It is possible that the 10th World Bridge Championship might have ended differently if my good friend Dr. Pierre Ja�s had been in Buenos Aires with the French team. Playing with five players instead of six, France was severely handicapped. The handicap was the more serious since the missing man was Ja�s, one of her strongest players.
Ja�s, a man of courage at and away from the bridge table, had resigned from the French Bridge Federation (automatically banishing himself from the team) in protest against what he considered an injustice. Two well-known French players, Henri Svarc and Jean-Michel Boulanger, accused G�rard Bourchtoff and Claude Delmouly, two of Ja�s' teammates, of cheating. The charges (that they had employed "l'ascenseur" [elevator]—a method of signaling by the height at which the hand is held) were not proved, but the accusers were punished along with the accused for having delayed reporting the incident for several months. Dr. Ja�s felt that the Federation had gone too far.
Another example of Ja�s'courage appears in the book he wrote in collaboration with the late Pierre Albarran. In that book (How to Win at Rubber Bridge, recently adapted for English readers by the English expert, Terence Reese), Ja�s has written a chapter which dares to discuss the subject of hesitations.
There are times when every bridge player must pause to think. Whether intentional or not, such pauses convey information. When this happens, partner must be sure that his bidding does not take advantage of information deduced from a change of pace or tone of voice. He must judge his action only by the meaning that partner's bid would convey if he read it in a diagramed account of what took place.
The sharp-witted playwright George Kaufman once made it obvious what he thought of such maneuvering when he asked, "May I have a review of the bidding—with the original rhythm and inflections?" Some such review is required after you have read the bidding of the deal that Ja�s cites as one occasion when unethical bidding recoiled against its authors.
Observe that South, with but one diamond in his hand, had passed partner's double of that suit, whereas he had failed to leave in partner's double of two hearts—a suit in which he held twice as many cards. The explanation is that North had doubled two diamonds with speed and gusto but had later doubled two hearts only after a considerable hesitation. The cards South held were proof per se that he had acted unethically. As it turned out, had he done the honest thing and passed, West would have been set 500 points. North would have opened the heart queen and, by continuing trumps each time he got the lead, could have prevented dummy from ruffing a diamond. West would have made three heart tricks, a club by leading up to his hand, and almost certainly another trick or two somewhere along the line. Instead, South went down 500 in three spades doubled when the opponents collected two hearts, one club and three trump tricks.
It is beside the point, perhaps, but if South had timed his play as well as he timed his partner's bidding, he could have saved a trick. That he did not may be attributed to the fact that South was so busy scheming he could not devote enough time to studying the hand properly.
The best way to stop unethical hesitations is by taking advantage of them only when you are the opponent. The deliberate offender is bound to stop when he realizes that he who hesitates must lose.