully understand and appreciatte the reasoning behind E6 , I was possibly being a little heavy handed in using it to make my point.

Which was and shall remain that punishing partner on a hand where we have an obvious bid, should not be part of the active ethics scenario. Pass as an LA in situations where Pass is an LA should be mandatory.

This is such a hand in my opinion, and it is one of those hands where I trully believe we have an exception to prove the rule. I simply could not imagine not reopening with this hand so much so that I believe it is almost unethical to pass with it.

Bobby WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Hi Jane,

As usual, your questions are topical and deserve specific answers.

Let me first talk about disclaimers and problems in the telling. It seems that since the subjects which are often talked about in blogs are indeed sensitive to some, and because of that, my answers are often misinterpreted and I am not quite sure why? I try and not mince words and get to the point ASAP, but sometimes when someone answers (never you, at least up to this point) my intentions appear to be skewed beyond belief causing me to feel like I am heading in the wrong direction.

Your tempo question is an individual one and the only answer I can suggest is that when a stop card is pulled out of the box and a jump bid has been made in front of you, take your time (at least appearing to be thinking about your possible bid) and then after a few seconds (especially since you are a fast bidder) sally forth with your choice. The key ingredient is to bid in such a way that your partner will have no idea of whether you have a problem or not with your actions. The way to accomplish the above is what I am talking about being an individual thing. Any way of doing what is necessary is up to the person himself or herself as long as the mission is accomplished.

Good bridge ethics are a microcosm of good life ethics with a dose of the Golden Rule thrown in. Keep in mind though, since the bridge table is a very visible and transparent venue, your opponents will be treated to your own special blend of the regard that you hold the game itself.

I agree that the hand in question calls for a back-in double and so, in spite of the tell from partner, it is perfectly OK to double. However it is not acceptable to not tell partner, in private, (even if it is a first time liaison) to please be more circumspect next time in his tempo.

It is always a pleasant task for me to answer your questions.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Bobby has a much classier and more philosophical manner than Yours Truly.

To me it all boils down to “S#!T” or get off the pot which translates (at least to me) to MAKE A BID OR PASS IN TEMPO. If you choose to pass after a huddle, how can partner misinterpret your problem ???

Either … (1) You wanted to make a penalty double which your system does not allow; or (2) You have too much to pass but nothing convenient to bid

… which in turn says to reopen with a double and you will solve my pronounced dilemma.

This garbage has to be stopped and it happens too often at all levels of bridge. I saw it thirty years ago and it is getting more prevalent as time goes by because players have come to realize that giving (or acting on) “tells” from partner usually make the offenders’ scores better rather than worse. You can take that one to the bank.

Slap some penalties around and see how quickly it stops!

tomApril 3rd, 2011 at 8:09 pm

judy you arent going to like this but i believe it would be very unethical to the field to pass on this hand therby probaly giving a result to the opps they dont deserve thus skewing the results on the board. when my pd huddles i pass except when my bid is clearcut and in my opinion this is clearcut but opinions are like rearends we all have em thx

Judy Kay-WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Sorry, Tom, but with attitudes like yours, this hitch/bid syndrome will continue until you recognize that it must be discussed and STOPPED. Do you think the hitcher is totally innocent? What could be lost from doubling? NOTHING. We will just have to agree to disagree. And, no, your remark does not bother me one iota!

It just gives me better insight into your mind set.

Bobby WolffApril 3rd, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Hi Tom,

At least to me, there is only one important behavior to emerge from all this sometimes difficult talk.

It matters not who gets what on this board. It only matters and has a lasting effect if hesitation disruption is protected and made to look like no violation at all, even after partner may have acted on it or this hand where partner had a basic automatic reopening double.

All that I would like to be said is some sort of admission by one who hitches, whether intentional or not and his or her partner who also felt it, that he or she will try and do better next time not to illegally influence partner and say “yes I do appreciate the point of view that bridge would be much better off without such tell tale hesitations and I promise to do my best not to do it again”.

In spite of all the rhetoric, absolutely no one has suggested for that or something similar to be said and done, which might indicate that many (if not most) would like to keep the ability to hitch and then pass as a gradation of the value of his (her) hand.

For those who say “fie to me, you are paranoid with your suspicions, I can only say that only positive action can remedy these types of wrongs and since they continue to occur, what else but the above can be thought?

There are too few people minding the store and we need positive minded volunteers or else the game of bridge will rapidly go downhill and finally reach the status of irreparable.

MaxApril 4th, 2011 at 11:16 am

I think action with this hand is automatic without a huddle, so (in spite of the fact that I strain to not take advantage of UI), I’m doubling.

My style is to bend over backwards to cater to partner’s penalty trap pass, and if that means finding our way into a shitty fit at the three level once in awhile, so be it. If pass were a reasonable action, I would choose it over the hesitation, but I don’t think pass is reasonable. I think X is 100%, but I suspect that quite a few in the field will bid 3C.


Judy Kay-WolffApril 4th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Well, folks, after most of you professed your unyielding determination to balance with a double .. let us backtrack to see the S.D. who caused the problem in the first place.

How long should it take one (after a 1S opening and 2H overcall) to take action (or huddle and pass) holding:


No doubt he had his huddle, but hitches and then eventual passes like these are what cause the problems in no uncertain terms.

No one seems to give a R.A. that despite the “automatic reactions of most balancers,” no human being would refuse to be influenced by the safety net produced by his hitching/passing partner. Re-opening doubles (automatic or not) solve the misery of the hitching passer and thus the partnership by the slow passer showing exactly what he had (a maximum pass), but was considering several options. Basically these all too many transgressors have found a way to improve bidding judgment by adding another bid available to only some, but not other honest players. Should we add a congratulatory new category of lifetime achievement at bridge illegality or call them what they really are, a major scourge on the game itself.

Partnerships, like Fagins Pickpocket School in Oliver Twist, need to decide on their direction and either practice evil tactics or rather go for the glory of the game as well as themselves and put illegitimate methods on the shelves and play the game honorably.

PegApril 4th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Now let’s try giving partner a somewhat different hand. Perhaps he has: Jxxx, xxxx, Qxx, xx. His hesitation over 2H was weighing whether he should bid 2S, a preemptive 3S – or pass, as he did.

LHO has: x, AKQxx, Axxxx, Kx and thought the hand too good for michaels. And RHO didn’t think he had a raise over 2H with: xxx, Jxx, Kx, Qxxxx.

If I reopen with the double (that most people here, including myself, think is obvious at all forms of the game) my opponents may now find their cold game. And – if I do not reopen, is it possible that my opponents may think I passed on purpose due to my partner’s hesitation? And wouldn’t we then have gained from partner’s hesitation?

If ever one had a textbook reopening double, then surely this hand is it. And, I am not at all certain why reopening is for “our side” rather than theirs. I’ve seen many players hesitate with a hand where I cannot imagine why they were thinking – but – think they did.

It seems to me that being as true as possible to bidding your hand as you would in the absence of any other extraneous information is playing the game as ethically and honorably and as close to the rules as is possible.

Another type of hand? That would be a different story. But – not this hand.

Paul CroninApril 4th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I firmly believe that “ethics” always trumps “bridge”, and hence no matter what “bridge” calls for here, “ethics” calls loudly and clearly for a pass. Shakespeare was not a life master, but he was certainly a master of life, and he had it right when he had Polonius say “This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 4th, 2011 at 4:53 pm


When you suggest partner of the opening spade bidder might hitch (euphemistic for huddle) with the weak spade hand, you are approaching the twilight zone where nothing is believable. I can’t imagine one in a hundred would hesitate with such a hand. Depending on style, one might pass or bid 2S (or even a Bergen 3S). It’s the one with the goodies that has the message to get across, as in this case.

Maybe I watched Norman, Edgar and Bobby too long and their ethics got contagious, but Norman, especially, always said “it is automatically wrong to re-enter the auction taking advantage of an insurance policy.” His words still ring in my ears.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 4th, 2011 at 5:03 pm


You are in good company. Bobby so often quotes Shakespeare and if ever a passage could be applied to a real life situation, this would be the torch-bearer!

Bobby WolffApril 4th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Hi Paul,

Indeed The Bard’s sentiments, especially as beautifully described by you, basically sums up the direction I hope bridge is destined to go.

Rather though, than get caught up in an intense philosophical debate between friends, perhaps we can all see the underlying cause and effect.

In spite of it being said many times (way too often) that there is no bridge law against studying long and then passing (sometimes called hesitation disruption, HD) the fault only lies in partner taking advantage of that unlawful exchange of unauthorized information aka UI.

Without HD no one will usually have a problem and bridge and its ethics may still survive, but as you have properly linked the use of UI with being false to everyone in the loop perhaps (Hell, not perhaps, but rather most assuredly so) we, as bridge elders, should call a no trump a no trump and at least try and discourage HD from occurring, by unanimously coming out against it, or even, bite my tongue, consider finding a way to penalize it.

Once HD leaves the building, proper ethics multiplies and, at least in my, yours and Shakespeare’s world everyone will live happily ever after, or at least until the bad guys start to out number the good ones.

Just to clarify my thoughts, there is nothing in the world wrong, IMHO, of the opening spade bidder reopening with a double (poster child example of one); the thing wrong is the imparting of UI, which, in turn, makes the playing of bridge a far less honest and fun enterprise than it is without those unfortunate interlopers present.

Robert E. HarrisApril 4th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

The reference to E6 makes me think there is a code with numbered items. I can’t find it on the ACBL web site. Is there such a code? If there is, where can I find it?

Judy Kay-WolffApril 5th, 2011 at 7:18 am


I looked for E6 as well. The facillity of checking things out on the ACBL site are conducive to frustration. However, what difference would it make?

How can anyone argue that the hitcher intimated he or she wanted to do SOMETHING but was not sure exactly what. The eventual pass and the reopening double took care of all possibilities. If, in fact, there is an E6 somewhere in the wild blue yonder, it should be amended to protect both partnerships — but more importantly, the honor of the game itself. Excuses! Excuses!

Robert E. HarrisApril 5th, 2011 at 7:58 am

I’d like to have a more codified list for active ethics. It would, at the club level, make it maybe easier to conduct player education. “Look here! It says right here at E6 that you must not hesitate and then pass if you would like your partner to do something! And don’t hesitate if you want your partner to do nothing. Bid in tempo!” Some sort of friendly advice might do some good. I do a lot of directing in our local very small club games. I write essays about various parts of the game suitable for a bunch of mostly weak players (i. e., mostly modern LMs; I’m one.) I’d like to get rid of the many problems that come up from people not knowing their systems, not knowing how to behave in many other ways, including inappropriate questions.

We had a player, now long dead, who used to ask, “What is the range?” after an opening 1NT, but only if he had a good hand. The announcement rule and death, between them, took care of that. At least there I have an educational explanation for the announcement rule. I’d like more.

Bobby WolffApril 5th, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hi Robert,

You’ve just come clean by disclosing your reasons for action, and I, for one, heartily approve, since the combination of your job description, status and essay writer make you the right influential person to carry our flag.

To make a good thing even better, your bridge morality looks to be top drawer, not to mention your enthusiasm in getting it done.

Only one caveat for you to ponder! Since there are many out there (certainly including the ACBL in general with their paranoia over keeping our game going at all costs, catering to seniors by NEVER explaining to them their duties to bridge ethics, and oversimplifying all bridge player’s responsibilities to the game itself) as well as some bridge club owners who are equally fearful of losing any customers (even unethical ones), and never wanting to confront all players by discussing wrongdoing, it makes it such that straight shooters like yourself should use both imagination and what you consider mandatory rules and regulations so that the actual playing of our great game will not be adversely effected. It cries out for you, with all of the support we, and other purists, can muster together to make sure our game is in the proper hands and should allow you to use your own aggressive judgment in the interpretation of the rules that must be followed!

In other words, Give em Hell Har(ris)

Gary M. MugfordApril 5th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Judy (and Bobby),

I’m not responding to the original post, but more to Bobby’s in line responses here. I think Judy’s got a bee in her bonnet and with good reason as serial hitchers are a bane on the game. But taken into isolation, this hitch stretches the limits of gamesmanship and places the onus of the hitcher’s partner to act almost against the boundaries of good bridge in the wrong way. And that doesn’t benefit ethical bridge playing either. And no, I don’t have a real-world answer to the question that doesn’t have flaws in and of itself.

Until the day when we are all somehow playing on computer systems that only show the three next bids once it’s your turn again, can this particular problem be abated. That takes the humanity (and for some, the fun) out of actually congregating in a single area and playing bridge. Bridge is a game of information and try as we might, we all extract it via different ways than uttering combinations of 14 words and agreements over what patterns of card play are supposed to mean. We look for hitches when we lead a jack towards dummy’s ace-ten. We all take into account the lack of bidding as we count to a maximum of 11 in a defender’s hand. We all take into account the lack of a lead-directing double in a slam bidding situation. We all play the nine from J-9-4-2 to create a potential two-way finesse for a declarer, afterwhich, the declarer then spends a moment or two deciding if we are actually good enough to make that play (Sydney Isaacs once decided I wasn’t). All of the above, save the queen-seeking play are legitimate. Which one of the above do you see most often?

I have a reputation in the local community for quick (and some would say, thoughtless) play. I tend to spend my time thinking about my next bid/play while the rest of the action is going on. As a result, barring some very unforeseen circumstances, I’m ready with a bid or a play in my very quick tempo. However, if I AM caught surprised, I’ll think an extra second or two. Maybe five seconds in some cases. In almost every case, my partner would know I have an unusually thorny problem that I didn’t anticipate. To the opposite pair, the hitch would be unnoticable. I’ve never had a director called to my table over a delayed action by me. Ever. I’m just not enough of a deep thinker. But I will tell you, I have hitched and I will hitch again. I just won’t get caught.

A lot of words have been spilled here and I would like more education from club directors and even the ACBL on the subject matter. But I don’t think it’s a ‘curable’ situation. But I do like much of what Bobby has written here in this thread and I hope a movement (a petition backed by bigger names than mine) might move the matter up the agenda list for that stodgiest of all stodgy organizations, the ACBL.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 5th, 2011 at 3:48 pm


I have bees in my bonnet about many things concerning the running of our game. That’s why Bobby calls me ‘honey’!


LuiseApril 5th, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Had partner not had a “hitch”, I would have doubled. I like my hand – shortness in the opponents suit, a good spade suit, tolerance for the other suits. I think it’s worth a second shot at competing for a part-score.

With partner’s “hitch”, I double anyway. I have no idea why he paused, and I don’t really care — it isn’t relevant to me one way or the other. Maybe he was daydreaming about his upcoming vacation in Sarasota next year at march break, who knows?? Knowing my partner, I can only assume that he was thinking about something completely unrelated to bridge and was “out of it” when it came to his turn to pass. That is my only logical conclusion that I can realistically make — because had he been concentrating and thinking on the game, he would have passed in tempo as he normally does.

Paul CroninApril 5th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Since nobody has clarified what E6 is, it is in the ACBL Code Of Disciplinary Regulations, Appendix B, Disciplinary Sanction Guidelines, Ethics

E6 Bid or play with the specific intent to achieve a poor result on that hand (CDR 3.2 and 3.7)

90 days Probation to 90 days Suspension 

PimoApril 6th, 2011 at 2:55 am

Trying to count the votes concerning this hand, it seems w/o counting a vote from the first listed Tom or a vote from the author and spouse, that it is 12 who would double and 6 who would not.


(1) Luise: hitch not relevant.

(2) Gary Mugford: not doubling is 2 anti-field.

(3) Peg: ethically required to re-open

(4) Max: pass is unreasonable over hesitation

(5) Tom: unethical to pass even over hitch

(6) Ellis: punishing partner on a hand where we have an obvious bid, should not be part of the active ethics scenario….I simply could not imagine not reopening with this hand so much so that I believe it is almost unethical to pass with it.

(7) Riki Tiki: I would make my normal call ( she is so lucky because she has only played with the greats of game, who never hesitate and then pass. )

(8) Jeff: the double is so automatic that the hitch can be disregarded for this round of bidding.

(9) Ben: While never to abandon active ethics, I was expected to make the bid I would normally make.

(10) Claus Hastrup: ( the only player who answered all 4 questions ): Double.

1st Tom: No sure whether he doubles or not over a hitch?

(11) Jane: The hand in question screams for a reopening double, and without any unusual hesitation, I would have done so. If my partner hesitates too long, I pass. But what is actually “too long”?

Bobby’s response to Jane: I agree that the hand in question calls for a back-in double and so, in spite of the tell from partner, it is perfectly OK to double. However it is not acceptable to not tell partner, in private, (even if it is a first time liaison) to please be more circumspect next time in his tempo.

(12) Pimo: Amen….

Problems that can arise from requiring the partner of the hesitater not to bid are two-fold: (1) Hesitate if you don’t want partner to bid, which is unethical and cannot be allowed. ( 2) The next hand to bid after the hesitation can always pass knowing that the auction will die, another potentionally terrible unethical scenario, which can be further enhanced by the question “How long is a hesitation?”.

I agree with the comment that a hesitation doesn’t bar a player from making a bid. It requires said player to be able to justify the bid.

I also agree that a comment to your hesitating partner such as ” DON’T EVER PUT ME IN THAT SPOT AGAIN!” is neccessary.

Bobby WolffApril 6th, 2011 at 4:27 am

Hi Pimo,

In my life’s experiences, all good things and at least a few potentially great endeavors, needed (take that word back) REQUIRED a mullah like you to sort out the wheat from the chaff and demand both reason and summation in order to move forward. Without you or at least someone reasonably close to who you are, we will forever be bound “in shallows and in misery”. To somewhat paraphrase, “Omitted all the voyage in our intent will be quashed unless we take advantage of the full sea in which we may now be afloat and earn our fortune”.

Let us together understand both what our great game is about and the nature and responsibilities of our ethical strictures, and then come together as a group without regard for how that leaves any one individual, but rather what positives such a thing will cause, by producing immediate successful results brought about by the respect we create from within.

Thanks Pimo for your oh so important work effort.

At the very least, this adventure should make us all pause and think and by so doing we will move forward, although, perhaps too slowly.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 6th, 2011 at 6:28 am


Thanks for your perseverance for learning what E6 is although I think it is totally irrelevant in this case. The hitcher had a problem which was obviated by his huddle.

He had no thoughts of dumping, but by his long huddle and no action got the message across loud and clear and the opener knew only good things could happen with a reopening double.

It is not easy being a director especially at a club. On the national level, Bobby is known to have said, there are too many foxes in the henhouse sitting on appeals committees and making the laws, allowing themselves just enough leeway to slip through the cracks and accomplish their purpose.

I look at the lists of people who serve on some of these appeals committes (foxes themselves or those who don’t ‘have the foggiest” and are not qualified to serve). So, I don’t have too much respect for many of the committees, rules and laws — including some unqualified club directors’ rulings. I have always been in favor of an appeals committee of the local gentry. At our club, there are enough qualified individuals who love the game and the shoe fits — relieving some of the directors from resolving issues on which they are mostly unqualified. Anyone can read from a book. It is the judgmental capability that creates the diffference.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 6th, 2011 at 7:07 am


It was above and beyond for you to analyze the different responses and reasons for their actions. However, statistics like these prove nothing to me. A few of them have no clue as to how the game operates (or should operate) and many of the answers and suggestions, IMHO, were inane.

As you may or may not know, Bobby is President Emeritus of the WBF Appeals Committee, was President of the WBF and ACBL, sat on the ACBL Board until moving over to the presidency of the WBF, has served on more rules, laws, advisory and appeals committees in sixty years than you can shake a stick at. He was also unanimously elected to the WBF Committee of Honour. He no doubt has made the greatest contribution to bridge (in every venue) .. more than anyone else in the world. His primary objective has always been honor and equity. HIs words are from the heart and his intent is pure and in the best interests of the game.

All he wants is the restoration of our once-beautiful hobby to its original status of majesty and glory — not the sham of today. Money, professionalism, mediocrity of goals and their inept handling, politicos and personal agendas (oh my heavens, yes!!!!!!!!!) and the other negative factors that have crept beneath the surface to bring us the game of today — which certainly make the loyal people in the know not too proud!

Getting back to your comments, the only thing that matters is that this issue is resolved and huddles don’t set the order of the day as it changes the splendor and beauty of the original game which I consider a criminal offense.

If it continues in the direction it is headed, I would rather see it die a slow death.

Derek WardApril 6th, 2011 at 7:50 am

Would you expect hesitator’s partner to pass if he held a better hand, say AKQ84 _ AJ62 AJ109?

PimoApril 6th, 2011 at 7:57 am

As I said in my own blog, world peace maybe easier to resolve than educating people to the beauty of bridge. Judy, thank you for your remarkable blogs and it is wonderful to have someone with Bobby’s brillance to offer insight after insight that goes far beyond experience and enters the world of logic. Logic is a beautiful science. Thank you both for your kind words. See ya when we get home……

Judy Kay-WolffApril 6th, 2011 at 10:38 am


Obviously your example hand is about the strongest example of what an automatic modern day reopening double should look like. In the distant past this hand would instead have responded with a cue bid of 3 hearts, but we must keep in mind that an original double by partner would have been for penalties.

Also make no mistake that the original example is also a prototype reopening double (without any histrionics).

However, why is it so hard for others to see what is important? One, two or even one hundred hands are not at all newsworthy. What needs to be done is that tell tale hesitations (or hitches) followed by a pass MUST not only be discouraged, but instead eliminated! Otherwise, our game becomes farcical.

It seems to me from decades of experience that now and for many years hitchers have gained mightily (rather than became victims) from their unethical actions.

Unless strong words followed by discipline for non-compliance now should be the order of the day to try and make up for years of apathetic behavior toward transgressors. Rome is definitely burning and it is our great game that is on fire.

Is it already too late? Possibly, but still worth a try to put out the roaring blaze.

And, just for the record, the hand you cited: (AKQ84 _ AJ62 AJ109) is a far cry from the actual hand given.

EllisApril 10th, 2011 at 9:28 am

For any one that wanted to know where E6 is its in the ethics portion of the ACBL disciplinary code, I provode the link below


EllisApril 10th, 2011 at 9:39 am

As to the rest of this conversation, It certainly has reached the twighlight zone. The point of active ethics in these situations is more about createing a self policing attitude than about ruling the game.

That being said there is no need to arrest yourself for making a regular bid, If the self policing states that you must arrest yourself every time partner huddles, wether you have your bid or not, every bid now becomes suseptible to a committee( he said /she said, was there a pause wasnt there a pause) and every hand now ends up being decided by a director.

The point is if you have your bid, you have to make it and if you dont have your bid you cant make it, if it border line you cant make it. But bringing a hand which is not border line as an example, and continuing to defend it as an example means that you probably advocate changing the law to if it hesitates shoot it. And this is entirely unacceptable as has been proven in horrendous decisions that have changed the outcomes of Major events. Changing the outcome of an event by comittee is never a good idea and should be avoided at all costs if at all possible.

EllisApril 10th, 2011 at 10:11 am

It would seem that you are also advocating the possibility of the 2 way shot for the opponnets of the huddler, they are now free to take any ridiculous call tjhey desire and shout huddle afterwards when it doesnt work out for them.

I have seen enough of these situations to turn my stomach, Lets leave the rules as they are, that after the huddle you need to believe you have your bid( yes this would demand a certain level of personal integrity) and let us continue to beleive that people have personal integrity until proven otherwise.

I am not sure I want to live or play in a world where my starting point is people are integrally dishonest.

Bobby WolffApril 10th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Hi Ellis,

In my vague hope of stating a case, most readers will understand what I am saying; eventually they will exhibit whatever proper reasoning is to be ultimately adopted, and the universal bridge world, particularly the ones who take the game seriously and are not looking for edges, will realize what is involved, think it through completely and accurately, and then arrive at a just decision. I will finally be a happy man.

No, I do not believe if it hesitates kill it, but rather each case needs to be decided on its individual merit, and always in a consistent way, which in turn, will benefit a game which is different from all other games, and NEEDS to be played with strict ethical rules with no room for chicanery — sometimes called


In the hand in question, when some otherwise reasonably experienced player has been dealt, xx, Qxxx, Axxx, Kxx and hears the bidding go 1 spade by partner, 2 hearts by RHO, there are various possible actions to take:

1. 2 spades- conservative for values, aggressive for spade holding.

2. 2NT-aggressive for values, only 1 heart stopper (poor heart intermediates) and therefore not quite good enough for this action.

3. Double-Which is about right in distribution except for no 4th club instead of a 4th heart and about the right strength, but because of the missing club is certainly not perfect.

4. Pass-BUT ONLY IF MADE IN TEMPO, because otherwise, unlike the 3 previous choices above, a pass becomes tempo sensitive and my guess is that 90%+ players who have been playing tournament bridge longer than one year are aware of the problems involved with breaking tempo by selecting a pass when there are other alternatives.

Therefore for a bridge organization to allow such choices as a slow pass should demand his (her) partner to lean over backwards to not take advantage of the 100% possibility of partner wanting to bid something, but then choosing to pass.

Yes, partner had a prototype reopening double, and I am NOT here to tell you or anyone else he cannot make that bid, but for bridge to even begin to be played fairly by all players something must be done, like red and green lights at street corners, to suggest to all players their ethical responsibilities to stop for red lights and in bridge, to NOT take advantage of unauthorized information.

What is probably the worst thing for the ACBL (or the neighborhood bridge club) to do is be mamby pamby about enforcing a rule, without which bridge becomes not only a free-for-all but a game no otherwise thinking player would want to play, since it becomes (in many cases) an advantage to do exactly what the player in question (holding that hand) did, and that is to pass after creating a break in tempo, which from a certain point of view albeit not ethically, is the perfect choice.

I, and certainly Judy, would pass the opening bidder’s hand when it came back to me, not because it is good bridge, but something MUST be done to educate the slowee on his responsibility to not do what he did.

ALL PLAYERS must learn early from either their mentor, teacher, partner, tournament director, bridge club owner, or directly from the ACBL itself the ethical requirements necessary to enter tournaments, which if done properly will be like how a baby learns to walk or to eat.

Without the above happening, our game is less than a shell of what it is when all players are aware of what needs to be done and all join together to make sure it happens.

If any one person wonders and may even suggest, what if the hesitator does not know what he is doing, I will say, without fear of contradiction that anyone who thinks that would also believe there is not now nor ever has been a cow in my beloved home state of Texas.

As to the exact handling of transgressions in this frequent happening, I have no original thing to say, other than to start with NEVER allowing the breaking in tempo and then advantage-taking opponents to EVER get the best of any ruling. As a brief aside, I am not in favor of the non-offending side getting a windfall result either, making it so at matchpoint duplicate that the matchpoints on that board not usually up to the total worth of one board, but rather less than one.

A possible solution might be like some municipalities enforce with dogs in the community, “They are entitled to one free bite and then after that the dog owner and unfortunately, also the dog should be subject to proper and certain discipline, if the dog then bites again.

And like the dog bite rule above, the real culprits are the dog owners (bridge mentors, teachers and partners) not the poor dumb animal himself.

Without the above in place and transparent as well as visible to all who play our game, socially or competitively, we players are all spinning our wheels even to just show up to play.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 10th, 2011 at 4:42 pm


I didn’t need help in finding E6 under the Disciplinary Code as that is not the problem. It is in the interpretatation of such words which very few directors (particularly at the club level) are capable of sifting out.

Over half a century, I had some pretty exceptional role models whose bridge expertise and manners I witnessed and no one is going to change my way of thinking regarding ethical standards — especially where my LHO goes into a trance before passing. Gotcha pard –message received!

EllisApril 10th, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Bobby I accept your point that you personally would pass with this hand, and therefore deem it appropriate as an example.

But I remain distanced from you on the ethical point of passing a hand that I beleive is an obvious bid.

I agree with you on any hand which is border line or even close to border line, but passing with a hand which is an obvious bid in order to point out a correct type of ethical behaviour seems unfair to the field to me.

Personaly on this hand i would chose to bid and point out to my partner, that had I not had an obvious bid I would have been forced to pass. On other hands I would just pass and point out the same thing to partner later.

Bobby WolffApril 10th, 2011 at 8:14 pm


I have understood what you believe ever since the first time you said it.

My point is that correcting one person (even a borderline innocent party) is worth the next 100 hands being matchpointed in a skewed way by steering the ship into the clear open seas so that errant players now not only becomes honest citizens, but also tidies up the game itself to being playable for the next period of time.

Unethical play has been going on since Vanderbilt turned Auction Bridge into the potentially great game of Contract Bridge (witness the old New Yorker magazine cartoons by Webster) and is worth a few bumps in the road (slightly skewed matchpointing) just for the learning experience.

By so doing, the theory of Active Ethics will be contagious and the thing to do, especially for groups of players who had learned to do whatever is necessary, following their lead from others, to increase their chances of getting good boards.

When one runs into a full fledged bridge cheat and sets his sail in the right direction (which has happened some number of times with me, mainly because of the recorder system which was set up by and for me to go to work) the result would have to be seen up close to fully appreciate the good it has done for the future of our game.

And whether you care to admit it or not when a player hesitates and then passes in an obvious tempo sensitive situation that person symbolizes the mentality of what all bridge cheaters possess, a win at all cost mentality. Of course, they need to have their partners do the obvious thing after their unethical study, but the temptation becomes as overwhelming and addicting as alcohol, drugs, gambling or what Tiger Woods fell victim to, sex.

Cut the head off (I’m only talking about unethical conduct now, not Mrs. Bobbitt’s aggressive behavior) and the disease dies.

So, Ellis, at least to me your discussion about being compelled to make one’s normal bid is a non-sequitur in the cure, which can be the only worthwhile goal to set the playing of bridge free and return it to the best it can be.

EllisApril 10th, 2011 at 9:55 pm

For the last hour or so Ihave been giving this particualr conversation a lot of thought.

These are my thoughts. Two people are having a reasonable debate about reopening a particular hand , both about the ethical dillema of the particular hand and reopenibng in gemeral after a huddle. They have oppossing views on this particular situation but in gemeral agree on about 99.99% of situations.

Fast forward to a regional in the wild blue yonder, A person reopens in a very similar situation, the opponents of that person call the director and the director after having consulted peers of the reopener allows the bid to stand.

The opponents remembering this debate will think

1. that some players get more favorable rulings from directors than others.

2. They will think that Bobby Wolff would never reopen and as that is the gold standard, then this person that did reopen is somehow unethical.

3. They may or may not repeat these feelings in public to other players

That is how rumours start about players ethical standards.

In the ethics of the fathers a book roughly 2500 years old, A question is asked ” Who is a wise man” the answer is “One who forsee`s the consequences of his actions.”

Now given that some consequences are more likley than others and I am unlikely to get as luckky as a certain Mr Woods. i still hold true to the core belief that most people are honest, and that if it was even close Iwould pass, but that active ethics can not and should not force me to take an action that is devoid of bridge logic to me.

Bobby WolffApril 11th, 2011 at 3:38 am


For the Lord’s sake, as depicted by you in the 2500 year old book on the ethics of the fathers, it may say, or at least should, that the bridge logic of a random hand made totally suspect by the errant and unethical handling by would be rascal(s), has nothing to do with the specific bridge on that hand, but rather the future of the game itself as an unique and important part of a group of people’s love for a competitive endeavor whose parent organization, the WBF, has seen fit to label, Bridge for Peace, as pertaining to the World.

What difference are a few scattered skewed match points compared to doing away with a continuing evil which by and unto itself has been a plague on the game at every level of play and threatens, together with its big brother of consummate stealthy cheating, to lessen the game into impotency and worthlessness.

Just how long will genuine and determined actively ethical volunteers cozy up side by side with decent but difficult and argumentative sidekicks when it is almost impossible to infiltrate the minds of others (still worth saving) to give up their built-in toy, which, at least to them, is the road to better results.

Just contemplating the senseless human conditions which constantly spurs on miscreants of every level to try and take advantage of the game itself by not complying, is enough to pale the senses of everyone who would oppose them.

Are the bridge clubs, which almost by definition, are committed to deal with all bridge players from beginners to the very few top level players, destined to not have total support from people like you, who love the game and certainly appreciate the need to play it ethically, but still insist on less than the discipline necessary to rid bridge of its mortal enemy?


EllisApril 11th, 2011 at 7:46 am

Actually that particular book abhores all games of chance and certainly anything one might wager on or play for money, so maybe it wasnt a great example 🙂

As to not insisting on the discipline neccasary to enforce the rule of law, I beg to differ. Not only do i chair the C&E Comittee in one of the biggest clubs in America, we are one of the few clubs that actually has one, and one of the few clubs that is prepared to put together a post game committee for appeals. All of this mostly at my insistance.

My only limit , is that I would refuse to find a person guilty of infraction in order to prove a rule.

Now if at some point the ACBL laws commission changes its rules, to all hesitations of more than x number of seconds neccesitates an automatic pass, I will uphold that law too, but until that time I beleive the rule of law insists that we judge each hand on its own merit.

Bobby WolffApril 11th, 2011 at 10:03 am

Hi again Ellis,

The Laws Commission, as you well know, could or would not make such a silly law, thereby treating all law administrators like idiot children, incapable of sorting out right from wrong.

For certainly the last thing I intend to say on this subject, at least in my writing to you, is that I am not in favor of penalizing anyone, only trying to educate all players on their responsibilities to the game itself so that, at least they are on notice to quit giving unauthorized information to partner for their own personal gain, but if after being warned, that person or persons continues to take advantage then some relatively severe discipline must be given, otherwise everything bad for bridge will continue to occur.

However your last comment reminded me of something I recently discussed with Judy (yesterday) when I was reading about still another sizable earthquake hitting poor Japan.

While motoring home in Dallas years ago in late afternoon during a tumultuous weather day, along a major thoroughfare, I approached a red light ahead while looking at a tornado violently heading right for that very intersection. As I weaved in and out between several cars waiting patiently at that red light, my horn was honking, trying to get them to run through that light to at least some safety.

Perhaps, since doing such a thing is basically breaking the law you would advise them to continue to wait. I’ll never know for sure what happened since I hightailed it home and arrived safely, but since I did not read about any terrible results from that summer tornado, I assume nothing awful occurred.

However, perhaps you get my point.

EllisApril 11th, 2011 at 10:30 am

I always get your points, I even agree with your general outlook for the final outcome of where we should end up.

Ijust sometimes disagree with your methodolgy for acheiving that end.

Bobby WolffApril 13th, 2011 at 2:55 am

Hi still, Ellis,

First of all, I lied when I suggested that my previous comment was my last one to you.

As long as you play into the strengths and desires of probable evildoers, your methodology simply cannot work and consequently is born dead.

When you validate this or that reason for allowing even the possibility of UI to be exchanged, you are conceding victory to the enemies of bridge as both of us know it.

Witness OJ Simpson and now likely Barry Bonds in the real world. They both have found ways to overcome the brutal truth, ironically by taking advantage of the American way, and in the case of Barry by using his individual talents, made greater by his illegal activities, to earn the money to pay the best lawyers which, in turn will secure their freedom, even if it, like OJ is only temporary.

Still more ironically, in the case of OJ, the great American system had to contrive deceit and miscarriage themselves in order to right the wrong and get the Postman to ring twice.

I would choose, as should you, to go through the front door, to keep would be miscreants from practicing their evil art in the form of creating UI for their own partnership’s benefit.

You show me someone who thinks the bad guys are only victims of their own slow wittedness and inexperience and I’ll show you a bridge (no pun intended) I will like to sell you.

Again, and for the umpteenth time, whether or not a partner reopens with whatever hand he happens to hold, has nothing to do with the problem and should not be even a consideration, but instead, the ILLEGAL passing of UI MUST be so discouraged that it will soon, if not immediately, be eliminated from our game.

If you do agree with me then stop serving as a bridge lawyer to those petty cheats and, of course, if you don’t agree, then all I can say is GO FISH, but please, do not dispute your obvious acquiescence to them, even if that was not your intention.

EllisApril 13th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Not only do I dispute what you said, but I find it suprising.

You state categorically that any bid over a BIT should be stamped out and never allowed, because a BIT constitues UI

I simply suggest that this is not always the case, and you accuse me of being a bridge lawyer to petty cheats and acquiessence to chicanery. I think you have overstepped my mark of civil debate.

Bobby WolffApril 13th, 2011 at 9:57 pm


You seem to be the one who is getting angry, when the only person totally confused is you.

Where have I ever suggested anywhere, what you claim is the way I think.

Since, when UI occurs, or for that matter partnerships forget the meaning of their conventions causing what I have always called, convention disruption (CD), bridge as we know it, stops.

The UI created is there for all at the table to see and feel, from that point in the bidding and then often into the play and defense where illicit information is now known to the perceptive people at the table to basically use as they so please. What about the game of bridge? Shouldn’t it matter enough to those who play it, to keep it so it is worth still being played.

And then we have UI’s first cousin CD, wherein the pair causing it, has decided to play conventions that at least one of the two players either do not understand what they are supposedly playing or even if they do, everyone at the table will have a different conception of where the cards are based on the sloth of the Cders, not to mention their lazy approach to the game itself.

Just how should we adjudicate UI or CD, and while you are trying to figure it out, let me help you along by saying it is impossible to do and bridge will suffer the most by continuing to ignore this travesty.

Let me go further by saying, since many conventions are sometimes used defensively to theoretically suggest a possible non-vulnerable sacrifice, making it such that usually only the good hands of the opponents are disrupted by the misuse of conventions, an example being that some bid is announced as the black suits, but in actuality is the pointed suits which may easily influence the strong hands to be very wary of the final contract. These ploys are determined by some around the world partnerships (with the USA not immune) wherein so-called poison gas labs are set up to throw monkey wrenches into the opponents bidding machinery with little risk to them, but significant damage to the opponents. All of the above is illegal, but so what with executives like you in the mix who totally believes in everyone’s honesty.

I have never given an opinion on how to handle the partner of an UI giver, who actually tries to bid his hand as he sees it. If pressed, I would find it hard to penalize anyone who apparently was caught in the switches (like one of the recent hands) and was only trying to bid his hand normally. There is one major CAVEAT, however and that is the innocent partner needs to either persuade his partner to not give UI again or he himself should turn his partner in for what could be intentional violation of necessary common sense rules.

By far the biggest reason for me to try and avoid getting into the penalty phase is that I am not any more qualified than you or anyone else in determining what a penalty, if any, should be given.

However, to again repeat what I have said, rather than what you claim that I have said, IMHO there is no easy remedy for either UI or CD and until we eradicate both of them, especially from the high-level game, we will have no high-level game to play.

Even though my suspicions still are that you, Ellis are certainly not evilly intended, but perhaps you can see that unless you either step down from your job or, at the very least, see the problems involved, you will become one of the Typhoid Mary’s of the past century that we all have read about, since whether you know it or not, you are standing in the way of a few of us, at least trying to correct a malady, which has, in fact, no easy cure.

May I suggest, that unless you take issue with any of the points that I have attempted to give, neither you nor I should continue beating this horse.

EllisApril 14th, 2011 at 12:38 am

the horse is dead, the only question is wether the rider knew about it before the horse hesitated. 🙂