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Is this any way to play bridge????

I went today for the first time to the new premises of the Young Chelsea Bridge Club in West London, where I teamed up with an occasional player as a scratch partnership. It was a Wednesday night duplicate pairs with about 13 tables - just another club night. A third of the way through the event the following hand cropped up:-



3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0


1NT was announced as 15-17.

I led my 4th best spade and partner played the 7 as declarer won with the Jack. From this I could place declarer with precisely AKJ10 in this suit. Declarer put Kc on the table at trick 2 and then finessed the Jack of clubs at trick 3, losing to my partner's queen.

Partner played 10h, declarer played a small one and I won with the King. I exited with my remaining heart and declarer won with the Ace. The fact that my partner didn't cover the Jack with the Queen placed that card too in declarer's hand. At this point I could already account for all of declarer's points - AKJ in spades, AQ in hearts and the King of clubs totals 17 points. So I knew now that partner had AJ of diamonds.

At trick 6 declarer played a diamond from hand and put up the king. Partner won with the Ace and cleared the hearts whilst I discarded a spade. Declarer played 2 further rounds of clubs at trick 8 and 9 and I threw a spade and the Qd, lest I get thrown in with it in the endgame.

This is the 4 card end position with dummy (North) on lead:-

North:    x         -         xxx         -

East:      -         xx         Jx         -

South:    AKJ      -           x          -  

West:     Qxx      -          10         -

At this juncture declarer had already lost one club, one heart and one diamond. The hand is an open book - both declarer and I knew the remaining cards in all 4  hands with total certainty. When North, the dummy, played a  spade at trick 10 I exposed my cards as West to show that he was one off. First declarer and then dummy screamed for the director, and claimed the contract on the basis that I had shown my cards prematurely and that should my partner happen to throw the Jd I could then be endplayed in diamonds to play a spade into the KJ. Partner is holding the 12th and 13th hearts and Jx in diamonds - the one card he would of course never release at trick 10 is the Jd.

The club director, an international player of some repute himself, tells me that declarer is a 'world-class player', who happened to be making his first visit to the club. He also told me that declarer is 'a really nice guy', which is what finally persuaded me not to name him here for what I'm sure (hope?) was a momentary aberration.

To my mind, declarer's (and dummy's) actions are contemptible in the extreme. I've shown him my cards in good faith - he is one off. It doesn't matter whether strictly speaking my partner under the rules of the game can be obliged to discard his one winning card being the Jd, this isn't in my view the right way to play bridge. And this wasn't the semi-final of the World Pairs or the late stages of the Reisinger - this was a club duplicate night.

There has been some considerable speculation on these pages as to why anybody might want to cheat as certain household-name players have been recently alleged (proved?) to have done. Well, clearly some people have a 'win-at-any-cost' mentality, and sportsmanship and decent conduct matter not one jot to these people. The kind of behaviour that this particular 'world-class' player exhibited on this hand constitutes ethical misconduct of the vilest sort in my book, and falls only just below outright cheating by collusion in my hierarchy of Foul Ethics at Bridge. 

We are now, hopefully, entering the 'Post-cheating' era in bridge, and all players, especially those reputed to be at the top level of the game, should feel honour-bound to play the game in as sportsmanlike manner as they can. What is the point of clearing out the active cheats if top players are going to conduct themselves as my opponent did this evening?

Or have I got this all wrong?

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