"Oh sh..." (Law 25)

On similar forums there has been the odd cause celebre where a player has done something stupid, realised, said something along the lines of "Oh, sh..." and tried to recover.

In a recent match W, in second seat after a pass from S, took out the Stop card and removed a number of bidding cards from the box, got them close to the table, said "Oh, sh..." and returned them to the box. Had the TD been called (I will clarify in a later post), the conversation would have gone something like this:

W: Director, can I speak to you away from the table?
TD: Sure, but when we return it is my decision as to how much of what you tell me I need to pass on to the other players.

[away from the table]
W: I took the 2NT cards out of the box, intending to show a balanced 20-22, but then woke up to the fact that 2NT in our system shows a weak minor two-suiter, and I should have opened a Multi. Do the Laws give me any basis for recovering from this?
TD:You removed the bidding cards from the box with apparent intent so you have made the call. It is not an unintended call within the meaning of Law 25. If you wish to change the call, you can only do so if LHO agrees. If LHO does not agree, the original call stands and the problem is UI to your partner, AI to the opponents.

[back at the table]
TD: W has asked me whether she may change her call and on the basis of what she has told me I have ruled that it was not an unintended call so she can only change it if LHO agrees. Otherwise the original call stands [repeats statement about UI/AI]. W, please put the call back on the table; E, please alert or announce if appropriate.
[2NT put on the table; E alerts]
TD: W, in the light of what I have explained, do you wish to change your call?
W: No, I'll stick with 2NT.
TD: Please proceed with the auction.
N: Pass
E: 3D (no alert from W)
S: Pass
W: 3NT
All pass

N, on lead, asks about 2NT and is told "Weak minor two suiter"; asks about 3D and is told "To play"; asks about 3NT and is told "does not exist: she is required to pass".
N holds 4, J62, K63, AQ7532 and elects to lead a heart rather than a club, and the contract is made. A club lead beats it trivially. E/W have a 5-4 spade fit (W has the 5). The normal contract is 4S which equally trivially goes off (and duly did at the other table).

E/W's system card is conclusive that 2NT shows a weak minor two suiter.
E's hand is QJ65, Q103, 10974, 104.
N says she was put off a club lead by W's actions.

Has the hypothetical TD handled it correctly, and is there any basis for an adjustment?

Comments

  • West would have been better to look at the bidding cards taken out and correct as though pulled out the wrong one. Though maybe this would be cheating at some level?

    'Ooops, wrong one', then correct to 2D. No UI and no problem.

    Once they admitted that they had chosen the wrong bid, it gets messy. To avoid UI it may be best to ask the bidder away from the table what they would like to change the bid to, then ask LHO away from the table if they would accept such a change. If yes, then correct the bid and the 2NT attempt is AI for NS but not for E.

    If no, then the bid stands.

    So, the ruling after the fact. North knows that W wanted to change their bid from 2NT and then went on to bid something that does not exist in their system. This to me is a clear indication that one should not put too much faith in the 'meaning' of 2NT.

    Also, this was in fact an error by W and the correct system meaning was given. No rectification for that IMHO.

    The only point to consider (at least for me) is was there UI between W and E. So E know that W had misbid by the request to change their opening bid. If W had taken no action and made no comments, then would E have taken any other course of action...

    IE - partner shows weak in both minors (say 5-5 or better?) with the 2NT open
    E bids their best minor, 3D
    W bids something that does not exist in their system, 3NT

    What would west do with QJ65, Q103, 10974, 104? Would they really pass or would they would correct to 4D? Perhaps at that point they would realise that partner had made a bidding error and would pass, but in this situation, they are really helped in coming to that conclusion by the attempt to substitute the 2NT open.

    Depending on the standards/experience of E, there may be a penalty for that, should you judge that they had taken advantage of UI (someone else may be able to answer better on that as I have, as yet, not had to give a procedural penalty).

    For this particular hand, you might judge that without UI that E would have bid 4D, in which case you can score against that, or whatever you judge the final contract to be, assuming that W would bid again (I think that if W were to bid again now, that E can legitimately know that the 2NT bid was an error).

  • TagTag
    edited January 11

    West made a bid of 2NT initially thinking it was showing a strong, balanced hand but then, prior to anyone else seeing the bid, realised that it would actually show a minor two-suiter. Clearly, he has "woken up" without any UI from his partner. I'd suggest that this should simply be treated as a misbid and they get their lucky result.

    As for UI used by East, he has the AI (actual information) that West has made a bid out of system. I don't see any reason for him to care to over-ride his partner's decision to play in 3NT.

  • E learned the game 40 odd years ago, but didn't play a board for more than 30 of those years. Having relatively recently returned to the game, he can be classified as fairly inexperienced and not knowledgeable on the Laws. W is a decent, experienced but not top class player. Not very knowledgeable about the Laws, but with good ethical instincts.

  • The rules do not account for the believability or otherwise of a player. After a hesitation, for example, no amount of 'I would always bid that' will change a ruling to adjust a score. Obviously this would be following the letter of the law and I would generally make some exceptions for n00bies (with a warning that it will not last :) )

    I'm struggling to think of an example, but something like:

    2C - 2D
    2S - long hesitation 4S

    Here, what was the hesitation about? Normally this would be a sign-off unless the 2C is exceptional. So with a flatish 20 points should pass. If this hand now bids 4NT and gets to 6S, did they bid on because of the hesitation indicating that perhaps this might not be the best bid or not?

    Now the 2C opener may be a maverick that bids on every time regardless of partner, however, the rules do not state this.
    Law 16 B
    1. Any extraneous information from partner that
    might suggest a call or play is unauthorized. This includes remarks, questions, replies to questions, unexpected alerts or failures to alert, unmistakable hesitation, unwonted speed, special emphasis, tone, gesture, movement or mannerism.
    (a) A player may not choose a call or play that is demonstrably suggested over another by
    unauthorized information if the other call or play is a logical alternative.
    (b) A logical alternative is an action that a significant proportion of the class of players in question, using the methods of the partnership, would seriously consider, and some might select.

    So, would a logical alternative to be to pass? I would think so.

  • I think you're misinterpreting or misapplying law 25B1 when you allow offender's LHO to accept the change of call in advance, before it's been made, and before knowing what it is. This law should only be applied when the change has been made, and the director decides that the original call was intended. Until there has been a substitute call there is nothing for LHO to accept.

    Ruling this way puts undue pressure on LHO, who might feel they're being regarded as unsporting or a stickler for the rules if they refuse to allow the change.

    As for whether North was duped into making an unfortunate lead by EW's irregularity, I think they have been given a correct explanation of EW's methods and anything they read into West's antics is at their own risk, so they are not due any redress.

    It would be different if after all the kerfuffle and consultations with the director West turned out to have a genuine minor two-suiter and North had based their lead on the assumption that West held a different hand.

  • @Martin said:
    The rules do not account for the believability or otherwise of a player. After a hesitation, for example, no amount of 'I would always bid that' will change a ruling to adjust a score. Obviously this would be following the letter of the law and I would generally make some exceptions for n00bies (with a warning that it will not last :) )

    I'm struggling to think of an example, but something like:

    2C - 2D
    2S - long hesitation 4S

    Here, what was the hesitation about? Normally this would be a sign-off unless the 2C is exceptional. So with a flatish 20 points should pass. If this hand now bids 4NT and gets to 6S, did they bid on because of the hesitation indicating that perhaps this might not be the best bid or not?

    Now the 2C opener may be a maverick that bids on every time regardless of partner, however, the rules do not state this.
    Law 16 B
    1. Any extraneous information from partner that
    might suggest a call or play is unauthorized. This includes remarks, questions, replies to questions, unexpected alerts or failures to alert, unmistakable hesitation, unwonted speed, special emphasis, tone, gesture, movement or mannerism.
    (a) A player may not choose a call or play that is demonstrably suggested over another by
    unauthorized information if the other call or play is a logical alternative.
    (b) A logical alternative is an action that a significant proportion of the class of players in question, using the methods of the partnership, would seriously consider, and some might select.

    So, would a logical alternative to be to pass? I would think so.

    No - if opener is a maverick that bids on every time regardless of partner then to the class of players of whom opener belongs, pass is NOT a logical alternative.

  • How does one assess the class, other than looking at some sort of average score?
  • @Martin said:
    How does one assess the class, other than looking at some sort of average score?

    Not easy - unless you know the player well. There is certainly one case in the EBU case books where the TD polled a lot of old 'fuddy-duddies' to find out possible LAs - and the youngster appealed on the grounds that the TD had polled the wrong class of people. The appeals panel agreed.

  • What really happened was this.

    W knew enough about the Laws to know that changes of mind cannot be corrected under Law 25A, and recognised that she had made a slip of the brain rather than a mechanical error, so in fact she said nothing and left 2NT on the table, doing her best not to give any indication that she had messed up, as she believed that that was the ethical thing to do.

    Now, when E alerted and bid 3D, she still bid 3NT, because she knew that she had realised the position before partner's announcement. Everything else (explanations, result of contract etc.) proceeded as indicated, and N/S asked for a ruling. In the end it didn't matter because E/W's team lost the (knockout) match anyway.

    Clearly, had a ruling been necessary, E/W would have been saddled with the consequences of the legal fiction that W realised her mistake as a result of the UI from the announcement, since there would have been no evidence (apart from W's assertion, which would have been ignored) that she knew the position before the UI arose.

    My question is this: W thought she was doing the ethical thing by saying nothing and taking the consequences of her mistake. But it seems from earlier replies that she would, at least potentially, be in a better position had she indeed said "oh sh..." before completing the 2NT bid, to make it clear that she knew about her mistake at the time and was not woken up by the UI of the announcement. Are people comfortable with this? The captain of the E/W team (a very experienced and good player but not particularly knowledgeable on the Laws) was strongly of the view that he would not have been.

  • Hi Abbeybear

    That raises an interesting situation. Perhaps the person that made the mistake could stop the next person from bidding and call the director. 'director, I need to speak with you away from the table for a moment...' Explain that they have mis-bid, but know what they need to do etc...
    Would that be sensible, or would that be considered UI to their partner?
    Is there any way out of it, other than a quick oops, wrong card (if you realise partway through placing the bid for example)?

  • I don't see much difference between the immediate director call and the "oh sh..." scenario, in terms of the effect on partner.

    And as an opponent, I would be very suspicious that someone who had started to open 2NT and then said oops, wrong card, 2!d, had pulled the "wrong" card as a result of a system forget rather than something correctable via L25A. Especially if I knew that 2NT was artificial in the present partnership and guessed that she played 2NT as natural with other partners. So I don't think that that course is either ethical for a player who knows (or an experienced player who ought to know) that changes of mind are not correctable under L25A, or likely to succeed against an experienced or knowledgeable opponent.

  • Leaving the table to talk to the TD usually creates unauthorised information. The player who leaves the table never believes it will create a problem, but any experienced players left at the table can usually guess what has happened.

  • So, their best cause of action may be to actually state, 'Ooops, I have misbid'

    This provides UI to their partner who is not allowed to take that into account when bidding/playing, however, the opener is now free to bid as they see fit, having made a bidding error and demonstrating that they knew this before partner alerts/does not alert/bids...

  • @Martin said:
    So, their best cause of action may be to actually state, 'Ooops, I have misbid'

    This provides UI to their partner who is not allowed to take that into account when bidding/playing, however, the opener is now free to bid as they see fit, having made a bidding error and demonstrating that they knew this before partner alerts/does not alert/bids...

    It might fall foul of law 74C4 (and 74A1 if the 'Oh s**t' phrase were actually used).

    The following are examples of violations of procedure ...

    1. commenting or acting during the auction or play so as to call attention to a significant
      occurrence, or to the number of tricks still required for success.
  • So essentially, we are saying that if you make a bidding error, you are doomed to play in a silly contract?

    Unless the opposition step in with an overcall and take the heat away

  • So eventually how we handle this situation, and which reaction is the best for the player who misbids 2NT?

  • @Martin said:
    So essentially, we are saying that if you make a bidding error, you are doomed to play in a silly contract?

    Unless the opposition step in with an overcall and take the heat away

    There may be other ways of falling on your feet, e.g. over a strong 2NT (rebid) and a transfer to a major, you play a break to 3NT to show 5 cards in the other major and only a doubleton in responder's major (a method I play with some partners, including some I have in common with this W) AND you happen to have 5!s + 2!h on this sequence AND E has only a doubleton!s . Then you have correctly treated partner's 3!d as a transfer to!h , made the correct systemic break which happens to be 3NT, and partner has no reason to remove. But normally, if you make an error, particularly by showing a strong hand when you have a weak one or vice versa, you are indeed doomed to play in a silly contract. Over the years David Burn has produced various typically entertaining examples in various places.

    @milton said:
    So eventually how we handle this situation, and which reaction is the best for the player who misbids 2NT?

    That was really the point of raising it in the first place. The actual W, strongly supported by the captain, thought the only thing to do was to say nothing and take her lumps. I was convinced that it would help avoid playing in a silly contract to say something to provide evidence of a problem prior to getting shafted by UI from partner's announcement, but was frankly unsure if it was appropriate to do so.

  • So, you incorrectly open 2NT, your partner bids Diamonds (as preference over your supposed minor card holding) and you announce transfer to hears and you are in a mess of UI again (if there is no announcement then you are essentially saying that the 3D bid is natural and you can only do this based on UI or your own realisation which is unprovable and thus ruled against). Bidding 3NT would be in response to the transfer and then where do you end up?
    There is UI both ways and we end up where?

    For most of my bridge, I would (if playing as LHO at the table) allow the opener to correct their bid with no recourse. Otherwise you end up defending some silly contract and where is the fun in that? If it was all about getting tops and not about enjoying a game of cards with friends, then it is not a game I am particularly interested in playing.

    Having said that, when I make a mistake, I expect to have to play in a silly contract and as it happens I can recall some funny hands from 6 years ago because they were silly.

  • @Martin said:
    So essentially, we are saying that if you make a bidding error, you are doomed to play in a silly contract?

    Bidding errors and misunderstandings will often lead to silly contracts whether or not there has been an apparent infraction. What you cannot do is cheat (e.g. by using UI) in order to recover from such errors. Sometimes there are 'legal' ways to recover; sometimes you are shafted by your own (or partner's) actions. You just have to live with that.

  • This point is, this person knew that they had made a mistake and knew that because they had intended the bid that they couldn't just correct it and the laws do not allow them to try and correct.
    The only sensible answer I can come up with is to blast 6NT? Would that be allowed?
    If 3NT is on then 3D will be a bottom. 6NT cant be corrected to 7D (surely?) then hope that you can scrape it home, if it goes down (at least at pairs) then there is no harm done as 3D was also a bottom - if it can make then you might just be the only pair in it.

    In this example:
    2NT announced as weak in the minors - 3D (announced as a transfer to hearts as they shouldn't not say anything as they know that this is natural as a director has to assume that they only know that it is natural based on the announcement made by partner)
    3H (completing the transfer) - ? They know that partner intended 2NT as a balanced open based on the announcement of transfer so cannot take this into account. So with their AI of 2NT = weak in the minors, 3D to play, what is 3H and how can they play from there and not fall foul of the law? Isn't there a point about when the bidding/play makes it clear that an error happened (I cant find reference to it, but I'm sure that I have seen that somewhere)?

  • Saying "oops I have misbid" is contrary to Law 75C, as is (leaving the table and) telling the TD that you have misbid,

    When the partnership agreement has been explained correctly, the mistake being the call made and not the explanation, there is no infraction. The explanation must not be corrected (nor must the Director be notified) immediately and there is no obligation to do so subsequently.

  • @BarkerBridgeTD said:
    Saying "oops I have misbid" is contrary to Law 75C, as is (leaving the table and) telling the TD that you have misbid,

    When the partnership agreement has been explained correctly, the mistake being the call made and not the explanation, there is no infraction. The explanation must not be corrected (nor must the Director be notified) immediately and there is no obligation to do so subsequently.

    But this does not apply since the statement "oops I misbid" came BEFORE the correct explanation was given.

  • @Martin said:

    For most of my bridge, I would (if playing as LHO at the table) allow the opener to correct their bid with no recourse. Otherwise you end up defending some silly contract and where is the fun in that? If it was all about getting tops and not about enjoying a game of cards with friends, then it is not a game I am particularly interested in playing.

    Just because you may not enjoy defending silly contracts does not give you the right to stop others from doing so. One of the most interesting problems is defending when something is wrong in the bidding. First you have to realise it and second you have to work out why it went wrong.

    Different people have different ideas of fun and acceptability and too many people ascribe their ideas to other people.

  • Its horses for courses really... I recall my wife starting to play weak 2's, she opened 2H and her partner bid 2NT and she passed. The opposition was a really experienced pair, good standard and one was the director that night. He told he she cant pass (2NT being forcing etc) and explained OGUST to her. They ended in 4H and the director got 50% for that board, but got a player to continue to play on tough nights.
    Now, he could have rubbed his hands together and taken the 100% for that board, but perhaps my wife would not have learnt that lesson quite so well and perhaps might have put her off playing on one of the 'tough' nights. Now she regularly plays on those nights and does quite well.
    All throughout our early playing careers people would do this kind of thing which really helped to bring us on and help make us feel welcome.

    So, yeh, against good opposition when they have made a mistake it can be fun (particularly if they had 'fun' at our expense the week before). However, when playing fun, social bridge this can really put people off.

    So, is it fun defending 3C when the opposition are in a lovely 2-2 club fit and miss out on 6S - you betcha (unless you want that new pair to play against next week).

    I am not ascribing my ideas on other people, just giving my opinion. A rule that says that when a person makes a bidding error, cant correct it as they intended the bid, cant let anyone know that they know that they misbid because of giving UI, cant try to correct later with a bid that is sensible for their actual hand because it looks like they only know that they have made a bidding error because of action (or inaction) from partner (even though they did know but were barred from doing anything about it) and as such have to play in a non-sensible contract (or suffer penalties) just does not seem like cricket to me.

    Hopefully, just as with the new rules around replacing bids with equivalent bids being an attempt to allow some sort of decent bidding process or final contract (rather that guessing at a final contract), this effort to find sensible alternatives may continue into other rules.

  • I have no problem whatever with players being kind to their opponents when they make mistakes. I have often in clubs told a player to take a bid or lead back.

    But it is different once the TD is called. Furthermore What you are talking about is personal ethics (aka active ethics). The basic rule of personal ethics, being kinder to opponents then the rules require, is that whatever you do, you cannot insist other people follow.

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