Chuck Arthur


YBJ (You Be the Judge) is a feature of TBW (The Bridge World) magazine. They present a situation that has arisen, that has resulted in a disaster. Readers are asked two questions.

  1. Assign the blame as a percentage. Which player was more to blame, or were they equally to blame?
  2. Which bid or play was the worst?

The problem is presented to an expert panel; they are expected to justify their opinions with logic. Their consensus answer becomes the standard for judging the rest of the world. The general readership is invited to submit their answers as well. This thing is run as a contest; the winner gets something like a free 1-year subscription to TBW. Let me try that format for this blog post, without the prize.

South was the dealer with everybody vulnerable. It was a 24½ table game at matchpoints. We (East-West) were playing 2 over 1. Our style was that a 1 diamond opening promised at least 4 unless we were exactly 4=4=3=2. 1-level bids by responder after a takeout double were forcing; 2-level bids were not.









West Chuck

















West North East South
 1 Dbl  Pass  Pass 


Needless to say, 1 diamond doubled was not a success! NS can make 4 diamonds. Clearly, either of us might have bid something to avoid the disaster. East might have been one spade, even though that was forcing. I might have redoubled to scream “Get me out of here.”

Who was more wrong? Which action or inaction was the worst.

If interested, you may view the virtual traveller here.

To submit your answers, first decide on your response; then click on the word Comment or Comments at the top of this blog entry. That will cause this blog entry to be isolated (with the comments that others have made) and to be displayed. At the bottom of those comments, there will be a frame displayed where you may key in your answers as a comment.


Debbie BennettNovember 15th, 2010 at 1:09 am

I can’t say I’m in favour of assigning blame: doesn’t seem productive. That being said, players tend to make t/o dbls on 4333 10HCP hands these days, if it’s a major opening, a dbl only means they have a modicum of hcp and the ‘other’ major (sometimes not even that). Ergo, I ignore t/o dbls and bid what I was going to in the absence of the dbl. 1S by E is automatic, imho. If W trusts S’s pass, he might have considered rdbl.

1. 85% blame to E, 15% blame to W

2. Pass by E

john cunninghamNovember 15th, 2010 at 2:05 am

Most everyone (except me) plays a response as forcing. I like it to be constructive. Here, the 5th spade would persuade me to bid. But I would not be happy about it. Without the 5th spade, I would very probably pass.

Passing out one diamond doubled seems suicidal, and contemptuous of the opponents. Light years worse than partner’s call. IMO

West 100% East 33%

Factored out to 75 / 25

John Howard GibsonNovember 15th, 2010 at 2:41 am

Howard Bigot-Johnson

Why partner did not redouble for help beggars belief, or just make a simple 1S take-out. The redouble must sure provide a safe haven with East having real help in any of the other 3 suits. If spades are bid, even with litte in West’s hand at least East does have some trick taking potential. On the deal 1S is a lovely contract, and as such East must take most of the blame. Mind you does West need to open on such a poor 12 count.

Dave CummingsNovember 15th, 2010 at 6:01 am

I am perplexed as to why East did not bid 1S? I am perplexed as to why West did not bid redouble. How does a redouble lose??

Are the opponents morons…I think they deserve some semblence of respect? Originally I assigned 90% of blame to East because they have a 5-card major. West certainly deserves at least 75% of blame as East still may have a 4 or 5 card major with < then 5 points. Using my new math, I assign

both partners with 75% of blame.

bobmcpheeNovember 15th, 2010 at 7:37 am

1S response is automatic imho. As opening hand I usually believe when they pass these t/o dbles and run via redble or even 1H.

passing 1D 90%

fail to redble or 1H 10%

john cunninghamNovember 15th, 2010 at 8:16 am

I am intigued that Mr Gibson would play EAST’s redouble as takeout, here. Counterintuitive, but it might work. Penalty redoubles don’t seem to do much but let the opponents out at a lower level.

It is clear that almost everyone would have bid one spade with the East hand. Perhaps for fear of the auction being at 2 or more hearts upon return. It is not clearly the winning action, however.

I can sympathize with the pass. Again, for me, the 5th card in the (moth-eaten) suit is the fulcrum.

However: in any of these blame assignation navel gazings, the principle of the LAST MISTAKE rules.

It doesn’t matter that East was misguided. West (unless by prior arrangement) should not assume that his partner has made an obvious error. Declaring one diamond doubled on ace deuce deuce is courting a bottom board. THAT pass was the nail in the coffin.

Ross AndersonNovember 15th, 2010 at 9:52 am


I recognize this hand from last week at Hazel’s so let me say that at our table the bidding went 1D-P-1S-P-2S-P-P-P. The fact that north doubled at first try would not have changed my bidding.In fact it makes it easier since it says I have less than 10 points in our system and allows west to pass if he chooses. I would give east 100% of the blame for this fiasco since I am one of those who believes that the first to screw up is responsible. However having said that I would have redoubled if I was west on the basis that north-south can’t be this stupid and south certainly has a flock of diamonds.If they are then partner has diamonds and I have just screwed up a potentially good board and he will tell me so after they take it out and make their contract.

Steve UngerNovember 15th, 2010 at 10:10 am

If the opponents want to defend 1 diamond doubled, I run. It seems an insult to the opponents to pass. I don’t understand why East has to run before South passes. West could have many diamonds and no support for any other suit.

West 100%

Abe BirenbaumNovember 15th, 2010 at 10:21 am

1spade even if forcing should be automatic. West can bid 2d or 2s 0r 2c and it is acceptable. West must redouble with 3diamonds.



Chuck GallowayNovember 15th, 2010 at 10:37 am

I never pass a minor one opener with a singleton if I have any reasonable alternative. I would bid 1S immediately. With or without the double. In both cases S with a stack can pass and opener will get killed when he has a spade fit which plays. This is about 90% E’s fault for not doing what he should. It’s not quite so obvious for W.

Mike HamiltonNovember 15th, 2010 at 11:01 am

We are told that 1-level bids are forcing. We are also told that E-W are playing 2-over-1. We are being told, therefore, that 1-level bids are not UNCONDITIONALLY forcing.

When the opponents enter the auction, many bids change their character and certain meanings are modified or turned “off” by interference. If E-W are playing 2-over-1, then they bid in accordance with how opposition bidding changes the meaning of bids under that system. In particular, the only forcing call available to East after North’s takeout double is a redouble. This requirement allows East’s free bids in competition to show features. Here, being 5-4 in the black suits, East could have bid spades to show a hand of 6+ HCP and 4+spades without his bid being taken as forcing. However, his initial pass is reasonable because his partner has another call and he doesn’t yet know South intends to pass.

South’s pass is clearly for penalties. West needs to look at his diamond holding. There are 12 different ways suits can be distributed 4-4-3-2, and South holds the only one of the 12 where he doesn’t promise 4 diamonds with his opening bid. This distribution occurs less than 2% of the time, and South should recognize this as an unlucky deal.

The one time to believe the opponents’ bidding is when they convert takeout, optional, or cooperative doubles to penalties by passing. With two 4-card majors, South had two chances in three of finding a better spot by redoubling for a rescue.

1. From what we are told of the bidding style of the partnership, I absolve East of any blame. Some might assign a token 20% blame to East for failing to stick in a free call of 1S to show a 5-card suit at the 1-level, but I do not. His pass was in accordance with the agreements of this partnership and his partner had another bid. Therefore, West gets 100% of the blame.

2. To assign West 100% of the blame is to assign the worst call to West, being the final pass. He had the only distribution that allowed him to open 1D with only a 3-card suit, and he should have believed South’s bid in converting a takeout double to penal-ties. He should have redoubled for a rescue and passed his partner’s rescue bid with a bare minimum opener.

Steve MackayNovember 15th, 2010 at 11:23 am

Hi Chuck,

My experience is that when Souths pass in an auction like this, they have a good reason to do so. So, I believe them (especially when I have only three cards in the suit I have bid) and so, I say XX.

Sure, E could (and maybe should) bid 1S but is it worth debating?

Steve GoldinNovember 15th, 2010 at 11:34 am

I am really not a fan of imperfect bids when partner hasn’t bid, but since South passed originally, I guess North felt compelled to get into the bidding, after all it was his turn to bid. Having said that, I believe that East may have missorted his hand and perhaps didn’t notice that he had a 5 card Major suit and enough points to venture a bid, especially being playable in 2 strains. Passing here was remiss. It should at least indicate some tolerance for the diamond suit suit which in this layout is known to be in the South. Perhaps East felt that if he passed, South would forget about his own Diamond holding and would bid his best Major or even 1NT.

I don’t believe that West should beat himself up too much. Yes, 98% of the time, West will have 4+Diamonds, but East’s pass should convince West that unlees there’s a compelling reason to run, West should just go quietly into that good night !

If I had to assign blame I’d say that West should shoulder 10% of the blame and that East deserves to be designated the goat on this auction–80% !! (I’d say that the N/S team did contribute to their win on this board, so, I’d give them 10% as well !)

David LindopNovember 15th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

In my opinion, East has a clear cut response of 1S – the same call East would have made without the double. As can be seen on the actual deal, a takeout double by the opponent doesn’t mean that your side can’t have an eight-, or nine-card fit in a major suit.

However, East’s pass should not have led to the result that occured at the table. That was West’s poor judgment (in my opinion). West should have redoubled. If East held S xxxx H xxxx D x C x x x x, no one would expect East to bid over the double, but the partnership would still belong somewhere other than 1D doubled.

Dave Memphis MOJONovember 15th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Even though they say never say never, West should never pass.

West 100%

Jonathan SteinbergNovember 15th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I have a very simple rule. I do NOT play 1m doubled (where my RHO passes a TO double) unless it is 100% obvious that the opponents have made a mistake.

On the hand in question East might well/could have/should have bid 1S. A matter of style. East is not expecting the TO double to be passed.

But for West to pass is suicidal. West 100%

Neil KimelmanNovember 15th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

1S is automatic for me.

Neil KimelmanNovember 15th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

85% east and 15% west as I would bid 1h.

DanaNovember 15th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

East bidding is not clear-cut, so there can be no blame for passing. West’s pass does not make any sense, so 100% West.

Tom KinnearNovember 16th, 2010 at 10:01 am

Who cares about blame?

1Spade by east should be automatic however….however as west ….I am pretty nervous that South has turned this in to penalty…….

XX comes to mind…..

Cam FrenchNovember 17th, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Hi Chuck,

I would be too terrified to pass in the West seat. Sure, East might have bid, (personally I don’t like to, especially when forcing) but West has to run.

And those who suggest that redouble is clearly rescue, I don’t like risking disaster. Redouble should of course be rescue but…I certainly run with the last hand.

The last time this happenned to me we defended one diamond doubled and made 12 tricks on defense, as we could not stop them from getting their Ace of trumps.

W 95 E 5


Ross TaylorNovember 18th, 2010 at 7:50 am

David Lindop stated my position perfectly.

Ron 'the Cardinal' BishopNovember 18th, 2010 at 4:46 pm

West 75 %; East 25%. Worst call West’s final pass rather than redouble. West’s 75% is 10% for not playing something sensible like weak NT; 15% for opening a 9-loser 3-card suit with no spots when pass is an option; and 50% for not realizing what a horrible spot he was in when his 3-card suit got passed for penalties… East’s 25% is 5% bad luck (playing against this particular N/S on this hand) and 20% for not bidding 1S which could clearly lead to better things (1NT; 2C or a raise on various hands).

Chuck ArthurNovember 29th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

When we add up all the percentages from those who actually stated the fault in terms of a percentage, we find that West is assigned 53.21% of the blame.

Thank you to all who participated.

Chuck ArthurNovember 30th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

From Abe Birenbaum

re your hand opening of 1d ,I would bid 1 sp even though it is forcing in your system , but the greater sin is the opener not redoubling asking for help

W-80% E-20% fault

Blair FedderDecember 3rd, 2010 at 4:59 am

From Viet Nam:

Why did 1st seat pass a 3 diamond opener?

Why did 2nd seat open a 3 winner, 10 loser hand?

Why did 3rd seat double with 3-3 in the majors?

Why did 4th seat bother to enter the event? 4th seat came a long way to play 1 D. with this hand…

2nd seat came a long way to play 1 D. with this hand…100% blame on 2nd seat for opening the bidding as well as sitting for 1 Diamond doubled, 100% for 4th seat passing a positive response to a 1 Diamond opening bid…

In other words, both East and West totally misbid their hands. So did North and South. Someone has to succeed at matchpoints because it’s a game of bad bidding being rewarded with great results. Result, further verification of said theory!

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