Where cards are in hands.

I gave my laws talk today (more on that later).

Some very interesting questions came up.

Law 40B2D states that "Unless the Regulating Authority provides otherwise a player is not entitled to any aids to
his memory, calculation or technique during the auction period and play". This statement is under a law entitled "Partnership Understandings", strongly implying that it refers to (and only to?) details of their partnership agreement. However, WB 1.64 implies a much wider remit.

I always understood that the only note you were allowed to make (and refer to) was what the contract was, and if it was doubled. Is this true? If so, is this from 40B2D / WB 1.64 or elsewhere? Where does the right to note and refer to the contract come from? 41C only gives a right to be informed.

Here comes the juicy bits:
1) The person enquiring, when declarer in a NT contract, always arranges his suits in hand so that any bid by an opponent are on that opponent's side of his (declarer's) hand. Is this allowed, or does it fall foul of the "no aide-memoire" rule?

2) When dummy, he does the same thing (declarer is aware of this). Is this allowed? This sounds to me like Dummy participating in the play.

3) Is declarer allowed to request that Dummy's suits be laid out in a particular order? If so, can this be used as an aide-memoire like with his own hand in 1 above.

From the same person:
4) Can you draw inferences from an opponent rearranging their hand? This suggests they have just played their last card in a suit (and are rearranging to red-black). By corollary with 74C5 it would seem wrong, but there does not seem to be a law prohibiting it/

Comments

  • Law 40B2d is in a weird place, but I think it's generally applicable (rather than applicable only to the situations that the rest of Law 40 talks about). The mention of the Regulating Authority means that it's the White Book that's relevant, and the White Book attempts to enforce it as strictly as possible. Note that this leads to some weird cases; for example, suppose you've forgotten the lead you're supposed to make in a given situation, but know the opponents play the same leads that your partnership does. Are you allowed to look it up off the opponent's system card? This leads to an outright contradiction between White Book 1.6.4(d) and 1.6.4(e) (both of which are given legal force by the Laws). In general, I think you've identified a gap in the EBU regulations here, which aren't nearly as explicit as they could be. (A side note is that clubs may set their own rules for such things, as they act as their own regulating authorities; I learned in a bridge club intended for beginners, which had a rule that you could consult any notes you liked as long as they were made before the hand, and Law 40B2d is apparently OK with that rule existing.)

    The "arrangement of your own hand as declarer" potential memory aid is interesting because it's almost completely unavoidable in practice; if you re-sort your hand to keep it sorted according to a consistent rule, that's giving unwanted AI to defenders, and if you leave it as-is, that serves as a reminder of the initial sort order (which may differ from the ideal sort order given the cards you have left). If my hand as declarer is arranged as spades, diamonds, hearts, that's a giveaway that at least one club trick has been played. (A similar consideration applies to gaps left in dummy.) I've considered using plans like sorting the hand in a specific way every trick to serve as a reminder of previous tricks, but have shied away from them due to it being very unclear whether it's legal or not; if it turns out that it is legal, I might try to come up with a scheme for it. (For what it's worth, I'd suggest a blanket ban on rearranging cards during play simply for tempo reasons, to help prevent rounds going too long.)

    After making a careful reading of Law 16, I now have a somewhat different view on information than before. We have the following sorts of information in bridge:

    • AI (authorized information), defined in law 16A (without naming the concept): legal calls and plays are authorized to anyone, as long as UI is not used to help interpret them; withdrawn actions are authorized to the non-offenders; anything learned from following procedures in the Laws is authorised unless the Laws say otherwise; any information you already had before you saw your hand (such as your memory of the Laws of Bridge or your own bidding system) is authorized by default (i.e. unless specifically unauthorized); and the tournament regulations are authorized. You can do what you like with AI. (There are two other categories mentioned: estimates of your own score, which AFAICT are authorized under the "information you already had" criterion; and estimates of the traits of your opponents, which presumably derive from information authorized in other ways.)
    • XI (extraneous information), defined in Law 16D: this is basically information that could affect the way the hand plays out, but is gained by mistake (e.g. overhearing an argument at another table, or cards being returned to the board face up). There are no Laws (as far as I can tell) suggesting that XI be used or ignored, but if it affects the result on the board, the result gets adjusted.
    • UI (unauthorised information), defined in Law 16B, which is basically XI that comes from or is caused by your partner. (The assumption here is that your partner isn't intentionally sending signals; that wouldn't be UI by the Laws' definition, but any UI considerations would likely become moot when the partnership was disqualified.) When a player has UI, they have to take actions counter-suggested by the UI, unless it would be illogical to do so.

    One thing I noted here is that the Laws come very close to making a player's knowledge of their own hand XI! The only Law I can find that suggests that using your knowledge of your own hand is legal is Law 7B3's requirement to inspect the faces of your cards (presumably, you gain knowledge as to what those cards are during the inspection in question, and thus it's information learned from following procedures in the Laws), which is a lot less explicit than I would have expected for something that fundamental.

    Most notably, though, there's no blanket rule "information derived from the opponents is authorized". There's Law 73D1, which authorizes inferences from variations in an opponent's "tempo or manner"; I'm not sure if it makes sense to describe the place in a hand from which a card is taken as a variation in manner, though. (Perhaps a rearrangement of your hand would be, unless you did it every trick.) Without an explicit authorization, such information would be XI (as it doesn't come from the player's partner); as such, any advantage you gain from it should be adjusted away (but with no other penalty for attempting to make use of it; UI forces you to make suboptimal actions as long as they're reasonable, whereas XI does not prevent you from making an action you think you would have made regardless, even if the XI also suggests the same action).

  • Been refreshing my knowledge by reading the EBU Club Director Judgement ruliungs - in there information given by opponents is classified as 'traits'. (It has probably been re-written since I first looked at it due to the new laws).

    Law 74C - violations of procedure

    1. looking intently at any other player during the auction and play, or at another player’s hand
      as for the purpose of seeing his cards or of observing the place from which he draws a card
      (but it is appropriate to act on information acquired by unintentionally seeing an
      opponent’s card23).

    Would seem to cover question 4. i.e. you can't! (Intently meaning 'with intent') - we have already concluded that 'as' is an abbreviation ofr 'such as' i.e. is illustrative not exhaustive.

    With regard to question 2 - I would try and proscribe it under 73B1 since dummy is communicating information to declarer.

    1. Partners shall not communicate by means such as the manner in which calls or plays are
      made, extraneous remarks or gestures, questions asked or not asked, or alerts and
      explanations given or not given.

    I think that this also covers question 3 since law 41D (below) makes it clear that dummy spreads the hand so if the declarer asks for the suits to be put down specifically (unless asking for trumps to be put on the right - I suppose technically the director should be called if they aren't, as this is an irregularity) he is communicating with his partner.

    D. Dummy’s Hand
    After the opening lead is faced, dummy spreads his hand in front of him on the table, face up,
    sorted into suits, the cards in order of rank with lowest ranking cards towards declarer, and in
    separate columns pointing lengthwise towards declarer. Trumps are placed to dummy’s right.
    Declarer plays both his hand and that of dummy.

    Which leaves question 1 - the most interesting. A strict interpretation of 40B2d means that you can't sort your cards into suits/ order. However I haven't been called yet on this circumstance.

  • As you say weejonnie question 1 is most interesting. Looking at Law 7 B (2) it does not say "s/he must inspect the faces of their cards ""and sort them into suits and order them""." [my double quotes] But we have seen this done many times and it could still be considered an "aid". I know of one card game in which the laws specifically ban the sorting or moving of cards before bidding/play. This could lead to a totally different layout in bridge books; newspapers and official documentation. I know it will never happen but wouldn't it be interesting. When you think about it we all sort our hands to make it "easier".

    CMOT_Dibbler

  • On 41C, you're quite right Jeremy, the Laws slightly contrarily allow you to be informed at any time of the contract and whether it was doubled, but don't allow any notes. Ordering you're own hand with the specific intent of providing memory aides may be a technical violation, but as others have said, would seem to imply that you shouldn't sort your hand at all. Which I know many experts don't, but just thinking of enforcing it is too much of a headache.

    Rearranging your cards during the play is a very bad habit really, as weejonnie mentions 74C prohibits looking for it but allows you to use information if it's obvious. And there's a big risk of giving UI to partner, the last case in particular, reshuffling your hand when you're out of a suit, should be strongly discouraged

  • What ever you record - contract, lead, auction - on the score card, you should not refer to it during the play.

    I don't think dummy should encode information about the auction or lead in the order suits are displayed in dymmy.

  • @Robin_BarkerTD said:
    What ever you record - contract, lead, auction - on the score card, you should not refer to it during the play.

    I don't think dummy should encode information about the auction or lead in the order suits are displayed in dymmy.

    As noted above L40B2d covers the first point. I agree with the second point (but see below): which Law or regulation applies?

    I have to admit that I habitually arrange dummy for NT contracts, C, D, H, S (from declarers left to right): suit contracts have trumps on declarers left then alternating colours. I don't think I have any scheme for the suit next to trumps ... could be same rank or same shape ... maybe I should.

    Peter

  • I must admit that I try to avoid placing suits we've bid on my right in a notrumps contract, simply to reduce the likelihood that partner will forget that we're in notrumps when he sees supporting cards where he expects trumps to be.

  • @Tag said:
    I must admit that I try to avoid placing suits we've bid on my right in a notrumps contract, simply to reduce the likelihood that partner will forget that we're in notrumps when he sees supporting cards where he expects trumps to be.

    Partner shouldn't be looking...

  • I think he means he does that when he is dummy... so his partner (declarer) kinda has to look :)

  • @Martin said:
    I think he means he does that when he is dummy... so his partner (declarer) kinda has to look :)

    Aha!

  • grins

  • In practice because we are always entitled to know what the contract is almost any vaguely sensible method of recording or displaying the contract at the table should be allowed, for example:
    I use the bidding box and tip the relevant card to one side (a Bols tip I believe)
    The common practice where there are spectators of the contract being clearly displayed in the middle of the table.

    Both of these options are preferable to asking "what's the contract?" IMO.
    Referring to a scorecard is questionable (though common) because other information you are NOT entitled to could be there, such as the opening lead.

  • Just because players are entitled to be informed of the contract does not mean they are entitled to remind themselves by indicating the contract (with bidding cards for example) and referring to the indication.

  • @Robin_BarkerTD said:
    Just because players are entitled to be informed of the contract does not mean they are entitled to remind themselves by indicating the contract (with bidding cards for example) and referring to the indication.

    I don't see the difference. Just different ways of being informed. Either verbally or visually.
    If I forget the contract and ask, then whoever tells me is aiding my memory. Logically knowledge of the contract is an allowable exception to the "no aids to memory" rule. Any other conclusion is absurd.

  • @BGM said:

    @Robin_BarkerTD said:
    Just because players are entitled to be informed of the contract does not mean they are entitled to remind themselves by indicating the contract (with bidding cards for example) and referring to the indication.

    I don't see the difference. Just different ways of being informed. Either verbally or visually.
    If I forget the contract and ask, then whoever tells me is aiding my memory. Logically knowledge of the contract is an allowable exception to the "no aids to memory" rule. Any other conclusion is absurd.

    Not really. To ask what the contract is, you need to have identified the question yourself. To have a bidding card placed at an angle draws your attention to the importance of knowing what the contract is.

  • edited March 15

    There's a difference between realising I can't remember what trumps are, and assuming I know what trumps are and actually being wrong. I've had to ask before now, and I've also had cases where I've discarded what I thought was a trump rather than ruffing. So that's a good argument that "in your face" memory aids should be banned for recording what the contract is, even though you can legally just ask.

  • edited March 15

    @ais523 said:
    There's a difference between realising I can't remember what trumps are, and assuming I know what trumps are and actually being wrong. I've had to ask before now, and I've also had cases where I've discarded what I thought was a trump rather than ruffing.

    Cue Donald Rumsfeld...

  • I've also "discarded" a trump and then been confused when opponents said that I'd led from the wrong hand.

  • I've just had another interesting variant of this come up.

    As declarer, a player always sorts his hand so that the cards in a suit bid by a defender are on that defender's side of the hand. This is done solely as an aide memoire.

    Presumably also illegal, but how do you enforce it?

  • edited September 5

    Totally unenforceable - mind you if you always sort your cards in a specific order then partner may be able to deduce your hand pattern from the position whence the opening lead came. Maybe the RA could give some guideline what they regard as permissable and what is verboten somewhere. Note of course that in a bridge club the committee (presumably) can give some guidelines themselves.

    Or we would persuade the WBF to rewrite 40B2(d)

    (d) Unless the Regulating Authority provides otherwise a player is not entitled to any aids to
    his memory, calculation or technique during the auction period and play.

    as

    (d) Unless the Regulating Authority provides otherwise a player may only use the actual cards (and their placement) themselves as aids to his memory, calculation or technique during the auction period and play.

    This would cover:

    1) Player putting cards at side of defender who called the suit in your hand
    2) Dummy facing the cards in a specific order or declarer ordering them to help remember the bidding.
    3) Player putting trumps at the left (or right) of their hand.
    4) Dummy making sure that in No Trumps, no suit bid by the partnership is on the right.

  • I think that it is legitimate to re-sort your hand as an aid to memory, even if this is not what the law says.

    I also think it is legitimate to win cards in hand and dummy with the lowest card from a solid sequence, so that you don't have to remember that the remaining high cards are winners.

  • What about Law 73B: The gravest possible offence is for a partnership to exchange information through prearranged methods of communication other than those sanctioned by these Laws.
    Doesn't this cover the situation where dummy encodes information in the layout of their hand that's not communicated to the defenders? Incomplete disclosure of agreements ...
    Even if it were disclosed, Law 41 also makes it clear that the only information you're allowed to ask for mid-play from the auction is the contract, so encoding bids is definitely unacceptable.
    I'd not be as worried about rank-sorting for NT, however.

  • @Mark_Brown said:
    What about Law 73B: The gravest possible offence is for a partnership to exchange information through prearranged methods of communication other than those sanctioned by these Laws.
    Doesn't this cover the situation where dummy encodes information in the layout of their hand that's not communicated to the defenders? Incomplete disclosure of agreements ...

    I don't think this law applies. The information being encoded is already available to partner (and indeed the opposition), so they're not exchanging information.

    Even if it were disclosed, Law 41 also makes it clear that the only information you're allowed to ask for mid-play from the auction is the contract, so encoding bids is definitely unacceptable.

    Being pedantic, that's not strictly true. You're also allowed to ask anything about the opponents system - meanings of bids (assuming you can remember them), signalling methods...

Sign In or Register to comment.