# What is 'Comparable' ?

Law 23A1 says that … a comparable bid … has the same or similar meaning to that attributable to the withdrawn call ..
For an insufficient bid this is meaningless because the withdrawn had no valid meaning. All bids depend on context and insufficient bids have no valid definition. The caller almost certainly made the bid on the assumption of a different context – and the Director will not want to reveal this context.
Let’s take some examples. All start with North opening 2S and East making an insufficient bid:
(1) 2S – 2H. What did the caller mean by 2H? Was it: PASS – 2H or was it 1S – 2H? [East may have not noticed the 2S bid - or misread it as 1S.] A weak two opening is very different to a simple overcall so the comparable calls are not clear.
I know that 2H could be replaced by 3H but that is not my point.
(2) Is the situation any different if it goes 2S – STOP 2H ??
(3) Now try 2S – 2C. Now there is a very real difference if the 2C was intended as an opening ACOL strong bid.
(4) How about 2S – 2C ALERT is interesting because it’s possible that East meant 2C as an overcall but West thought otherwise.

I have just made up some examples to illustrate my point – which is that ‘comparable’ calls are not well defined because we don’t know what we are comparing to.

Alan

## Comments

• Nor do we need to know, in most cases. There is a range of possibilities ("attributable" gives us a lot of flexibility), from which the player can select one call.

You say "I know that 2H could be replaced by 3H but that is not my point", but perhaps that should be the point. It feels as though you are looking for problems with the law rather than looking to see how it could work.

• You need to know in all the cases when you use this definition.
It works quite well, sometimes, for bid out of turn but not for insufficient bid.

Alan

• The thing is the law doesn't talk of intended meanings, only of "attributable" meanings, which to my mind means meanings that could be attributed to the calls.

I think I've given this example before, but imagine we are called to the table to see 1NT - (P) - 1H

Well the 1H bid might have been made by a player intending to open 1H;
by a player who thought partner had opened a minor suit and was intending to respond 1H;
or by a player who got confused and was trying to transfer to spades.

So I would state these possibilities and say that the player could replace it with any bid that showed hearts or spades, but I would also say that if the player thought I had missed anything, I would be happy for them to tell me away from the table. It's hard to see how opener could get any more information from this insufficient bid and any such replacement than if the replacement bid had been made in the first place. I think that's what we should be concerned about.

• That's interesting. You are talking
... That attributable
To mean
... Any of one or more possible meanings attributable
And you are letting the bidder choose which one.

This seems fairly reasonable but it's not what the law says.

Alan

• edited January 2018

Please explain why when the law says "attributable" it does not mean that!
Note that 23A2 talks of a subset of the attributable meanings, in the plural.

• It says THAT not Those in 23A1..going singular, plural, singular. A badly written rule like most of the others

Alan

• I think the problem is that you want each bit to stand alone, whereas I think we get best use out of these laws by looking at the totality.

We are trying to let people play bridge while ensuring they don’t gain from their infractions; not trying to find reasons for disallowing a replacement call.
• I can't go by what the EBU and others intend. I can only go by what they have written.
I try to understand and work with the rule book.

Alan

• It doesn't seem to me as though you are.

Again I ask, when the law says attributable, why do you assert it does not mean that?

• I don't. I assert that that means that

Alan

• OK, I don't think it will be fruitful to continue this discussion. Others are welcome to if they wish.

• Two points. First, Gordon says attributable means attributable. I find it difficult to argue with.

Second, you suggest the Insufficient bid law is a bad law. I think it is a terrible law but so what? We have it and we have to work with it.

• Semantics aside, we need to find sensible practical ways to handle such situations.

Looking at the examples given, could the TD not look at the Insufficient Bidder's hand and figure out what the intended call would have been and base his ruling on that?

• @SDN, from my understanding, it is not what was meant by the bid, but rather what could be shown by that bid.

So 1NT - 2H - 2H - what was intended is not important but the possible meanings...
So, now bidding 2, 3 or 4 spades is comparable as it could have been an attempted transfer
double could be possible, if they play stolen bid doubles after NT open (so the double means exactly the same as the attempted 2H)

What wouldn't be comparable is 3C as it is unrelated to the original bid and as such there would be UI here (probably that partner has 5S for example).

In the system I play, 3H would be a transfer to S, with at least invitational values, so would be comparable too - the original attempt to transfer only promised 5 spades and could be zero to umpteen points. The new transfer promises 5 spades and 11 to umpteen points (which is a subset of the original meaning)

perhaps 1C (precision) - 1C could be replaced with a double (I play doubles of conventional bids to show that suit and over a precision club, opening values), but 2C might be comparable too... it all depends on what someone might take a bid to mean and if the replacement matches one of those possibilities, then their partner is non-the-wiser.

That's my reading of it anyway.

• If the bidder says something like 'I missed the intervening bid' they may make the definition of comparable bid easier. But they may also add to the UI. It's not helped by the fact that the next level at the same denomination, which is acceptable, is often not comparable.

Alan

• I don't like any ruling that involves looking at a player's hand before the end of play.

• Except if it is about to find out, if a call was unintended due to a mechanical error..

• Even then, there is still no need to look at the player's hand. You need to know what was in their mind and what they intended at the time of making their call, not what was in their hand. I start with the question "At the point in time when you made that call, was that the call you thought you were making". If necessary, I'll chat with the player away from the table, but I still don't want to know what he holds in his hand.

Essentially, I agree completely with bluejak.

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

• @Martin said:

@SDN, from my understanding, it is not what was meant by the bid, but rather what could be shown by that bid.

So 1NT - 2H - 2H - what was intended is not important but the possible meanings...
So, now bidding 2, 3 or 4 spades is comparable as it could have been an attempted transfer
double could be possible, if they play stolen bid doubles after NT open (so the double means exactly the same as the attempted 2H)

What wouldn't be comparable is 3C as it is unrelated to the original bid and as such there would be UI here (probably that partner has 5S for example).

In the system I play, 3H would be a transfer to S, with at least invitational values, so would be comparable too - the original attempt to transfer only promised 5 spades and could be zero to umpteen points. The new transfer promises 5 spades and 11 to umpteen points (which is a subset of the original meaning)

perhaps 1C (precision) - 1C could be replaced with a double (I play doubles of conventional bids to show that suit and over a precision club, opening values), but 2C might be comparable too... it all depends on what someone might take a bid to mean and if the replacement matches one of those possibilities, then their partner is non-the-wiser.

That's my reading of it anyway.

• To reply to Martin, who says it is not what is meant by the bid but what is shown by the bid.
1NT - pass - 1C.
What is 'shown' by 1C here? Is it a slip-of-the-finger of Stayman 2C or an opening bid of 1C having not noticed the 1NT opening by partner?
Would the TD's ruling depend upon which of the above two applied?
And if so, (now to answer bluejak) how would the TD determine which of the two shown-by-the-bid applied without looking at the hands?
Would justice be done if, for example, the responder told the TD (away from the table) that he had meant to bid Stayman 2C and was allowed to change his bid to 2C when he had actually 'opened' 1C without seeing the 1NT opening?

I am not challenging the comments of Martin and bluejak, only trying to get clarity of thought.

• edited January 2018

Either explanation could be "attributable" and so I would allow the player to replace 1C with 2C or with any bid (such as 3C for some players) that showed an opening hand with clubs. I wouldn't allow a transfer to clubs.

As to the second bit of your question, it is legitimate for a player to distort their bidding to make a call that will not bar their partner from bidding.

There's an interesting paper from Max Bavin covering some of these questions at http://www.ebu.co.uk/documents/laws-and-ethics/articles/L23C Max Bavin.pdf

• Very useful. So in the Prague case the offender's partner didn't gain any assistance from the replacement call and the offender had to distort his bid (which is not assistance) but they were lucky.

Thus we have seen examples where a pass out of turn has had to corrected to 1NT response (as a comparable call) rather than the usual 1 - with the result that the pair end up in 3NT (which makes) rather than 4 (which fails on a 4-1 trump split).

The fact that a better result has been obtained is irrelevant. It was not obtained with the assistance of the pass out of turn (which forced the offender to make a less-favourable call to avoid the penalties), it was obtained with the assistance of the 1NT response.

Correct? If so I've 'got it'!

• I assume that the idea is that if the disallowed bid could mean A, B or C and it is replaced with B, then there is no UI as everyone knows that the bidder intended B.
If the bid was replaced with C1 (some sub-set of C, such as a narrower point count etc), then there is no UI
However, if the bid was replaced with D (such as a different suit showing bid, or some entirely different hand shape) then this would not be comparable.

Where I think that there is some ambiguity is with the wording of the definition:

A. Definition
A call that replaces a withdrawn call is a comparable call, if it:
1. has the same or similar meaning as that attributable to the withdrawn call, or
2. defines a subset of the possible meanings attributable to the withdrawn call, or
3. has the same purpose (e.g. an asking bid or a relay) as that attributable to the withdrawn call.

For me, 2 and 3 are fine, 1 is ambiguous as to how similar is similar?

For example, 1NT - pass - 1H (not accepted)...

Now, 2H would be a transfer to spades, so would be fine as it looks like a mechanical error or lapse in concentration and was always intended to be a transfer
But is 2D as a transfer to H allowed?

A heart open shows 4+ hearts and the transfer 5+ hearts. However, the open shows 11ish to 20ish points, but the transfer could be zero points. So is that similar enough?

Who would gain from the knowledge that both have an opening hand? The bidders would likely find game anyway, so the only advantage I can see here is with the ops, they know better whether to sacrifice, or to pass with 15 points to hide where they stand. So, in this instance is "shows hearts" similar enough to "shows hearts and opening hand" to allow the transfer to be comparable? If not, why not and based on what defined criteria?

I think that a similar example with given with a OOT open of 1H, not accepted and the RHO opens 1C. If the bidder out of turn now bids 1H overcall, is that similar enough? If not, why not? Perhaps the rules could give an expectation of the similarity, such as within a K or Q of value, or +/- 1 card length.

Another example, bid out of turn 3H (pre-empt 7+ cards) not accepted and RHO opens 1S. If they play weak jump overcalls, is 1S - 3H (pre-empt 6+ cards) close enough, or would they need to bid 4H to be comparable?
• 2 would be allowed as it is the lowest call showing the same denomination since 1 could show hearts.

If opener benefits through the knowledge that offender has (presumably) an opening hand (and subsequent bidding did not reveal that) then we adjust - but that is not a law 23C but a law 27D rectification. Example

1N - 1H (not accepted, not a mechanical error) 2D
2H - 2NT (only a game invite as the 'opening' was made on 12 points
3NT (bid on 13 points but knowing partner had 12 points from the opening call and not 11

With regards to a 1 opening bid Vs a 1 overcall then I think we would have to delve into the sort of hands that would overcall 1 - vulnerable overcalls tend to be sounder than non-vulnerable and if the pair play weak jump overcalls then 1 is probably being made on fair values. In terms of equity I would certainly be prepared to allow vulnerable overcalls, being prepared to rule as under 23C.

With regards to the 3 opening vs 3!H wjo vulnerability may play a part. Again you have to find out style but again I think they would be similar enough (less than opening values, long heart suit) for me to allow play to continue with 23C as a backstop.

• I note Gordon's comment that it is legitimate for a player to distort their bidding to make a call that will not bar their partner from bidding. I have downloaded Max Bavin's paper and will read it later. BUT, if I were to allow such a distortion and the opponents complained, where would I find a definitive (legal) support for such a ruling?

My other concern is, given the possible scenarios that we have seen presented here, can a TD be reasonably expected to give a sensible ruling taking all such possibilities into account under pressure of time?

• @Martin said:
For example, 1NT - pass - 1H (not accepted)...

Now, 2H would be a transfer to spades, so would be fine as it looks like a mechanical error or lapse in concentration and was always intended to be a transfer
But is 2D as a transfer to H allowed?

A heart open shows 4+ hearts and the transfer 5+ hearts. However, the open shows 11ish to 20ish points, but the transfer could be zero points. So is that similar enough?

It's allowed under 27B1a, so no need to worry about whether it is similar enough.

• Ah, I missed that bit, thanks for the clarification

• @SDN said:
I note Gordon's comment that it is legitimate for a player to distort their bidding to make a call that will not bar their partner from bidding. I have downloaded Max Bavin's paper and will read it later. BUT, if I were to allow such a distortion and the opponents complained, where would I find a definitive (legal) support for such a ruling?

My other concern is, given the possible scenarios that we have seen presented here, can a TD be reasonably expected to give a sensible ruling taking all such possibilities into account under pressure of time?

1) Simply within law 23 - the call made will be a comparable call. It doesn't matter what you actually hold, it is what the call shows. No UI applies - so partner could allow for the call being a distortion, but if the pair gains due to assistance from the infraction then an adjusted score is applied.

I assume this means (to give an example) - partner passes out of turn and when you open 1 responds 1NT. Normally this would show 8-10 points, a balanced hand and no 4-card major (and as such is comparable). The question then arises: suppose you now make a call e.g. 2 to allow partner to show a 4-card suit and then reach 4. This is fine.

The second concern is very apposite - a playing director (as in most clubs) is not going to be able to do very much (one more reason for having a rota of NPTDs). NPTDs will gradually gain experience, but it is going to be very difficult discussing a highly artificial system . It may be best to find out what the illegal call meant and then let the opponents challenge the call - and get the explanation from the player's partner. I dont think advising players that a call is comparable is a practical way of doing things.

• "I assume that the idea is that if the disallowed bid could mean A, B or C and it is replaced with B, then there is no UI as everyone knows that the bidder intended B." [Martin]

Everyone may assume that, but offender may be trying some distorted bidding, as pointed out by Gordon above.

Sign In or Register to comment.