Judy Kay-Wolff

GAMESMANSHIP! (which failed)

For those who have been following the Meckwell story on Bridge Winners (a site I always have a problem logging in) about the opponents not having written defenses on a routine convention, I find it nauseating to see so many blind a#!%-kissers and  the backing up of the intimidation of opponents which went on all too often in bygone days.   Fortunately, that practice has lessened in the last numbers of years, since back then it caused lesser experienced players to lose their concentration and become even easier prey to their famous opponents.

However, in this recent case, occurring during the Vanderbilt, where the heavily favored team was losing (and BTW went on to lose by 70+ IMPs), it was again attempted and while the offense was not what could be considered grounds for severe discipline, the aforementioned blind supporters came out of the woodwork to back up their well-known heroes.  Finally. when two unimpeachable live kibitzers related and confirmed that the famous partnership, after causing an unwarranted commotion demanding written defenses to which the TD jumped tall buildings to get them, the ACBL defenses (which their opponents were supposed to provide) then instead pulled out their own defenses they had been using for years and went on from there.

To those fantasy hero followers, “There are none so blind as those who refuse to see” and without their unjust support may someday convince the intimidators that perhaps what they are doing is a long way from they should be representing because of their stature — “ACTIVE ETHICS”, not the opposite.


JodyMarch 26th, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Judy, perhaps you are not using the right browser. For quite a while they told me that Internet Explorer was not accepted, use Mozilla or Google Chrome. Finally, Firefox worked (Mozilla) which I already had and didnt know about (not a nerd) I really dont like the new site as well, always having to tweak tho. Like you, I not a kick out of the responses to “gamesmanship.” I must hand it to the poster, though, going where angels fear to tread.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 26th, 2012 at 7:24 pm


I’ve missed you. I was beginning to worry. Yes, I don’t leave much unsaid and the continuing ways of the AKs has gotten to me. Everyone is so afraid to step on the big toes for fear of getting on the wrong side of them (and in many cases depriving themselves of professional referrals if they become available).
This leads to another subject which is much too involved to get into now.

TimMarch 27th, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Geoff Hampson provided an explanation in that thread on BridgeWinners:
“Meckwell were at the next table when this happened. They requested the written defense because the approach that they use at the table begins with ‘option 2’ and continues with their own followups.”

Presumably he’s one of the “a#!%-kissers”?

DannyMarch 28th, 2012 at 6:07 pm

If enforcing the rules is gamesmanship, then maybe the rule needs changing

Ellis FeigenbaumMarch 29th, 2012 at 6:23 am

Not so sure any of the above is relevant.
The rule states that defences must be given ( I am of the opinion that this is a bad rule) However it is the rule.
Mr Rodwell is on the laws comittee, it would be pretty unreasonable for him to overlook a rule which he is ultmately reponsible for.
Wheras I might pass on this one, because I have agreed defences and I dont particularly need the acbl defences. And even though it feels like gamesmanship, I am not sure we can hold Mr Rodwell to the standard of disregarding a laws comission requirement just because it might sound like upholding it could posibly sound unethical.
As long as our top players are consistent in their behaviour, then I beleive we should have no problems.
It is only when that behaviour changes to suit the situation that problems may arise. Meckwell are consistent in the requirement for defences.

Robb GordonMarch 29th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

The “written defenses” rule was not promulgated by the Laws Commission. It would fall under the aegis of the ACBL Competition and Conventions Committee, which is responsible for Conditions of Contest. Mr. Rodwell is NOT a member of CaC, however Mr. Meckstroth is.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 29th, 2012 at 4:50 pm


Thanks for correcting Ellis and I guess others on the chain of command involving the Laws Commission, the Competitions and Conventions Committee and a few other specific groups involved.

Until everyone realizes how self-serving and unilateral many (most) of our top experts are concerning making the rules, required behavior, and laws regarding responsibility for International and lesser, national, conditions of contest to favor the specific talents of the power brokers in charge, coupled with intimidation at the table, bridge lovers such as many of the current bloggers who offer comments, we will be wandering around in the desolate desert of despair.

By far the majority of the commentary to be read above is delivered by worthwhile bridge devotees who truly love the game. Not so by too many of the bridge professionals who regard their money earned in a much higher manner than doing what is good for our country and especially bridge as we have come to know it.

Also bear in mind, I have been on the scene for fifty some years and go back to the times of Edgar and Norman where I witnessed some of the shenanigans with my own eyes while kibitzing. While the table ethics have markedly improved in the last recent number of years, the reason for playing the game, including mediocre sponsors, representing the USA and participating at the world level, have resulted in a travesty and a true bastardization of the high level competition.

Enough said.

Ellis FeigenbaumMarch 30th, 2012 at 3:19 am

1. I dont beleive the defence to multi requirement was made as a shenanigan, It was made because there is a severe opposition to multi in its entirety by the some of the highest level competitors and coachs in our game. There are those that would have it banned and abolished out of hand.
2. So requesting and providing a defence is just part and parcel of playing the game in the US. Much the same as having 2 filled convention cards. The likelehood is I could get away without having a convention card at all in a national event, but i wouldnt get passed round 2 in a regional event.However requsting 2 filled cards would never be thought of as gamesmanship but just part of the game.

bobby wolffApril 2nd, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Hi Ellis,

1. I believe the use of Multi should be allowed all around the world, and especially in the USA, if for no other reason then that it is played by a large percentage of very good players from Zone 1 (Europe).

2. However there should be an ethical requirement by Multi players not to construct a poison gas lab with the way that they choose to play it.

3. One of the dubious features, created by wannabe winners is that when one of the partners opens a Multi 2 diamonds and after pass, his partner responds 2 spades, which normally suggests for partner to continue to 3 hearts if his weak two bid suit is hearts, but pass 2 spades if spades is his suit. However, lets pretend that the original 4th suit opponent now overcalls 3 clubs or 3 diamonds.

4. Technically speaking the opener should still bid 3 hearts holding a normal 2 heart opening but pass if his suit is spades. If a partnership plays something different the opponents need to be alerted to that effect, otherwise the Multi bidders logic is skewed.

5. When no alert occurs both opposing partners have a vested right to assume that the Multi bidders suit is spades and can use a spade bid as an unbiquitous force asking partner for more information and in most cases usually announcing to each other that the hand belongs to them, not to the opening Multi bidders.

5. However, those Multi players who have nefarious intent do not feel obliged to alert and at the same time, whether it is true or not, may likely say that they do not view their obligations and responsibilities to so do.

6. As of my last check, the powers that be have not addressed this difficult, but frequent problem, and so from my perch, if they do not feel compelled to take that action, I do not feel duty bound to suggest Multi becoming legalized for Zone 2 (North America)

7. It is OK for fun loving, not contentious, bridge players to feel however they want to about this subject, but it is NOT OK for our administrators to not try and correct this situation which in effect takes away a very important defensive tool away from the non-Multi pair.

8. Some players argue about not having defenses presented to them, even though they have played many hands against Multi using their own defenses, and yet those same players make absolutely no effort to correct certain wrongs which, in turn, will serve to make our game better and above all, more ethical.

9. Everyone is entitled to do what he wants, but if our game is to be played and loved, it must be always played in an ethical and straightforward way with all shady holds barred, or else bridge is not worth playing and above all, never be referred to as a gentlemans (and ladies) game.

Ellis FeigenbaumApril 5th, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Practical question about point 4. If you are playing multi, would there not be a difference between a week 2h bid say 5-7 points and a stronger one say 8-10.
Surely the correct alert then might be, pass means partner is at the bottom of the weak 2h range or has spades. Then 3cl/d pass pass x, ( the x again would be correct to your suit or pass for penalties if holding defensive values) Not sure if this makes practical sense , but it seems logical.

bobby wolffApril 6th, 2012 at 12:31 am

Hi Ellis,

While I do not have any significant quarrel with your suggestion or something close, it is very dangerous for a weak 2 heart bidder to leave his partner confused as to what suit his weak 2 bid suggested because the 2 spade bidder might have something like, x, KJxx, AKQxxx, xx (or much better for hearts than even this example) and before it gets back to the original responder the partner of the 3c/d intervenor gets raised to at least the 4 level and perhaps 5.

Now women and children should close their eyes when I might suggest that within these borderline partnerships who play multi there may even be a physical signal (or behind screens a noise) by the partner of the multi as to whether he cares or not which suit his partner really has. His mission would then be to only destruct the enemy from being able to intelligently reach their top contract.

Sorry to suggest that evil might lurk, but believe me, it does and the antidote starts with having the rules making it more difficult for them, and therefore not to be a piece of cake.

Women and children can now open their eyes and ears and come back to their fantasy world which, if left to the evildoers, would render bridge as you and I know it, unplayable, except perhaps by thieves.

My over/under guess in my rather long career is that I’ve encountered Multi (in around the world important pair and team events) perhaps on 50 different occasions, but the law of averages might estimate that only about 4 or 5 of those partnerships were wired. Please also remember my tendencies are to be both an optimist and therefore an underbidder.

I appreciate your interest and, at least the sharing of your thoughts on possible solutions.

Ellis FeigenbaumApril 6th, 2012 at 2:38 am

If pass of 3minor guarantees spades , then I must concur that it is totally alertable.
The way I learned multi in my european and obviously mis spent youth, was that 2sp shows a hand prepared to play in either 2sp or 3h, a hand stronger than this, would start by responding 2nt, so to a certain extent the 2sp bid is limited, but not junk.
As with all prempts sometimes they work, coming in at the 3 level with opps who have shown between 17 and 22 hcp between them on either side of you is still a scary proposition.

bobby wolffApril 6th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Hi Ellis,

Please excuse a little housekeeping on your last comment.

The pass of a 3 of a minor suit bid by the opener’s RHO after his partner’s 2 spade response is NOT alertable because it logically shows spades. Obviously if the pass does not, it becomes a mandatory alert, since that treatment would defy the whole intention of what multi is about.

The normal progression of events has transpired with the Multi invention of many years ago. First the bid is used in the beginning simple stages, until the poison gas labs take over and see what they can do with how to make it more effective, a euphemistic term for doing whatever they can do to get away with destruction, but doing it in a way which will only be caught by very experienced logical bridge experts.

The next stage continues with other rather naive proponents of the convention, who attempt to play it legitimately, only to realize what the poison gas labs have already taken advantage of, likely keeping them accepting it just the way it now is, because it is to their best interests.

The almost non existent bridge police have to fight tooth and nail to restore the basic ethics bridge needs in order just to survive. Most players, especially the top level professional ones are always looking for ways to improve their chances and, if possible, turn a deaf ear (reminds me of me), to finding solutions to a problem which has become beneficial to them.

What we need is a commission to do what is best for the game itself which has enough teeth in it to discipline evildoers and keep the game as safe as necessary. ANY VOLUNTEERS?