Dummy oversteps, director called late

This is similar to the question raised in the post "Preventing declarer playing from the wrong side" but more about restitution. I am called to the table by a less experienced pair (E-W) playing a more experienced pair(N/S). This is the story. South is declarer and plays the Ace from hand. North says "No you are in dummy". The Ace goes back into South's hand and a low card is now led from dummy, East plays low and South plays the 10. East now calls me and asks if he can insist that South plays the Ace. So here is what I say:
1. You (three players not dummy) should have called me when the Ace was played from the wrong hand.
2. The fact that the lead was allowed from dummy and followed by East implies that East/West are not exercising their right to accept the lead of the Ace (though they may not have been aware of that right).
3. So you (E) are too late to insist on the Ace being played now.
4. I know this happens all the time but dummy is only allowed to try to prevent partner leading from the wrong hand, not allowed to point it out after it has happened.
5. I have the power to impose a procedural penalty on N/S at this point (at the end of the hand) but I am not minded to do so this time. But please all be aware of the restrictions on dummy for the future and please call the director right away next time.

Was I right?


  • I'd say you were right. As dummy, I try to catch partner if they look as if they are about to lead from their own hand but, sometimes, it happens too quickly and I've already started saying, "you're on table." It feels very wrong to suggest that dummy should be penalised for this infraction, especially since it's not an action which directly helps his side. Once a defender plays to the trick, the incident is over and they've accepted whatever they've accepted. Of course, declarer's ace is back in his hand and needn't be played, as you rightly ruled.

    Dummy's reminder that declarer was on table can only help the defenders, rather than declarer, by waking them up to declarer's infraction of playing from the wrong hand and gives them the choice of accepting the erroneous lead.

  • I am sure that in a Victor Mollo story HH prevents RR from leading from the wrong side so that RR can't take the finesse (which HH knows will lose) and has to play for the doubleton Queen to fall (which HH knows it will) - so it is perfectly possible (not in this case) that Dummy's action will indeed help his side (and which of course should be corrected under Law 72C)

    Note BTW that even if the declarer detaches a card from his hand, dummy can still interfere since the card has not yet been played as per Law 45C-

    1. Declarer is deemed to have played a card from his hand if it is: (a) held face up, touching or nearly touching the table; or (b) maintained in such a position as to indicate that it has been played.
  • Interesting point, weejonnie but it is legal to prevent declarer from leading from the wrong hand. In this case, he's already made the lead from the wrong side.

    A comment now from dummy highlights to the defenders that they can either accept this lead or require one from the correct hand. Of course, they might heedlessly require a lead from the correct hand and thus fall into HH's cunning trap. As a defender, I always try to give a moment's thought as to whether declarer's slip can be to my advantage.

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