Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Jackie Josephson

We had a match in the 'JJ' (Jackie Josephson) cup last night. This is a handicap competition, where teams from the lower divisions get a head start of 2000 points per division, and we were playing against Gilmorehill, who are definitely a first division team (with at least 5 recent Scottish internationals playing). 

The hand below caused a few rules discussions at half time, although in the end it didn't really matter too much, as we lost comfortably. 

2♣ was Drury, but it was not alerted. Here is where the first question comes up. I'm pretty certain that Norman would never bid 2NT in response to Drury. Obviously the bid should have some meaning, but Norman has a very strong preference for always playing an 8 card major fit once one is identified, and I just couldn't figure out what 2NT could possibly mean. My bid of 3♥ was sort of a hedge against the possibility that it shows a weak NT, but in practice I knew what was going on (and I'm pretty sure I would have known what was going on even if I was behind a screen) - am I ethically obliged to hang myself by bidding 4♥? Especially when I'm not even sure 4♥ would be the correct bid over whatever 2NT does mean. 

However, that's not the only issue. Looking at Jim's hand (South), he has a pretty safe double of 2♣ for a lead if it is alerted. Absent this information, John led a ♠  which gives away the spade suit, and Norman made 3♥. With the double, you'd have to get the spade right to make 9 tricks in ♥s. However, there isn't really any scenario where Norman gives Jim the information he needs to double, and we still end up bidding to 3♥, so it seem harsh to rule whatever fraction of 3♥-1 you would deem appropriate. Charles suggested a fair ruling would be 2♥ making, which I would definitely have accepted, but in the end, we decided to scrap the board entirely (as another table had been unable to play it due to overhearing the result) so it was all moot.

I'm genuinely not sure what the ruling should have been for either of these things, but I'm glad the match didn't finish with a 10 point gap :)


  1. Dealing with UI from partner is always difficult especially when you have limited time at the table to make a decision, so I don't blame you for your decisions but I think you are wrong.

    I'm surprised you are allowed to scrap the board since this would be an unlawful ruling from the TD, although again this is always more trouble in league matches without a competent TD on both sides, or an independent one. Perhaps if the match was close you could have called a referee?

    So your thinking was slightly skewed. You should not have been thinking of a weak no trump, as Norman would always bid 2H with that hand. It is only the UI making you think that.

    Norman may not have bid 2NT before, but if he had correctly alerted 2C and then bid 2NT, your thought processes would have been very different. You would not have considered a weak no trump, you would only be thinking about what time of hand he could possibly have. It could only be some non-minimum hand, whatever it is.

    Even after a double of 2C, you would probably bid 3NT with a balanced (4333) hand and a club stop or you may bid 4H as you have the ace of clubs.

    I would rule 50% of 3NT-1 and 50% of 4H-2.

    I regard this as a fairly simple UI ruling. I would not issue a PP for using UI since it is not easy, although if you kept insisting he could have a weak no trump then I would :)

    1. Thanks Paul, I knew you'd give me an answer :)

      If we were playing with screens, I'm pretty certain I'd conclude from this auction that Norman had forgotten the system. Would I then be allowed to bid 3♥? But the obligation is stronger in the actual situation because I 'know' he's forgotten the system from the UI?

      Is the reason I'm supposed to bid game immediately because my hand isn't very suitable for slam? If I were a little bit stronger, then 3♥ might be a legitimate option? Although presumably I'd be obliged to look for an alternative bid to explore for slam (since 3♥ is suggested by the UI). It's worth noting that we have an explicit agreement that we will never play in 3NT once we have found an 8 card major fit, and in 5 years, I've never known Norman to open a 4 card major, so I think the ruling would have to be 4♥-2.

      Just to confirm, you would still rule -2 even though in practice Norman actually made 9 tricks in ♥s, because Jim should have been able to double 2♣ for a lead? Or because that's a 'normal' result on the board?

  2. With screens you'd have no UI so can do what you like, but when you have UI you have to carefully avoid taking advantage of it. This means not making bids that partner can pass below game :)

    I am not committed to ruling down two, I'd probably take more time to work it out and try to ask someone else. But I was giving the benefit of the doubt to the non-offenders to get a point to start from.

  3. With a balanced hand and only three Hearts, shouldn't you have raised 2NT to 3NT, taking partner's bid was natural?

    1. Probably, but we explicitly have an agreement that we won't play in 3NT with an 8 card major fit, so 2NT can't be looking for the right game.