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Ten seconds!

The Blue Book says "After a jump bid, the next player MUST pause for about ten seconds before calling. It is an
offence either not to pause or to show indifference when pausing".

Let's say (because I have had two such cases recently) that East deals and opens 2 of a major and this is alerted. South has to appear at least without indifference, but South has no idea what the 2 of a major opening means. Under these circumstances and given the regulation, is it reasonable for South to ask about the opening without being deemed to pass UI to his partner that he has an interest in the opening?

As it happened, in one case, East opened 2H showing 5+H and 4+ in any other and 5-9. In the other case, East opened 2S showing either weak with D or weak with H+C or a strong three suited hand. In both cases, South asked, and then, within a reasonable time, passed. North acted and a ruling was sought on the basis that South asked.

Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live


  • edited April 15

    An alert tells you that the call has a meaning you might not expect and therefore you should ask. The conventional wisdom in England (but not in many other places) over many years that you should only ask if you intend to act, is simply wrong! That would ensure you gave UI whenever you asked and passed.

    The way to minimise UI is to always ask about certain groups of alerted calls, such as all on the first round.

  • edited April 15

    If you don't consistently ask, then both asking and not asking convey UI. (It is rare for players to call the Director on the basis that a player didn't ask a question, but theoretically they should be doing it more often – people who use the policy of "only ask if you intend to bid with at least one meaning" are giving huge amounts of UI in both the "ask and pass" and "don't ask and pass" cases.) As such, it is best to have a policy about which calls you ask about, and to stick to the policy regardless of your hand. (Arguably this should even be written on the system card, although there isn't really room for it at the moment.)

  • The policy of always asking could be fraught as some players who say they always ask don't always remember to ask. But that's a different matter to what I'm wittering about in my OP, which are two actual rulings. Let's say that South puts the argument to me "The Stop Card Regulation should help protect me. I am meant to either show or pretend to show interest (or lack of indifference) so how can I do that while I don't know what the alerted jump opening means or shows? Surely if I don't ask, irrespective of whether I then bid or pass, I can't avoid showing indifference? Therefore, my asking cannot be taken as giving UI". How would you reply?

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • edited April 16

    I think South's reasoning is correct here, and should apply regardless of South's hand. As such, if South has been consistently asking in this situation, there is no problem – and if South hasn't been consistently asking, then that would probably have been a rules violation on the boards where the question wasn't asked. (It's also possible that the situation doesn't come up often enough for South to have an established pattern yet, in which case I suspect no rules have been breached.)

    For what it's worth, I play an alertable 2H opening bid – normally I play with self-alerting, but last time I played with partner alerts, my partner opened 2H, I alerted, and my RHO (partner's LHO) didn't ask (the protective seat asked on their turn). It's possible that they checked the system card, which would be a reasonable alternative to asking in this situation (and would also give the impression of caring about the call) – I find that the hardest situations to consistently ask in are those where you think you already know what the bid means, e.g. due to the opponents explaining their system at the start of the round or because you've read it off the system card. (Despite using partner alerts, we were playing online, so the activity of checking a system card wouldn't necessarily have been obvious to other people at the table.)

    There are also awkward situations where a player thinks they know what a call means in their opponents' system, and are wrong (e.g. recently, partner overcalled 2C over the opponent's 1NT, I alerted (and was correct to do so), the opponents assumed hearts and spades and didn't immediately ask but we actually play it as hearts and clubs). That ends up complicating the situation still further, especially because the lack of a question generates substantial UI about what particular misapprehension a player was under when bidding. I am not really sure how the more complex situations that can arise from this sort of thing should be resolved.

    (The ideal fix would probably be to have some sort of computerised system that alerts automatically – but then players would have to teach their entire system to a computer, which has proven to be very difficult in practice even for apparently standard systems like Acol or SAYC.)

  • With opening bids in particular it-[pppppppppppppppppp-[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[(edited by foster cat) doesn't seem all that unusual for a player to have checked the card and know what the bid means. It probably is still better in theory to ask to keep the appearance of consistency. Whenever you sometimes do one thing and sometimes do something else there's a risk of UI. Sometimes that can't be helped but here, probably.

    And South would have a point. With the ten second pause if they don't ask it's really quite clear they weren't thinking about bidding, I think the stop procedure should protect them there. Asking seems normal. Same after an intervention over 1NT, many pairs simply ask out of habit on those sequences.

    I think where UI can really come into play sometimes is in how you ask about a bid, and there's probably some bids later in the auction where it's unusual to show an interest (they're halfway through a symmetric relay sequence and you suddenly perk up, say). The alert system isn't perfect in this sense, if you're always asking the question of why not just announce the bid naturally arises. Just don't ask me how to improve it.

  • @JamesC said:
    I think the stop procedure should protect them there.

    Thanks, James. You could probably tell that that was also my thinking.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • I remember asking about alerted jump bids ages ago. I think Robin replied. His view was consistent with Gordon's; that you should ask at least partly because following the STOP bid next in hand has nothing better to do than ask about the alerted bid. This is the view that I take as a TD. Unfortunately some TDs and many senior players prefer to tell players that they should only ask if they're intending to bid. Based on replies from Robin and Gordon I'm sure this advice is just plain wrong.

  • Well, there was a time when it was more or less the standard view. Which doesn't mean it's not a flawed argument, just that attitudes have shifted over time. It's not so strange to see old opinions persisting. I guess we can all do our best to update them.

  • What would you suggest to do, if you are reluctant to ask, as it may be a relief to the opps to give their partner their understanding or possible misunderstanding of the system.
  • Well you just need to accept that if you only ever ask when you have an interest in acting, this will give your partner UI and may limit their options.
  • @RogerPratt said:
    .... many senior players prefer to tell players that they should only ask if they're intending to bid.

    I have even come across: "Please could you explain the alerted bid?"
    "Why? Are you intending to bid?"

    Player education is like painting the Forth Bridge!

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • @SteveMap said:
    What would you suggest to do, if you are reluctant to ask, as it may be a relief to the opps to give their partner their understanding or possible misunderstanding of the system.

    I think that if you need to ask, you need to ask. I can understand your reluctance in that their explanation provides UI to their partner which they should then avoid using, but that they might use and you might then have difficulty in realising that they might have used that UI. But you shouldn't let that stop you asking.

    One thing I recommend if you think that opponents might not have an agreement about a call is to start your question "Do you have an agreement about .... " because it can stop undesirable UI between opponents.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • One common problem I find is that if one player asks a question their partner will often jump in with comments or questions of their own. Patience is a virtue (and compulsory!)

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