I applied law 21.B.3 - was I wrong?

North opened 1NT.
East overcalled 2D which was alerted. In response to South's enquiry, West said "Multi-Landy, he has a single-suited hand, not necessarily Diamonds".
South bid 2H.
West passed.
North passed.
East asked North what 2H meant. North looked blank and responded "it's a transfer to Spades".
East, believing N/S were in a pickle, passed and thus 2H by South was the contract.
After South made 9 tricks, I was called to the table by East who claimed North had given him misinformation as South had a six-card Heart suit. He explained that he would have bid on if he'd known it to be a natural 2H call.
As E/W had convention cards and N/S didn't, my sympathies lay with East (I know I shouldn't have sympathies), so I ruled that if North had responded that 2H were natural, E would have bid 3C; S would bid 3H and W bid 4C which I said was going 1 off for +50 to N/S.
Whilst I was dealing with this at one table, my partner responded to the next "TD" call and he had to deal with a different set of bids on the same hand (it was a Swiss Pairs event).
North opened 1NT.
East overcalled 3C and S bid 3H.
West bid 4C and North went into a trance. Several minutes later (hesitation/break in tempo/whatever you call it agreed by all 4 players) North passed, East passed and South bid 4H. Thus the second call for "TD".
My partner, deputy TD, considered that South had Pass as a logical alternative and that Pass would have been selected by a large number of peers, so he ruled back to 4C by West (minus 1).
Interesting that two different TDs came to the same eventual contract but was I right to invoke law 21.B 3?


  • I'd want to know why North said it showed spades, when this was contrary not only to his partner's hand but also to his own action in passing it.

  • I don't know why North said it showed spades. She'd lost interest when I asked her about it, she just said "well, we trust you, just make a ruling and we'll accept it". Now all I need is some Roald Dahl Tales of the Unexpected background music so I can exit, stage left, rubbing my worry beads.

  • Funny action by North - saying partner's call showed Spades and then not transferring. Of course South should have called the TD at the end of the auction and then explained the MI (if it was). East would then have been able to make the call he actually intended to make (although it is amazing how often players say they would have bid on once they know the actual hands). That really should warrant a PP, although in clubs they are rarely given.

    The correct procedure (I believe) is to look at Law 75 (Mistaken explanation or Mistaken call) - this seems to have been followed with the determination that NS have an agreement, that was misexplained and so then applied law 21B as per law 75D2 and D3. With no convention cards and presumably no statement from NS as to what their agreement (if any) is, then the director could have based his ruling in what would happen if EW only knew there was no agreement (2nd half of 75D3). Note that the default position is to assume no agreement (If I am reading 75D3 correctly).

    I can accept a director's decision that the final contract would have been 4C by west - however this seems to be a case where a weighted result might have worked. (And yes I sympathise with TDs who have to work out the possible results and then MP them).

    With regards to the second case, not only must pass be a logical alternative but the break in tempo by north must demonstrably suggest bidding 4H. Some Directors will automatically assume this ("If it hesitates shoot it"), others (DHAGP) will say that North could have been thinking about doubling 4C for penalties and thus 4H is not demonstrably suggested. That is why we poll - although again this is not easy in a club.

  • @weejonnie said:

    That is why we poll - although again this is not easy in a club.

    It's virtually impossible to poll at the end of a club night. I invariably get the information I need from the players, tell them I'll consider my ruling and let them know, think about it in the car on the way home, poll by email the next day and give my ruling by email. Works a treat.

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