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The problem is bigger than the Stop Card

Having just returned disillusioned and dissatisfied from my favourite 3 day Sectional in Anacortes, WA, I wanted to check on BW as to the state of the game in regards to the laws and was not surprised to find discussions regarding the use and misuse of the Stop Card. IMO, if you remove the Stop Card, you will still have the Tempo problems and players will use other methods to alert their partner of an unusual bid, the most common is the fixed stare at their partner after they make the bid.

While ignorance or simple non compliance of the stop card and skip bid regulations is rampant, there are more concerning violations of the laws happening on a regular basis.

On Friday at the Sectional, during an uncontested auction, my partner and I were in a keycard inquiry when my RHO asked the question, “what does 5 clubs mean, do you play 1430?”, when it was apparent that the hand involved would be on the table as dummy. When I offered that the question was better asked after the auction, after his partner had made a face down lead, RHO retorted “I am allowed to ask a question at my turn to bid”.I felt it best here to call the director and explain the situation. The director advised the table that anyone “Is allowed to ask questions at their turn to bid”. When I pointed out that we were in the middle of a keycard inquiry and the question was better asked after the face down lead the director simply repeated his last statement. After ending in 6S, LHO led (you guessed it) club J from JTxx holding xxxx,x,xxxx,JTxx.I covered the J with Q, which was followed by RHO's K, which I took with the A. I called the director again and got the head TD this time, explained the situation and was again told “you are allowed to ask questions at your turn to bid”.Play continued with the opponents commenting how unfriendly I was to call the director and see, they were allowed to ask any question at their turn to bid!, and with me pointing out that this was rubbish.The TD returned to the table and I was told that if I continued, I would receive a Zero Tolerance Penalty.

This similar sequence of poorly timed questions happened during other auctions over the 3 days, I didn't bother to call the director.

Sunday Swiss; (P), 1nt 12-14, (P*), P, (2S) all pass

There was a break in tempo after my 1nt opening and after the hand I called the director suggesting RHO 2S bid holding AQxxx, xxx, Qxx, xx could have been influenced by the BIT. LHO agreed there had been a BIT, RHO said she “always bids like this after a weak nt”, director took the board away. Later when I inquired about the hand I was told it was “a wash” as 1nt would have been -1, 2S=. Even if this is true and correct, I don't care about the result, I am concerned that my RHO did not feel that she was constrained by the BIT, and that the TD wasn't at all concerned with that aspect.

I very much like Barry Rogoff's comment in one of the stop card discussions,“If the ACBL stopped throwing money away on useless crap like "Tricks of the Trade" and started educating new players about the laws and proprieties of the game, particularly Law 16B, everyone would enjoy bridge more and more people would play.”

I'm very frustrated with the amount of UI used in club games and tournaments. I am tired of calling the director and getting non rulings. With only an “if you can't beat them, join them” option left, I am not going to “join them”.

The only law that seems to be consistently enforced is the “no cell phone” law. You can swear at your partner and opponents but you are in deep trouble if your cell phone beeps.

To those of you who only play in National events, where hopefully, this type of behaviour does not take place, you should be concerned because these are the NABC players of the future, and they are playing quite a different game.

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