Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ethical Drury Dilemma

Here is another hand from the Reno tournament that posed a potential ethical problem. This one actually came up immediately after I played 2 spades in our 2-2 fit, not that that is really relevant. It's just a bit ironic. I picked up KJTxx, Ax, Kx, xxxx and it's pass-pass to me so I open 1S. Partner bids 2D, which I properly alert as a limit raise with 4 spades. I duly bid 2S showing no interest in game. The ethical dilemma for me would be what to do if partner then bid 3C. Am I obliged to go back to spades or is it reasonable and ethical to assume partner forgot drury and just pass? I am thinking I would be permitted to pass and assume partner forot drury if that's what I choose to believe.

I am never one to believe that my partner has forgotten a convention but what would 3C mean here if 2D was Drury? I've already said I don't have a real opener so you're not supposed to bid again. That's part of the convention - it allows us to open really weak hands in 3rd seat and still not get too high when responder has a maximum pass with 4 trumps (a hand that normally would force to at least 3 but we can confidently stop in two). So maybe in these circumstances, when his bid does not exist if had been following our conventional agreements, I might believe that partner has forgotten our convention and I think that is totally ethical.

The real ethical dilemma might be for partner who held: void, xxx, AQTxx, ATxxx. Clearly he forgot that 2D was Drury. He is not allowed to be "woken up" by my alert so he is required to bid as though he didn't hear the alert. Does this mean he should bid 3C or is passing 2S now an acceptable and ethical call? Without an alert, passing 2S is a reasonable action - it's a misfit, if we bid again we may just get into more trouble so let's just keep it low and hope partner has a really good suit. With the alert, 2S looks like a less attractive spot to play because opener is not showing any extra spade length that might have been shown with a normal 2S bid. So, does the unauthorized information that responder has (that partner is expecting 4 card spade support instead of a diamond suit) prohibit him from bidding 3C or require him to bid 3C? Amongst people who do not play Drury, I expect many will bid 3C but some will pass so both are logical alternatives. I'm not sure what the UI suggests here. On one hand, it suggests biddind 3C because the hand will play better in a minor because opener does not have 6 spades that were supposedly "promised" from responder's unbiased point of view. On the other hand, it suggests passing to get out before getting into more trouble.

At the table, the director was never called and I played 2S down 2. This would be a difficult one to rule on but I think if I was the director called to this one, I would just let the result stand.


  1. If the 2D bidder just forgot that 2D was Drury, then I think he absolutely MUST pass 2S. Bidding on is clearly suggested by the alert, and pass is a logical alternative, so you must pass. Doing otherwise is a gross ethical violation.

    If the bid doesn't exist, then you probably need to have a (legal) understanding about it, like maybe it's some sort of black two-suiter with some game interest even opposite a light opener, maybe something like Qxxxx void xxx AQxxx. And I think that opener is obliged to bend over backwards to assume that 3C means something other than "oh I forgot." If you think 3C is impossible and means "oh I forgot," then you're bidding under the assumption that your partner has done something unethical. In this case I think you're obligated to find a way for the bid to make sense.

  2. I agree with Patrick.