Extremely serious error


A2 ......... Q95
AQ62 .... 843
AK875 .. QT
32 .......... AKJ64
.. JT8643
.. J5
.. J43
.. 75

W ... N ... E ... S
... ... P .. 1N .. P
2S! . P .. 2N! . P
3D .. P ... P .. 3S
3N .. P ... P ... P

Swiss Pairs (MPs)
Dealer: N
Vulnerability: none

I thought you might like a judgement decision with some points of interest. The story:

1N was 12-14, 2S was an artificial bid with various possibilities, 2N showed a minimum. 3D was not alerted since East thought it showed a weak takeout in diamonds so he passed. South asked and was told it was a weak takeout so he bid 3S. West bid 3N gratefully and East made a lot of tricks. N/S asked for a ruling based on MI (misinformation).

The director investigated and discovered that according to the E/W system 3D was artificial, asking for four-card majors, so West's bidding was fine and East has given MI. Clearly South would have passed with the correct information and West would not have scored many match points in 3D. So presumably we adjust to 3D making 9, 10 or 11 tricks, so we weight the score between these.

But what of N/S? It was agreed that South's bid was pretty poor, but is it an extremely serious error (unrelated to the infraction), or a gambling action, so that L12C1E will apply? Having read the definition in that law it was felt it was not a gambling action, but was it a serious error, bidding on three points when Partner has passed so the opponents have game values? It appeared that he had forgotten Partner's original pass, so assuming Partner must have at least 13 points his bid becomes just about conceivable.

So, is forgetting Partner has originally passed an 'Extremely Serious error' bringing L12C1E into play or just a ‘Serious error'?


  • Note. As you can see I have done very poorly with the formatting: if anyone who understands it can make it better please do!

  • TagTag
    edited December 2017

    Looking at the logic, East has 12-14, let's call it 14. He can assume that West has a max of 10 points and, probably a 6-card diamonds suit. That gives EW a max of 24 points, leaving 16, of which he has 3. As you comment, that would leave partner with 13, which his pass has denied, unless it's a really filthy 13 on a 4414 hand with a singleton diamond honour.

    I'd tend to call it a serious error but "extremely" seems a little far; he thinks that 3D is making. Maybe someone has a Queen in their hand which they hadn't noticed or had discounted. He's expecting to go down but, hopefully, not by much and they won't double or maybe they'll go to 4D and go off. Then again, he's on a wing and a prayer that they won't double since going only one off looks ambitious which brings "gambling" into the picture but you've already decided against that. I think that if you throw gambling out of this judgement then you have to take "extremely" out with it. Then again, once his mind goes to the possibility of a 4414 partner then maybe it can go only one off or is so close that they can't double and it's not gambling and maybe not even a serious error, merely a hopeful punt looking at a 10-card fit. I'll stop here before I convince myself that 3S is just sound, aggressive bidding. :-)

    Next, is it unrelated to the infraction of MI? I don't believe that it's unrelated, since any quick calculation is based on the (mis)information that West is making a weak takeout and holds long diamonds, rather than that West is looking for the best game contract.

  • Happy new Year to all!

    I believe 3!s is not at all unrelated with the infraction, but depending on N/S bridge level. If they are beginners we could say south made a gambling action based on Misinformation. If they are masters, we could dare to speak about a serious error!

    Another aspect we could also think about is would our ruling differ, if E, instead of bidding 3NT, could just double 3!s , and collect 800!

  • I don't see why the ruling should differ if they pick up 800.

    The question was whether forgetting the opening pass was an ESE, since we assume South would not "protect" if he knows the opponents have game values.

  • I was west, the bid was explained as takeout, not weak takeout (I could have a hand that wants to play in 3C opposite a min and 3NT oposite a max). We used to takeout to diamonds the same way but changed it a few months ago, as you can imagine it doesn't come up often and my partner forgot. However I suspect my partner should have alerted anyway if it was a new suit at the 3 level and NF.

    The fewer points I have the more reasonable south's bid becomes, until you realise that the less reasonable North's failure to bid becomes.

  • Yes, my quick and dirty logic above falls apart on realising that the 2NT bid shows a minimum. North might well hold 13 points in a 4414 hand but isn't going to be holding 15.

  • EBU guideline are that 'extremely serious error' includes things like revoking, failing to cash an obvious 2nd trick against a slam and probably other procedural errors e.g. leading a suit when forbidden to do so or vice versa, not playing to a trick. It famously says that playing for a player to have 14 cards (when a full analysis is done) is not an extremely serious error.

    So: Since I would not regard the 3Spade call as 'blatantly ridiculous' I would adjust for both sides.

    .12.5.3 ‘Extremely Serious Error’
    It should be rare to consider an action ‘an extremely serious error’. In general only the following types of action would be covered:
    • Failure to follow proper legal procedure (e.g. revoking, creating a major penalty card, leading out of turn, not calling the TD after an irregularity).
    • Blatantly ridiculous calls or plays, such as ducking the setting trick against a slam, or opening a weak NT with a 20-count. Such errors should be considered in relation to the class of the player concerned; beginners are expected to make beginners’ errors and should not be penalised for doing so.
    • An error in the play in or defence to a contract which was only reached as a consequence of the infraction should be treated especially leniently.
    For clarity, the following would usually not be considered to be ‘an extremely serious error’:
    • Forgetting a partnership agreement or misunderstanding partner’s call.
    • Any play that would be deemed ‘normal’, albeit careless or inferior, in ruling a contested claim.
    • Any play that has a reasonable chance of success, even if it is obviously not the percentage line.
    • Playing for a layout that detailed analysis would show is impossible, such as for an opponent to have a 14-card hand.

  • The question of whether 3S is an ESE only arises if you think it is unrelated to the infraction, which I do not.
  • The issue of 'unrelated to the infraction' and what constitutes ESE and "wild or gambling action" are on the agenda for the next laws and ethics meeting and may result in changes to the White Book guidance.

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