SourceSifting Through the Evidence Mel Colchamiro: ACBL Bulletin, Jan 2006

Mel Colchamiro
Mel Colchamiro

It’s all in the news. Prosecutors, possible wrongdoing in high places, political leaders, reporters, accusations, denials. What a mess! Someone decides that someone (usually a prosecutor) should sift through the evidence to see if there’s reason to believe that someone’s done something wrong. One of the partners has done something wrong either in the bidding or on defense. Or have they?

The One Who Yells

The partner who yells the most or the loudest doesn’t necessarily win the argument. It just means that they are a bully, or that they are more strong willed. It doesn’t mean they are right. In fact, they are wrong so often that I have formed an expression that says:

The One Who Yells the Loudest is the Wrongest!

Not long ago at a tournament in Connecticut, I played against a couple; a nice enough wife, and a bully husband. They had the following auction:

Wife Bully
 1 1
1NT 3
4 Pass

The wife put down this hand:  A 8 4  J 9  A Q 7 4  K 7 5 3.

The bully (husband) glared and growled at the dummy, obviously not pleased with what he saw. Should he have been miffed? Let’s sift through the evidence. When the opener (wife) rebid 1NT, she was indicating a minimum balanced hand — this is what she had. But what should she have done after bully’s 3 bid? He screamed that she should have bid 3NT. “It’s obvious,” he growled at her.

But had she made an error? Maybe she bid perfectly. Or, could the bully have been right after all? To know we have to go to Bridge Court. The bully charged his wife with reckless bidding and she countercharged with bridge partner abuse.

The Trial

The bully’s side went first, and his representative, the prosecutor, made his case: “It’s obvious that my client’s 3 bid showed five hearts and 13 points, so my client’s wife clearly should have bid 3NT, not 4. That would have ended the bidding and my client’s side wouldn’t have lost 13 IMPs. An egregious error by my client’s wife. The 4 bid was so bad that it justified my client’s excited behavior and his wife’s crosscharge for abuse should be summarily thrown out. The prosecution rests.”

The defense attorney rose slowly from his chair and simply said, “My client had every reason to believe that 4 would be the winning contract. She had an honor card in partner’s long suit and she had solid points. She made a very reasonable bid. I just don’t see how she’s guilty of anything, other than being verbally abused by her husband.” “We, the defense, therefore ask the court to dismiss the charge of reckless bidding and issue a verbal restraining order against her partner for the indefinite future.”

The Verdict

“All Rise” said the court clerk, as Judge Colchamiro entered the courtroom ready to render his verdict. He began to speak. “In the case of Bully vs. The Wife there are two issues. First, did wife bid in such a reckless manner as to cause the loss of 13 IMPs, or was her bidding quite reasonable under the circumstances? And second, was the bully justified in berating his wife for very poor bidding?”

“Regarding the wife’s bidding: A person who rebids 1NT is presumed to have 12 to 14 high-card points, because with more, she would have opened 1NT to start with. Given that wife had 14 HCP, passing 3 would have been wrong since she couldn’t have had a stronger hand under the circumstances. As for bidding 4 instead of 3NT, that too was eminently reasonable, because a jump rebid in a suit always indicates at least a six-card (or longer) suit.”

“The bully’s contention that 3 showed five hearts and 13 points is wrong on many counts. As for the bully being justified in berating his wife, that too, has no justification. The Court therefore sentences the bully to five years incarceration in The School of Basic Bidding and Civil Behavior”

The Reporters Outside the court, the buzz was centered on the question of whether Judge Colchamiro’s harsh ruling was intended to send a message to all bridge players. The consensus is that it was. The message was: The fault, dear bridge player, is often not in the stars (or our partners), but in ourselves.