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Who Will Direct the Directors?

The following incident occurred at the recent European Teams Championships in Ostend at our teammates’ table:

South
AJ2
AKJ3
KQJ863
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1

The player holding these cards opened a strong club and over his partner’s negative 1 response rebid 1. The partnership then reached 4 in a 3-4 fit. Before making his lead opening leader inquired whether the 1 bid promised a 5-card suit. Declarer responded that it could be a 4-card suit. Opening leader could have defeated the contract at a critical point later in the defense playing for declarer to hold only 3 spades. Instead based on the information he had received, he played for a different chance hoping declarer had made a mistake in the play of the hand. As a result the contract was made. After the play of the hand it transpired that the partnership agreement was indeed that 1 can be bid with a 3-card suit. It was noted as such on the convention card and had been explained correctly on the other side of the screen.

The TD was called. After consulting with his colleagues and polling five players, he assigned a weighted adjusted score. The weights were slightly higher than the poll result warranted in order to reflect the misinformation. I do not have any issue with this part of the ruling. I do, however, have an issue with the Chief TD’s passivity in light of the infraction of foregoing full disclosure. 

Full disclosure is the basis for our game being played in a fair and ethical way. When I inquired why no disciplinary penalty had been assigned and no reprimand issued, the Chief TD explained to me that he couldn’t just accuse a player of intentionally misrepresenting his systemic agreements and then proceeded to explain that bidding 1 or 1 with a 3-card suit is quite common in Blue Club systems. That may or may not be the case. But even if it is, it certainly doesn’t exempt a player using these methods from his responsibility to provide full disclosure. Incredulously, I inquired what would happen the next time the same player misrepresents his systemic agreements in the same way. The Chief TD shrugged his shoulders.

I was flabbergasted. Is this the example that should be set by the Chief TD? If we want to rid the game of cheating and unethical behavior, we all must work together: administrators, players, and tournament directors. So, tournament directors, please don’t just shrug your shoulders. Instead, please help us keep the game clean.

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