What does 'likely' mean?

…………………….KQ72
…………………….Q10
…………………….AK97
…………………….A42

A953…………………………………8
K742…………………………………AJ985
542…………………………………….QJ86
109…………………………………….K65

……………………J1064
……………………63
……………………103
……………………QJ873

1D 1H 1S 3D*
4S all pass

Before leading, West asks how many spades the 1S bid showed, and North said 1S showed 5 spades.
The defence started heart to the ace, heart to the king, club ducked to the king, club taken with the ace in dummy.

Declarer now claims, not showing her hand in detail but saying that she will play high spades until West takes the ace, and then has the rest because all her clubs are good.

EW initially agree, assuming that declarer has five spades.

When this happened at the table, EW discovered that actual layout in time for agreement to the claim not to be established and the TD ruled two off, giving the defence an extra trick, under law 70. This seems completely clear to me. [Pedants would argue that following the claim statement literally, declarer will play 4 rounds of spades and West can win the fourth and cash 3 more heart tricks but I don't want to go down that route]

But suppose that EW only realised South had four spades after the next round had started, and the TD is asked to rule under 69B2.
West says that he will win the third round of spades and play a heart. When asked by the TD at the table how she would deal with this defence, declarer says she can ruff dummy and cross in clubs to draw the last trump. It is pointed out this concedes a club ruff.

Declarer eventually points out to the TD that she was a bit flustered when challenged at the table, but obviously she can discard from dummy, ruff in hand, cross to a top diamond, draw the last trump and cash clubs.

West says in order to do that, declarer has to retain a top trump in dummy (to stop the 9 becoming good) which means playing a low trump from dummy/high trump from hand on one of the first two rounds of trumps, before discovering that they are 4-1.
E/W also say that declarer was clearly unaware of the problem of a 4-1 split when she claimed, and there was evidence she wasn’t thinking that clearly, because she also didn’t seem to realise when she claimed that E/W might have been able to take a club ruff.

Declarer is inexperienced.
West is one of the country’s strongest players (relevant only to the extent that he is well aware of the benefits of conceding ruff-discard in this sort of position).

So, is it ‘likely’ that EW would have won an additional trick had play continued? Is the standard of player relevant although there’s no mention of that in the Laws? What does 'likely' mean?

Comments

  • I think that the standard of player is relevant. For example: if a claim is made that on review requires a non-simultaneous double squeeze and the player only started playing a few weeks ago, then it is likely that they would get the timing wrong. (Unless they are RResque)

    As you say, there is no definition of likely in the laws : "such as well might happen or be true; probable." is one definition, but doesn't really couch it in probabilities. Obviously probabilities abound in Bridge "any doubtful points" , definition of a LA. etc.

    "Probable" probably means "in excess of 50%", and we might as well set the bar to be the same for "likely". The phrase "As likely as not" would seem to apply a 50% probability. Of course it is up to the TD to make a judgement call as to whether they think declarer would get it right at the point of claim.

    (Obviously declarer has stated a line of play that will result in a club ruff. I think that this means that it is likely that they would do so.).

    Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand. When does adding a book convert the collection into a library? When does someone who loses their hair, one strand at a time, become bald? It may be arbitrary, but is needed.

  • In the bad old days before weighted scores became the norm there were different standards for score adjustment for the two sides. The non-offending side got the best result that was likely had the infraction not occurred, whereas the offenders got the worst result that was at all probable.

    At some point these were expressed in fractional terms, "likely" meaning at least one in three, and "at all probable" at least one in six (slightly confusing because "probable" is generally taken to mean "likelier than merely likely" whereas "at all probable" meant "not as likely as likely").

    Whilst this is clearly not a direct precedent, I would be comfortable with the idea that something is "likely" even if it has a probability below 50%, although not one a lot below 50%.

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