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The Anti-Hitch

About 30 years ago, I played in a regional swiss and the last round was against the cream of the field. 3 world class players and a client. My partner and I are up against the client on my right and a WCP on my left who is likely regarded as one of the most ethical players anywhere. Around the 5th board, the client opens a weak 2 and pard and I arrive in 3nt. The key suit of the hand was KQ9xxx opp Ax. It's clear that the opponents will run their long suit if either gets in and the other 2 suits are single stopped so there is no way to get a count on the hand. Partner leads up to Ax, client plays the J, he wins the A and returns the suit and WCP does the anti-hitch. The slight up-tempo play that a flight C player might do holding Qxx when you're leading up to KJx. My head starts spinning and I remember thinking "Holy <insert favorite expletive here>, I'm really glad I'm not declaring this hand. Partner goes into the tank, he's working out the probabilities. I'm sitting there trying to figure out the psychological reasoning and we both come to the same conclusion around the same time, he hooks the 9 and claims shortly after. With a "well done" by WCP, we go on to the next hand. On the drive home he explains his reasoning as not thinking the client would play the J from JTx and then it just became a restricted choice problem. My thought was that WCP would not ethically change tempo holding xx or xxx. 30 years later I'm still not sure if my reasoning holds water. Is it ethical to do the anti hitch on defense? Was it ethical 30 years ago before active ethics became common? Obviously WCP did absolutely nothing wrong, he had Txxx. But I wonder sometimes if he was trying to get into partners head by doing the "he knows that I know that he knows that I know" thing or if it was just because it was almost the last hand of a week long regional.

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