Paul Cronin



The auction proceeds   


Before passing West’s 5 call, North makes a BIT. Does North’s BIT place any restriction on what South may now bid?



Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 6th, 2014 at 5:49 am

Hi Paul:

Option?? This auction doesn’t feintly resemble bridge. First, how could North jump in hearts when he has five spades? Secondly, over the 3C call (?), isn’t 3H a bit of a stretch by South? Where did he find a 4H bid with a minimum, only three card trump support and probably a wasted club queen? And, remember, the jump to 2H was not forcing. So, after the hitch, I would say it is a no-no to even consider taking action with that garbage — regardless of the result.

Paul CroninJanuary 6th, 2014 at 6:20 am

Hi Judy,

I’m with you, but the folks on BridgeWinners don’t seem to agree with us. One even questioned how any of this even merited discussion. I just found it hard to see how “Pass” was suggested by North’s hitch, whereas same would seem to indicate doubt about doubling or bidding 5H. Hence South should not select either of these alternatives. Too simplistic I guess.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 6th, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Hi again Paul:

Why would any of that surprise you?

Luckily for me, I have had two great playing (and universally respected) spouses. More importantly, they were the epitome of ethics, propriety and honesty. After fifty years of exposure to those admirable characteristics, I suppose issues like the above seem second nature to me. But, sadly bridge is changing (and certainly not for the better). Everything is in the eyes of the beholder,

I gave Bobby the hand .. and don’t get him started!

Brian PlatnickJanuary 6th, 2014 at 4:32 pm


I think you missed the point of what some commentators said on BridgeWinners. If you cross-post on your blog, I feel you should more accurately characterize the comments on BridgeWinners.

First, I agree with Judy 100% that both 2H and 4H were strange bids. However, once South makes his ridiculous 4H call, N/S (in most partnerships) would be forced over 5C. Given that they are in a forcing pass situation, North’s hesitation doesn’t really tell you much more than the pass – i.e., he/she isn’t sure if it is better to bid or double. Opposite a forcing pass, South has a clear double.

That being said, if I were the director, I would be skeptical of any assertion made by a pair who bids like this.

paul croninJanuary 6th, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your input, but need some clarification here as to:

(a) what point made by the commentators on BridgeWinners do you think I missed?

(b) how would you characterize the comments on BridgeWinners?

Bobby WolffJanuary 6th, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Hi Paul and hopefully Brian,

I would like to comment on my thoughts in adjudicating this hand, but you need to be prepared for some slightly different thinking which I sincerely think, should be applied.

Bridge jurisprudence is IMO not like our normal natural law system of deciding right from wrong based on specific laws and then, depending on the finding either issuing or not issuing, a penalty or adjustment.

First, we need to determine, from the evidence, where our defendants stand, at what stage their bridge game lurks and possibly what education they may or may not need.

Let’s go to the chase with our principals, NS.

South’s first double seems normal, but after West’s pass 2 hearts looks strange. Although it is about right in HCPS it is a much stronger hand than those HC’s show and 2 hearts is just not in the ballpark. A knowledgeable expert would probably bid 4 clubs, asking for a major at the game level, but if not, perhaps 2 clubs (asking for a suit) might (probably would) eventually achieve the same result. If partner would choose 2 diamonds, my choice would be a forcing 2 spades and then hearts if necessary to again reach game in one or the other major, with a possibility of the 2 club bidder perhaps passing it out in only 3 of the major if the bidding went 2 diamonds by partner, 2 spades by North, 2NT by partner, 3 hearts now, then 3 spades by partner.

Both ways simple enough, but instead our North chose 2 hearts which on a good day might arrive in perhaps the best contract, but very few experienced bridge players would choose that bid. If he only valued his hand as worth that, he would normally choose spades since he would then intend to bid hearts next.

So let us now examine South’s action. Most, perhaps 90%, would pass 2 hearts by partner (even after East volunteered 3 clubs) since South’s hand is a minimum TO double especially with the queen of clubs looking like a doubtful value and only a minimum with not a 4 card major. If he was forced (or thought he was) to bid, he would at most bid 3 hearts but to jump to 4 hearts (over the opponents 3 club bid) merely confirms the evidence that this pair are more or less novices (no crime in that), but that is not my point.

My main issue is that this pair doesn’t fit the main stream usually seen in appeals or dealing with possible ethical violations, but if so, they will usually not have the experience necessary to understand what is being said, much less the eventual decision rendered.

Consequently, after West then bids 5 clubs over South’s 4 hearts North’s BIT is basically meaningless and in effect does not transmit UI but rather is only a reflection of that pair’s general lack of knowledge with the game itself.

Poor EW, in this case to be subjected to such bad luck, since 4 hearts probably should make, although with this pair playing it anything may happen, even down several tricks, forgetting that the diamonds can be used effectively.

Trying to end this discussion quickly and I hope effectively, the chairman of a committee or the TD presiding should try and remedy this case based on the cast of characters present, not on any strict bridge law since like in natural law, if a defendant is judged not to know the difference between right and wrong he will not be convicted of even a terrible crime.

Do I like giving such a ruling? Decidedly NOT, but however to do anything different would be worse, and if anyone thinks EW will learn something from a harsh ruling I do not agree with them, and yes EW may be fixed, but nevertheless in the long run they will benefit from playing against this type of partnership, but today is not the day.

In other words, whatever South decides to do over 5 clubs and partner’s BIT is OK, with perhaps an admonition, just in case it is educational, but likely is not.

Finally some sympathy is in order for EW, but bridge will gain from what happens later after NS are treated with a little respect, but they will eventually get the drift that they were wrong and will be able to grow from there. Harsh treatment will only be confusing to them and no one, least of all the game itself, will come out the winner.

Brian PlatnickJanuary 7th, 2014 at 3:06 am


To answer your questions:

(a) North’s pass was forcing, so his hesitation conveyed no information – neither authorized nor unauthorized.

(b) accurate, reasonable

Bobby WolffJanuary 7th, 2014 at 6:12 am

Hi Brian,

Yes, most, if not all of the above average tournament partnerships would treat North’s pass as forcing. However, would you not agree that this particular NS partnership would not, in their heart of hearts, play it forcing and if North would have blithely passed in tempo it might have (I think, yes) gone all pass or maybe South would have bid 5 hearts, meaning that in actuality North’s tempo, at least to them could be considered an ethical violation, if South bid on.

To rule otherwise would suggest that, in this particular case, two wrongs (BIT + not enough knowledge of the game) may have made a right. Sure, in a court of law or possibly an appeals committee. all lawyers would argue as you did, but shouldn’t we acknowledge what we are actually dealing with, if for no other reason, but to establish a precedent on how to rule and on what basis, in the future.

Brian PlatnickJanuary 7th, 2014 at 1:34 pm


In my first comment above, I wrote:

“That being said, if I were the director, I would be skeptical of any assertion made by a pair who bids like this.”

Leave a comment

Your comment