Judy Kay-Wolff


It appears that the reversal of directors’ rulings (as opposed to upholding them) by appeals committees is becoming more and more commonplace.  Who is more competent?  Needless to say, it all depends on who is making the ruling and who is serving on the AC.   I do not profess to be an expert in either field, but I have had some good teachers regarding the do’s and don’ts in situations like the subject hand.  I am not trying to lead the witness, but what options does the sellout seat bidder have? 

After the results are in, I  will pass on the findings from a fairly recent NABC and you be the judge!

Both sides are vulnerable.  The auction has proceeded  P  P  1S 1NT and this is what ensued:  Over the 1NT overcall, the partner of the spade bidder made a fairly halting (but not horrendous) hitch — obviously considering entering the auction —  and then passed.  The opener was in sellout seat.  What would you have done with the following hand?  

                                   QJ9XXX  KJ  KXX  JX

Personally, despite my vulnerability I would have chanced 2S originally since I didn’t figure to miss a game opposite a passing partner.  This may have ended the auction —  but there is no going back.   What are the opener’s choices and why?  Watch for the answer, ruling and result of the appeal tomorrow.


ChuckApril 15th, 2013 at 12:21 am

I think a pass is automatic (especially if there was any indication of partner’s taking action). You have already told your story — in spades (really)!

Judy Kay-WolffApril 15th, 2013 at 12:27 am

Very cute, Chuck!

JaneApril 15th, 2013 at 3:53 am


I think the 2S opening vulnerable was very courageous and I would leave well enough alone. Besides, with any kind of hitch from partner (even a fleeting one), I think it is wrong to re-enter the battle zone. You have already told your story and suggested a lead to partner. Enough!

Judy Kay-WolffApril 15th, 2013 at 3:57 am

Thanks, Jane A. I believe you (and the other readers) will be surprised with the handling of the situation. Stay tuned.


Jane AApril 15th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I would pass especially since it sounds like there was a break in tempo by partner. However, in third seat I would have opened two spades to begin with. Not saying this is right, but pard is a passed hand. Not likely to miss a game anyway. Make the “one and done” bid and get it over with.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 15th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I took your position, Jane. However, wait till this evening to see the verdicts of the DIC and AC.

John Howard GibsonApril 15th, 2013 at 5:38 pm

HBJ : The hesitation completely comprises partner, who if he/she has any grain of ethical fibre left in their body is OBLIGED TO PASS……and deal with partner later in some dark corner of the car park !
To bid 2S is a crime in such circumstances. Without partner’s attempt to ” tell him something ” 2S might be chancy but perfectly legitimate.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 15th, 2013 at 5:59 pm

The consensus so far seems to favor the pass for the reasons stipulated. I do appreciate those of you who have expressed your views and the reason why — a subject which, to many, is taboo.

Steven GaynorApril 15th, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I also pass, hitch or not. I agree as do most, that 2S originally would be better.

I guess we will find out that opener took some action, it worked out favorably, and the AC said that there was no way to tell what partner was thinking about, so they ruled that the table result stood.

Now on to the real meat: The reason the AC often changes the directors rules may be to show they know more about it than do the TD’s. It happens all the time in many organizations. The ‘higher-ups’ have to demonstrate their deeper knowledge to show why they should be in charge.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 15th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Hi Steven:

What a realistic critique. Rather than taking the words out of my mouth, you removed the thoughts from my head.

You will be shocked at the ruling. (I think I have said enough).


paul croninApril 15th, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Pass by opener, IMHO, is mandatory – partner’s “hitch” has fatally compromised the auction, and should be the subject of discussion after the game. Said discussion will indeed be short – nothing more than “Partner – when you hesitate and think about doing “something”, then do it, because I will always pass if you hesitate and then pass”.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 15th, 2013 at 9:18 pm


My sentiments exactly — even if there is the slightest suggestion of a hitch. You must do what you would normally have done. End of story.

Get ready for a shocking finish!

Judy Kay-WolffApril 16th, 2013 at 1:00 am


The facts acknowledged were that there “may have been a break in tempo” but the break in tempo was in dispute. Let’s face it — with XX XXXX QJXX AXX, you do not have a Yarborough and it is not abnormal to take a few seconds to look at your hand, but decide a convenient call was not available — thereby passing.

The Director’s Ruling was that the Law (16B.1) accepts Pass as a logical alternative to the chosen 2S rebid. Thus, the Director rolled the auction back to 1NT by NORTH, making two, for a score of +120 for North-South .. certainly the director’s prerogative.

The Appeals Committee took a different stance … that West did not notice a break in tempo (as compared to the length of time East took to sort his cards originally). Of course not. Who would?

West defended his position that he was just competing with a six-card spade suit because he had not opened 2S in the first place. SO??? Who’s fault was that? No one but West’s. If he opened a VULNERABLE 1S bid with literally garbage (and now hearing his LHO bid 1NT (sitting over his jeopardized scattered values), unless he expected some help from his partner, how could he now contract for eight tricks VULNERABLE. He could go for 200 if he got unlucky — and against a part score?? That’s quite a gamble. However, just by coincidence his partner produced three tricks for him and they made 2S for +110.

The Decision by the Appeals Committee was based on the following: It was the first time EW played together and had a total of less than 2700 points. (That should be enough combined MPs to understand the rules and be aware of the possibility, and in this case, probability, of unauthorized information by even a flickering Pass). With a Yarborough, wouldn’t he have passed immediately? Of course. From the testimony heard, the AC did not believe East studied over 1NT as he had no logical bid. That is strictly a matter of opinion. His body movement may have lent itself to the fact that he did have some cards but no convenient call.

Here’s the kicker … The AC “detested” the bid as it was considered dangerous and gambling. However, in “their” opinion. they did not judge that the UI prompted by the hitch would make a 2S rebid more successful than other options. WHAT OPTIONS? They must be kidding as the UI obviously offered some protection. Their thinking was that if East had spade tolerance and extras, then a pass and setting the opponents would give them a larger plus. However, as the hand would have unfolded, NS had eight tricks in NT and would have scored +120 as opposed to -110 in 2S as the declarer’s partner produced THREE tricks for him because the Committee condoned his “detested” and preposterous 2S call.

THUS, THE ORIGINAL TABLE RESULT WAS ACCEPTED (2S bid and made). It is no wonder I am not a big fan of Appeals Committees!!!! Perhaps I am a hard taskmaster, but I could not live with myself otherwise.

Adding to the woes of this Appeals Committee decision, here is what is likely to happen for West next time. By winning this appeal and very likely taking advantage of his partner’s hitch to read it right, we are creating a Typhoid Mary on the tournament bridge trail by emboldening a player with West’s confidence to bid aggressively (although somewhat illegally) because he lived to get a good result.

Any thoughts?????

John Howard GibsonApril 16th, 2013 at 7:26 am

HBJ : West has no legitimate reason to bid 2S since his partner’s hesitation scuppered that option good and proper. Whether he knew the hesitation meant something or not, he has to pass…..otherwise the game will sink further in chaos and confusion.

John Howard GibsonApril 16th, 2013 at 8:37 am

HBJ : And on a final note there is a simple rule for all bridge players : when partner hesitates and then passes YOU ARE PENALISED FROM BIDDING AGAIN. However simple is that for directors and those sitting on appeal committees to uphold and enforce !!

Ig NieuwenhuisApril 16th, 2013 at 12:04 pm

First: I agree with the fact that opener should pass with this hand as a hesitation suggests that bidding on is probably a good alternative.
However, I’ve been taught that if after UI (hesitation and pass being only 1 case) you wish to bid on, your hand has to justify that bid and the chosen action must NOT be suggested by the UI.
Therefore I think your simple rule is not the intention covered by our laws.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 16th, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hi Ig:

Thanks for trying to clarify, but in simple bridge jargon:

My understanding is that you must pass after UI UNLESS YOUR HAND DICTATES FURTHER ACTION. Obviously, THIS HAND DOES NOT FALL INTO THE “unless” CATEGORY as a second call (other than PASS by opener) is inappropriate. He has already told his story.

By inference, I think that is what HBJ is saying without spelling it out.

JaneApril 16th, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I passed this hand around to some of my buddies at the club and not one person stepped out of line, IMHO, by not passing. Happy to see my thinking was with the majority — regardless of what I consider the AC’S tainted judgment.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 16th, 2013 at 4:51 pm


Until (and when and if) we are able to lure (even hire) expert and more qualified high level individuals who are better attuned to the ins, outs and repercussions of such delicate issues, we are at a status quo. Thanks for following this up.

Jeff LehmanApril 18th, 2013 at 12:17 am

Although I am not a director, I am pretty sure that Ig is correct in his description of the actions by the partner of the player that created UI. The partner should choose, from among all Logical Alternatives (LA), the one that is contra-indicated by the UI; there is no requirement either that partner should pass or that partner should be forced to make a call that is not a LA. I suppose one could argue which LA is contra-indicated (perhaps the responder was considering doubling 1NT with a good 9+ count short in spades), but benefit of doubt should go to the side that had not created UI. Score -120 for 1NT making an overtrick.

I would be very cautious about extrapolating a position about the whole process of having appeals committees based upon the reported circumstances and the ruling in one case.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 18th, 2013 at 2:28 pm


There is no doubt what the law says about UI. In the cited case, it was a slam dunk to knowledgeable and ethical people, that the balancer stepped out of line. If players (especially newer ones) are not stopped from continuing this practice, out of naivety or stupidity, they will always be a thorn in the side of those wanting to perform by the high standards of the game we all love (sometimes).

As far as my ‘extrapolation” — I suspect I was on the bridge scene long before you were born. I have witnessed bridge at the highest level for close to sixty years and have been privy to some of the most biased, prejudiced, political, self-serving AC decisions to go down in the annals of bridge. I had my own personal grievance with one of these so-called expert committees and finally after sixteen months had them reverse one of their calls. And — by the way — did you ever hear of the OH, SHIT case? That may be the worst travesty in the history of bridge which will leave a black mark on the ACBL as long as the game is still played.

Believe me it is not merely “one” case. I have a laundry list I could write a book about. So be it!

Yours for the betterment of the game,


bobbywolffApril 18th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Hi Jeff,

While I (and undoubtedly Judy) understand your point about being cautious before trying to read the interpretations possibly present in determining the cause of UI, your suggestion can be disastrous if taken in the wrong direction.

In this case, the UI was obviously showing some cards as opposed to almost nothing, making a case for the (at least to me) impossible rebid of 2 spades (through the clever eyes of West), who being vulnerable, needed tricks from partner (sure enough he produced 3). Yes, partner may have almost doubled 1NT for penalty, which, if done, would then make me at least seriously consider returning to 2 spades because my hand is more offensively oriented than defensively because of the slow nature of developing my six card suit, likely necessary to take 7 defensive tricks when a good declarer is playing 1NT with about half the deck in tow.

Sometimes the disparity between two different ways to take advantage of UI is using the words ‘transferable values’ in the description. While the role of Appeals Committees usually doesn’t require rocket science intelligence nor necessarily many years of experience, it does DEMAND knowledge of the game, both the high-level kind and also lower strata stealth, but when one or more members of the committee, particularly vocal ones and not players interested in learning the difference, that committee can be adversely influenced to do the opposite (or almost) of what they should be doing. In this case it would be to walk away from penalizing what a very clever transgressor has attempted (and succeeded in accomplishing).

ACBL committees seem to work better and be considerably more on target if each one would have serving on it (not necessarily the chairman) — but a very experienced player who has been around the block and understands much of the above and, most importantly, has the credibility and determination to be heard.

Just to repeat you are NOT way off target, hardly so, but to the point that you convey, it is totally required to be sharp enough to follow through this most important final step before judgment.

bobbywolffApril 18th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Hi again Jeff,

Sorry for the omission, but yes, partner may have thought about bidding his own suit, before deciding against it, but to be so thinking is against percentage and even if so, our hand may be still be better off in spades, even the singleton 10 may be just cause for playing spades rather than one of the other suits.

Policing bridge and its many facets is more difficult than most realize and perfection is rarely possible, but those who always seem to be ready to take whatever advantage is on or even near the table need to be summarily squashed otherwise they, like innocent Typhoid Mary, especially by winning an undeserved appeal, can set a terrible example for those who may be listening and then following.

Greg NowakApril 22nd, 2013 at 4:52 am

My impression is that the AC must examine the E hand and rule in favor of no BIT because E has no clear cut action. The vehemence of dislike does not change the law. Does anybody else see this?

PaulApril 22nd, 2013 at 5:19 am

Rule in favor of NO Break in Tempo because East had no “clear cut action”? I can’t agree. The player with CLEAR CUT ACTION is West who opened in third seat with an aceless 11 count and has no option but to pass since his first call said it all.


Judy Kay-WolffApril 22nd, 2013 at 5:25 am

Everyone must live by his or her own standards. If my partner offered the slightest flinch, I would feel barred without automatic action. And, as Paul said above, “his first call said it all.”

bobbywolffApril 22nd, 2013 at 5:34 am

Hi Greg,

Yes, you are right that East has no clear cut action, but that does not mean that he didn’t have a BIT.

Clever players (and that is not meant as a compliment) sometimes have a way of letting partner in on just what type of hand he has, in this case just below a double of 1NT, but still enough to be a reasonably good dummy, if partner West can muster up another bid.

Muster up is what his partner did, and, at least in this case got away with it and luckily scored up +110, but even -100 is better than -120.

I wasn’t at the table, but a 6 second huddle before passing is about precisely what this hand is worth, so East wound up bidding the hand perfectly and got West’s vote as to what to do.

To discuss this case in topical but vulgar terms, suppose instead of BIT’s it would become terror in action. Well, if that can be compared, and it cannot, but if it could, it would be tantamount to letting the younger terrorist go, since the 6 second hesitation might be deemed to be no hesitation at all.

Naivety does not have a place in leading appeals committees into believing what too many players try to do, win at all cost.

Greg NowakApril 22nd, 2013 at 6:53 am

I read in the blog that the BIT is disputed. I’ve read in casebooks that this is required of AC’s. The AC may have been hamstrung by the current laws. I’m ready to go into a whole new can of worms from this point.

Steven GaynorApril 22nd, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I am not sure what Greg is saying about what is required of AC’s, but there have been many cases of disputed BIT’s where the AC looks at the hand of the alleged tempo breaker to see if it suggests there was a BIT. They often base their ruling on how they see that.

bobbywolffApril 22nd, 2013 at 9:43 pm

IMO, both Greg and Steven are not only both right, they happen to be headed to what may be thought to be an accurate decision, both about the procedure and law(s) involved.

Of course, there could be a valid argument (or better said, a slight difference of opinion about
what constitutes a BIT). However, whatever conclusion anyone reaches, there is no dispute that a 1 second pause and then pass, is too quick and is also not the standard to which all of us should aspire. A 5 second pause is much too long when it is followed by a pass, although in some cases the player is trying to be ethical and not to pass too quickly.

All players above the rank of novice have an MO of their own, which, if not known by his or her partner after a couple of sessions of experience, renders that partner close to totally insensitive which is not a quality anyone wants to be thought of as having.

Therefore it follows that, at least to me, a 6 second pause is total evidence of wanting to bid something other than pass and while the thought may be bidding his 7 card club, diamond or heart suit with almost no high card points, that possibility is very unlikely and with 7, most even half way experienced players would just bid it and hope since the prospect of defending 1NT just does not appeal, especially at matchpoints.

Ergo, partner (with his 6 second pause, mentioned, I believe, both to the TD and in the committee) was almost certainly thinking of either doubling or perhaps raising to 2 spades, with either action now convincing his partner that he will be better off not allowing a good declarer (which Gavin Wolpert is) to play 1NT.

All nice and neat and done every day thousands of time and at every duplicate bridge game within the ACBL, and also rubber bridge at all the retired peoples old folks homes which feature daily recreational bridge games.

It is sheer folly, at least to me, to try and correct this well known fact, but it seems responsible to call attention to it, when it does come to committee and that committee now overrules what I consider a down the middle, accurate and common TD ruling.

The end result may, if publicized, set off a terrible backlash emboldening others to, (if you’ll excuse the expression), follow suit in cheating others out of what they are due, and all for only the price of a 6 second huddle.

Is what was done terrible, inexcusable or worse? Hardly, but it is enough to set bridge jurisprudence back light years.

All this talk about such commonplace actions, but without proper adjudication our game is turned the wrong way and chaos and wrongdoing will soon be in charge.

Sure there will always be hues and cries for mercy for these poor players who only respond normally to what they hear, but to do so when it goes to a bridge court of law, at least to me renders the game (which I have always regarded as sacred) as unsuitable enough to not even be played.

Greg NowakApril 23rd, 2013 at 12:28 am

If you want to catch a thief, plug his holes. The AC is forced to proceed blind to anything but normal. 6 sec is just an inadmissable side step.

bobbywolffApril 23rd, 2013 at 1:28 am

Hi again Greg,

While I tend to agree with your assessment of what a first, TD, and then an AC is likely to rule you and I would sense when partner is trying to tell us something, and sometimes when it is only a 4 second pass or rather a benign 10 second study, we would both know when the 4 second study was a positive and the much longer 10 second pause showed less than expected.

Such is the nature of our game, and we both know who is usually guilty and who is almost always ethical. You are an ethical player and will always be one. Catching ethical cheats is positive for the game, if only to convince them to reform (possible) and be forever more and instead a credit.

Greg NowakApril 23rd, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Thanks Bobby, I felt very honored to see your comments. It takes a very bad player to not know what they are doing by bidding 2S.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 23rd, 2013 at 6:00 pm


I was going to wait to see you today at the game to address you by saying “There is no way in hell, given the circumstances, that YOU would have bid 2S!” However, I could not resist telling you publicly.

EllisApril 23rd, 2013 at 6:40 pm

For myself if my partner hesitates you would have to point a gun at me to make me bid 2sp.
However at some point in the process, the committee has to decide if there was a bit.
If they decide there was not, then they have to allow the 2sp bid to stand.
The appeal I assume was by the 2sp bidder who claims his partner did not hesitate. It is very difficult for a director at the table to really ascertain if a break has occurred especially if we are talking 4-6 seconds. Assuming there was one based on how bad the 2sp bidders hand was may not be fair to that side either.
I can think of many opponents I have played against that bid at the tempo of 4-6 seconds some of them world class players. I can think of other that 4-6 seconds would be a noticeable break in tempo.
On the one hand it is easier for a committee to ask the right questions at appeal , on the other hand the time lag gives the players(especially the more devious) the time to get their answers down.
Seriously judy without reading the whole of the appeal and fully understanding why the committee ruled no BIT, it is difficult to have an opinion.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 23rd, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Hi Ellis:

There are two issues:

1. Not being an eye witness makes a difference. The AC must decide whom to believe (and looking at an ace and another QJXX, it does give you brief pause for thought — just enough to have West rebid and find three tricks in dummy). WHAT A SURPRISE!

2. If the opener didn’t know enough to bid 2S originally, how can he place himself in the lion’s den without protection (which to me it is obvious he had).

I am not a big fan of ACs — and I have the undeserved scars to prove it.

EllisApril 24th, 2013 at 12:54 am

It seems to me, and again not knowing anything other than reported here , that the AC had some reason for believing that the BIT was either insignificant or did not take place.
We have all had hands given to us by directors at tournaments and you look at the hand knowing there was BIT, because there3 could be no other reason for asking the question and you make a decision based on the hand.
This is one that I assume the Director polled 5 or 6 players they all said pass and hence made a ruling.
The AC on the other hand decided after questioning on there being no BIT and hence reversed the decision. Right or wrong this is what seems to have occurred.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 24th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Sorry, Ellis, I don’t buy it! How could anyone (other than one who was out of his cotton-pickin’ mind possessing the garbage West had) re-enter the fray unless he had some encouragement and reassurance from partner??? Thus, to me, it is obvious there was a hitch. Don’t think the committee had to be there to figure it out.

Greg NowakApril 24th, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Blind justice is never allowed to buy or figure out anything but it must use facts and the eyes of the law. People are not endorsing any crimes, they are just taking comfort in seeing a safeguard at work. Even though this case is more of an example of the price to pay to have it.

John Howard GibsonApril 24th, 2013 at 11:25 pm

HBJ : The problem for any ruling body stems from establishing and proving deviations in tempo. If a player takes 10 seconds over each and every bid, there is no issue when he passes, and partner chooses to bid again.
However, if breaks are proved to be extremely variable…. and this delayed pass is established as LONGER THAN NORMAL, then unauthorised information has surely been given, and partner MUST RESIGN HIMSELF AS BEING UNABLE TO BID AGAIN EVEN IF HE HAD VALUES TO JUSTIFY SUCH ACTION.
Good players are obliged to bid with total regard to the principle of preparedness. They should know what action to take over any opponent’s overcall and interference, with all passes made in same tempo as their other bids.
But the reality is this : too many bridge players today have lost their moral compass. Too many ruling bodies have lost their ability and bottle to crack down on tempo-breakers !!

Judy Kay-WolffApril 25th, 2013 at 12:37 am


Your last statement sums it up well. Unfortunately, everyone must be guided by his or her own standards. Difficult to do and still be objective. Black and white are not the same to all persons.

EllisApril 25th, 2013 at 5:47 am

Not sure there is a moral compass issue here. 100% of the players here polled against taking another call. I am sure that same or similar percentage of the players polled by the Director also passed.
The problem here is no one can see a reason that the AC ruled no hesitation.
It might just be possible that one of the appealing side said there was none.
It might be possible, as happened in other cases , that the information provided to the AC was significantly different to that reported to the DIrector at the table, and once again that changes the outcome.
Without having all off the facts and the questions asked by the AC we are randomly theorising about facts to which we are not privy.

John Howard GibsonApril 25th, 2013 at 8:35 am

HBJ : With regards to the last comments another irrefutable fact emerges : it is impossible to establish the facts of any hesitation incident. Players’ perception of time and inferences will all be different. The onus therefore falls on the partner of the alleged wrongdoer to acknowledge that the hesitation was OUT OF TEMPO…..and then use his moral compass to restrain from bidding again.
To suggest that that is an issue where the moral compass is not relevant is absurd….because hesitations are far and above the most common forms of cheating,
all of which have sullied this magnificent game
over the years.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 25th, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Yes, HBJ, the ‘moral compass,’ as you have named it, should produce an honest, objective viewpoint — but unfortunately it is viewed by the eyes of the possible offender. Sometimes selfish issues supersede actual happenings and they are tainted to favor the one viewing the incident. I would like to think that most players would be objective, but all too often it is a dilemma and difficult to admit — even partial guilt.

In the cited case, unless it was a rank beginner, it is uncanny to me to envision someone taking a second bid with the West hand unless they “were under the influence” and in this case the culprit would not be liquor — but rather — what I would deem as self-serving interests.

Thanks for pursuing it. I believe it is a crucial issue that must be dealt with and resolved.

Greg NowakApril 25th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I think my vote to not hang the jury will be very unpopuar. Anybody else dare?

Bobby WolffApril 25th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hi Greg,

A good rule to follow (possibly inaugurated by Judge Roy Bean of West of the Pecos fame) is to never hang the jury since there may not be enough rope available to hang everyone else, guilty or not.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 25th, 2013 at 5:19 pm


Obviously, I think the ‘jury’ in question was in error. Let me give you a little background about how some committees, who render far-reaching decisions, operate. No doubt you (and a great number of readers) know about what is likely to be the worst and most infamous ruling in bridge history — barring none. It was the notorious Oh, Shit case in a major National team event where Bobby was personally involved (and violated) — erasing him from the Vanderbilt. First, for the background!

For most of his life Bobby has devoted much pro bono time to righting the wrongs by not only serving on appeals committees universally, but by heading both ACBL and WBF Appeals Committees. In an effort to do the proper thing, he is not only qualified — but objective, neither biased nor prejudiced, and looks directly at the facts before taking a position on innocence or culpability.

Several years ago, a well-known female player claimed she meant to call a certain card — long after the fact (perhaps a trick or two following the actual turn of the trick). The card she called for caused her to go down in a slam. DONE IS DONE! DOWN ONE! But — after the play (or rather misplay) of the hand, her greedy partner summoned the director and protested that she should have been allowed to take back the card she played. Absurdly, he was granted his protest and an AC was convened and reversed the actual score of down one to a makeable slam. Nauseating!!!!

However, let us look at the infamous (and I do mean infamous) committee! Both Co-Chairmen should have automatically recused themselves or in the event they did not voluntarily do so, they should have been coerced to step down because of their known personal involvement and grievances against Bobby.

One of the individuals, now deceased, had a personal vendetta against him. He was a Canadian administrator who was instrumental in having himself added to the international team (without bridge prowess — merely political connections). Over a fourteen year period (one Bermuda Bowl every two years) — the Canadians finished last five times and next to last twice — because of the political maneuvering. Bobby made an issue of the Co-Chair’s wheedling his way onto these Zone 2 teams — and with good reason … lack of talent to represent his country.

The man’s counterpart (his co-chairman) was involved in a then-recent ruling where his experienced partner huddled twice over a 1NT opening by his LHO (followed by a response by opener’s partner) and after ensuing bidding by the opponents — eventually balanced in sellout seat at the three level with garbage (based on the assurance his partner was not broke). In fact — far from it. She had an opening NT — which indeed substantiated her hesitation. A protest was lodged and of course, the balancer was denied his bid. However, in addition to his unwarranted balancing in light of the issues, this individual was accused of vulgarity to the TD and brought before a Conduct and Ethics Committee where he was found guilty. A C & E Committee is handled by the Recorder. Bobby had stepped down after ten years in the job and appointed a capable replacement, Bob Rosen, who solicited Bobby’s help in prosecuting the case. It was a slam dunk the offender (the subject co-chairman) was found guilty. Should not this individual (the balancer) have recused himself?? Of course, it was a no-brainer.

This is just one example of the ineptness and prejudice of an AC. People with biases, prejudices or personal motivations should voluntarily step down. It doesn’t take a mental giant to realize their potential danger to seeing justice maintained (or restored). So, as far as ACs — I do not believe in blind faith. And, yes, I would dare to challenge any group whom I felt was not on top of matters and had to make an arbitrary decision — not having personally observed the break in tempo. I would judge by the actual hands — and in my subject blog above, the 2S bid was definitely a stretch of the imagination but rewarded by the dubious (?) pause by partner who produced three tricks.

Greg NowakApril 25th, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I’m going down like people in the inquisition or reign of terror. Their laws didn’t have safeguards.

Paul CroninApril 25th, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Hi Judy,

The committee for the “Oh, shit” was:

Doug Heron (chair), Lowell Andrews,Nell Cahn, Bob Gookin, Robb Gordon, Ed Lazarus,
Robert Schwartz

Ed Lazurus and Robert Schwartz did not agree with the committee decision, and both wrote dissenting reports.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 25th, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi Paul:

Thanks for going to the trouble of publishing the names of the Committee members. I only knew the chief SDs (most appropriately named in this case) but I didn’t want to publicly embarrass them (or their memory) any more than they embarrassed themselves! I do feel strongly about recusals, a subject many avoid.

Would you believe that people still talk about that case?? I wasn’t with Bobby at that time (think it was ’92) but since he was a celebrity, the appeal drew much attention at the bridge clubs in Philly. I do recall that Norman and I laughed about the crude nickname of the case and worse yet .. the ruling which seemed way out in left field. Little did I know that I would ever become so close with (let alone marry) one of the victims.



JSApril 26th, 2013 at 12:22 am

Yes, 21 years later, I still remember all the flack directed at that committee. What could they have been thinking? Either inexperienced or prejudiced. Totally irrational.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 26th, 2013 at 12:27 am

Committees have a thankless job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Yes, there are some quite capable individuals who are knowledgeable about bridge and the laws — but then again there are some that are called upon just to fill out the movement.

EllisApril 26th, 2013 at 1:32 am

None of the above, is in any way related to the best of my knowledge with the case under discussion. And given the high profile of the Oh s**t
case, discussing the two cases in close proximity would seem to me to be tarnishing reputations for no apparant reason other than to prove a point.
I therefore bow out of the current discussion.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 26th, 2013 at 1:56 am


Your bowing out of the discussion is accepted with pleasure.

However, inquiring minds are entitled (and want) to know — including relevant personal prejudice which did not come to light at the time of the 1992 abomination. I believe people are accountable for their actions — even after the fact — in order to prevent history from repeating itself.


bobbywolffApril 26th, 2013 at 2:32 am

Hi Ellis,

It is not, nor ever my intention (unless I admit so) to protect Judy or, for that matter, anyone else, but to have an attitude that committees can decide anything they want, especially so when either due to lack of knowledge or just plain bias or prejudice, is to rush to the aid of those who directly hurt our game.

If committees (or individuals within the committee) either cannot or will not understand that West only bid 2 spades because he knew his partner had something, based on his 6 second (estimated) obviously telltale hesitation, then we may as well eliminate committees entirely (a suggestion which is often made). For those who say that the bidding suggested that East had some cards (couldn’t North have 18 and South 7+?) leaving experienced players (which all committee members should be) to be totally remiss to allow what happened.

If West (in my estimation once in hundred times) did not glean the necessary information to bid 2 spades by table action, he is indeed an unlucky player to lose his +110. My vote is that he was one of the 99 times and to allow him to get away with it is shameful beyond belief.

Shame on you for suggesting that tarnishing reputations has anything to do with this. If someone does not want to be criticized, he or she should not volunteer for making bridge decisions that he or she is not qualified to make.

How else can we ever go forward unless we all understand, particularly future committee members and TDs in process, that ruling according to what almost certainly happened is necessary to keep our game in safe hands?

Comments like yours not only do not help; they encourage others to follow suit in attempting to win at any cost.

Greg NowakApril 26th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

If you gave W a few more points and E a few less points, a different AC could stop W from bidding 2S. Any rope left, hang the lawmakers. How happy can Judge Roy Bean get?

Judy Kay-WolffApril 26th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Sorry folks, in my anxiety to get the blog up, I see a typo. The year was 1999 (not 1992). However, little difference does it make.

Steven GaynorApril 26th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

The Oh, S*** case was from the spring, 1999 NABC in Vancouver, BC. The director was called at the end of the hand by dummy and said he felt that declarer’s infamous admonition signified that she did not mean to call for the card that was actually played. Then S*** happened.

What is also interesting that this, like the recent Auken vs. Monaco case, occurred early in the match but was not heard until after the match was over when it turned out it could change the match result. Not hearing cases unless they swing a match was SOP then and still is to this day. Since the swing was 20+ IMP’s it would have been nice to know the decision at least going into the 4th quarter, so teams could plan their strategy.

Say you are an NFL head coach, thinking your team is up late in the game. You run the clock out, but a ruling on an earlier play is now reversed giving your opponents a TD and they win the game.

The solution? Hear and rule on all appeals after each quarter. Time consuming? Yes. Inconvenient? Yes. Fair? YES!

Judy Kay-WolffApril 26th, 2013 at 7:01 pm


Yes, I acknowledged the typo (1999 rather than 1992).

In regards to your analogy of the recent Auken ruling, I agree with you one million per cent. The proprieties of that issue was a matter of when the problem was addressed. Missing or rushing dinner should not have been a consideration.

However the Oh S*** Case (as you refer to it in a gentlemanly fashion) was totally different as to the timeline of the careless play that the declarer wanted to recall (two tricks later).



EllisApril 26th, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Dear Bobby,
I feel you treat me unfairly, If you actually read my post you might have noticed that i took no call in the auction generated.
I have seen no transcript of the AC , I have seen no reasons presented by the AC for overturning the table ruling.
What has been presented is knowledged opinions about what should have happened without any type of evidence presented.
I have served on comittees and I have always tried my hardest to elicit the facts from both sides. The one common denominator in all deliberations is the the AC is not convened to legislate against stupidity.
2S is a stupid bid, however if the pass was deemed to be in tempo then the AC is correct in its ruling.
Why did the AC rule in favour of no BIT? I assume they asked questions of both sides and tried to come to a timeline, aftEr they did this they decided that the time line was not such as to constitue a BIT. If these are the facts, then by definition there was no UI only stupidity.
I have no idea what actually happened but the above is a reasonable guess at the workings of this particular AC.

Judy Kay-WolffApril 27th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

The 2S rebid …

Stupid? Hardly!

Calculating? Absolutely!

Bobby WolffApril 27th, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Hi Ellis,

I apologize to you since you think that I treated you unfairly. I realize that you were not on the committee and had nothing to do with their decision.

However, I think the committee, whomever they were, either showed significant naivety or in some way (many different factors are involved) showed considerable bias in overruling the TD.

A big reason, and perhaps the only one, for not opening 2 spades vulnerable with that hand (although perhaps worth the risk) is that it very well could go all pass and down 200 it would go against no game available NS. But for whatever reason, after opening 1 spade, hearing it go 1NT by LHO and then 2 passes, the odds go way up on the possibility of going down 200 since partner could not muster up a bid.

However, and the odds speak out to all who are interested and to good and not so good alike, when partner hints (maybe just barely as I think here) that he wants to bid something the odds change markedly thus protecting against the disastrous -200. Remember down 100 figures to be around a 1/3+ better result (about 3 matchpoints, perhaps going from 4 to 7 on a 12 point top) assuming 120 will normally be the result. Also since partner’s antics showed something, the declarer is unlikely to be doubled, especially by a less than top pair with less matchpoint acumen.

All of the above could only be so-called high level reasoning, but even just average players begin to understand this very important consideration for playing matchpoints.

All of the above is perfectly within the laws as long as East in this case has no sign of a tell, such as a small study (6 seconds is exactly that) before acting and then passing.

If one buys what I say (and you apparently do not) why should this pair have this sort of advantage as they move up and down the section during this session. Obviously these hands do not come up every round, but when they do, this pair (or perhaps only West, but my experience tells me that East, also, has been around this block before) should, without fanfare be influenced to stop that 6 second delay, if they want their partner to be free to do whatever his hand dictates and when he (East) does transgress he will get his speeding ticket, in order for the game to be forever improved for all who love it and play it.

The good news is that he doesn’t have to pay a monetary fine, the better news is that Typhoid Mary (and not so innocent this time) knows of the virus she might spread, and the super news is that the game is conducted so that actively ethical players (and there are many of them) do not have to worry that, “Oh no, that slightly unethical pair just nosed us out for 3rd in section, I wonder how many matchpoints they stole this session?”

Nothing against you or for that matter, them, just a point of view that I wish was more widely followed, but alas and alack, committees do not take the commitment they take on as seriously as I wish they did.

Thanks for listening.

Warm regards,


Greg NowakApril 30th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Put the club A in the W hand and a bad AC would take away the result. That’s why we need laws.

bobbywolffMay 2nd, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Hi Greg,

But in my hoped for perfect world, if West had the Ace of clubs, which East, in this case actually had, East would pass in tempo (only 3 points) and West would (might) rebid 2 spades and God would be in his heaven and all would be right with bridge.

Of course, with East’s in tempo pass, he should not get any credit for so doing since he didn’t hold much of anything as value. But if he also passed in tempo, but immediately with his 7 points he should get some acclaim for not signalling his values to partner to do with what he thinks he should.

Simply a case of that bridge game, and the ACBL in general for policing the game the way it needs to be, which would give all of us more respect for everything connected to the game and would hasten to create more reverence for all players who sought to play actively ethical.