Really Active EthicsMay 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 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 , 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 . Nandu did not lead a & 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 1 which in their system was a transfer to 1. But he forgot to alert. His LHO (unfortunately I don’t know his name) overcalled 1 & 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 2 & Neill bid 2 even though he knew he was going to run into a bad break. But 2 was his natural bid & he bid it. West led a to East’s J & East tried to cash the A but Neill ruffed. He then went to dummy with J & discarded a on K. Then he made the most ethical play & I have ever heard of. He cashed the A & returned a small as he would have done, in normal circumstances. He knew East would be able to draw all the trumps & if he had a or if East had the A, opponents would make 10 tricks. But god is not cruel. East did not have a (pun unintended) to back & did have the A 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.”