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Avoiding Trouble

Editor's note: The Bridge World, the most respected bridge periodical in the USA and famed for its Master Solvers Club,has offered to publish one of its most recent articles for our users to enjoy and discuss. The following is the editorial from the April 2016 issue.

In the January 2014 Editorial, we suggested that bridge organizations be proactive in avoiding potentially troublesome situations. Our example was to make it statutory to shuffle one’s face-down cards, not only when returning them to a duplicate board but also when removing them to begin a deal. A correspondent aptly points out that there are also preemptive actions available to the players.

To The Editor: Expanding your idea of trying to head off trouble, players should always spread a hand below the table, outside the view of the other players. You might as well shuffle there too, just in case one or more cards are face-up. (Sadly, my limited experience with face-up cards has usually been when the hand was received from a reputedly “sharp” player who has suffered a disaster on that board and would not object to its being fouled.) How far to go in this direction is moot. Playing cards from under the table is difficult; but sorting by suit (not by rank within the suit, which can give information to an eagle-eyed, unethical opponent) while the cards are out of sight is easy. While doing this sorting, I recommend sticking a singleton in the middle of a differently-colored suit, to avoid the temptation to rearrange the hand after playing the singleton.

Ross Amann

Colts Neck, NJ

With a little practice, holding one’s hand (and playing cards; and, if tempted, shifting suits) below the table will be within the scope of most regular players. This is worth the effort, because achieving proficiency is doubly important: one wants to conceal extraneous information from the opponents and must conceal it from partner. What should one do upon receiving cards face-up? Report it to a tournament official, the Recorder if there is one, the Director otherwise. The Recorder is the ideal recipient of this information, in a position to know whether this is a first offender (in which case a warning is appropriate) or a habitual violator (in which case stronger action will be needed). A Recorder, whose primary function is record-keeping, can go a long way toward making tournaments more pleasant, by reducing awkward at-the-table occurrences, precluding rumors, increasing education, and providing evidence related to accusations of improper behavior. Good citizens take the trouble to report anything out of the ordinary.

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