Join Bridge Winners
The Practice of Ethics


Related to a post by Tracy Brines (Obligated to bid slam?):

 The auction proceeds: 2 by dopey, pass by RHO, "obligated" 2 relay by you... by which point partner exclaims: shucks p, the box cards were stuck, I meant to open 1NT. The TD is called, the ruling made (auction stands). Pass by LHO and partner, at this point probably completely bewildered by her own (mechanical) error and, at the very least, the frustrating ruling, slaps 3NT on the table, showing 28+hcp. Most if not all BW users agreed that a pass-out of 3NT would be unacceptable and a self-penalty of 6NT is what most BW users thought is the correct ethical decision. I have no problem with any of these facts, except for the ruling, which I find somewhat malicious (TD could have asked RHO if he had a bid over 1NT, others have suggested other solutions etc.).

To be quite frank, I am not especially interested in what the Laws say, I am mostly interested in expert commentary (I will not be shocked if I don't get any, maybe this is all just a banality). I play bridge in a country where the Laws are (basically not in effect) scarcely applied through tournament propositions, the use of "orange books" for TD's or simply by the TD using his own judgment or, if an appeal is launched, via committee of available experts (I may not be completely correct about this, maybe other Croatian players might elaborate more on our practices, but I am writing about this only to provide some insight into my own bridge mentality when it comes to ethical problems). I am personally not aware of the existence of any grand document on bridge ethics in Croatia. It might actually exist, but it certainly isn't widely used or even known to exist by many.

Tracy's hand was a random 7 count, so the board is practically over if the ruling is "auction stands" (a ridiculous slam will be bid and doubled, maybe a penalty ensues, whatever).

But what if... it's "system on" after 3NT and Tracy holds something like Qxx KJxxx xx Jxx and bids 4 as "transfer", and partner, sweating his shirt off, passes, hoping Tracy actually has hearts and not spades? Same hand with clubs, she bids "stayman"; with diamonds, "transfer"; with spades, "minor stayman". Obviously, it would be foolish to bid an actual transfer (->, ->) since partner would either A) pass based on his "psyche" or B) accept, in which case we're back where we started and Tracy has to bid on to 6NT.

Basically what I am asking: what are the ethical obligations of the opener? And why not simply roll it back to 1NT? Where is the UI after 2-pass-2? If RHO has a bid over 1NT and not over 2, what conclusions can his partner draw from this? What can Tracy and her partner gain by this information?


One last hypothetical: Dopey opens 2, RHO makes a 3 bid (let's say natural) and Tracy jumps to 4 with xx AJxxxx xxx xx at which point dopey exclaims: Lawdy, the boxcards where stuck, I meant to bid 1NT. The likely ruling would be "auction stands" (pls comment if you think otherwise). What does dopey do now? Alternatively, TD rolls it back to 1NT. Can RHO now pass?

(maybe this should have simply been a comment to Tracy's article, but i felt compelled to elaborate and get some feedback - seems like a TL;DR for a mere comment)

(EDIT PS - Dear Tracy, I meant no offense to your partner by calling him/her dopey, but it seems some users see it that way and have alerted me to the fact that its not really kosher. I'll leave it as it's written, let mistakes be mistakes :) )



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