Editor's note: This was an original posting on the rec.games.bridge newsgroup
Playing pairs against an unknown Dutch pair you pick up:
at Amber (vul v vul) and you hear 1 on the left, 2 from partner, 3 on your right, no alert, what do you bid?
Well, you should probably bid, but what? With a regular partner I would double, but I am playing with a client who believes that double means the opponents are not making their contract. I do not believe that he will infer 3 as showing support: in other words it's my guess!
I don't seem quite strong enough to be making and a profitable vulnerable sacrifice seems unlikely: the hand seems too balanced: while I might have bid if I can show both suits, it just seemed too dangerous in a game forcing situation. Suppose I bid 3: do I run when it is doubled? If partner goes for 800 that will upset him dreadfully: he is a client: there is too much bidding for him to be strong enough to make anything: I pass!
3 on my left, 4 on my right, passed out. The 3 bidder has a 5 count, namely:
Is that a game force I ask? No, says left hand opponent, it is a one- round force. Why did you not alert, I ask? We don't need to, RHO says, so I call the TD, since 4 is one off and 5 is cold.
The TD is summoned. They jump in and tell him that I have made ludicrous suggestions.
Eventually I get my say. "The 3 was not alerted, and they play it as a one round force...". RHO interrupts "We never said that...".
Eventually I am allowed to speak again "My LHO said that it was a one...". RHO interrupts "No he did not. He never said anything like that. He said...".
Eventually I am allowed to speak again "It is true that my ...". RHO interrupts "No he did not. You cannot say that. You have no right...".
Eventually I am allowed to speak again "I am trying to tell you what happened: after the bidding I asked about the 3 bid and they said ...". RHO interrupts (for the fourth time) "That is not true. He is just saying the same thing every time."
At this point I lose my cool and go for a short walk so as not to hit anyone. The TD summons me back to the table. My partner is then asked what he heard. He starts to explain that he is deaf and does not hear much of the general talking at the table, but the opponents interrupt (surprise, surprise!) and explain that that proves they are right: they also say in the most condescending manner possible that they understand that he wants to back me up.
They then point out that the matter can be resolved by their convention card which "proves" (their word) how they play 3. The convention card is produced and shows that they play 1 2 2 as non- forcing, but says nothing about 1 2 3.
"See" one of them says "that proves that we play 3 as forcing." When the TD asks if we have anything more to tell him the opponents talk over me until I give up and indicate that I have nothing else to say. The TD goes away from the table and my opponents tell my partner they do understand that he did not want to call me a liar: they don't, of course, let him reply.
After they have gone away from the table my partner tells me that all he was trying to say was that he was deaf. I reassure him that I never thought otherwise. He did not enjoy Ostend too much. I wonder why?
The Director eventually came back and told me there would be no adjustment "because they can bid what they like." My client does not believe in appeals and likes to treat Director's rulings as final so there was no appeal.
Editor's note: This was a follow-up posting on the rec.games.bridge newsgroup
At the time I made the original posting I did not have the WBF alerting regulations to hand. They are:
The following classes of calls should be alerted:
I am wondering whether the sequence concerned comes under #2.
Editor's note: This is a selection of replies received to the earlier postings
The general feeling was that 3 did not require an alert if it was forcing. One person seemed to think that I was trying to get back via the TD what I had lost at the table. Of course I was: that is the normal situation when you call the TD, isn't it?
A personal friend of mine suggested that he would kindly not post a reply to this newsgroup because the ruling was correct. What planet does he think I have been living on? I am hardly going to get upset because I have been ruled against, especially when I was clearly confused over the alerting rules.
The consensus is no. The friend referred to said that I had probably exaggerated the opponents' antics: it would be human nature to. Quite true. Even allowing for that I believe they should have received a procedural penalty. Treat this as an example of what happens to a TD who allows more than one person to speak at a time. I was especially displeased that he did not stop them being condescending to my partner because of his deafness. I deliberately took over 10 days to post this to let my feelings cool and so that I could look at this event from a relative distance.
Not in my opinion. There are two more points. The small one is that no-one commented on the "proof": to show a TD that a convention card shows that they play 1 2 2 as non-forcing, but says nothing about 1 2 3 is described as "proof": if I had been the TD they would have had a sharp lecture, at least.
The main reason that I have showed this hand (and you might want to re-read the story) is that I have no idea what they were trying to gain by their antics. When I first asked why they did not alert, they answered "We don't need to." Now all of you have agreed with that, so why these incredible antics to stop the TD finding out how they play it? And when I finally gave up trying to explain to the TD, they produce their convention card with this irrelevant nonsense about a different sequence: "See" one of them says "that proves that we play 3 as forcing." When the TD asks if we have anything more to tell him the opponents talk over me until I give up and indicate that I have nothing else to say.
What were they trying to hide? All I tried to tell the TD was that they were playing 3 as not game forcing: they stopped me thoroughly. But why? They effectively admitted it later: their defence to my claim of MI was that it wasn't alertable (quite possibly correctly). So what was all the rumpus about?
I do not like criticising fellow TDs: no doubt he had his reasons and he is not here to defend himself. He knew that I was a senior TD and may have felt I could defend myself. But I shall tell you what I would have done if I had been the TD.
I would have stopped the opponents from interrupting, and made sure that the story got told. If the players had been unnecessarily condescending because a player explained he was deaf they would have received an immediate warning as a procedural penalty, and another for their card not being filled in. But when I discovered that all their antics were apparently to hide the actual meaning of 3, even though they admitted it later, I should have become very suspicious. The hand itself is interesting coupled with the description. I would probably have made a couple more enquiries about their methods.
If my feeling was that they were cutting explanations off at a particular point, I should want to know why. and if I did not find out, then I should have made a copy of the incident and reported it to their country's authorities.
Am I annoyed that I lost a ruling? No, I shall lose many more! But I am saddened that a pair whose ethics might have been questionable acted in such a way before a TD and were not investigated. There may have been some simple explanation for the whole affair (perhaps they don't like the English! ) but it needed investigation. I do not worry about the ruling but I do worry about the pair.