Outstanding SportsmanshipMay 12, 2013
Taking a pause before bidding or play is quite revealing. Partner is not supposed to draw any inference, in theory. But it seldom happens that way. The law on pause during bidding is quite clear “After a pause by partner, a player is debarred from bidding if the logical alternative to that bid is a pass” Unfortunately, while playing, the law is not so crystal clear. Players can & do at times convey unauthorized information by not playing in tempo. And their partners are known to have taken advantage of such unethical pause. It is therefore heartening to come across an example where a player has gone out of his way to nullify the advantage accrued by such a pause. The deal is from the World Championship held recently at Verona, Italy.
North opened 2, multi, South bid 4, asking North’s suit. North bid 4, showing s & South bid 4. West led the 8 which East ducked & South won with K. Declarer was in a dilemma. If the trumps are 3-1 & he draws them all dummy will lose 2 s, 1 , 1 . If he does not draw trumps West may ruff a . The only good thing was nobody knew he had 5 s. He therefore decided to lay a smoke screen. He played the 10, overtook it with A & cashed the K. Then he played a small . East pounced on it with A. Now East was facing a dilemma. Was partner ruffing a ? If he was not, then defense must cash 2 s to defeat the contract. How to find out? East had a neat solution. He cashed the A. If partner is interested in a ruff he will discourage continuation if not he encourage. When East cashed the A, Fredrik Nystrom, who was West played the 8. Naturally East continued s, handing South the impossible contract. After the deal was over an explanation was sought from Nystrom for his inexplicable play in s. His answer should be an eye opener to the Bridge players the world over. When Nystrom had led the 8 East had a taken a long pause, virtually announcing the possession of A. This information was unauthorized. Nystrom knew if he discouraged s partner would cash spade Ace & give him a ruff. But he did not want to win in this unethical manner. Hence he encouraged in s.
Compare this incident with the controversial “ Sachin Run Out” in Chennai test against Pakistan a few years ago. Only those who want to win at any cost, take advantage of the loopholes in the law. And they are also the first to shout vociferously when the letter, rather than the spirit of the law, boomerangs against them. Do you belong to that despicable creed?
It is no surprise that Fredrik Nystrom has been nominated for the IPBA award for outstanding sportsmanship.