Really Active Ethics

May 5, 2013

Much has been said about the ethics of a Bridge player. Bridge by its very nature gives scope to dishonesty, to use a mild word. How many players in our country bend over backwards, when partner has taken a long pause, to pass at their next turn. Very few I believe. There are all sorts of misdemeanors a player would resort to, like asking the meaning of a particular bid even if it is not alerted, or pointedly asking about a particular bid, in order to suggest a lead to partner.


The other I heard of a hilarious incidence. A very senior player of Mumbai, called the director in a local tournament, & complained about his opponent, another very senior player, saying “ he always lies at the table” The director was non-plussed as the two antagonists were playing together frequently for the last 40 years. It seemed they had a bitter quarrel a few days before & had vowed never to play together. It was only then the senior player realized that the other fellow followed sharp practices at the table.


In the last decade I have come across a few cases of active ethics in India. I cannot resist quoting one of them here. In the C.B.A tournament Mr. Nandu Oke was playing in a pairs’ event. During the play Nandu heard a player on the earlier table berating his partner for not leading a H as it would have put the contract down. Nandu immediately called the director & apprised him of the unauthorized information. He assured the director that he would lead a H, if he was on lead only if the lead was natural. The board came to his table, he was indeed on lead & the natural lead was not H. Nandu did not lead a H & allowed the contract to make.


One more instant I would like to quote is from an international match between India & Australia in the 1996 World Championships.

Bruce Neill of Australia opened 1H which in their system was a transfer to 1S. But he forgot to alert. His LHO (unfortunately I don’t know his name) overcalled 1S & pushed the tray to the other side of the table before Neill could stop him. The director was called & he allowed West to change his call to pass. Then, since the bids had been seen on the other side of the table, the director informed the table at large that N/S could not use the unauthorized information but E/W were free to use it. In other words N/S had to play as if East had not overcalled. North bid 1NT. East bid 2H & Neill bid 2S even though he knew he was going to run into a bad break. But 2S was his natural bid & he bid it. West led a H to East’s J & East tried to cash the A but Neill ruffed. He then went to dummy with CJ & discarded a D on HK. Then he made the most ethical play & I have ever heard of. He cashed the SA & returned a small S as he would have done, in normal circumstances. He knew East would be able to draw all the trumps & if he had a H or if East had the DA, opponents would make 10 tricks. But god is not cruel. East did not have a H (pun unintended) to back & did have the DA so Bruce Neill escaped with only one down.


Put yourselves in Bruce Neill’s position & your answer me. Under similar circumstances would you have played in the same manner? If your answer is in the affirmative, I am proud of you. If it is negative I suggest you switch over to some other lucrative profession, like politics, where ethics is a “4 letter world.”


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posted on May 5, 2013
in Articles, Laws, Ethics and Rulings
tagged , , , ,
about author Ananth Bhagwatanant_bhagwat

Ananth Bhagwat

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