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Illegal NT opening 2/1 ACBL

#1 User is offline   dickiegera 

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Posted 2021-October-28, 13:32




South opened 1NT with a singleton in clubs. The bidding continued as posted.

When dummy came I called the director pointing out that S opened 1 NT with only 1 club witch was not A or K

E/W can make 3NT

South is a former director before COVID entered the picture [stated he didn't know that rule. which I do not believe he didn't know]


What should the ruling be for the illegal bid????


Thank you
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#2 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-October-28, 14:50

I'm not an ACBL Director or player (and happy not to be either, given this example of regulations), but as I understand it this is now considered an illegal call and so if the other side is damaged as a result, the score should be adjusted to a likely result had the illegal call not been made. I struggle to see how EW could miss 3NT after either 1 or 1NT (3), so for me the result stands.

If South stopped directing before covid he might have missed recent changes and be convinced he has a right to deviate occasionally with a hand like this. If not he probably deserves a penalty, but good luck imposing that on BBO.
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#3 User is offline   TylerE 

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Posted 2021-October-28, 15:35

View Postpescetom, on 2021-October-28, 14:50, said:

I struggle to see how EW could miss 3NT after either 1 or 1NT (3),


Strong disagree. Can't W have that same hand without the AH? 3N could easily be off 6 or 7 top tricks.

This is made even less appetizing from E's perspective in that his non-c honors are surely under rather than over the outstanding high cards.
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#4 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 01:37

Has anybody who made this rule, exlained how to bid with a hand as south holds? These hands are notoriously difficult to handle in an otherwise natural system. I don’t know how this should be handled, but I’m glad that I’m not playing or directing in ACBL-land.
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#5 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 03:23

View Postsanst, on 2021-October-29, 01:37, said:

Has anybody who made this rule, exlained how to bid with a hand as south holds? These hands are notoriously difficult to handle in an otherwise natural system. I don’t know how this should be handled, but I’m glad that I’m not playing or directing in ACBL-land.

I should have no problem, but maybe because I have very simple and natural agreements:
1 showing the lowest ranking suit among more than one 4-card suits and no suit with 5 or more cards.
(Of course 1 would not deny 5 cards or more in that suit, but that is irrelevant here).
1NT is out of question because of the singleton.
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#6 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 04:38

The ability of individual authorities to generate idiosyncratic rules is one reason Bridge is doomed to be one of the least popular of the recognised mind games.
Many people know the basic tenets of Bridge, but the number of people that play regularly compared to Chess or Go is orders of magnitude smaller (just compare the number of online players in Chess vs Bridge).

The problem is not whether or not bidding 1NT with a particular strength or shape is good or bad.
Or a forcing pass system.
Or any other mad idea that someone wants to come up with.

The problem is making these mad ideas illegal.

So long as the understandings are made clear during bidding, the idea of individual fiefdoms making rulings about what is and isn't right and proper is as sensible as demanding that rhinoceroses wear hats; in North America but not in Australia.
It also has the extremely negative effect of making an already difficult game harder to learn.

I even have difficulty understanding why specific methods are restricted in any competition.
If the fear is that people will not play because they'll get trampled on, then hand out masterpoints all the way to the bottom of the tournament.
That way, everyone will have an incentive to play as well as they can right to the end.
At the very least, such an approach might create some value for an otherwise pointless method of estimating skill.


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#7 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 08:04

View Postpilowsky, on 2021-October-29, 04:38, said:

The ability of individual authorities to generate idiosyncratic rules is one reason Bridge is doomed to be one of the least popular of the recognised mind games.

Many people know the basic tenets of Bridge, but the number of people that play regularly compared to Chess or Go is orders of magnitude smaller
(just compare the number of online players in Chess vs Bridge).

The problem is not whether or not bidding 1NT with a particular strength or shape is good or bad. Or a forcing pass system. Or any other mad idea that someone wants to come up with.

The problem is making these mad ideas illegal. So long as the understandings are made clear during bidding, the idea of individual fiefdoms making rulings about what is and isn't right and proper is as sensible as demanding that rhinoceroses wear hats; in North America but not in Australia.

It also has the extremely negative effect of making an already difficult game harder to learn. I even have difficulty understanding why specific methods are restricted in any competition. If the fear is that people will not play because they'll get trampled on, then hand out masterpoints all the way to the bottom of the tournament. That way, everyone will have an incentive to play as well as they can right to the end. At the very least, such an approach might create some value for an otherwise pointless method of estimating skill.
Pilowsky's view seems common-sense but has been steadfastly resisted for nearly a century. BLML (Bridge Laws Mailing List), regulators were proud of their Bridge Rules and dismissed suggestions to simplify or rationalise them as "BS". Learning them all was a significant achievement. Rule-makers and directors enjoy discussing the resulting interesting sophisticated and subjective rulings.

For players, the reduction in fairness and enjoyment is offset by the security that local regulations engender. Local regulations favour local players and disadvantage strangers/foreigners. Also, experienced players get some return on investment in learning what would otherwise be unnecessary rules.
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#8 User is offline   kgr 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 08:42

View Postdickiegera, on 2021-October-28, 13:32, said:

I called the director pointing out that S opened 1 NT with only 1 club witch was not A or K
South is a former director before COVID entered the picture [stated he didn't know that rule. which I do not believe he didn't know]

Can you copy the text of this rule here? I would first need to see the rule in writing before basing me on it.
(to be sure that you didn't call the director pointing out that S opened 1 NT with only 1 club witch was not A or K. And that South - ironically - said that he didn't know there was a rule like that)
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#9 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 08:45

View Postnige1, on 2021-October-29, 08:04, said:

For players, the reduction in fairness and enjoyment is offset by the security that local regulations engender. Local regulations favour local players and disadvantage strangers/foreigners. Also, experienced players get some return on investment in learning what would otherwise be unnecessary rules.

I suspect that the ACBL and EBU are not the only two NBOs who have introduced regulations that are intended to make it easier to get more consistent TD rulings when players open one no trump with a singleton.

They believed that these regulations were necessary because they could not easily address the lack of full disclosure by pairs who regularly opened 4441 hands with one no trump and explain that it is a balanced hand. Unless you maintain a record of all hands, then you are never going to see a pattern.


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#10 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 09:02

View Postpaulg, on 2021-October-29, 08:45, said:

I suspect that the ACBL and EBU are not the only two NBOs who have introduced regulations that are intended to make it easier to get more consistent TD rulings when players open one no trump with a singleton.

They believed that these regulations were necessary because they could not easily address the lack of full disclosure by pairs who regularly opened 4441 hands with one no trump and explain that it is a balanced hand. Unless you maintain a record of all hands, then you are never going to see a pattern.


Do they also have regulations against partnerships that with the same distribution (4441 singleton T) but different HCP open 2NT, 1 then 2NT, 1 then 1NT? I doubt it. Putting aside the issue of why to disallow a singleton, what is so special about 1NT range compared to any other strength?
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#11 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 09:13

View Postpaulg, on 2021-October-29, 08:45, said:

I suspect that the ACBL and EBU are not the only two NBOs who have introduced regulations that are intended to make it easier to get more consistent TD rulings when players open one no trump with a singleton.

They believed that these regulations were necessary because they could not easily address the lack of full disclosure by pairs who regularly opened 4441 hands with one no trump and explain that it is a balanced hand. Unless you maintain a record of all hands, then you are never going to see a pattern.


Sensible global disclosure rules, like those suggested here, mitigate this problem :)
Any calls (including 1NT openers) trigger an appropriate announcement of shape and strength :)
Paradoxically, this might also speed up the game :)



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#12 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 09:14

View PostTylerE, on 2021-October-28, 15:35, said:

Strong disagree. Can't W have that same hand without the AH? 3N could easily be off 6 or 7 top tricks.

This is made even less appetizing from E's perspective in that his non-c honors are surely under rather than over the outstanding high cards.


Happy to disagree.
S has a strong NT, E has near-opening strength and W is bidding at 3 level, just how likely is N to hold AH?
In the meantime E is looking at a fairly sure 7 clubs tricks with which to compress S in the pointy suits.
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#13 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 09:47

Note: while I am a (part-time) ACBL director, I never speak for the ACBL itself. I'm just following the rules you can read as well as I do.

Before I answer the question, note that while it's not relevant to the hand in the OP, the definition of Natural for "NT opening bids" includes a singleton A, K, *or Q*. And that is relevant on the Basic/+ charts for all "balanced" NT openings and overcalls, and on the Open chart for 1NT openings and overcalls. Open+ allows "natural" 1NT openers on small singletons in rounds of 6+ boards. Note: I'm paraphrasing here, skipping some "never happen" exceptions. For the exact regulations see the actual charts.

First, we find out if the bid was deliberate. If we conclude after investigation that opener, at the time they bid 1NT, believed they had A74 K832 AJ65 KT, then it was a misbid, and misbids are legal. If they're playing 4cM and intended to bid 1 and 1NT came out, and they didn't notice in time for L25A (or didn't know they had an option, or chose not to exercise it), again, legal misbid.

If the player, for whatever reason, decided that they should bid 1NT with the hand we see, then unless it's Forcing, they've made an illegal deviation (almost certainly, "evidence of implied (and illegal) agreement". So, we do the same thing we do with use of any other illegal agreement - determine if the opponents were damaged by it; if so, assign an adjusted score. We also, somewhat independently of the previous, determine if the offenders should be penalized in matchpoints for their actions; if so, issue the penalty (which will not accrue to the Nonoffending side), otherwise educate them about the legality and warn them that repetition of this will be treated much more harshly in future. And then, by preference, record the hand (either in the club, or to the recorder), to ensure that "repetition" won't be "the first time" to the next director.

The first question is if the illegal opening caused damage, and that would depend on knowing E-W overcalling system over 1NT. It looks to me like West chose to give up on game and preempt with a strong hand, hoping I assume either to win the auction in one try, or to encourage a misguess. Opposite a passed hand and a 1NT opener, that's not a bad idea, and I might have done that as well; this time West catches East with an absolute max pass and the club filler and North with a 1-count. If South had had T7 and North the singleton, the same auction would have been perpetrated and would have been totally legal. Definitely if there was a way in E-W's defence to show a stronger hand - or a stronger club overcall - that leans in favour of "it was an illegal opening, but that wasn't the cause of E-W missing 3NT". Definitely the choice to bid 3 was a strong factor in East passing over 3 - a double would at least have got average plus, if not 400.

But let's look at what happens on a (more standard in the ACBL) 1 opening. It's arguable that 3 is the right call here, for the same reasons it might have been the right call over 1NT. Sure, it's likely that South is weaker, but North can have the K that we take out of South's hand just as easily as partner can. If, however, it seems that West would likely overcall 2 (remember, the NOS gets some benefit of the doubt), then it's quite reasonable that roads lead to 3NT (possibly even P-(1)-2; 2NT-3NT.) And with that helpful A, it comes home.

Back in the "old L12C1e" days, that would probably be it. Unless we decide that the NOS' bidding judgement, not the illegal opener, caused the damage, they would have got the best result likely, and OS the worst result at all possible; both of those seem to be 3NT=. Now, with weighted scores, we can determine that sure, that is a reasonable line, but it's not *very* likely, and assign some fraction of 3NT=, some fraction of the table score (after a 3 overcall and the continued same auction), and possibly even some fraction of 3 undoubled (potentially via p-p-1-2; p-p-X-p; 2-X-p-3; AP or the like). Polling the table's peers will help determine the weights on the auctions.

This is in fact a very difficult ruling, and it wouldn't surprise me if a club director pulled out the "too many or too difficult to determine the options" trick (Law 12C1d) and assign A-/A+. I might even support them doing that *in the club*, especially if they weren't experienced enough/didn't have enough support to walk through the entire ruling.

If I decided that the illegal opening wasn't the cause of the damage, I would have to be very sure that the opponents understood that they don't get to "use their judgement" in this way to not issue a PP. If I decided it was, same thing, but it wouldn't surprise me if the ruling helped the opponents understand enough that they didn't need the extra 1/4 board. But my "being snowed" meter would be set very high.

Other RAs do issue automatic penalties for use of an illegal agreement. The ACBL chooses not to.

For those saying "I don't know how people play bridge with those silly restrictions": the object of the game - the object of any game - is to be the best contestant *within the rules*. There are strategies to score in hockey that would work really well if it wasn't for that pesky "puck must cross the blue line ahead of the players" rule(*). It would be much easier to throw touchdowns if the offensive line could use the "obvious solution" of grabbing the DL as they come at our quarterback (similarly, it would be easier to beat the other team if we were still allowed to hammer the QB into the ground or target their plant leg). The ACBL does not want systems where the only solution to 4441s with small singletons is to open 1NT; players' job is to figure out how to beat the field anyway. At least they know that the field can't do it either!

* Or, to head off the "but that's the same around the world" argument I know I'll get, if it wasn't for the automatic icing rule :-).
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#14 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 10:08

Re: the disclosure subthread - the EBU has put in a disclosure regulation. The ACBL has put in a system restriction regulation. Proper disclosure of their tendency in the ACBL will just lead to a faster ruling of "illegal agreement" (not that that's a bad thing :-).

Nigel, what do you suggest would be a good "simple disclosure" of 1NT openers? Remember it has to work even for the large part of the world that currently doesn't have any Announcements for 1NT (but perhaps Alerts); it has to handle the "obvious upgrades" cases where players under 50 who play 14-16 upgrade more than half of their 13s into 14, the "obvious upgrades" case where maybe 10% of 11s are treated as "12-14", and the "obvious upgrades" where it takes a 5-card minor with married honours and no xx in a major to get a 14 into the "15-17"; it has to handle the "potential singleton, and if so, what" (and whether it's different if a minor than a major, and whether 5431s are possible as well as 4441s); it has to handle the "5cM possible/likely/automatic with 5M332/..."; and more I'm sure I could think of.

Note, it doesn't have to *contain* all of that information; you can decide that some of that is "not necessary to disclose in a quick Announcement". I'm sure there will be topics opened on those hands eventually, though, and "no damage, they disclosed correctly" is going to be agreed/disagreed vociforously. Possibly even by Nige1.

Remember, "simple, complete, consistent, and sensible" (and enforceable) is what we're looking for here. I'd add "and everyone would obviously agree is simple,...sensible" too, because you frequently imply that it would in fact be obvious to all; but I don't want to make my request impossible, just appropriately difficult.

And remember, this is only the first step. Next, you have to come up with a regulation on what is *allowed* for a 1NT opener (which could add to the first problem "what do the Romex Pairs do?" "What do the Phantom Club pairs do?"... Let's not worry about that either right now). There are 36 openers (many of which are, in fact, much easier to handle than 1NT. But still). Then there's all the overcalls. And rebids. And carding systems.
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#15 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 10:25

View Postnige1, on 2021-October-29, 09:13, said:

Sensible global disclosure rules, like those suggested here, mitigate this problem :)
Any calls (including 1NT openers) trigger an appropriate announcement of shape and strength :)
Paradoxically, this might also speed up the game :)

Since the problem is pairs that are not providing full disclosure, perhaps because they cannot be bothered to learn their own local regulations, I don't see how global rules would work any better. Especially as the vast majority of players in the world, I guess in excess of 99%, only play in one region.
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#16 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 13:24

View Postpaulg, on 2021-October-29, 10:25, said:

Since the problem is pairs that are not providing full disclosure, perhaps because they cannot be bothered to learn their own local regulations, I don't see how global rules would work any better.

Local regulations are controversial. Most seem over-sophisticated and hard to interpret.
Coping with a single set of regulations would simplify compliance and would increase pressure on enforcement :)

View Postpaulg, on 2021-October-29, 10:25, said:

Especially as the vast majority of players in the world, I guess in excess of 99%, only play in one region

Locals outnumber strangers and foreigners but the latter depend more on adequate disclosure and they suffer more from chauvinistic local regulations. :(



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#17 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-October-29, 14:44

This 99% guess is likely to be less accurate now that online play is more common.
I am currently a member of the ACBL, ABF and EBU.
I have played in multiple actual Clubs in all of them.
I've also played in BBOitalia, the SABF, the German league and many others.

The objective of local laws appears to be to create more fog in the "war".
Bridge is more international now than it ever was.

Local codes were first invented when I was learning mathematics with a logbook (we didn't have slide rules in the early 1970s because the Fabs weren't available).
Some of you may be aware that we now have computers and the internet (even in developing countries like the USA and Australia).

If the problem is pairs not making full disclosure (sounds like a Bridge joke) then have a rule that penalises failure to make full disclosure illegal (oh wait a minute) - not a rule that discriminates against the 10 and its friends.

All honours are equal but some honours are more equal than others?
After a long discussion with 7, I can report that it isn't happy with the current state of affairs. Some of the other cards are also complaining about their awful working conditions.

Last night after reading this thread, I went onto LiChess. It's the second-ranked platform, and right now, there are >80,000 players online with ~35,000 games in play. BBO is the biggest Bridge platform and has only ~26,000 players at ~6000 tables.

There's a future out there; if we use both hands and don't suffocate in CO2, we might find it.

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#18 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2021-October-30, 11:49

Venue? OP is in Ohio, so I infer from that and the fact he consistently neglects to mention who the RA is that the RA is ACBL. Which chart?

I think the presumption by the OP that the bid is "illegal" should not be made.
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#19 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2021-October-30, 11:59

View Postnige1, on 2021-October-29, 13:24, said:

Local regulations are controversial.

Some such regulations may indeed be controversial, even locally, but the fact that they are local is rarely the reason for the controversy.
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#20 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-October-30, 12:55

View Postpilowsky, on 2021-October-29, 14:44, said:

After a long discussion with 7, I can report that it isn't happy with the current state of affairs. Some of the other cards are also complaining about their awful working conditions.

Last night after reading this thread, I went onto LiChess. It's the second-ranked platform, and right now, there are >80,000 players online with ~35,000 games in play. BBO is the biggest Bridge platform and has only ~26,000 players at ~6000 tables.

There's a future out there; if we use both hands and don't suffocate in CO2, we might find it.
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The 7 has a grudge because the Laws do not reward the Beer Card :)
But yes, if bridge rules were as clear as chess rules the game would attract more players.
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