Chuck Arthur

Waiting rant

Now that I have your attention, I am going to take a few moments and preach about one of my pet peeves.

It seriously tweaks my ire to have one of my opponents open two clubs, responder says two diamonds, only to have the two club bidder announce “Waiting.” Wrong!

In the first place, waiting is not one of the alerts that is announceable. These situations are only four in number:

  1. A transfer, after a one notrump opening, from diamonds to hearts, or from hearts to spades. This seems to have been extended to include other notrump situations, like notrump overcalls and two notrump bids. I do not think this was the intention, but there you have it.
  2. One notrump response to a major opening, either forcing or semi-forcing.
  3. A minor suit opening that may be shorter than three.
  4. The HCP range of a one notrump opening.

That’s it folks… only four situations when one uses the dreaded announce procedure, and “Waiting” is not one of them. When I point this out, an opponent invariably replies that the ACBL changes the rules so frequently, they can never remember. There have been no changes in this area for at least ten years; it just about time that we learned the correct way. If you need a reminder, the situations requiring an announcement are printed in blue on the convention card. It was not the intention of the lawgivers at ACBL to have “Announce” replace the alert procedure at the whim of a player.

In the second place, the two diamond response is probably not waiting at all. “Waiting” is in black on the convention card and doesn’t require an alert of any kind if it is truly waiting. This is what I play with John Cunningham; we use the cheapest three level bid as a second negative where needed. Any suit bid as an immediate response shows a suit with two pair of pants. From my Hamilton days playing with Jack Shinehoft, we would use as a metric that it had to be a suit that we would expect to play for no losers opposite a doubleton high honour from partner. KQxxxx or KQ10xx would be just good enough.

Most of us play that two hearts is an immediate negative response. A two diamond response promises some values, varying slightly bewteen partnerships. This does require an alert. One does so by saying, would you believe it, “Alert.”


lewis richardsonMarch 17th, 2010 at 9:06 am

i have no doubt that your strict interpretation of the rules is accurate but i find the infraction, when it occurs,is totally harmless & causes no damage. it is done usually by novice club players who only intend to be honest & forthright. we all know what it means & i am unable to really envision a situation where i would feel injured. in the grand scheme of things, i feel that it is one breach which could easily be also adds undue pressure to the club player in an era where we are most concerned with bridges future. in any event, i am surprise that something so minor & innocent could seriously tweak your ire.


Chuck GallowayMarch 17th, 2010 at 9:49 am

It really bugs me when the club players “announce” the “unanouncable”, explain things when I didn’t ask, and can’t be bothered to learn what is almost an easy system. Another one that bugs me are players who play 2 Way Stayman and say “forcing” when their partner responds 2D to 1NT. Are they colourblind? Usually they don’t have any convention cards either. There are a few situations where it isn’t too obvious – for example if you are 4=3=3=3 an open 1C, your partner bids 1D, and you bid 1NT, is bypassing the Spade suit alertable. I’m not sure. Aside from a few things like that I don’t know why they can’t do it right.

Bobby WolffMarch 17th, 2010 at 10:23 am

Hi Lewis and Chuck,

Since my bridge career has taken an abrupt change with Judy and I now playing at our local club twice a week, but not going to the Nationals, which both of us did for the previous 50+ years, I would like to give a hastily conceived opinion on the above issues.

1. For people to respond positively to relatively new rules and methods, they must have confidence in the rulesmakers, both as to their competence and to their agendas.

2. Rather than to speak of Active Ethics in the hoped for mix, it should be demanded at all times and preached by all bridge teachers and club owners, that, because of the peculiar nature of bridge being a partnership game, that unauthorized communications is strictly forbidden, and, when that caveat is violated, the perpetrators of it will be relatively severely dealt with.

3. Bridge can only be played when the ground rules of doing whatever it takes, not to gain advantage when not entitled, is encouraged and enforced in all our competitive tournaments.

4. Having said the above, all announcements (whatever color on the CC) and all information passed on to the opponents will be on a need to know basis. That need to know will vary depending on what it is and how necessary it is to impart. As a general guideline the Golden Rule of Bridge should be: “Tell the opponents what you would want them to tell you!”

5. It is clear that the reasons for the above to have not been previously implemented is that the ACBL has no confidence in its players, their bridge education, and the human element of usually wanting all advantages to accrue to #1. These negatives need to be immediately dispelled and our TD’s and other officials should, at least in the beginning, be ever present to enforce what is necessary and to rule on equity rather than an outdated rulebook.

6. When an organization does not have confidence in the character and morals of its players, it detracts from being able to apply general rules to cover many situations. I suggest a transformation to the above rules, which in my opinion would not take very long to live happily ever after.

7. The respect for the above would have an overwhelming effect in restoring the golden age of what our game is all about, instead of many of the petty problems which continue to be unresolved, because no one wants to take the first step.

Tom KinnearMarch 17th, 2010 at 11:20 am


I think I just heard someone’s cell phone…….YOU??….get pissed off???

I cannot believe Lew’s not believing this stuff can get your dander up!

Now come on Lew….tell me you have not just fallen off the turnip wagon.

I do agree with Lew on the novice scene…..and it is not uncommon to have players still at the novice level after 3+ years.

To grow the game however….perhaps better for knowledgeable players to “tactfully” explain to the uneducated….or those appearing to be ( read not to be ) especially DO NOT EXPLAIN OR COMMENT UNLESS ASKed!….and DO NOT ASK UNLESS IT IS RELEVANT TO THE ACTION YOU “MIGHT/MAY” take. Ask before leading….sure….now it may be relevant……coffeehousing is not part of the game!

lewis richardsonMarch 17th, 2010 at 11:27 am

we are talking about the comment –waiting–and my reply was limited to that-not to so many of the other issues which have come under this umbrella.-yes , i never have & likely never will, react to someone announcing that a bid is waiting. as is often the case, the debate has expanded well beyond its initial presentation.

don mcgillMarch 17th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

I look forward to the day this blog becomes a discussion of meaningful bridge issues rather than a soapbox from which to give vent to picayune complaints

Ross TaylorMarch 17th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

My mother is considering returning to the game after a 30 year absence – she is terrified though – of the club sharks who will make her feel inferior, and pounce on her every mistake and procedural transgression. And to be honest, it is a real concern, though I don’t let on.

My solution will be to find her a game where the game is played in a relaxed manner, in which we don’t hold the participants to the same high standards we like to adhere to. Chances are it will not be an ACBL sanctioned game – and of these there are surprisingly many.

We need new (and old) blood at the tables – and I think we must pick our battles only when our opponents are up to the task – let’s not send lambs to the slaughter.

David LindopMarch 18th, 2010 at 3:02 am

I think Ross’s comment is right on. Strictly enforcing the ACBL ‘rules’ for fewer than the top 10%, or perhaps 1%, of bridge players is not the way to increase the participation in clubs and tournaments. The vast majority of players are social players, and the last thing they want is to be criticized for some minor infraction. I can’t imagine that they would gain enough advantage from announcing “waiting” or “forcing” to make up for their actual bridge errors in bidding, play, and defense.

I probably play far more often than most social players, and even I am uncertain about all the bids that require alerts. To say there have been no changes in ACBL regulations is ridculous. There have been numerous changes. As one example, players who use support doubles used to alert when their partner didn’t make a support double – ‘denies three-card support’ – but we are apparently not supposed to alert that anymore. I have no idea where such ‘refinements’ are announced…probably hidden somewhere in the minutes of Board Meetings published in the Bulletin, which I rarely read.

In addition, many of the ACBL regulations are somewhat arbitrary. I personally think the “announcement” of 15-17 for a 1NT opening is ridiculous. Why not assume a strong notrump range and simply alert if it is not? Or if we’re going to announce the range for 1NT, why not announce “5-card major” when the opening bid is 1H or 1S? Where’s the logic? Other bridge organizations have different guidelines on what is or is not alertable. Playing in Great Britain, I passed, right-hand opponent opened 1C, I overcalled, 1S, pass on my left, and 2C by my partner. I, of course said nothing, since cuebids are not alertable over here. Apparently, however, they are in Great Britain. I was taken to committee because I failed to alert the 2C bid. The opponents said that opener’s actions – opener actually passed – over 2C depended on the meaning of 2C. I pointed out to the committee first that the opponents could have asked me if they wanted an explanation of the 2C bid, and second that I should have been alerted that the pass over 2C had a specific meaning in their partnership. Anyway, I lost the appeal.

Anyway, my bottom line is that the bridge professionals – like professionals in any other sport – should be aware of the rules. (Since there are so few ‘professionals’ perhaps some sort of sliding scale would be more practical.) The rest of us, the amateurs, should do the best we can, but not be unduly admonished over minor infractions. We should be especially careful with anyone less experienced than we are to make sure they feel as comfortable as possible. We want to encourage them to keep playing, not discourage them.

lindaMarch 18th, 2010 at 11:59 am

The ACBL does change the rules and I can’t remember either. I am not surprised people are confused. Did you know that if you play that 2D over 1NT shows either spades or hearts that requires a pre-alert. I didn’t either. In San Diego about 15% of the people pre-alerted it and everybody else didn’t.

The whole thing is way too complicated. Do we really need announcements, pre-alerts and alerts, written defenses, Midchart, this chart that chart.

I think it is a good idea to seperate out events and exclude more unusual conventions or treatments from club games and from any game below life master but above that the whole convoluted structure should be simplified.

Chuck ArthurMarch 18th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

When I wrote “There have been no changes in this area for at least ten years”, I should have been more explicit. I should have written “There have been no changes in the area of announcements for at least ten years.” The ACBL certainly HAS fiddled with alerts. Linda, I had no idea about what you mentioned. I thought that they had pretty well done away with pre-alerts for pair games. David, I heard about your change as well, but not from a source that I consider authoritative. Does anyone know of a source for these things that is authoritative? Where can I go to read about what is currently in vogue for myself?

Somehow I have left the impression that these “Waiting” announcers were relative newcomers, playing the game for around 3 years. NOT! If a novice were to do this, I would certainly say nothing. Only if it were easy to bring it up (say during the post mortem) would I say anything. For the most part, these are novices who have been playing the game for 30+ years. The last person to pull this on me was anything but forthcoming. He probably has been playing bridge longer than I have. It was like pulling boars’ teeth to extract the information. I did not bring up the part about the improper announcement. The conversation went, before my opening lead

me: So when you say “Waiting”, was it really waiting?

opp: (somewhat surly) Yeah, waiting.

me: did it promise or deny anything?

opp: (more surly) No. It was waiting!

I continued to think about my lead. Finally…

opp: Of course if he didn’t have anything, he would have bid 2 hearts


PimoMarch 26th, 2010 at 8:31 am

If you play reverse rosenkranz over your overcalls, do you alert the double or the bid or the pass after RHO bids?. You play negative doubles thru 2 spades over your NT openers, do you alert the double, bid or pass? You play reverse Bergen raises over your opening bids, or splinters, mini or maxi, once again, do you alert any of these bids? I find that I am required, more so than the intermediate player, to know what is going on. Much to everyone’s surprise, I’m as confused as the next guy. I attempt to try to explain or warn my opponents about any bid that isn’t Standard. I am often scolded by expert and novicce opponents both, directors are my bane, but at the end of the evening I feel that I have not swindled, lied to or cheated anyone. I live my life by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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