For example:

            ♠️: KJ10986
            ♥: QJ9
            ♦️: K
            ♣️: Q106
    WEST (Dlr)            EAST
  ♠️: 75                 ♠️: Q43
  ♥: AK7642             ♥: 1083
  ♦️: 8762               ♦️: 54
  ♣️: 8                  ♣️: A9752
            ♠️: A2
            ♥: 5
            ♦️: AQJ1093
            ♣️: KJ43

Or, for those desiring accessibility assists;

(S, H, D, C)

W: 75 AK7642 8762 8

N: KJ10986 QJ9 K Q106

E: Q43 1083 54 A9752

S: A2 5 AQJ1093 KJ43

W opens bidding with 2H which usually shows 6-10 points and 6+ hearts and then N/S bid to game in 3NT.

East leads [to West's] A then K of hearts and exits on a 3rd heart. You can guarantee the contract by making the Q of hearts, A & K of spades, and 6 diamonds. However you can make +1 by giving up the A of clubs early. The only danger in doing this would be if West turned up the A of clubs and ran the rest of their hearts.

Giving the bidding you should be safe to assume East has the A of clubs since if West had it they would have to have 11+ points. If you played to this assumption to make +1 (important for match points) and West did turn up with the A of clubs making the contract go down then is there anything you can do? Would you need to have asked what their preempt means during the bidding?

  • 1
    Downvotes? Is Bridge not popular here? Apr 4, 2019 at 1:44
  • 1
    There are three votes to close the question as unclear. (I have no knowledge of Bridge, so I offer no opinion on the matter.) The downvotes are presumably because of that, not because the question is about Bridge.
    – ikegami
    Apr 4, 2019 at 6:06
  • 1
    This is a reasonable question (at the time of this comment). +1. Also tried to add a simple answer.
    – Aryabhata
    Apr 6, 2019 at 0:54
  • 1
    @ForgetIwaseverhere It may be the standard means but according to the rollback messages it causes issues for people using screen readers which is something to remember
    – Joe W
    Apr 6, 2019 at 20:38
  • 1
    @Nij: Okay, let's have both then. A pure text form for those desiring accessibility assists, and a traditional newspaper format for those desiring that format. Apr 8, 2019 at 7:03

3 Answers 3


First, let's clear up why this question is fundamentally different from this related one:

  • The related question inquires as to the allowability of making a judgement decision, yourself, in violation of one's partnership agreements. The anser is, broadly though with constraints, Yes.

  • This question is about whether, in a specific circumstance, one might have recourse after an opponent's call in violation of their partnership agreements. In general no, though in specific circumstances yes.

Now to the question at hand.

As stated in my answer here, a player may "within certain constraints designed to prevent wholly destructive bidding systems" make any legal call. So no, you do not have recourse if West here turns up with the ♣️A; unless one of the following occurred:

  • East made a call that was clearly consistent with

    • a partnership agreement different than that indicated on their card and communicated to you; and
    • the erroneous call made by West.
  • East gave you an incorrect description of the partnership agreement


  • you were damaged by relying on the information given, incorrectly, by East and West.

None of these circumstances occurred.

  • If West (and possibly East) regularly make similar 'non-system' bids partner will allow for this factor, which means the (standard) explanation on the card is misleading. Since South's deductions were thrown out by this misleading, there was damage and there should be a penalty. (In actual fact I think this is unlikely; but "None of these circumstances occurred" seems too sweeping). [PS I think you have West for East somewhere there] Apr 6, 2019 at 21:32
  • @TimLymington: Thank you - corrected in three places actually. As there is no evidence of past behaviour in this regard, and as the hand was given there is no evidence even of current behaviour, there would clearly be no penalty applied. East has the Club Ace and ten tricks are there for the taking anytime prior to the Spade Queen being established, and a triple squeeze available as well to establish the tenth trick safely. Apr 7, 2019 at 2:00
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    On the money again :-) Just commenting on the play. With no entry outside hearts it may be better defence for West to let declarer win their due heart trick on the first trick. After such defence, the declarer is to a great extent forced to cash his nine tricks and concede the rest. Irrespective of which defender has the ace of clubs. Of course, at matchpoint pairs, a greedy declarer may choose to finess the spade queen in a quest for overtricks :-). Also, that defence means that East comes under no pressure. On the run of the diamonds, they can discard the four club spots. Jul 23, 2019 at 9:54

No you won't have a recourse, at least in ACBL. (for eg see here: http://web2.acbl.org/documentLibrary/play/Convention-Chart.pdf). I expect Forget I was ever here to come up with a better answer with better references to you might want to wait for it :)

E/W are allowed to deviate from their agreement as long as there is no hidden understanding and such deviations are not too frequent (not sure how that is enforced).

  • 1
    Commenting on the enforcement. Mostly it is on honor code. For example, having played with the same partner for more than 10 years I often know that under certain conditions he may deviate a bit. It then behooves me to alert to the opponents that the agreement is so-and-so, but under the present conditions partner has a history of doing this-or-that. There are also forms for filing a psyche, but I don't remember the details. Also, there are often kibitzers around a table with top players. They are to keep their mouths shut during the play, but may spread rumors about unusual events. May 26, 2019 at 18:09

One unclear part of the question that creates different situations: "W opens bidding with 2H which usually shows 6-10 points and 6+ hearts"

The keys to these questions are "You are entitled to their agreements, not the contents of their hand." and "They don't have to play the same way you do." So:

  1. If the quote means: "West opens 2H, which by their agreement usually shows 6-10 points and 6+ hearts", then the other answers are correct:
  • If West decided to open with AK A "this time" (which, even if their agreement was 6-11, would be unusual for a preempt. Aces are worth more than 4 points; AK more than 7), he deviated from his agreement, which is legal, no damage. This isn't a gross deviation (required for "psychic call"), but even psychs are legal (if monitored much more carefully than minor deviations).
  • If West opened 2H with 75 AK7642 872 8, and only after making the call found the ace of clubs stuck behind the 8, it was a misbid. Again, legal, again no damage.
  • If "usually" means "very rare 11s, and KQxxxx is 6", then declarer has been warned that 10 isn't a hard limit. I'd still be surprised about AK A for the reason above.
  • If East would expect AK A, or has even seen West do it more than once, then their (implied) agreement isn't what they give out. Now declarer may have a case for damage.

Note that "6+" is unusual; it's uncommon for length of suits in preempts to be variable, especially on the high side. I play with one partner "good 5-card suit, any 6, poor 7" (I can't imagine better than JTxxxxx, at least when not vul vs not), for instance,but that is clearly marked on our card and is part of any explanation, because it's so odd.

  1. But if the quote means "West opens 2H, which I know most people play as 6-10 points and 6+ hearts" (which, see above, it's "6 with rare exceptions and almost always those exceptions are '5') - that is, if declarer assumed the agreement and didn't check - then if it turns out that this pair happens to play Schenken Club with Schenken's original style of weak 2s, that's declarer's tough luck. "If you had asked, we would have told you."

One of the few things I always ask about is a partnership's preempt style. I usually get "huh?" or, if I'm lucky "well, it'll be 2 of the top 3, ...", but knowing:

  • what their suit quality agreements are
  • what their outside honour agreements are

is frequently critical. If you assume it's "standard" and it's not, that's your problem, not theirs, whether it's knocking out the club ace in the wrong hand, or West having opened on AK764 and East having a fourth heart (okay, sure, likely there would be a big raise, but still), or (on a different day) assuming your AQ5 was two tricks, and losing to Kxx in East when West opened with (a perfectly systemic, for them) JT8632.

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