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At matchpoints, with only our opponents vulnerable, my partner opened one diamond in fourth seat with the following: ♠ KQJ2 ♡ T7 ♢9873 ♣ KQ3.

With opponents passing all bids, I responded one heart, partner bid one spade, and I said 2 clubs (forcing). After my left hand opponent passed and then asked for the meaning of my bid. Partner, who was also the tournament director, ruled that she should have alerted the bid, and stated that the penalty was that she had to pass.

Was the bid generally alertable or only in our club? If so, was the penalty appropriate? What should she have bid without the penalty, 2NT perhaps? And should she have opened in fourth seat with only 11 high card points and 4-2-4-3 distribution? Or should she have taken the average score she would have gotten by passing?

2 Answers 2

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Partner should have simply opened 1 spade, and passed any natural response from your hand. Partner should rebid to show Bad-Hand/Bad-Suit over Drury; and convert any other non-natural raise to the minimum number of spades.

Hands that open 1 diamond in fourth seat should have fit one of these patterns:

  1. A hand that always opens 1D in second seat vulnerable against not. These hands should have a good chance of making 9 tricks in Diamonds or 8 in No Trump, even opposite Partner's pass. This isn't such a hand.

  2. A hand that is 3442, below minimum strength but opening on the basis of its Pearson Points; and will pass any call by responder. This isn't that hand either.

What Partner has, instead, is a hand that opens in Fourth seat solely because of the Spade suit. These hand MUST open 1 spade in order to enable Drury, allowing Partner to show Bad-Hand/Bad-Suit, and get out in a 2 spade contract. This is that hand. The spades are opened in order to smother opponents' possible heart fit.

Instead Partner tied herself up in knots, and gave opponents an opening lead roadmap to the hand.

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  • Would you make this bid in third position? Partner has still passed, and there might be at least the merit of shutting out fourth seat from bidding one of a suit.
    – Tom Au
    May 10, 2023 at 1:06
  • @TomAu: Assuming Drury or equivalent - absolutely. May 10, 2023 at 1:08
  • I'm not sure I would do this with four hearts instead of four spades because of the possibility of a one spade overcall that reduces my equity.
    – Tom Au
    May 10, 2023 at 1:30
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There are a number of questions raised here, so I'll take them one by one.

First, was your 2C bid generally alertable? Yes, an artificial and forcing 2C bid is alertable according to the ACBL Alert Procedures. In the section on artificial bids, it is not listed among the "Other Artificial Bids" that should not be alerted.

Second, was the penalty appropriate? No, by my reading of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. Law 21 (Misinformation), Section B (Call Based on Misinformation from an Opponent), reads in part:

  1. (a) Until the end of the auction period (see Law 17D) and provided that his partner has not subsequently called, a player may change a call without other rectification for his side when the Director judges that the decision to make the call could well have been influenced by information given to the player by an opponent. Failure to alert promptly where an alert is required by the Regulating Authority is deemed misinformation.

Here, LHO has passed, perhaps because of misinformation, and RHO has not yet taken a call, so LHO is entitled to change a call without other rectification. Moreover, I don't even see that any relevant unauthorized information has been transmitted to you, since partner realized their mistake before taking their next call, so I don't think that any further restriction on your bidding is necessary. Frankly, I don't think any restriction on your partner's bidding would be warranted even in other twists on this situation unless you said something before the end of the auction (or end of play, if your side ended up defending) to indicate that partner failed to alert.

By the by, LHO should have asked your partner about the meaning of your bid before taking a call. I suppose that your partner may have been thinking about her bid before being woken up to its meaning by LHO's question, but that is not unauthorized information -- that awakening was caused by your opponents, not you.

Third, what should her rebid have been after your 2C? Yes, I think 2NT is perfectly appropriate. Partner doesn't have 3-card heart support or a suit-oriented hand with rebiddable diamonds, and does have a club stopper. She clearly doesn't want to be in 3NT, but 2NT may well be the best spot.

Fourth, should she have opened in fourth seat? I think at match points this hand should be opened; the nice spade suit means that her side is not likely to "lose the auction" by allowing the opponents to back into a nice 2-level contract. As another answer indicates, 1S is a good choice for opening, but I do not go as far as he does and say that it's the only possible choice. 1D is also reasonable if she just treats this hand as a 12 count; her honor structure is nice and there are some nice spot cards. I think that choice is more defensible if your practice is to rebid 1NT with minimum balanced hands even with a four-card major, reserving 1S for more distributional hands.

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