From

The Director's

Corner

 

In your dreams ( and the directors') you and your partner have discussed all your conventions and when and how they apply in all situations. Unfortunately, in real life at the table, one of the following occurs:
One of you forgets.
One of you misexplains or,
You seem to have a disagreement about your agreement.

Our discussion of all these problem situations will entail several articles. For this, we will confine our analysis to those times you or your partner misexplains your agreement or you have different understandings of your agreement.

Take this hand, you are South and you hold: -KJT8653 -652 -Q10 -7 ; and the bidding proceeds:

North East South West
1 2 4 Pass

Partner alerts your 4 call and, when asked, explains it as splinter bid showing shortness in spades and diamond support. Your partner now bids 5, East passes and it's your turn to call. Well...can you bid 5?  NO!  You must pass!  Why?  Because partner's alert and explanation is unauthorized information and you must bid as though partner had taken your bid as you intended.

Your thought process should be something like "I bid 4 to play and partner said NO – I don't care – I want to play in diamonds and here I sit with two diamonds, both honors. I must pass"

Another way to think of it is that West turned to your partner after your 4 said and ask what it meant in your partnership and your partner said " Its a hand with long spades and he wants to play game in spades". Now if partner bid 5, how would that affect your thinking?

Let's look at one more example. You are South and you hold:

-A92 -Q83 -QT64 -876

You partner opens 1, you respond 1NT (6-9 by agreement) and partner announces "forcing"! (Your 2NT response would be forcing.)

Partner now calls 2NT – what is your call? Let's go through our thought process again "My partner opened, I bid 1NT and partner raised to 2NT. What does that mean – surely at least 16+ high card point.  I am near the top of my bid and I must continue to 3NT".

REMEMBER, the alert system is for the benefit of the opponents – it is unauthorized information for you and partner. Of course, on the other side of the coin, if you become the declaring side you must inform the opponents before the opening lead of any misexplanations or disagreements. If you are defending, wait until play is over and then explain. 

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