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Bridge Ethics

From Marnie Leybourne and David Matthews

We are living in arguably the luckiest jurisdiction in the world right now with the return of face to face bridge in July. It has also been very encouraging to see new faces at State events and this augers well for the future.

However, as State Recorders, we have received a number of complaints about some ethically questionable incidents that we feel are worth raising. It may be that we have all relaxed our behaviour over the Covid months. We have both been guilty of swearing at partner, rolling our eyes and making other inappropriate actions while playing on-line. Now that we are back to facing both our partner and opponents, it is time to relegate such behaviours to the bin.

One of the (many) reasons we all love and play this game is because it is ethical and we are playing on a level field where cheating is illegal. If you don't like this about bridge, we suggest you turn to poker instead.

Now, there shouldn't be degrees of ethics, however there obviously are. "Coffee-housing", where, for example, you make comments like "I don't know if I should bid this or not" can be tolerated at a Saturday night game with friends and several bottles of your favourite tipple. It is definitely not acceptable in a State competition.

The odd fumble and hesitation may slide at your local club (although they shouldn't ...) however they should never occur in a State competition. One of the recent complaints was against a player who, during a competitive auction when his partner overcalled 1NT, pulled out the 2H bid in a rather deliberate fashion, before returning it to the box and placing 2D on the table.

On another occasion, declarer led a low heart from hand towards dummy. LHO hesitated for close to 10 seconds before playing low. Dummy's Queen won, so declarer returned to hand to take a second finesse, only to find that LHO had held only a singleton heart. In case you are not aware, IT IS ILLEGAL to pretend to hold length when you do not.

Complaints such as these are being recorded and should a pattern emerge, or the complaint is serious enough to require immediate action, there can be consequences such as a period of suspension. Any decisions on action to be taken is made by BAWA, not us as recorders.

The obvious goal here is to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy their bridge, so please do a quiet self-examination and aim for both you and your partner to act with courtesy and respect, both to each other and your opponents. Happy bridging!


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