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The Stop Card

#1 User is offline   jr_boston 

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Posted 2014-July-07, 22:48

A players group at my club is learning to use the stop card for the express purpose of making sure their partners see the jump bid, not to alert the opposition. I explained the ethical intention of the use of the card, but I could see the mental rolling of the eyes and the yada yada look. I keep hearing rumors of its demise. Is there anything in the works? If ACBL doesn't abolish its use, is there any thought about players announcing, or having a card in the bidding box stating that they do not wish the courtesy of the warning? I'm disgusted with the obvious misuse of the card. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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#2 User is offline   ArtK78 

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Posted 2014-July-07, 23:03

It is truly appalling that players of any level can believe that the purpose of a stop card is to alert their partner.

I saw a player do something even worse once. What was truly appalling was that the TD allowed him to get away with it.

An experienced (but thoroughly unethical) player was playing with a less experienced player. This was live play. The experienced player responded 4D to his partner's one heart opening, and then started frantically hitting the alert strip on his bidding box to alert his partner that the bid was not natural. We called the TD, who was inexperienced, and she could not understand what the problem was! So the board was played out. It took my partner and I about 10 minutes of discussion with this TD after the session was over to explain to her why this player's action was completely out of line.
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#3 User is offline   jr_boston 

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Posted 2014-July-07, 23:11

That is really bizarre. He too could have used the Stop Card unethically.
What is truly amazing is that the TD didn't get it!
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#4 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2014-July-08, 05:49

It's been too long for me to remember the details, but there used to be an opponent where things went as follows: She had this way of bidding that was clearly against the rules. I woul dtell her that it was aganst the rules. She would deny it was against the rules. I would call the director. The director would explain that it was against the rules. She would express surprise and regret. We would continue the game. Next week, when I played against her again, she would do the same, I would explain the same, she would deny the same, I would call the director and he would explain the same, etc. It went on ad infinitum.

If people don't respect the game, there is not a great deal that you can do about it. Challenging someone to a duel is no longer legal. Of course the director should address the issue, but some don't. There are people who have a driver's license who should lose their license to drive, there are people with director's certification who should lose their certification. It should not be too demanding to learn the basic rules and ethical requirements of the game. Some of these can lead to subtle questions, but the purpose of the stop card, or which player is supposed to alert, is not on the list of subtleties.
Ken
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#5 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2014-July-08, 07:56

Part of the problem, IMO, is in the ACBL's liberal (I would say incorrect) interpretation of their own regulation. The regulation starts with "Players should [announce prior to making a skip bid]" and then goes on to explain how to do it using bidding boxes. TFLB says that the use of "should" makes it an infraction to fail to do it, yet the ACBL says use of the stop card is "optional"! To me, that's nonsense. "Should" means "should", and failure to use the stop card is an infraction.

As far as I know, which isn't far (I'm not privy to the inner workings at ACBL HQ), there's no change upcoming in the current regulation. IAC, until a change is made, the current regulation is what we have.

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#6 User is offline   Mbodell 

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Posted 2014-July-08, 20:10

View Postjr_boston, on 2014-July-07, 22:48, said:

A players group at my club is learning to use the stop card for the express purpose of making sure their partners see the jump bid, not to alert the opposition. I explained the ethical intention of the use of the card, but I could see the mental rolling of the eyes and the yada yada look. I keep hearing rumors of its demise. Is there anything in the works? If ACBL doesn't abolish its use, is there any thought about players announcing, or having a card in the bidding box stating that they do not wish the courtesy of the warning? I'm disgusted with the obvious misuse of the card. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


I don't like the stop card, I don't use it, and I think we'd be better if the use or rules around it were clearer. However, I don't think the "no stop cards please" rule works or would be a good idea. Some people have a habit of using stop (heck some people still verbally announce skip bids), and trying to get them to stop would be inconsistent. Similarly the reason you'd be asking them to not use the stop card is, essentially, calling them unethical. There are similar issues where some people want to be able to say "no alerts please" and again that is a bad idea and doesn't work.
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#7 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2014-July-08, 21:30

View Postblackshoe, on 2014-July-08, 07:56, said:

ACBL says use of the stop card is "optional"! To me, that's nonsense.


I can quite imagine the two-way jumps bids this regulation enables.

To the OP: how do you know the reason these players are using the Stop card?
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#8 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2014-July-09, 02:59

View Postjr_boston, on 2014-July-07, 22:48, said:

A players group at my club is learning to use the stop card for the express purpose of making sure their partners see the jump bid, not to alert the opposition.

I don't get it. Do you mean that they use it selectively, say only when meant as preemptive? Or do you mean that the teacher motivated the use of the stop card by telling them that it makes partner notice the skip bid?
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#9 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2014-July-09, 18:59

Got this from Dan Plato "Tournament Operations Specialist" at ACBL HQ, in response to an email I sent to "rulings":

"The effort being made here is to keep players from using the skip bid as an additional message. In other words we are actually aware of a few players who thought they could in the following identical auctions use the skip bid to show a strong hand and NOT use the skip bid to show a weak hand.

1C - P - 2D

If a person ever uses the skip bid warning it must be used on every single bid that contains a skip including opening calls or jumps to Blackwood, etc.

We do not, however, require the use of the skip bid card or a vocal alert like the old days, we only require that if you do use the red card you use it all the time when appropriate."
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#10 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2014-July-09, 19:33

Even in the UK (where we have more sensible bidding-box rules), some players fail to use the STOP-card or take it away prematurely.

Occasionally, there are other problems. In a national multiple-teams competition, The first round of the auction was the same at several tables:
(1) 4 (5) Pass
At our table, I used the STOP card before my jump to 4 and my LHO used the STOP card before his (non-jump) 5 bid. At other tables opener just bid 6. At our table, opener now made a try, and responder bid the grand. We called the director. When the director arrived, RHO said I accused him of cheating (I don't accuse anybody of cheating). The director admonished me and left. 7 rolled in :(

IMO bidding-box rules should be the same everywhere and be included in the law-book. Furthermore...

A ten-second egg-timer should replace the stop-card. After you make a jump-bid, you must turn over the egg-timer to start it. (Optionally, as a courtesy, you might use it over any of your bids that are likely to cause LHO a problem -- not just jumps). Your LHO must wait for the sand to run through before making his bid.
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#11 User is offline   jr_boston 

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Posted 2014-July-09, 20:08

The group I was referring to are lovely people who have been playing duplicate for 5-6 years. The person I spoke with honestly thought that using the stop card was part of making her a better partner. There really was not any intention of using it/not using it as an illegal signal. I just don't think the ethical rational got through, however. At this stage of their lives 65-70 years old, what is the point of practicing to use it every time?
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#12 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2014-July-09, 23:18

View Postjr_boston, on 2014-July-09, 20:08, said:

The group I was referring to are lovely people who have been playing duplicate for 5-6 years. The person I spoke with honestly thought that using the stop card was part of making her a better partner. There really was not any intention of using it/not using it as an illegal signal. I just don't think the ethical rational got through, however. At this stage of their lives 65-70 years old, what is the point of practicing to use it every time?


65-70 is not exactly being on your death beds these days. They probably have 15-20+ years left where they can still play bridge using the stop card correctly, so why not start now?
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#13 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 08:59

View Postjohnu, on 2014-July-09, 23:18, said:

65-70 is not exactly being on your death beds these days. They probably have 15-20+ years left where they can still play bridge using the stop card correctly, so why not start now?


And receiving lots of PPs and worse is a drag at any age.
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#14 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 09:14

View Postnige1, on 2014-July-09, 19:33, said:


A ten-second egg-timer should replace the stop-card. After you make a jump-bid, you must turn over the egg-timer to start it. (Optionally, as a courtesy, you might use it over any of your bids that are likely to cause LHO a problem -- not just jumps). Your LHO must wait for the sand to run through before making his bid.


How would this work when people bid while one is actually holding the Stop card under their nose? I often contemplate holding it directly over RHO's bidding box, but I don't want to insult playes who know their obligations.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#15 User is offline   billw55 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 09:44

IMO the stop card creates more problems than it solves. The cards should be removed from the boxes, trashed, and never used again. Any sort of skip bid warning should be treated as UI to partner. Ops, for their part, should be responsible for looking at the bid actually made, and pay the prescribed penalties for insufficient bids.

It may sound harsh but I really think the game would be better this way.
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#16 User is offline   RMB1 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 10:15

View Postbillw55, on 2014-July-10, 09:44, said:

Ops, for their part, should be responsible for looking at the bid actually made, and pay the prescribed penalties for insufficient bids.


Is that what the stop card is for? - to prevent insufficient bids by opponents?

Would ops be allowed/required to pause over jump bids?
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#17 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 10:18

View Postbillw55, on 2014-July-10, 09:44, said:

IMO the stop card creates more problems than it solves. The cards should be removed from the boxes, trashed, and never used again. Any sort of skip bid warning should be treated as UI to partner. Ops, for their part, should be responsible for looking at the bid actually made, and pay the prescribed penalties for insufficient bids.

It may sound harsh but I really think the game would be better this way.


What do insufficient bids have to do with it? (EDIT crossed Robin's post)

I think the opposite of billw; I think we should all follow the practice of some European countries and use the Stop card not only for jump bids but also for bids at the 3-level and higher in contested auctions.
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#18 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 10:35

View Postnige1, on 2014-July-09, 19:33, said:

IMO bidding-box rules should be the same everywhere and be included in the law-book. Furthermore a ten-second egg-timer should replace the stop-card. After you make a jump-bid, you must turn over the egg-timer to start it. (Optionally, as a courtesy, you might use it over any of your bids that are likely to cause LHO a problem -- not just jumps). Your LHO must wait for the sand to run through before making his bid.

View PostVampyr, on 2014-July-10, 09:14, said:

How would this work when people bid while one is actually holding the Stop card under their nose? I often contemplate holding it directly over RHO's bidding box, but I don't want to insult players who know,their obligations.
The new rule would stipulate that, when you use the stop-card, you must place it where LHO puts his bidding cards. After 10 seconds, you must remove it. If the egg-timer were available instead, The rules would instead mandate the same protocol with it.

There would be a similar rule about alert-cards. When you use the alert-card you must place it where RHO puts his bidding cards.

In the rules of a game, there's little point in fine gradations of modality. Bridge-rules should be "must" rules unless rule-makers really intend to give players a choice of options.

View Postbillw55, on 2014-July-10, 09:44, said:

IMO the stop card creates more problems than it solves. The cards should be removed from the boxes, trashed, and never used again. Any sort of skip bid warning should be treated as UI to partner. Ops, for their part, should be responsible for looking at the bid actually made, and pay the prescribed penalties for insufficient bids. It may sound harsh but I really think the game would be better this way.
Billw55's alternative is simpler and has merit. Rule-makers could throw out the alert-card at the same time. A grave drawback of Billw55's suggestion is that players have come to rely on the UI from stops and alerts, and both help to keep directors in employment :)
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#19 User is offline   billw55 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 10:47

View PostVampyr, on 2014-July-10, 10:18, said:

I think the opposite of billw; I think we should all follow the practice of some European countries and use the Stop card not only for jump bids but also for bids at the 3-level and higher in contested auctions.

Not a bad idea. While we are at it, why not go all the way and implement a mandatory pause (5 seconds perhaps) after every call? No sarcasm - I am entirely serious. This would also address the problem of UI from short pauses, while being very simple and consistent.
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#20 User is offline   neilkaz 

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Posted 2014-July-10, 11:26

View Postbillw55, on 2014-July-10, 09:44, said:

IMO the stop card creates more problems than it solves. The cards should be removed from the boxes, trashed, and never used again. Any sort of skip bid warning should be treated as UI to partner. Ops, for their part, should be responsible for looking at the bid actually made, and pay the prescribed penalties for insufficient bids.

It may sound harsh but I really think the game would be better this way.


+1 for getting rid of the stop card forever. I'll be playing in the regional here in about 90 minutes and can assure you that I'd enjoy the game more without a stop card. ROFL what stupidity to have to use it for routine sequences like 1NT-3NT bcuz PD used it for his routine 2 opening two hands prior etc etc.
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