Judy Kay-Wolff


In my recent blog of March 5th, entitled THE PURPOSE OF ALERT CARDS, it might interest you to read the following which appeared in the March 21st Daily Bulletin of the NABC that is presently being held in St. Louis.  What is printed below should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind how the ALERT PROCEDURE should properly be handled:

Bid Box Alerts and Announcements.  When using bid boxes, the ACBL requires that players tap the Alert strip and say “Alert” at the same time.  When making an Announcement, use the Announcement word (such as “transfer”) and tap the Alert strip at the same time.  A player who Alerts or Announces a bid must make sure his opponents are aware that an Alert or Announcement has been made.

Since the procedure has been questioned, the above should detail the protocol involving the ALERT CARD and spell out what is expected of the user.

Enuf said!


ReneMarch 22nd, 2013 at 2:47 am

Great to see it in writing. I had heard so many versions of what is proper. Good to see it made official.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 22nd, 2013 at 2:51 am


I too have heard different approaches as to how to use the Alert Card. Happy to see it clarified and have everyone on a level playing field.

Incidentally I saw some appeals cases at the Nationals (from their Daily Bulletins) where the alert card was involved.

It can be a real problem and often left to committees to adjudicate.

John Howard GibsonMarch 22nd, 2013 at 2:40 pm

HBJ : I cannot for the life of me believe that now some doubles are alertable ( penalties) while others are taken for granted as take-outs.
The alert ruling here is insane. Why don’t the bridge authorities allow a red double card for penalties, and a green double card for take out. THEN NOBODY IS IN THE DARK AS TO WHAT IS MEANT BY THE BID.
So alright then….the possible scenario of a player making a misinterpreted double, which his/her party forgets its meaning ( alert card popping out or not) might be a good reason for punishing them. But if partner can’t get in wrong then it is a good thing because it certainly wont confuse the opponents.
Complex alerting rules is enough to drive newcomers away from the game of bridge. So let’s bring back simplicity, clarity, fairness and a bidding box which has unequivocal clear cut bidding cards inside.
If a one heart overcall isn’t a heart suit perhaps a ” funny ” heart bidding card should be put into the box ……allowing the opponents to ask if they don’t know already what it means.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 22nd, 2013 at 4:03 pm

You are right, HBJ. However, there are some strange ones — like support doubles. That should be alerted. Also we play a couple of out-of-the-ordinary calls. For instance, over 1H, 1NT is not 100% forcing. If you have a mini 3-5-3-2, you can Pass, because if partner has a limit raise, even with 3 trump (opposite a known 5), he or she must jump to 3H. Also, over 1H, we don’t bid 1S without 5, so partner can bank on it being a 5 bagger and go on from there. Another treatment worth mentioning — over 1NT openers, 3H or 3S shows a singleton (not an ace or king) to serve as a warning that we may be weak in that suit and perhaps should be playing in a minor. It also denies 4 of the OM or we would use Stayman.

I agree that for newcomers, it can be intimidating, but this is the point in their bridge career (if handled appropriately and not offensively), that they will learn what protocol is all about.

Your idea of red and green alert cards (other than to celebrate Christmas) has some merit — but I doubt if that will be acceptable to the powers on high.

Yes, I agree it is a big problem as many do not comply — but my theory has always been a hard and fast one: what you know, the opponents are entitled to know as well. That should be the bottom line.

Nice hearing from you.


Jane AMarch 22nd, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I think support doubles, responsive doubles and maximal doubles need to be alerted, right? I assume it would also matter which other systems are being used, and partnership agreements. I am just getting used to not having to alert Puppet Stayman over two NT opens, but still have to remember to alert the responses. I hear people at our club say that they don’t know what to alert anymore.

A green double card would not work very well because our pass cards are green, and this would get confusing. Another color would be OK. Pretty soon, we would need a file box on the table if we tried to add enough cards to describe unusual system bids, and there are plenty of them out there.

I was not aware we needed to use the alert card when making announcement bids, so now I do. This does not happen at the clubs where I play, and did not happen at the recent tournament either, so we all need to be educated further. Can’t see a down side other than remembering to do it.

Thanks for the info.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 22nd, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Jane:

I agree with you that it is difficult to remember what requires an alert and what does not. I try to alert anything I suspect the opponents do not realize is out of the ordinary. For instance, if we play that 4NT is quantitative, then 5C is Gerber. If I know it — why shouldn’t they?

Everyone should be as conscientious as you when it entails protecting your opponents. I know what you are saying regarding the LVBW where we both play. It is hard to remember everything one is expected to alert, but little by little people are learning what is expected of them and we notice the ethics improving by leaps and bounds.

Incidentally, when strangers come to the table, I usually say we play Weak NT NV (12-14) and Strong NT VUL (15-17) and add that we play a few other gadgets to which we will alert them if the situation arises. Can’t do more than that.

Thanks for pursuing the subject.



Steven GaynorMarch 22nd, 2013 at 5:09 pm

It is actually pretty simple as the convention card is color coded:
Black – no alert
Blue – announcement (opening 1NT range, transfers)
Red – alertable

As far as the puppet alert – many have had their agreement clarified when partner alerted 3C.

I looked at the appeals from St Louis this week. Two were from the same hand #2 and #3 (see the Thursday bulletin). The directors and the committee both missed the real point in my opinion. The alert was explained as showing both majors, which made it very hard for the non-offenders to find their heart fit that makes 4 despite a 4-0 break. The offenders were both allowed to keep their good result from doubled diamond partials. While I believe that you should not double an artificial bid unless you have that suit, I think E/W were injured by the CD (convention disruption).

Jane AMarch 22nd, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I just checked a score sheet that I used yesterday, and the Puppet Stayman system over two NT is now listed in black. My convention card that I have in my folder however is an older one with the system still listed in red. Looks like I have a new project- updating my system cards with a new sheet. Probably a good idea anyway. Might want to drop something old and add something new, or not!

Bobby said the same thing about puppet when I asked him earlier. Seems like any alert could have this same effect however. I am still curious what caused the ACBL to come to this conclusion about this specific system, but may never know, or want to know.

Enjoy the day!

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 22nd, 2013 at 8:42 pm


Funny you should discuss an appeal from the current St. Louis NABC. I just read one involving — no less than the Vanderbilt.

At first accounting (with no official documentation), there was a possible appeal (don’t have the details) but since the supposedly damaged party was over 70 ahead at halftime, it was decided to be ignored. However, after they blew their lead and lost — now the appeal was submitted and the winner of the match became the loser. When I asked who was on the committee, I was told the names were not available. This is all hearsay — but an abomination of the highest order — if indeed it is true.

If you hear more — let me know.


Judy Kay-WolffMarch 22nd, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Hi Jane:

I will have to check the color of my printing on the cards as well. Thanks for the tip.


Steven GaynorMarch 22nd, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Hi Judy

One blog showed the Auken team playing the Amoils team today (Friday), but the Daily Bulletin reported Team Monaco barely beating Auken on Thursday 137-131 after leading 94-11 at the half. I have no information on any committee or even if there was one, but the score of this match sort of fits your previous comment.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 22nd, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Thanks Steve.

Read Bridge Winners for the many comments. I don’t have all the specifics, but the facts as I know them were: Auken was behind a lot at the half (you show them down 83), but the board in question which occurred before the break was not appealed. It was not until Auken had lost (as it appeared in the Bulletin) that it was taken before an unnamed Appeals Committee. Strange that the individuals holding the fate of the two teams in this prestigious event were not available to the public. What is the big secret? What’s going on here?

Paul CroninMarch 23rd, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Hi Judy,

The committee was

Chairperson: Adam Wildavsky

Committee members: Michael Huston, Craig Allen, Craig Ganzer and Chris Moll

Jane AMarch 23rd, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I am not knowledgeable about the appeals process so I am curious. Was the board in question called to the director’s attention when it was played, in case an appeal became necessary? As one can see, the worm can turn pretty quickly. I am not questioning the validity of the appeal, or the request for it either, just wondering about the timing of how it happened.

I was so happy to see Josh Donn’s team do so well. He is the son of one of our club owners; is a delightful young man, and obviously, a great bridge player.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 24th, 2013 at 2:10 am

Thanks, Paul. I did see it in today’s daily bulletin. However, I think there is much to be said about the handling, the timing, etc. Much can be done to be done to improve the administration — especially in an event such as this.



Judy Kay-WolffMarch 24th, 2013 at 2:13 am


I don’t think this is the end of the situation. I am not an expert on appeals — far from it. However, better guidelines should be in place when a situation like this arises — not wait until after the event to determine the winner. Too much hanky panky is involved.


Steven GaynorMarch 25th, 2013 at 3:55 pm


I read about the appeal, and I feel the committee got it right. The offending side mis-explained their bids which led to a damaging opening lead by Roy Welland. Would Roy have gotten it right with correct explanation? Who knows, but he did not get that chance and the convention disruption caused damage.

I also agree with waiting to see if the appeal would make a difference, otherwise why waste everybody’s time? I was told both sides knew it could come to this if the score justified it. The names of the committee were published in the Daily Bulleting along with the facts the next day. I do not know everybody on the committee, but I have a lot of respect for Adam W and Michael H as committee members.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 25th, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Hi Steve:

Whether the committee got it right or not, to me, is immaterial (and I feel you will find others disagreeing with you). However, I fervently believe it is imperative to rule on it at the time — rather than have the ruling after the match — which could determine the winner — as indeed it did. When this could have been decided earlier (and didn’t) — it goes to show you — no one can predict what the next 32 boards can bring. The committee should not have been put in this position and both contestants should have known where they stood when they entered the second half.

Just my opinion — but I do think the appeals process needs working on!

bobbywolffMarch 27th, 2013 at 5:11 am

Hi Jane,

Since I am not here to make friends, never have been, never will be, let me say the following:

1. Puppet Stayman is no longer an alert since it was determined to be of more help to the alerting side than it was to their opponents. In other words, since some partnerships have not discussed it, or, if they have, might have forgotten the final decision, it was decided not to include it on the list of conventions to be alerted. After the auction ends, one of the Puppet Stayman users can then update their opponents on the meaning (at least from his perspective) of whether or not Puppet was used.

2. It is so utterly ridiculous for the appeal during the 2nd quarter of the finals not to be decided immediately after that session. Everything needs to be done to make sure, if possible, that any committee does not meet after the event, knowing that their decision is going to determine the result. All potential committee members have some kind of contact, either favorable or unfavorable, with members of the two teams.

To allow, (or at least to encourage such a conclave) is the height of stupidity and only proves that the animals (players) are running the zoo, instead of top-level administrators.

Yes, there may not be any top-level administrators to pick from, but if there isn’t, why isn’t some wealthy sponsor footing the bill to make sure, at least toward the end of a super event (VSR, or trials), that all determinations of who might win a close match is provided for to the best of the administrator’s ability.

My guess is that many of the top players think that they can dissuade a less than top committee to what they want to happen, rather than what should happen, so again that decision and its sidelights (recompense) must be handled before it occurs.

To do otherwise, (what actually happened), should shame all those with the power and inclination to try and right the wrong.

I do not know enough about the specific facts to make an accurate decision myself, with the main ingredient being equity. If Welland’s partnership was actually and completely misled by the description which, by law needed to be accurately and carefully described to their opponents, then there would be a strong case for making the decision that was made. However, I would have needed to carefully question the players and be ready to ask certain questions in a controversial way to get an answer which I could interpret and therefore, accurately analyze.

In this day of artificiality with various meanings to certain bids such as bidding or rebidding phony suits (starting out as transfers) will cause some misunderstandings. It is a question of how much the protesting side was misled.

As I have said, so many times, Convention Disruption sometimes (most of the time) renders hands unplayable, but whether this is one of those times I cannot be sure.

We should use this episode as a clarion call to improve the process, but to do so should cause our best and brightest players to speak out to do it, and my guess, mostly because of the above (which I have described), they like it just the way it is.

Wiggle away, but while doing so, honesty, integrity and accuracy have left the building.

I would like to think I have made at least a few of the readers happy to go along with many who probably feel revengeful and threatened.

Jane AMarch 27th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Thanks for your input. I wondered about the timing of the appeal more than the result. Just seemed to me that to wait on something that ultimately proved to be so important was unusual at best.

Regarding the Puppet Stayman alert, I understand (sort of), but what is curious to me is why other system alerts don’t fall into the same category. If a partnership, especially an established one, has never played Puppet, then it would not be alerted to begin with. Yes, I know, even established partnerships forget their systems on occasion, but what puzzles me is why this system seems to be singled out. Maybe it is not the only one; has the ACBl dropped other system alerts because of this thinking? I finally requested (actually begged) my partners to let me drop support doubles from our card because for some reason, I could never remember it. I firmly believe a system is only as good as what works for a partnership and one that can be remembered by both partners.

Thanks, as always. We are lucky to have you and Judy to keep us informed about this wondrous game.

bobbywolffMarch 27th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Hi Jane,

That choice by the ACBL was motivated because, although both regular and puppet Stayman occur often, there is a big difference in what is asked and the corresponding result. Therefore it becomes critical for all four players to not be either advantaged nor disadvantaged by finding out in time to correct it (by an opponents question) which it is.

Also, once it gets underway it is difficult to right the wrong such a thing expresses. Therefore it was probably correctly decided that in order for the wrong to hurt the perpetrators rather than their opponents it seemed reasonable to let them suffer their earned consequences.

That whole process fits in well with my philosophy that when a partnership opts to go artificial (or better said more so) they MUST understand what they are doing are, like in the case of weak defensive conventions (and almost always NV) which show suits, one or both of the opponents not being sure of which suits they are, often only hurt their vulnerable opponents who are trying to bid to their best contract, but are virtually waylaid on that road by opponents who have been known to do that on purpose.

The immediate above has no place in bridge and is covered under the laws under, Controlled Psyches being illegal, but sometimes it is hard to prove and the goody, goody members immediately say, “How can we penalize forgets since by doing so we cause new players to not experiment with conventions that they would love playing?”

If every partnership was well intended, or better yet, actively ethical, they would NEVER play a method which they had trouble both remembering, since by doing so they would cause bridge to be severely damaged, while at the same time score up more matchpoints because of the illegal trouble they are causing their opponents, (no understanding, no cue bids, both resulting in not being able to play bridge).

Top level administrators sould always decide what is better for top level bridge to benefit, rather that be unduly or illegally disadvantaged by opponents who are merely throwing mindless tacks in the road without undue risk in order to use poison gas.

Sometimes in local areas, otherwise inexperienced administrators (club directors) are faced with such problems, and if so, they need to assert themselves to immediately correct it with appropriate disciplinary penalties for transgressors.

Steven GaynorMarch 27th, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Hi Jane

In St Louis the ACBL BOD had a motion to eliminate alerting an artificial bid of 2D after partner opens 2C. I do not know if it passed, but it is the same philosophy.

Jane AMarch 27th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Thanks to Bobby again for taking the time to clarify my questions. I appreciate it a lot.

Thanks to Steven also Since a two diamond response could mean a lot of different things after a two club open, this could get interesting. We need to all get our ducks in a row, so to speak, or every dog is his pen.