Undo Online - 3 Questions

In a competition where Undos in bidding are allowed, I am ruling on a case where opener held Q106 A64 Q5 A9732. Opener opened 1S (Obviously msitakenly) and asked for an Undo - but only after partner had passed - and the board was passed out. Question 1 - Is it too late to allow. (This Undo request was done by chat since the player didnt know how to work the Undo function)?. Assuming we allow the Undo, I asked the opener what she meant to call and she said 1C or 1N. Question 2 - As she hadnt decided what to call, is this really a true Mechanical mistake or would it have then be considered Change of Mind. Question 3 - If I make an adjusted ruling, do i have to rule on the basis that sometimes she would open 1C and sometimes 1N?

Comments

  • The answer to question 2 depends on the exact wording of the competition's undo rule. If it's an EBU competition, most likely it's something along the lines of "undos are allowed, but only for mechanical errors / misclicks, not thinkos", in which case the fact the opener hadn't decided what bid to make yet may be evidence that the bid wasn't a misclick. I can only think of two ways in which a 1!s bid could appear: one is that opener miscounted their spades and thought their hand was a 1!s opener in their system; and the other is that opener wasn't trying to bid at all but somehow managed to click on the 1!s card while moving the mouse for some other reason. Determining the relative probability of these possibilities depends somewhat on what 1!s would have meant in their system (in particular, would the hand be a valid 1!s opening if the spades and clubs were swapped?), and if undos are allowed only for mechanical errors, then the undo would only be allowed if the opener didn't intend to click on the 1!s card (which, given that she was undecided about what call to make, implies that the opener clicked on the 1!s card despite not intending to click on anything at all).

    Some competitions have an undo rule that's more along the lines of "please accept all undos in the bidding", i.e. allowing undos even for a change of mind, in which case the undo is obviously acceptable.

    As for "too late to allow" (your question 1), the Sky Blue book recommends that partner having called isn't a reason to disallow an undo, as long as the undo is otherwise legitimate and "the situation has not got completely out of hand". Having all the cards visible (due to the board being passed out) possibly does count as having got completely out of hand, though.

    For your question 3, if you accept the undo, and both 1!c and 1NT are viable opening bids for the class of player in question, you would normally need to give a weighted score. However, I think it's likely that for most players, the hand in question would either definitely be a 1!c opening or definitely be a 1NT opening (you can probably figure this out from the player's system card); maybe the player in question hadn't yet worked out which bucket it fell into in their system, but it's likely to be firmly in one or the other (the hand has 3325 shape and 12 unadjusted HCP; some players might downgrade it from 12, but the shape is firmly in the "valid for 1NT" range in almost every system, and it's rare for 11 or 12 HCP to be on the border between 1NT and 1-of-a-suit openings in typical systems, so unless the player is playing a 10-12 notrump and was considering treating it as a 13-count, it seems unlikely that a weighted score would be relevant here).

    Note that the fact that the opener was undecided between 1!c and 1NT specifically, rather than some other pair of bids, indicates to me that the opener was likely unclear on the contents of her own hand. This increases the chance that the 1!s bid was a thinko (maybe opener thought she had spades) rather than a mechanical error.

  • In principle, the legal basis for an undo is

    Law 25 A. Unintended Call
    1. If a player discovers that he has not made the call
    he intended to make, he may, until his partner
    makes a call, substitute the call he intended for the
    unintended call. The second (intended) call stands
    and is subject to the appropriate Law, but the lead
    restrictions in Law 26 do not apply.

    Based on this we would usually say that if the player cannot say what call they intended to make then the conditions for this law to apply are not satisfied.

    Even if we argue that this online situation is different, the SkyBlue Book says:

    UNDOs are allowed
    in the auction for genuine ‘misclicks’ – a ‘misclick’ corresponds to a ‘mechanical error’, see Law
    25A2. The time limit on corrections in Law 25A (until partner makes a call) does not apply –
    there is no way to stop LHO and partner bidding as a player locates the UNDO button, or
    otherwise indicates that they have misclicked – UNDOs are allowed even if partner has called
    as long as the situation has not got completely out of hand.

    I think the auction having been completed (and therefore the call not being able to be retracted) is precisely what is meant by "got completely out of hand" and so I would not adjust the board.

  • I think question (3) I wouldn't worry about the bid, we'd be in the territory of being unable to get a result and assigning an artificial adjusted score under 12 c) 2 a. Which backs up the argument made by others that we've satisfied the Sky Blue book conditions for "The situation having got completely out of hand". Not because partner has passed, but because the auction has ended. So we'd answer question 1 as 'no'.

    Question (2) is an interesting question of semantics. It seems the player possibly wasn't trying to make any bid. Usually this isn't really possible, for instance you knock a bid out of the bidding box, it would be likely an obvious accident, not a "bid". But online there's no visible cues for the opposition so it's possible to simply click on a bid without realising.

    It doesn't quite seem to fall under Law 25, but I'm not sure how to classify the bid.

  • This is an interesting point of wording in Law 25, actually. It says "has not made the call he intended to make", but was probably meant to mean "has made a call he did not intend to make" – this is different in the situation where the player has made a call despite not intending to call at all (and technically in the situation where the player has neither called nor intended to make a call, but there isn't any irregularity that needs fixing there).

    Presumably, in face-to-face bridge, the odds of a player managing to make a call despite intending not to are so long that the wording issue is irrelevant. Online, though, is another matter (and maybe face-to-face play on tablets is too) – I'm aware of a situation in which my partner made a call without intending to call (he was idly clicking on the background of the page and the bidding box appeared beneath the mouse pointer and intercepted a click), so it's something that is possible.to do by accident.

  • One further point is that Law 25A allows a call to be substituted; I'm not sure any law allows for an adjustment in this situation when, for any reason, no call was substituted at the time.

  • I think it's perfectly possible to initiate a bid on line without intending to - I've done it. I don't think this counts a making a bid (athough I accept it may be difficult to prove).

    The online issue when a hand is passed out "by accident" is interesting. It is now not possible for a proper result to be obtained (since the system will not allow an undo). To my mind 12C2a now comes into play - awarding AV+/AV+ (since, if it is unintentional, no side is at fault).

  • I am not sure that 'no fault' = 'no intent'?

    Dropping your entire hand faceup on the table after removing the cards from the board is clearly not intentional and would likely make the hand unplayable. Though I think that this would not result in Av+/Av+?
    Accidentally clicking a mouse button, touch pad, touchscreen or whatever feels to me to come under the same headings - accidental physical action resulting in a board being unplayable.

  • @Martin said:
    I am not sure that 'no fault' = 'no intent'?

    Dropping your entire hand faceup on the table after removing the cards from the board is clearly not intentional and would likely make the hand unplayable. Though I think that this would not result in Av+/Av+?
    Accidentally clicking a mouse button, touch pad, touchscreen or whatever feels to me to come under the same headings - accidental physical action resulting in a board being unplayable.

    I agree that 'no intent' is not the same as 'no fault', but as always it depends.

    There will always be a range of circumstances where on end is "at fault" (e.g. pulling out the wrong bid) and the other is "accident" (e.g. knocking over a bidding box and having one bidding card fall in front of you).

    The laws tend to focus on intent, and expect mental capacity but not necessarily physical dexterity, allowing recovery from physical errors if possible.

    Incidentally, "Dropping your entire hand faceup on the table after removing the cards from the board" is covered by Law 24 and it is perfectly playable (albeit a bit weird). Potentially 13 penalty cards which makes it fun.

  • Something which might be important: what platform was this on?

    On BBO, bidding 1!s requires two clicks (on "1" and then on "!s") – it'd be very difficult to do that while not trying to make a bid at all.

    On RealBridge, bidding 1!s is (by default) a single click, so it's more plausible imagining it happening by mistake.

  • @ais523 said:
    Something which might be important: what platform was this on?

    On BBO, bidding 1!s requires two clicks (on "1" and then on "!s") – it'd be very difficult to do that while not trying to make a bid at all.

    On RealBridge, bidding 1!s is (by default) a single click, so it's more plausible imagining it happening by mistake.

    It was Realbridge.

    I know people can enable "two click" but a lot of people don't like it, and since the idea is that the platform facilitates play rather than gets in the way I don't see why they shouldn't be allowed their choice.

    Presumeably Pass, Double and Redouble are still single clicks in BBO.

  • It was a team game on BBO.

  • You can make pass/double/redouble two-clicks in BBO too, but few people do; it's usual to have those as one click each. (I've known my partner to misclick on Pass on BBO while not attempting to take a call.)

  • I enable two-click bids on BBO so I can click on the call, write the explanation and then click OK.

    I find it difficult to write the explanation for a bid I haven't typed yet.

  • @Robin_BarkerTD said:
    I enable two-click bids on BBO so I can click on the call, write the explanation and then click OK.

    I find it difficult to write the explanation for a bid I haven't typed yet.

    Me too!

  • Funny, on BBO and RB I always type the alert and explanation before selecting the bid.

    This is getting a bit away from the original case posted, but I have to admit I want to be quite strict on 'misclicks' which can't be easily fixed, particularly those in the play.

    either enable two-clicks / confirm bids and plays in the software, or don't, I agree it's your choice. But if you don't (and I don't, I also find it irritating) you simply take your lumps if you mis-click. You go to a restaurant and they offer you a napkin. You don't use it, because you find them irritating particularly if it slips off your lap onto the floor. The restaurant isn't going to pay your cleaning bill when you now drip tomato sauce onto your lap.

  • @Frances said:
    either enable two-clicks / confirm bids and plays in the software, or don't, I agree it's your choice. But if you don't (and I don't, I also find it irritating) you simply take your lumps if you mis-click. You go to a restaurant and they offer you a napkin. You don't use it, because you find them irritating particularly if it slips off your lap onto the floor. The restaurant isn't going to pay your cleaning bill when you now drip tomato sauce onto your lap.

    I'm not sure your analogy works. The laws allow recovery from physical errors if possible. Whilst you should always be careful, the law doesn't say if you're not careful (or something happens anyway) it's your lookout.

    The essence of the law when it comes to recovering from a physical mishap is 1) do we believe them? and 2) is there any UI which makes recovering either impossible or requiring some sort of sanction (e.g. penalty card)?

    I see no reason why these shouldn't apply to online as well as F2F. I accept that "do we believe them?" can be more problematic online, but that's down to the director to decide, not the law.

  • @JeremyChild said:

    I'm not sure your analogy works. The laws allow recovery from physical errors if possible. Whilst you should always be careful, the law doesn't say if you're not careful (or something happens anyway) it's your lookout.

    If you don't take care to remove the correct card from your hand before playing it, it is your lookout.

  • @gordonrainsford said:
    If you don't take care to remove the correct card from your hand before playing it, it is your lookout.

    Indeed it does. I have always found the different approach to pulling out the wrong bidding card against pulling out a wrong card to play slightly puzzling. I suspect it is to do with:
    a) the difficulty of proving that the player did not intend to play that card (a bid can be clearly ludicrous), and
    b) the consequences of UI - there is none from a withdrawn unintended call but it would exist from a withdrawn play (if defender).

    Note that if the play of the incorrect card causes a revoke (as it well may do), it can be recalled.

  • As a culture, we have learnt to handle playing cards over centuries. But we have only been using bidding boxes for half a century. So it was not unreasonable to have more lenient regulation for handling bidding cards than playing cards. Or it was not unreasonable when bidding boxes were 'new', perhaps after 50 years, the laws could require a better standard of dexterity.

  • edited July 27

    I think it isn't just bids that can sometimes be obviously unintended: there are some situations in which this can happen with a played card, too (e.g. ducking when cashing out an unplayed, solid suit which will score all the remaining tricks if cashed). If you're on lead in 3NT, and the only remaining cards in your hand are !cAKQJ65432, playing the 6 makes no sense at all no matter how confused you are.

  • Confused actions do not make sense.

  • When players make an obvious wrong play, it can still be intended, and was not due to a mechanical problem with the cards. You see people triumphantly and deliberately detach and play a card when they can make/defeat the contract but somewhere in their brain they have got confused (not seen the cards played so far to the trick, thinking about their play to the next trick) and they play the wrong card. The whole body language makes it clear this is not a mechanical problem.

  • @Robin_BarkerTD said:
    As a culture, we have learnt to handle playing cards over centuries. But we have only been using bidding boxes for half a century. So it was not unreasonable to have more lenient regulation for handling bidding cards than playing cards. Or it was not unreasonable when bidding boxes were 'new', perhaps after 50 years, the laws could require a better standard of dexterity.

    I see a lot of sense in this. It would also make people be more careful.

    By the same token we have been using online for less time, and for many only for a year or so, so perhaps leniency there is appropriate.

    Of course we could just say "no takebacks" and it would all be simple. The thing is this could lead to some ludicrous contracts (bidding 7NT instead of Pass) which do not proudce a result that is the outcome of bridge ability.

    Similarly we could remove all problems with calls out of turn, insufficient bids, revokes etc. by just awarding AV+/AV- when it happens. People would become more careful, but again bridge ability is not being tested.

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