Judy Kay-Wolff


A friend of Bobby’s who is a good player, extremely knowledgeable and honorable and for years has fought incessantly for the maintenance of the morality of our game, sent him a copy of an abominable club ruling (not that it was so shocking to those in-the-know).    To emphasize how vehemently Bobby feels the game has fallen from grace, I want to share with you his reply to the writer — his “take” and strong critique of the incident.

The actual situation is unimportant to share, but Bobby’s outrage IS NOT!

“The actions of both the perpetrators of the heart contract, reached through impossible circumstances and with the obvious collusion of the TD’s are both individually and collectively a very sad day for our favorite game.”

“Nothing less than a sincere (public) apology should be demanded and received together with a letter of stepping down from any future tournament directing or advising,  To do less than that should be construed as a permanent glitch and irreconcilable conflict on the way tournament bridge is run at that venue, with everyone connected with affirming this decision, or even being a party to tolerating it, guilty of either or both, gross evil and off-the-charts ignorance.”



Danny KleinmanAugust 10th, 2012 at 5:13 pm

The perpetraitors were an established partnership who play many unusual conventions. Opener bid 2D, which was alerted and explained as showing a Weak Two-Bid in hearts … without the opponents having been pre-alerted and given an opportunity to devise a defense (e.g. double as takeout of hearts and 2H as Michaels). After responder bid 2H (logically and presumably showing a hand that would have passed an ordinary Weak 2H Bid), opener jumped to 4H, an action inconsistent with a Weak 2H Bid that could be based on either (a) some other hand type than the Weak Two-Bid described by his partner, or (b) unauthorized information from the tempo, facial expression or “body language” of his partner. Whereupon an opponent called the director (the wife of responder, who also happens to be a director at that club) and asked for protection. As it turned out, no protection was needed (the board was a dead average, with the result duplicated at nearly every other table though the contract was played from opener’s side after either a 1H or a 4H opening). However, the perpetraitors were not given any procedural penalty, and thus encouraged to continue their practices of either (a) misinforming opponents or (b) transmitting, receiving and utilizing unauthorized information.

Ellis FeigenbaumAugust 10th, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I am not sure what the exact nature of the problem is here Danny.
From what I understood from the above, either someone psyched a weak 2 bid in Hearts with a strong hand, or they missed half there hand before they took the first call. Assuming 2D actually means systemically a weak 2 in Hearts then the Director has to decide if there was any damage done to the oppossing side(Law 40 C1). If as you say there was no damage and this was a standard contract throught the room. Then the director has to decide wether this pair deserves a procedural penalty for continually forgetting agreements or misdescribing hands.(LAW 40 C3). Obviously I have no idea of whom we are talking and cannot judge the partnership without that knowledge.

peterlAugust 11th, 2012 at 2:32 am

It seems that Wolff’s view is that players of unusual conventions cannot also psyche them, forget them, field the psyches, etc.
Regardless of the current state of the laws of bridge, this seems reasonable to me. Players who use unusual conventions have an advantage over opponents; they are better prepared to use the conventions. Subjecting players who use unusual conventions to higher standards (no psyches, no forgets, must provide defense, must provide best explanation, etc.) probably restores equity to the game.

John Howard GibsonAugust 11th, 2012 at 5:07 am

HBJ : Personally , I’m appalled by the details of this bidding sequence ( as provided by commentator above ). Given that the 2H response could be based ON ZILCH, then something is amiss if the opener bids 4H.
Sure enough the opponents kept quiet , and so they might if each had a poor 10/11 count. Responder is known to not have opening points OR A HEART SUIT since he did not bid 2S. The opener might well have a tasty heart suit headed by the AKQ….. BUT even if he suddenly discovered a lurking diamond Ace to go with his other 4 diamonds headed by the jack say , jumping to 4H seems inexplicable and suspicious.
Unless the opener can justify this leap of faith on the basis of having no information about partner’s hand , I would record the incident with a big question mark over their bidding integrity……a pair to be watched in the future for sure.
It has always been my mantra that when a player makes a limit or pre-emptive bid he/she cannot and should not bid again unless responder’s bid demands it.

bobby wolffAugust 11th, 2012 at 5:47 am

Let me add what I think as even more substance to issue a reprimand and procedural penalty to the suspect pair.

1. When players decide to play an unusual convention or an unusual treatment of whatever they decide to play, the following should apply:

A. The opponents should be supplied a defense to that convention or treatment and that defense should be approved by a knowledgeable source before the session begins.

B. Psyching either the convention or a response to that convention or treatment should NOT be allowed.

C. Since tournament bridge needs to be taken seriously, even though most play it for fun, is an unalterable condition of play.

D. I was not there and only was told one hand, the opening bidder’s hand:
s. K9
h. AJ108xxx
d. Qxx
c. 10

Because of not knowing more than that, I will not comment on whether there was possible unauthorized information conveyed by nefarious means.

E. There are responsibilities present which must be accounted for by any partnership which plays a heretofore unusual convention (especially a home brew) and that is not to sneak up on, or otherwise make the bridge of it hard to understand because of the breach of normal bidding technique.

F. Tournament Directors (TD) at club games are usually the only source of teaching all who play in the game ethics and fairness to their opponents and what is expected and not expected of the individual partnerships.

G. When the TD summarily dismisses what happened here as not worth educating the subject pair it becomes the TD’s fault and all future hands played by that particular partnership become subject to the non-lesson learned here.

H. Like Typhoid Mary, TD’s who do not do their duty to insure the game they direct is played by actively ethical players who feel a responsibility to the rest of the field not to play conventions which have different twists and turns, which would have no chance of being understood by their opponents. Even though Typhoid Mary might have been considered innocent, others who came in contact with her soon learned that health officials were not doing their job in protecting them from close contact with her. Bridge can only turn to their administrative officials to do the necessary teaching and enforcing in order to make all ACBL events fair contests and not telling the subject pair they were wrong on all the above and to clean up their act, never to happen again, and while on this hand the matchpoints will stay the same, at least a small matchpoint procedural penalty needs to be given. Otherwise there is no need to even have a TD present.

All the above is necessary even though there was absolutely no evidence of any UI present.

In conclusion, some may think that this whole episode is much ado about nothing, but in reality, bridge teachers, mentors and partners
as well as all TD’s and general bridge club owners share the responsibility of running the cleanest games they can possibly run and to not do so is, at least to me, a severe violation which hurts our game in many different ways.

PimoAugust 16th, 2012 at 9:06 pm

What an unlucky hand. Four hearts looks to being played from the wrong side. I would give them their zero after the hand unless their minus was a naturally earned zero. Doesn’t seem to be the right weak two bid in hearts that is now worthy of a jump to four. Can’t think of any weak twos that would be worth the jump to game after this auction. For an experienced pair, they should respect the zero given and not complain. For an inexperienced pair, they need a few sessions against a stronger field, as well as their zero on this board. Shame on the director, the real perp in this crime….

Ellis FeigenbaumAugust 17th, 2012 at 7:09 am

Somehow I have been thinking about this hand for days, Obviously I have a massive disagreement with the ” weak 2 ” opening. This is not a weak 2 bid, this is a 1h opener followed by a 2h rebid over a forcing NT. it has a ten highs a six card suit and is a six loser hand,it has a cue bid available and has a positive key card response it basically covers all the bases and then some for opening 1h.
So i question the viability of the 2d sequence used by the partnership.
That being said and assuming no tempo breaks. one wonders about the validity of bidding 4h after 2 passes by the opponents. you can rate partner to be holding 9-11 hcp and you can also rate partner to be holding at least 2-3 covers. 4h might not be such a leap in the dark after all.
Now far be it from me to advocate continual abuse of system along with partners and opponents, but I would like to beleive i would be kind to my partner after he took a flyer with this hand, when opps had passed throughout.

bobby wolffAugust 18th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Hi Ellis,

While what you say is very little short of 100% of my view, and my guess, an opinion in which would be shared by a significant majority.

However, I think many of those same opinions would be subjected to the naivety of not being there and just assuming that all bids were made in the right tempo. My guess, though somewhat educated, is based on the body language displayed by the responder to the opening bid, which, if questioned, was likely denied.

What (at least I think) needs to be said is that players who contrive home brew types of conventions tend to (and perhaps even among themselves) discuss the help needed from partner in order for that particular treatment to be consistently successful. After all, to have preemptive value (without having to risk a 4 heart overbid) is more effective to open at the 2 level, as long as partner’s correction to 2 hearts becomes a read-out for partner to act on.

In other words, the title of Judy’s blog about Fagin and his school was not picked out of thin air and, even more certainly, was not coincidental.

Ellis FeigenbaumAugust 19th, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Maybe you are right, to be honest anyone that came up with the 2d bid to show specifically a weak 2 in hearts( even if it is a controlled weak 2- 2 of the top three at least a king outside) is either extremely naive about the effect of body language at non screened tables or extremely nefarious.
My personal preferences which obviously is tainted by my non US bridge upbringing
2cl 8 and half quicks 23 plus no more than 4 losers
2d Multi ( weak 2 in either major, or a balanced 21-22, or 8and a half tricks in either minor
2h flannery
2sp 5/6 spades and other four card suit including hearts
2nt 5/5 in the minors at least 10 highs concentrated in the minors.