I hate cheats but sadly the game of bridge is plagued by them. Thankfully, only a few players set out with deliberate intent, but this simply means the large majority remain blissfully unaware that their unethical behaviour is tantamount to cheating. All these players need a salutary lesson or two in How To Become A Truly Ethical Player , and who better to demonstrate the true meaning of ethical play than Alvin Roth.
This particular bridge story, without doubt, provides a benchmark for all of us to judge ourselves by, and of course to judge others. Alvin found himself defending 7NT in a high stake money game. The hand focussed upon the heart suit in a 3 card ending, with declarer (South) holding AJ10 opposite dummy's Kxx. Alvin , who was sitting East, held the all important queen.
Declarer started by leading the jack from his own hand. West then went into an Oscar winning performance of tortured indecision in an attempt to make South think he had the critical card......before eventually playing low. South, taken in by this amazing theatrical performance, also played low................ AS DID ALVIN !
When Alvin's crestfallen partner realised that Alvin did have the queen after all, and that the grand slam could have been defeated, he rounded on him like a man ready to kill . " Why in God's name didn't you take the trick when you had a chance ? "
The ethical man thought for a moment before replying. His softly spoken words however still carried a polite hint of criticism. " Oh, I'm so sorry.....but you totally convinced me that you had the queen......so naturally I figured the one I was holding must have been a figment of my imagination ".