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20 English Bridge August 2014

by Gordon Rainsford

Ask Gordon

Discards, the Dummy

Email your questions to Gordon Rainsford at

Gordon, English Bridge and the EBU are not responsible if the information in the letters is incorrect or incomplete.



DAVID COOK of Chipping Norton

writes: Last week I was playing at my

local club with a partner I have only

played with three or four times

before. We were playing his system,

which involves discarding what you

can afford to throw.

While declarer was drawing

trumps, I got my discards mixed up as

I usually play high to encourage and I

discarded the ®9. Partner was asked

what our discard system was and he

told them we discard what we can

afford. Right-hand opponent looked

at my convention card, which con firmed

that we have no discard


Some time later I was asked about

this by a club representative, saying

that my discard of the ®9 looked

suspicious. Am I at fault?

It is legitimate for you to agree to discard

what you can afford, but most players who

do this find that they nevertheless develop

implicit understandings and you must

take care that these are disclosed too. For

example, there is often an inference of

attitude about these discards (you not

only throw cards you can afford, but tend

to throw from suits you don't want led)

and if so your opponents are entitled to

know this. I have one partner with whom

I play a similar style to this, and if asked I

would say: 'We tend not to signal much on

our discards, but if we do we follow stan dard


I can understand your opponents won der

ing when you discarded high-low, since

such a thing is not compatible with your

stated agreements. I see from what you say

that this was a mistake on your part, which

of course you are allowed to make, but I

am not surprised that your opponents

thought there might be an inference that

your partner had not disclosed.

In conclusion, yes you are allowed to

have the agreement that your partner

favours, but you must take care to ensure

that it really does fully explain your part nership

practice. Some players will say

that their carding 'tells partner what he

needs to know', but unfortunately they

usually have a better idea of what that

means to them than do their opponents,

and so it is not really adequate disclosure.

PETER WELLS from Leicester says: One

issue that crops up when playing in

no-trumps is: in which order should

the cards be placed by dummy? Most

people tend to alternate between

black and red suits, but one lady

member is insistent that the cards

must be placed from the left as spades,

hearts, diamonds and clubs!

Could you please clarify if this is

true, as it causes raised voices when

someone else places their cards in a

different sequence.

It is not correct that the cards should be

put down in suit rank order, and I must

say I have never seen anyone do this - in

my experience everyone alternates colours

because that is easiest for us when viewing

the dummy.

Law 41D tells us precisely how dummy's

hand should be displayed, as below, and

you will see that it makes no mention of

the order in which the suits should be

displayed, save that trumps must be on

dummy's right:

Dummy's Hand: After the opening lead is

faced, dummy spreads his hand in front of

him on the table, face up, sorted into suits,

the cards in order of rank with lowest

ranking cards towards declarer, and in

columns pointing lengthwise towards

declarer. Trumps are placed to dummy's

right. Declarer plays both his hand and

that of dummy.

COLIN JONES writes: Several of our

club members use a 1NT response (to

any one-level opening bid) as a 'point

range only' response - typically 6-10

points, but sometimes wider range.

They may or may not have four card

in the suits bypassed by the 1NT

response. This is a typical example of

the 1NT response to a 1® or 1t open ing

bid that has prompted this letter:

´ Q J 5 2

™ K 8 7 4

t Q 5 3

® 6 2

On a number of occasions a few of the

tournament players have wondered if

this bid should be alerted as an

'artificial' partnership agreement, since

the responder by agreement does not

bid any of his four card suits bypassed

by the 1NT response, preferring the

'point range' 1NT.

I do not think it is 'artificial' but I think it

'is natural but has a potentially unex pected

meaning', because it does not deny a hold ing

in a bypassed suit and on that basis I

think it is alertable. However, it might be

difficult for the players who do this to

realise that it's an unusual thing to do.

Note that we also consider that 1NT

responses on hands of more than 10 HCP

have 'a potentially unexpected meaning',

so they are alertable whether or not they

are forcing or bypass major suits. r


To help club TDs with some of the

more commonly occurring situations

in which they may be called,

the EBU has produced a series of

videos. Visit


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