Paul Cronin

Allowable in club play??

When playing in a club team league last night ran into an opening 1C bid described as the “Bulgarian Club”. Having never heard of this, I had to make numerous inquiries about the bid – some of which were

(1) after an opening bid of 1C, and my “Please explain” – Answer:shows 13 cards

(2) after an opening bid of 1D, and my”How is this different than opening 1C?” -Answer:  promises 4 diamonds

(3) after an opening bid of 1C, and my “Can this hand have 4 diamonds as well?” – Answer:  yes

(4) after an opening bid of 1C and a rebid by opener of 1NT, my “What is opener’s HCP range?” – Answer:  could be anything

All “Bulgarian Club” bids were made by my LHO, so it was my RHO who always got to answer my questions. I asked RHO if they were a regular partnership, and was told “Yes”.  When he disclaimed knowledge of partner’s point count range on the last sequence above, I asked how he would be able to know when to take action over the 1NT rebid by opener – the reply was “I’m as baffled by this as you are”.

Should this be allowed in club play?       


John G ibsonMarch 24th, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Sounds to me a complete nonsense or wind up. Either way I am calling the TD on the grounds they can’t have identical bidding cards or one is clearly fielding a succession of phantom bids.

Amir FarsoudMarch 26th, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Hi Paul,

I’ve already posted this reply elsewhere, but thought I’d post it here as well.

I think it’s a variable club system (I actually ran into a pair playing it some years ago at the CNTC qualifier at Rayner’s club in Mississauga). I think the problem here was more with their answers than with their system. He should have said “10+ points, says nothing about clubs, forcing for one round” after you asked about the club bid, and the !D reply should have been explained as “artificial and waiting, asks opener to clarify his hand”. As of about 5 years ago, this was all GCC and allowable at clubs unless specifically disallowed at a particular club.

As for a direct answer to your question, I’d have to say it would be a most emphatic “yes, it should be allowed”.

But then again I like systems think they should throw out all this general chart, mid chart, super chart nonsense and just allow people to play bridge as they do anywhere and everywhere outside of ACBL land. I’d like to be abe to play Polish club with Multi 2 Diamonds at the club for example.

Paul CroninMarch 29th, 2015 at 4:21 am

Hi Amir,

Thanks for your input – makes a lot of sense. During the 12 boards we played against the pair, only East ever opened 1C or 1D. Could be a coincidence, but will watch next time to see if the other half of the pair ever opens 1C or 1D. I never thought to ask last time whether both members of the pair were playing the bids the same way.

John G ibsonMarch 29th, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Sometimes it is nice to get a reply even if you don’t agree with my observations.
But there again it is what I expected.

bobby wolffMarch 30th, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Hi Paul,

HBJ has made an important point in both of his comments. The first one had to do with the impossibly arrogant response of his confused opponent (plus the apparent lack of help from his silent other opponent). His second response was merely, after waiting for an answer to his first comment, why was he totally ignored while someone else was tended to?

How can any duplicate bridge game, from anywhere or everywhere in the world allow a partnership to play in its game and get no reasonable responses to very pertinent questions?

The answer to that is just as emphatic an answer by me as the one given to you earlier by Amir.

You CANNOT!!! And merely allowing that partnership to distort that particular session is not the least bit fair to every other pair in the room.

If I was the local recorder and that bridge club continued to allow such antics then I would do everything possible to close them down!

Duplicate bridge is a great enjoyable pastime, offering a challenging game and, at the same time DEMANDING the discipline necessary to allow partnerships to play in it. Those disciplines are very mild, only understanding the bare essentials of bidding, the need to update what bids mean to the opponents and the courtesy of blending good cheer to all one’s opponents.

Of course, perhaps Paul’s description was not near complete, meaning only applying to one hand, and if so, manners and behavior can probably be worked out in a positive way, but from his original comment, it appeared to include much frustration and total ILLEGAL behavior from his new opponents.

Anything less harsh said about this episode could be disastrous to our favorite game and BTW and IMO, HBJ should definitely be answered. He cares about the future of our game, while some others obviously do not.

Paul CroninMarch 31st, 2015 at 3:28 am


The issue of them not having identical convention cards is unfortunately something I didn’t think of at the time, but will definitely be looking into when we meet again. It is very hard to believe that the one who said “I’m as baffled by this as you are” would ever open 1C or 1D himself when he admittedly doesn’t understand the “system”.

bobby wolffApril 1st, 2015 at 11:12 am

Hi Paul,

First, thank you (and, very likely, silent thanks from all other participants in your club team league) for setting the record straight with the pair who was playing the Bulgarian Club, but were unable to describe the meaning of commonplace bids within that so-called system.

There is, and has always been, a required discipline for players in all bridge tournaments, to be responsible to all other players, and to the game of bridge itself, to “not play in such a way as to interfere with the other players enjoyment of the game” which has always been interpreted as not following the written and unwritten laws and rules which others have been, by experience, randomly trained to do.

Cases in point include pairs who have agreed to always, when first to bid, and for example, open 3 clubs on every hand regardless of their holding. That distortion and all others deemed to be such, will, if left unchecked, turn bridge into a game few opponents will embrace and continue to show up and, or course, participate.

That would apply, IMO, to a pair playing a system where likely bids, whether opening or later, cannot be properly explained. Of course, occasional and unusual circumstances may be exceptions, but what happened to you would certainly not be deemed so.

Add the above to what would immediately be determined, the suspect pair has no regard for the plight of others, merely present to enjoy playing the game, as most players know it.

Nothing more, nothing less, but necessary to strictly enforce.

Again, thanks for supplying a sad, but important responsibility, that all players, by definition, are rule bound to share.

AimmeDecember 2nd, 2015 at 7:55 am

AFAIC thta’s the best answer so far!

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