Susanna Gross

Bridge | 12 January 2017

There’s a bit of a ruckus going on in the bridge world at the moment; a lot of people are getting very hot under the collar. The issue is this: should the laws of the game always be enforced, or should players sometimes waive them in favour of creating a friendlier, more enjoyable atmosphere?

Many of England’s star players — David Gold, Artur Malinowski and Tony Forrester among them — are fiercely opposed to calling for ‘rulings’ at the table unless it’s strictly necessary: they feel it goes against the spirit of the game, and deters weaker players from playing in tournaments.

But others argue that rules are rules, and must be applied consistently, not according to an individual’s whims. Why should one player be let off a revoke, for instance, if the player at the next table has just been penalised for one?

At the centre of the storm are two of England’s top internationals, Frances Hinden and Graham Osborne. It all began when they called for a ruling at London’s Year End Swiss Teams. One of their opponents, Stefanie Rohan, opened 2♣ on the following hand:

♠AKJ98752 105 ♣AJ10

The final contract was 6♠, and 12 tricks were made — the same result at both tables. But after scoring up, Hinden and Osborne realised that the 2♣ bid hadn’t been ‘legal’. You may know that it’s illegal to ‘psyche’ a strong 2♣ opening (it’s too difficult to defend against). However, most people are unaware of the added stipulation that if the bid is based on 8 playing-tricks, then those tricks must be ‘clear-cut’ even against second-best breaks. Apparently this hand doesn’t quite make the grade if you consider the possible 4–1 spade breaks.

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