DEAD IS DEAD
Regarding Appeal #4 which happened during the 2d qualifying session of the Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs during the Washington DC, Summer Nationals, I would like to take time to discuss the verdict and though, in my opinion, reached in order to following the current rules, is still a grave strike at the heart of our game. With the following facts:
|♠||A 9 8 6 3|
|♦||Q 10 7 4 3|
|♥||8 6 4 3 2||♥||Q 9|
|♦||A J 9||♦||K 8 6 5|
|♣||K 9 7||♣||A Q 10 8 6 3|
|♠||J 10 7 4 2|
|♥||A K 7 5|
|♣||5 4 2|
|Pass||3♠ **||Double||All Pass|
Opening Lead: King of Spades
** After a 1NT opening or a direct 1NT overcall, minor suit Stayman.
Our rules now state that normally the type of adventure which occurred on this hand would be labeled misinformation rather than just a misbid and so, consequently, caused the initial TD to cancel the result of 3 spades doubled making nine tricks (NS +530) and allow EW to score 3NT making nine tricks (+600). However the NS convention cards stated clearly that, after passing, a 1NT overcall was a takeout for the unbid suits.
It is past time for us, in the interest of fairness and equity, to make what happened, Convention Disruption (CD), an official offense, to be penalized accordingly, which hopefully, in the fullness of time, will force conventioneers to either learn their conventions or exercise their other option of not playing them and, if necessary, scratch them off the convention card.
Let’s examine the plight of their opponents:
When East was informed that his RHO’s 1NT overcall was strong he naturally passed since to consider rebidding a minimum opening, while vulnerable, when clubs figured to be well stopped had to be, at the very least, a very dangerous and hence not a compelling option. On the other hand if East would instead have been privy to 1NT being a TO for the other two suits he should be interested in telling his partner why he opened the bidding in the first place, in this case not to show a balanced opening, but to offer his good club suit as a possible contract. After all the design for bidding in our game is merely a language to convey what we have and, by that inference, what we don’t have. WHEN CD OCCURS, WHETHER INTENTIONALLY OR JUST ACCIDENTLY, AWAY GOES ALL SENSE OF WHAT OUR GAME IS ABOUT ON THAT HAND! It should then occur to our lawmakers that when particular conventions are designed to be defensive, meaning trying to find a successful sacrifice or sometimes just designed to drive the opponents higher, that forgetting the meaning(s) all too often unilaterally penalize the opponents while at the same time and all too often, not create the risk that other forgets, usually constructive bidding ones, would.
With that in mind it becomes necessary to establish discipline to those who legally want to disrupt their opponents or at least want for themselves to be considered tough opponents to play against. All well intended and perfectly legal, but NOT SO when conventions are forgotten. It then naturally follows that all CD’s should be recognized as very unhealthy for the game and if possible, penalized out of existence.
As a final thought, on this hand I would give NS a zero on this board. After all, the unbelievably talented Michael Jackson is dead at an all too young age, possibly because of an error made by his prescribing doctor, but nevertheless as dead as he would have been if he had instead, been brutally murdered. Second I would only give EW an average on that board since they are not entitled to a windfall result simply because their opponents were unlawful. It is very important in a pairs tournament to Protect the Field (PTF) so that matchpoints are not distributed like candy from a candy store to those who have not earned them. As corroborating evidence NS should have made an overtrick in 3 Spades doubled, one which would not risk the contract, therefore showing evidence of poor play which, IMO would give them a zero instead of a result up to 1/4 of a board. On the other hand West did choose the wrong call when he doubled them in 3 spades even though I can suggest nothing more logical, therefore restricting their result to an average rather than an average plus. Mental toughness is a necessary prerequisite to be an able appeals committee member.
Summing up, I think the committee presiding on this case was made up of fine bridge players and also well balanced people who were only trying to follow the law. However, I think the time has come to conduct an environment of a Bridge Meritocracy rather than an outdated law forum and as bridge is constantly changing, I think our bridge administrators should also follow suit and update themselves.
The harsh penalties suggested apply not only to the crafty foxes always seeking a free chicken sandwich, but also to the totally honest animals whose only crime is forgetting a used convention.