Friday, April 7, 2006

A strange decision and a grim outcome

This is a board that generated much debate.

Please visit

for opinions other than mine :). Here goes:

This is board 25 from Romania's National Team Competition, First Division
Sunday 4 December 2005
Round 6/7, second partDealer N, E-W vul.
North is Bogdan Vulcan, your autor.

Dlr: N Vul: EW Scr: IMP
North K98 32 Q2 AKJ982
West QJ7 R7 JT654 T76
East 65432 JT6 54 3 Q3
South AT AQ98 AK987 54

Bidding goes:
1c! - 2c! - P - 2d
P - 2h - dbl - p
3c - P - 3h - p
3NT - P ..6NT

North opened the bidding with 1 club , alerted as "natural with clubs or any balanced hand 15-20". East overcalled 2 clubs and alerted for North "Major 2 suiter". On the other side of the screen, West alerted for South " Diamonds +A Major 2 suiter".NS's supplemental notes contain a defence to the 2 clubs overcall specific to the case when it shows both majors:

Double=any hand that desires to double the overcaller in one or more suitsPass+double=10-12 points, not penalty oriented, usually balanced hands.

Their notes do not contain a defence to the diamond+maj 2 suiter, nor do they contain a general defence to 2 suited overcalls. Unable to use the established defence, South passes.

West bids 2 diamonds, no alert.On the other side of the screen East alerts 2 diamonds as "choose a major". North passes and East bids 2 hearts . West explains to South: maybe he wants to play more.

Now South doubles.West passes with 5 diamonds and 2 hearts. North runs from the double as this does not show, according to their notes, a penalty hand and his hand has no good trumps to pass, and bids 3 clubs .

South bids 3 hearts showing values there and a NT invitation. North accepts with 3NT. South checks for aces and bids 6NT.The lead is a small heart from East.

The contract is poorly oriented due to the bad explaining of the alert on SW side. If N would have known that S is adressing to a diamond+maj 2 suiter, N would have announced 3 spades.

6NT from South makes, as the only leads that do not give away the 12th trick are a club or J/T of diamonds. Even on those leads and upon not finding Qx of clubs, West is subject to a squeeze for the 12 trick. Played from N, 6NT is at a decision point at trick 1. If the heart finesse works and clubs are 3-2 the contract makes. Even if the heart finesse fails clubs can be 3-2 with Qxx in West. North took the heart finesse and went down.When the board is finished, NS call the director and EW acknowledged the bad explanation of W.

NS requests are:

1. Had the alert been accurate (according to EW convention card, stating that this shows majors), the contract on this board, according to NS convention card and notes, 2 hearts doubled making 800 or 1100, depending on the defence. The innacurate alert changed the table result in an obvious way.

2. When asked "what does 2 hearts mean", West replied "maybe partner wants more". The pass is very strange. I have seen rulings in which W's hand has to bid 3 diamonds and E goes back to hearts , so the table contract can be even 3 hearts doubled!The director's ruling: +3/-3 IMPS, can't decide what would happen had the alert been correct.

My questions for the time being are:

1. Is there any prejudice? If you were in N's or S's shoes (especially S's) would you have felt prejudiced in any way?
2. Is the director's ruling correct? If not, what would you rule?Can NS see their demands met? Are those demands normal?

NS went to the appeal comitee. I will follow up with their decision in a subsequent post but want some opinions here.

This is what happened in the first for the second part (read it here )

Before I let you know the appeal commitee's decision, a few answers:

1. We are not an expert pair. Actually, we are a pair for no more than 2 months and play a relay system that has taken most of our training time. I didn't have time to show my partner defences to any 2 suited overcall. The defence to the major 2 suiter was shown in a minute or two. I really and honestly do not know whether he is capable of generalizing it to any 2 suiter. Had N and S been switched, I would have made the proper bid on 2 clubs: double. I have no idea whatsoever why he chose to pass, and I think that passing with such hands is very poor bridge and I have told him that. Still, there WAS a defence on our CC, a VERY SPECIFIC one, that become useless due to the alert.

2. We make no allegations regarding E-W intentions and I honestly think they were not doing this on any purpose, since this would be extremely stupid and unfair.

Now, the appeal commitee was composed of three members, Mr. C (head of the appeal commitee), Mr. V and Mr. D. The three are very good players, many national titles, many times members of Romania's team, etc.However, the jury behaved as follows:

1. Asked the E-W side about their CC and without seeing it agreed that 2 clubs was "majors".
2. I insisted on showing them my supplemental notes showing the defence to the major 2 suited overcall. This didn't seem to interest anyone.
3. The jury's members focused on explaining me that it's not good bridge to pass with South's hand and that I will lose many boards if I don't double right away. When trying to explain the situation I was further asked "why didn't YOU pass the double", which was a cooperation double, not a penalty one. Again I offered to show my notes regarding this double but at this point one of the jury's members said that this is losing time and ruled for the table result to stand, no +3/-3 anymore, nothing. Mister V left the room afterwards.
4. Left with 2 members, I insisted on my CC but the feeling was that the jury was either bad intented or unable to understand that South's bidding skills are not on trial. I was explained over and over the same thing: WHY DID YOUR PARTNER PASS AND WHY DIDN'T YOU PASS THE DOUBLE?5. The comedy ended with Mr. C ruling for "table result to stand". With 2 members ruling for the same thing, Mr. D had practically no word with his ruling for "+3/-3".6. The show ended with me questioning Mr.C "is there any way to contest your decision?" I was answered: "Yes, in Haga".

I don't think that this is a normal behaviour for an appeal commitee in a national event.

First of all, I really think they didn't understand any of this bridge problem. Second, the explanaitions offered to me were really great:"Why didn't West correct to 3 diamonds with a 5 card fit? Maybe she realised that partner is maybe a 2 suited hand with majors )" or "It's your mistake, you should not bid 3NT with K98 in spades )" or "All of this is conjunctural: MAYBE you can double them. MAYBE you can play 6NT for the good hand. SO? This doesn't prove anything".

I respect the jury's decision, even if this costs us at least 4 VPS with which we would be the leaders of our qualifying pool, but I have the following comments:

1. First of all, the jury had 8 members, 4 from each pool. Mr. D and Mr. V were both from my pool, fighting us for the first places. Is this normal? This could be very ugly interpreted, fortunately it's not the case since I don't think they did this on purpose.

2. Am I going crazy or there is really something wrong in this picture?

3. What can I do to make sure this won't happen again?

4. I am always a polite and fair player. I never make any comments or irregularities. Why do nice guys finish last?

5. I have asked quite a number of Romanian good players about this board and all answered some kind of reparation for N-S. Never heard of table ruling to stand when E and W made different alerts.

Thank you all for reading this Romanian masterpiece. :)

Getting tired of reading this? Here goes the last part!

Finally, me and my team filed the following appeals:

1. To the Romanian Disciplinary Commision - inquiring if the behaviour displayed by the jury's members was ok....the answer was "our Commission has no penalty for improper but not too rude behaviour" :))
2. To the Romanian Referee Commision - they denied competency stating that they are not entitled to change the decision given by a jury and suggested us to appeal to the Romanian Bridge Federation directly.
3. To the Romanian Bridge Federation Appeal Commitee, which ruled that, although the decision of the jury was probably wrong and based on a very poor understanding of bridge regulations and of the actual bridge problem, decided that the jurisation process took place in a legal way hence it cannot be reviewed by another jury.

In other words, a bad decision stands because it had the appearance of being made in a legal environment (with 2 members being in contention with our team!!).

The moral in this:
1. Always know your system and try to cover most competitive situations. They will try every possible scheme over here to make you look foolish and be sorry for your appeal.
2. Every board counts. We lost the qualification in the final by 1 VP! With +3/-3 we would've been in the final, not to mention +1100 or the like.

Phew! That was long!
Any thoughts? Is this entire thing fishy or am I going slightly mad? :)
Thanks for reading guys, cya next week with something fresh!
Bogdan Vulcan