• Nancy Evins: You can teach an old dog new tricks, whether he likes it or not

    By Nancy Evins -

    Now I know that there have to be rules and someone making sure those rules are carried out in the duplicate bridge world, though party bridge players think rules are deplorable, antisocial, mean spirited, malicious and maybe unsanitary. But the bridge world needs to keep any form of cheating, whether unrecognized by most or intended by certain sly contenders.

    Everyone would know a dropped card is usually an accident. Still, it has been seen by all if face up and information can be gotten even if unintentional, but some players have dropped them purposely for one reason or another, with the purpose to help their partner.

    Directors who must learn all the rules are like judges without gavels.

    Bids or leads out of turn need to be corrected as well as insufficient bids.

    My mother, who played both party and duplicate, lost us a round at a duplicate game in Norris, because she was using what she thought was mannerly when she and I had the bidding up to three diamonds and the opponent bid three clubs. I immediately said, “Insufficient” and raised my hand to call a director. Mother frowned at me and said, ”that won’t be necessary” as if she had caught me picking my nose, so I let it go, and the partner of the insufficient bidder then bid three no trump since she had information about the clubs. 

    The director would have told the offender that she could either make the bid sufficient – four clubs – or pass, which would forbid her partner to bid again since she now had information she couldn’t have received any other way. No other partnership made game with that contract, so that was a bad board for us.

    Most of the rules make sense but some don’t. Some are still argued about by the letter writers to the ACBL Journal.

    A lot of them are about the “must alert” when your partner opens one no-trump. You are told to say quickly, “15-17,” meaning that is the number of high points of your opening of that particular bid. Since about 90 percent play that range, it seems silly, since those who don’t and who play Precision bid one club as their no-trump range, and their no-trump bid shows less points. It would seem to me they are the ones who should give count.

    Now I’m going back on my word that I would not tell this story again, but what Bobby Wolff wrote in his newspaper column a week or so ago has brought it to the surface once more.

    My story was when two men who had said they led their fourth and strongest suit against a no-trump bid. I checked the one on lead’s hand score sheet where he had marked it, and asked his partner what system they used, and he agreed with the opener’s marking Rule of 11. So I used that Rule of 11 to determine how many cards higher than his were out in that suit, held by his partner.

    Well, he led a different card, causing me to misplay the hand. I heard later they were still chuckling over it and I asked a director if I should have called him. He said the only thing he could have done was make a record of it, and if it happened often, and that his partner knew he did it regularly, then he would be forbidden to do it anymore.

    Now that is a rule I am debating. If we gave wrong answers in other situations, we would be set straight by a penalty.

    Bobby Wolff wrote of a situation just like this in his column a few days ago and commented had the guy not led a different card though he had marked it as my opponent did, he could not have set the contract.

    They may have taught this old dog a new trick, but I won’t roll over again.

    Woof, Wolff.

    Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at [email protected]

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