Law 73E - deception

Recently, we had a situation where in a teams match, S (first in hand all vul) opened 1NT (15-17), N bid 3NT, which ended the auction. West led a H, and declarer said after dummy went down, sorry partner, we are in the wrong contract, I've got 6 suits (I can't remember his precise words, he may have said 5 suits).

The heart went to East's A followed by the Q, declarer took this with the K, and played the AS. Dummy started with J86,654,Q7,AK1073, and East had void,AQJ8,J1086,QJ964. East played the 6D on this. Declarer started with AK10954,K2,AK954,void. So now declared played AD, small D to the Q, Cashed the AKC - throwing spades, and back to hand with a spade, and cashed the remaining Diamonds - for 5D, KH and two AKs for 10 tricks.
East now complained that these gratuitous comments from declarer, had confused the situation, and could they get a ruling. In the end the captain of the team decided not to pursue it further. However looking at law 73E(2).
'If the director determines that an innocent player has drawn a false inference from a question, remark, manner, tempo or the like, of an opponent who has no demonstrable bridge reason for the action, and could have been aware, at the time of the action, that it would work to his benefit, the Director shall award an adjusted score.'

Of course declarer had only '4 suits' - two spade suits, a diamond suit, and a heart suit

So we have here 'an innocent player' drawing a false inference from a remark. The opponent had no demonstrable bridge reason for his comment, and he could have been aware it might lead to his benefit. So the last sentence says an adjusted score shall (must) be awarded.

I'm not so much concerned about this specific case - as I said the ruling was not pursued. I'm certain that S was not aware it could lead to his benefit - but the law only says he could have been aware. I don't know why E discarded the small diamond on the first spade, what the thought process to arrive at that discard was. Had a diamond not been discarded, declarer could have played on spades, hoping for either a H blockage, or for them to be 4-4, or Diamonds to be 3-3.

East was not asked why a diamond was discarded, nor North on whether that was the reason, that diamonds were played. East was more complaining about confusion from South's remark - rather than a specific false inference.

To my mind on the basis of fairness, East should not be able to rectify their mistake (if it was a mistake - though it could be East was expecting to need to make several discards, and made the less obvious one first), by summoning the director, and getting a ruling based on 'might' and 'could'.

What I would like the law to say is that an innocent party cannot get an adjusted score, when they have made an 'unjustified' error. Perhaps the white book could clarify.



  • Adjusted scores are made using L12C, including

    12C1(e) If, subsequent to the irregularity, the nonoffending
    side has contributed to its own
    damage by an extremely serious error (unrelated
    to the infraction) or by a gambling action, which
    if unsuccessful it might have hoped to recover
    through rectification, then:
    (i) The offending side is awarded the score it
    would have been allotted as the
    consequence of rectifying its infraction.
    (ii) The non-offending side does not receive
    relief for such part of its damage as is self-inflicted.

    That seems to be what you are after as a general rule, though in this case it's unlikely to apply since the error was not unrelated to the infraction. In general, the standard for invoking this clause is required to be very high indeed - something like a revoke, or failing to cash the setting trick in a slam.

  • I don't see how gratuitous comments when they are perfectly accurate can confuse the opposition. He basically told his opponents that he had mis-sorted his hand and was in the wrong contract, both of which were true. Declarer has no means of knowing that giving the opponents extra true information will do anything but help them so L73E2 does not apply.

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