Paul Cronin

Convention Disruption – yikes!

Sitting first chair, all white, you open 2C holding    AKQJ109   —    K9     AK953

LHO bids 2D, which is alerted. Your partner inquires about the alert, and is told “Transfer to hearts”.

Now what should partner call holding    62   KQJ8742    1073   J    ???

Few partnerships will have discussed what calls over the 2D–>Xfer to hearts overcall will mean!

The auction has been successfully “disturbed”, and it turns out the 2D bidder’s heart “holding” is A10 and he was really bidding his diamond suit of  AQJ85. It’s not clear why he would want to show his diamonds, as he’s almost certain to be sitting over declarer anyway, but…….two partners playing a bid two different ways, and there’s no recourse – exactly what Bobby and Judy have been talking about!



bobby wolffFebruary 25th, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Hi Paul,

Bulls eye!

Strangely, this particular NS may come out unscathed since North’s hand possibly will cause the NS hands to still wind up playing their best contract 4 spades, but not without much hand wringing from particularly South, who will have no way of exposing what he is practically secure in knowing, EW are in the process of committing CD.

No one yet has told me what is wrong with penalizing (though not necessarily severe) a partnership for not knowing and remembering their home brew convention of as in this case an overcall shows the next higher suit, not the one bid. When police set speed limits no one is in doubt when he is stopped what his offense has been and what his then penalty will become.

Knowing a penalty may be forthcoming will keep partnerships from being irresponsible or at the very least, decline to play an off beat convention until both partners are sure it will not be forgotten. Is that too much to expect, especially since in most cases when CD occurs bridge, as we know it to be, stops completely and a disorganized game of “Name the infraction” begins.

Thanks, Paul for your appropriate mention of what has been going on for way too long, helped along with the ACBL’s total indifference to the game itself.

Richard WilleyFebruary 27th, 2012 at 9:55 am

> No one yet has told me what is wrong with penalizing (though not necessarily severe)
> a partnership for not knowing and remembering their home brew convention of as in
> this case an overcall shows the next higher suit, not the one bid.

What’s wrong is that you are creating a two tiered legal system…

The first for natural bids
The second for “homebrew conventions”

I don’t accept that it is right and proper to punish “Jim” because he screwed up bidding sequence that involved a convention but let “John” skate free because his system forget involved “natural” bidding. Or, for that matter, to punish “Hank” because he had the audacity to mess up his “homebrew” convention, but let “Henry” go free because his forget involved Stayman.

Jeff LehmanFebruary 27th, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I agree with Richard that no new sets of regulations are needed for this situation.

Let’s speculate what will happen next. Disbelieving though he may be, responder can pass the 2D “transfer”. Presumptively, advancer completes the transfer by bidding 2H. Opener will bid 2S.

At this point, intervenor is required, as I understand the laws, to disregard the explanation of his partner. He cannot be awakened by the information. And so, I would guess, he is going to be stuck by the director with making a Logical Alternative call against his best interests. Having a pretty good hand, it appears, with reasonable heart support, might a 3H raise be foisted upon him? And would a double of 3H by responder be reward enough for the nonoffending side?

There’s an element of Big Brotherism in making new penalties for errors such as that committed by the opponents. As Richard suggests, there is no special penalty for just making a normal bad bid or a bad play, why should there be a special category of penalty for making an abnormal bad bid?

Relatedly, I have similar concerns for those players who want to do away with penalties for revokes when the revoke was just a silly error and has no effect of the result other than the imposition of trick penalty. Lots of times in my life I have made very bad plays that are not illegal, but are just the result of paying insufficient attention to the play. Those bad plays nearly always adversely affect my score; why should the bad play of a revoke be excused from similar adverse impact on one’s score?

paul croninFebruary 29th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Interesting comments re a two tiered legal system! Contentious issues in bridge have always been dealt with by a multi-tiered legal system – as committees always try to compare an alleged offender’s actions with what would be expected of his/her peers . Jeff Meckstroth would, and should be, held to a higher standard than a beginner in the C stratum. To whom much is given, much is expected, and it is not an unreasonable assumption to say that to players using something as exotic as transfer overcalls, much has been given.

Richard WilleyMarch 1st, 2012 at 11:12 pm

> Jeff Meckstroth would, and should be, held to a higher standard than a beginner in the C stratum.

1. I believe those regulations apply to what is / is not considered a logical alternative or a legitimate line of play which is a rather restrictive part of the law

2. I would argue that the requirement to establish such special cases is a necessary evil, not a precedent that anyone should wish to be broadly applied

bobby wolffMarch 3rd, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Hi Richard, Jeff and Paul,

As is too often the case, my main and overwhelming salient point goes out the back door with the morning trash.

While probably all three of you are comparing the discussion of convention disruption (CD), like lawyers and judges would be talking about our natural legal system in establishing justice, the necessary point to be made is that when certain types of CD occur (such as the original example hand), the opponents are immediately
muzzled since, at least for their side, ordinary bids, like hearts, which have theoretically now been bid by the opponents become cue bids, almost always meaning the opposite to what the victims want to show.

A shortcut description of what most types of jurisprudence intend is usually centered around, if possible, restoring the status quo, even before the punitive process is even begun to be brought up.

The conditions present which make CD so devastating is when opponents enter the bidding after it is clear (or at least very likely) that the about to be victims have the lions share of the assets on that hand (in this case, a forcing two bid). Depending somewhat on the vulnerability and possibly a few others circumstances, when I talk about home brews I am almost always referring to defensive bidding with little hope of legitimately buying a competitive contract.

At a somewhat high-level in bridge (though it is not necessary to always be) some so-called clever (though not necessarily world class players) soon realize that certain defensive bids, if confusingly described and INTENTIONALLY obfuscated become what the USA did in Iraq, look for weapons of mass destruction, but, in this case, finding them at the bridge table, and all around the world.

To put in simpler terms it becomes to the weaker hands advantage to throw up smoke screens, under the heading of conventional bids, which are then misdescribed (whether intentionally or not) but with the same devastating result to the innocent and defenseless opponents

It, of course, also renders bridge unplayable, not unlike overt illegal signalling by an evil opponent and worse still, if caught or even strongly suspected, it is almost impossible to prove intentions when the excuse is always “I forgot”! No risk to them, no recourse to the victims and off the charts insidious to our game.

The above is written by me to merely put into public view of what I have seen (not often, but certainly more times than anyone would ever believe). Finally, when CD is passed over and especially when opinions (like from you formidable personalities) are presented, it just makes the task of ridding this ridiculous blight on our game much more difficult.

I could go on with perhaps 10+ specific examples of the bridge devil at work, but my respect for this group suggests to me that any and all of you could do your own research and understand what I am saying.

As an epilogue, let me say that at the present time, by far the most CD (perhaps 90%+) is done by relatively innocent partnerships who do not intend any legal harm, however in most cases the patient (innocent opponents) die anyway on the subject hand, and, worse still, never have a chance at any time of keeping that hand an intelligible bridge experience.

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