Law 20 G 2 - Player who may have asked a question to elicit wrong answer from ops

Possibility of a player asking a question to elicit wrong response from opponents. How should TD determine whether this law applies? A player yesterday asked a question about a double of a transfer bid which had occurred earlier in the auction. The player says he was asking so he could decide whether to double the final contract. If he hadn't asked and assumed that the bid was the usual meaning (i.e lead directing with values in the suit) he says he would have doubled and got a better score. The explanation was half correct but as this is the kind of thing that doesn't get mentioned on convention cards, I have to assume that a full explanation as the the doubler held values and length in the suit bid as a transfer. It is possible that the questioner was asking questions to give him an opportunity to hedge his bets, but how should this be handled in the ruling? I actually gave a weighted score which still gave him a an extra 200 in a teams event. Should I have let the score stand?


  • I would need to know what explanation was actually given, whether the partnership actually have any agreement (as many partnerships at an average club session won't have ever discussed such a thing) and, if so, what agreement they have, and I would also ask how the question was phrased.

    One thing that strikes me is that you say that your weighted score gave a side an extra 200. Unless the teams event was using aggregate scoring, the weighted score should be so many % of the IMPs for each outcome taken seperately. eg If your team mates defended 2S= for -110 and you are assigned 40% of 2H-3 (for +150) and 60% of 2HX-3 (for +500), you take 40% of +1 IMP and 60% of +9 IMPs, which comes to +5.8 IMPs. There's a feature by John Pain at that goes into much more on this subject.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • TagTag
    edited November 2017

    What the doubler actually held wasn't relevant, only that the person asked divulged their agreement on the bid, even if the answer is "No specific agreement beyond the obvious". If the person asking then tries to badger for more information a TD call could become appropriate, although asking for reasonable clarification of the agreement and bids not made is quite appropriate. I've seen players become irate at an answer of "No agreement" and this behaviour should be stopped.

    Some players try to bend over backwards to answer questions on partner's bids or carding and end up giving misinformation. It would be good to educate them not to and to call the TD if they feel they are being pressured into making things up. As for your ruling, it was your ruling - you do what you feel is right at the time and offer players the right to appeal if they object.

  • The explanation given was "shows values". These are all very experienced players (County A team) and this was a county team Swiss teams event. I may have got the calculation wrong, I was just using what EBUScore offered but I will look at that. The issue is not so much the result (it makes little difference to the match result/positions) but more that the ops feel that this player often asks questions and then wants redress if the explanation is wrong. So I'm really trying to establish what constitutes evidence of asking questions with the sole purpose of eliciting a wrong explanation to gain an advantage, in contravention of this new bit of law in the new law book.

    It is difficult establish what the agreement is as it is not something you would expect to find on a convention card, but the double wasn't alerted as being something different from the norm so in the absence of information to the contrary on the card I made the assumption that there agreement is the normal for players of their standard (one is a grand master).I've certainly been on the wrong end of a ruling at a congress that if it isn't on the card then you can't prove that your agreement is different from the norm.

  • If you were using EBU Score, it handles weighted adjustments very easily so I doubt that you actually had any problem.

    Back to the main issue, I agree that this is not something one expects to see on a System Card. So we have to talk to the players to try to establish what if anything might be their agreement.

    I still feel very short of facts but it seems that a player, let's say West, opened 1NT. East bid, say, 2H as a transfer to spades, South doubled and NS got to a heart contract and West or East (let's say it was East) wanted to know about the earlier double in order to decide whether to double the heart contract, and East ended up not doubling and then the contract went off.

    Now, if I were making that earlier double, I would have a combination of values and length in that suit to want partner to lead the suit (especially against a NT contract) or to suggest that our side might actually play in that suit. If the explanation given was just "shows values" without any mention of any length, I would, as East, be more inclined to double than not double, so, as TD, I might be far more inclined to remove a double that was made than add a double that wasn't made.

    When East asked about the double, did he ask "Do you have any agreements about that double?" or did he ask "Does that double show values?" This level of detail makes a huge difference. But you are quite right that any questioning must not amount to harassment.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • Here is the full auction

    1NT P 2D (Tfr) X
    2H 2S P 3C
    P 3S P P
    (Qry) P**

    ** So the 1NT opener (playing 15-17NT) now asks at this point what the double was and them passes. 3S goes off and the 1NT opener now says he would have doubled had he been told the doubler held diamonds.

    The question is not whether the questioning amount to harassment but whether he contravened the new clause in LaW 20G which says "A player may not ask a question if his sole purpose is to elicit an incorrect response from an opponent". So the question is whether he needed to ask the question or did he just ask so that if he got an incorrect explanation so he could now hedge his bets by passing and ask for an adjusted score later if the contract goes off. The feeling is that he had no real reason to ask the question and had enough to double anyway (16 points incl AKx spades , KJXX of diamonds (over the doubler) and A of clubs

  • TagTag
    edited November 2017

    As per 3H1 of the Blue Book, the double of the artificial 2D means what it's supposed to mean unless it's marked on the system card of the pair and it should have been alerted if it had other meanings. Since you've not mentioned otherwise, we can assume the double wasn't alerted, so he has either already been informed that the doubler has interest in diamonds or he has been misinformed as to its meaning, by the failure to alert as per 4B2(d) of the Blue Book.

    He might have been protecting himself by asking to be sure that the doubler held diamonds, to cover the possibility that opener had failed to alert. He might also illegally have been asking to draw attention to the diamonds suit, to indicate to his partner that he held diamonds. If he was told by the opener that the double didn't show diamonds, he had cause to call the director there and then for an earlier misinformation.

    As for his own double being automatic on that holding, not if his partner held a bust and three diamonds, since he can only count three tricks in his own hand - !sAK and !cA. His own diamonds could be useless.

    I'd struggle to assume that his questioning was an attempt to elicit misinformation unless he has a history of such behaviour but it'd be nice to know why he was asking. Maybe he was just gaining some extra thinking time without giving unauthorised information to his partner by a tank before passing.

  • I agree that the double of 3S is not automatic especially at teams, but other players I consulted gave that opinion. However I do think that if he makes an assumption based on lack of alert that he is sitting over the diamonds he has enough information to make a decision (he would get redress if the double of 2D's should have been alerted). I don't think gaining time to think is a valid bridge reason, especially in the pass out seat. One of the ops team thinks the question was about trying to get a diamond lead, but the lead was found by most (5 of 6) who were defending a Spade contract. As far as history of this behaviour is concerned I would say he does call the director for misinformation more than most, (although by no means the worst offender), I think the need to refer to his history is the nux of my problem. All I can think of to do is to tell him he should not be asking questions when he is experienced enough to know what the bid should mean given the lack of alert, and that he needs to be aware that unless he has a good reason to ask he could be suspected of asking just to get a wrong answer

  • Thank you for the additional information because, as you saw, I was going off on a completely different scenario. It would still have been nice to know the exact hand that asked about the double, but your description is probably near enough.

    I think there is a fair amount of correlation between the EBU wording about questionaing not amounting to harassment, and the new Law 20G2 about asking to elicit a wrong answer. Here, it seems that one single question was asked and the answer "Shows values" was the only reply. I agree with Tag that there is no evidence that opener was trying to elicit a wrong response, and opener may very well have been making the enquiry to pass the time while he is deciding whether to double, without really knowing whether the answer would affect his decision. You may well decide that as the enquiry drew attention to the diamond suit, it would make it more attractive for partner to lead a diamond at Trick 1. This doesn't make the enquiry illegal, but you would have to consider the UI implications.

    My own view is that if we know that the doubler has length as well as values, it wouldn't make any difference to whether I would double the 3S contract. I would want to ask why it might have made a difference to the opener and I would ask others whether they would be more likely to double (as it seems that you did), and the other thing I would need to know before any adjusting is whether I consider that showing length as well as values is the doubler's partnership agreement.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • I think the question did draw attention to the diamonds, but in this case diamonds was the only sensible lead. (The only hand where diamonds wasn't led was against a higher level contract the bidding must have gone very differently)

    My main issue here is to get to grips with this new bit of law. Yes he may have been trying to encourage a diamond lead and he got one. If that was all there was to it then there would have been no reason to call me for an adjusted score. I gave a weighted score partly because I think it is not clear cut that he would have doubled at teams (dangerous to double ops into game when partner may have nothing). but also because I do think he asks questions when he doesn't need to and takes advantage if they don't explain properly. Whether it is his sole purpose is difficult to establish.In this case the ops were experienced, partly to blame for the situation and the damage not too great . Their main defence to the incorrect explanation accusation was "but I did have values", so I am inclined to believe that the explanation was incomplete. However, the opponents are very ethical players and it really grates with one of them (a grand master) that he is getting away with asking these questions and gaining from it.

    There is another player in particular who is not above using this kind of tactic against weaker players and I am anticipating the need to refer to this law in other situations. The problem is the players will always have a "reason to ask" prepared.

  • I should add that sometimes the "reason to ask" is more dubious than in this case

  • TagTag
    edited November 2017

    Well, you could always exercise TD judgement and hit one with a warning or more severe penalty at some future time when you are leaning towards that view and maybe it will cause them to cut down on the practice, especially if you make it clear that future violations might have a higher penalty. Of course, you should also advise them that they have a right of appeal.

    I doubt that you'll ever find yourself with a 100% clear-cut case.

  • The other approach is to ask the opener, if the length of diamonds really was so critical to him, why he didn't ask a supplementary question such as "Just values?" or "Do you have any agreement about whether there should also be length". I would expect a player at this level, and in this situation, to ask if he really wanted to know.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • Thanks for your comments both. I think it does seem I can't expect "clear cut" situations, but I might start with a bit of "friendly advice" (thin warning") this time to at least give me the opportunity to point out there has been a change to the law and so at least he has advance warning that I will be considering that rule in future.

  • I have completely lost the problem. The player is considering a doubtful penalty double. He wants to know whether he is sitting over the diamonds, Relying on alerting of doubles is, I am afraid, not effective: even good players do not get alerting of doubles correct. If I was considering doubling with that hand of course I woud ask what the double meant. Why n earth should this be harassment?

    If I have missed something please explain.

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