Law 46 - INCOMPLETE OR INVALID DESIGNATION OF A CARD FROM DUMMY

I've been looking at LAW 46 – INCOMPLETE OR INVALID DESIGNATION OF A CARD FROM DUMMY with a view to putting together a poster for our club members.

As I tried to "simplify" the language I realised there were some aspects I wasn't sure about.

46B1b states that "If he directs dummy to ‘win’ the trick, he is deemed to have called the lowest card that it is known will win the trick."

If dummy is the fourth person to play to the trick and has card in the suit led that will win the trick then the meaning is obvious.

If there are trumps, and dummy has no cards in the suit led, is "win" extended to mean ruffing the trick?

If dummy is not the fourth person to play to the trick, how is "known" interpreted, given that a defender is still to play to the trick? It clearly cannot take advantage of any knowledge Dummy has of cards already played. Does it mean highest card in the suit? If dummy has none, does it mean trump with the highest trump? Is it in fact an invalid designation (as opposed to an incomplete one)?

46B3a states that: "In leading, declarer is deemed to have continued the suit with which dummy won the preceding trick provided there is a card of the designated rank in that suit."

If dummy won the previous trick by ruffing, are trumps the "suit with which dummy won the preceding trick"?

46B3b states that: "...but if there are two or more such cards that can be legally played declarer must designate which is intended".

I am assuming (because declarer has been made aware that there were two such cards in dummy) that once declarer has designated the rank, they must chose one of the two or more such cards, and cannot change the designation to another card. Is this correct?

Many thanks

Jeremy

Comments

  • I think that a summary should suggest not using "win" except for dummy in fourth position, following suit.

    In other positions, "top" or "cover" should cover it :)

    When ruffing, "ruff", "ruff, small", "over ruff", "ruff high" should make declarer's intention clear.

  • Well, to look at these in reverse order because the last one's easiest;

    46B3b, the quote given is preceded by "in all other cases declarer must play a card from dummy of the designated rank if he can legally do so", which I think still applies. So you're quite right there, they can't change the rank.

    46B3a - again, if dummy won the last trick with a trump, it seems you should consider that the suit to be followed.

    46B1 "lowest card that it is known will win the trick". I suppose this literally means the lowest card that can beat any card potentially held by fourth hand. This appears to allow some accomodation in the case RHO has already shown out, but obviouslywe should be satisfied that declarer really is aware that a card would definitely win.

  • This is a can of worms - especially as if dummy is a better player he may know (through getting the count of the hand) that a lower card will win the trick, than declarer knows. The law does not state 'who' knows who will win the trick. (Unless there is a WBF minute determining this or in an official commetnary on the laws)

    Imagine the scenario. LHO leads away from the King. Dummy has AQ and declarer says "win". It is known (by LHO) that the Queen will win the trick. Is he duty bound to tell declarer he has aked for the Queen? And suppose he says that the Ace has been called - is that a deliberate breach of the laws?

    4th in hand then there is no problem - the lowest 'best card' is called for - which may mean a trump (the lowest or lowest one that will over-ruff). If dummy cannot win the trick then no card has been called for.

    I would say that if dummy trumps then a trump is called for if no suit is mentioned - note he has to have called for a trump of the same rank specified. One assumes that dummy can't play the original suit led as a) it was trumped so dummy should be void and b) it is up to dummy to ensure dummy follows suit.

    I am pretty sure that declarer cannot change the designation. if he says "Jack" then he must play a jack - unless this was an unintended designation - a slip of the tongue (45C4). There is an (in)famous example, known as the "Oh s**t" case from Vancouver in 1999.

  • edited October 2018

    Perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way around, but if you are informing the club members wouldn't it be better to follow Barker BridgeRobin_BarkerTD's idea to tell them what to say to dummy at each play of a card. Trying to make them aware of the consequencies of "bad" instructions to dummy will only cause confusion and further arguments at the table.

    CMOT_Dibbler

  • @CMOT_Dibbler said:
    Perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way around, but if you are informing the club members wouldn't it be better to follow Barker BridgeRobin_BarkerTD's idea to tell them what to say to dummy at each play of a card. Trying to make them aware of the consequencies of "bad" instructions to dummy will only cause confusion and further arguments at the table.

    CMOT_Dibbler

    Yes - that's exactly what I will do. Give them basic options (e.g. "low") and strongly suggest they specify the card completely in all other cases. It was only while looking at the law that I realised I wasn't 100% clear what it meant.

    I had considered just telling them to always name the card in full (per 46A) but I think there are occasions where an incomplete designation means a more natural experience at the table. Let's look at an example.

    Assume it is dummy's turn to play and there is a singleton of the suit led in dummy. If dummy (the person) properly waits for me to tell them to play it, then me saying "yes please" rather than, say, "Queen of Spades" sounds more friendly (and doesn't have an undertone of thinking dummy is so stupid as to have to have the card named for them).

    In similar vein, I see nothing wrong with calling "low" for following the lead when there are small cards in the suit on table. In fact it makes all the players lives just a little bit easier. Declarer doesn't have to spend a moment identifying and naming the card, dummy does not have to process the name and then identify the card in question, and defenders know that the lowest has been played (like dummy not having to identify which card from those on table has been called for). Very small differences I accept, but they all add up.

    Jeremy

  • @JeremyChild said:

    @CMOT_Dibbler said:
    Perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way around, but if you are informing the club members wouldn't it be better to follow Barker BridgeRobin_BarkerTD's idea to tell them what to say to dummy at each play of a card. Trying to make them aware of the consequencies of "bad" instructions to dummy will only cause confusion and further arguments at the table.

    CMOT_Dibbler

    Yes - that's exactly what I will do. Give them basic options (e.g. "low") and strongly suggest they specify the card completely in all other cases. It was only while looking at the law that I realised I wasn't 100% clear what it meant.

    I had considered just telling them to always name the card in full (per 46A) but I think there are occasions where an incomplete designation means a more natural experience at the table. Let's look at an example.

    Assume it is dummy's turn to play and there is a singleton of the suit led in dummy. If dummy (the person) properly waits for me to tell them to play it, then me saying "yes please" rather than, say, "Queen of Spades" sounds more friendly (and doesn't have an undertone of thinking dummy is so stupid as to have to have the card named for them).

    In similar vein, I see nothing wrong with calling "low" for following the lead when there are small cards in the suit on table. In fact it makes all the players lives just a little bit easier. Declarer doesn't have to spend a moment identifying and naming the card, dummy does not have to process the name and then identify the card in question, and defenders know that the lowest has been played (like dummy not having to identify which card from those on table has been called for). Very small differences I accept, but they all add up.

    Jeremy

    Actually there's a very good reason for not naming cards in full: it avoids passing information to neighbouring tables.

  • I had not seen these rules in this sense before - if one, for example, wins in dummy with the Ace of hearts, then say 'and the Jack' , then the Jack of hearts and been called for and should be played.

    If they say, play the 10 hearts and there is no 10 of hearts, then they need to select another legal lead.

    But if they have a 10 of clubs in dummy then they have to play the 10 of clubs, even though it is clear that it was a heart required?

    What if they win again with the Ace of hearts and say 'and the Jack', but they don't have a Jack of hearts, what next? If they have 1 other Jack they have to play it? If they have 2 jacks, then they have to choose one of them?

    I have not come across these specific issues before...

  • @Martin said:
    I had not seen these rules in this sense before - if one, for example, wins in dummy with the Ace of hearts, then say 'and the Jack' , then the Jack of hearts and been called for and should be played.

    If they say, play the 10 hearts and there is no 10 of hearts, then they need to select another legal lead.

    But if they have a 10 of clubs in dummy then they have to play the 10 of clubs, even though it is clear that it was a heart required?

    No. L46B4:
    If declarer calls for a card that is not in dummy the call is invalid and declarer may designate any legal card.

  • edited October 2018

    How about 46B3:

    If declarer designates a rank but not a suit:
    (a) In leading, declarer is deemed to have continued the suit with which dummy won the preceding trick provided there is a card of the designated rank in that suit.

    (b) In all other cases declarer must play a card from dummy of the designated rank if he can legally do so; but if there are two or more such cards that can be legally played declarer must designate which is intended.

    In that scenario, where declarer wins in dummy and states a rank only (and the Jack) but there is no Jack in the suit that won the trick, does 46B3(b) not come into play? If not, when would that come into play?

  • does 46B3(b) not come into play?

    I think "In all other cases" in (b), means when (a) does not apply: when not leading or when leading but there is no card of the designated rank in the suit.

    If not, when would that come into play?

    Law 46B3 (b) would also apply when dummy is not on lead and cannot follow suit and declarer states a rank, where dummy has one (or more) cards of that rank.

  • When following suit, my experience is that a majority of players will call for a card in one of the following ways:
    (a) "top", if they want the highest card
    (b) "small" or "low", if they want the lowest card
    (c) whatever the rank of the card is (usually if they want some card other than the top or bottom card).
    A minority will always or nearly always call for the actual rank.

    Virtually nobody mentions the suit when calling for a card when dummy is able to follow suit (two people of my acquaintance always call for the precise rank and the suit, even when following suit, which I confess I find intensely irritating).

    I have to admit that I'm not entirely consistent in my own designations.

    But I think that the advice should be "make sure that you say enough to identify the card you want " (and what most people do as set out above seems perfectly sensible to me). You might or might not want to go into detail about what the Laws imply when the designation is technically incomplete. Personally I'd just say that in some circumstances the Laws specify what the "missing" information is taken to be (and for the most part that is the same as people would probably assume if they thought about it).

    I don't think I have ever seen anyone say "win" when dummy is not last to play to the trick.

  • I would also recommend not saying "any" - this only invites the defenders to get involved, and there is a danger that dummy might keep the right cards when declarer has lost the plot. As an alternative to "any", just name a suit.

  • That is very sensible. I shall try to do better in future, as I have the probably irritating habit of saying "card" when discarding from dummy when dummy's cards are no longer relevant. One of my partners has a sensible rule in those circumstances: he always discards dummy's highest card.

    Another good reason for not doing it is that it tells the defence that dummy's cards are irrelevant, which is information they might not already have and which could help them.

  • edited October 2018

    I agree with choosing the highest card in dummy when asked to play "any".

    Declarer could go out of their way to call "top {suit}" instead of "any", but this will wake up opponents that dummy may not anything to contribute to the further play.

  • If you call "any", the defenders get to choose (which slows the game down somewhat). That's why, in cases where it really doesn't matter, it's typically just best to call a suit (and have dummy discard the lowest card from it, as required in that situation).

    I typically generalise this rule to calling the suit when dummy has only one legal card to play.

  • As a defender, when declarer says "any", I always select the card I wish him to play

  • I don't mind declarer saying 'any', but I do think they should really mean it :) .

    I think we have to regard "could be known" to win the trick as being followed by "by declarer", but it's fairly unsatisfactory 3rd in hand anyhow, all too likely to involve the director judging what the declarer should know (usually less than they think). Even if you require clarification of the call it's easy for a sharp declarer to be tipped off to the lie of the cards. As Abbeybear meantions, it is pretty rare to say 'win' 3rd in, and should probably be discouraged.

    There was an interesting technical point regarding this law came up on the training course. Suppose declarer plays a small card towards dummy, which is void in the suit , and just says 'small'. What do we make of that from the perspective of Law 46?

  • Declarer called the lowest card of the suit led, which isn't actually a card in dummy. Thus by 46B4, the call is invalid and declarer has to call again.

  • @Tag said:
    As a defender, when declarer says "any", I always select the card I wish him to play

    and opponents, especially Dummy, get upset when you exercise your right ...

  • TagTag
    edited October 2018

    @TawVale said:

    @Tag said:
    As a defender, when declarer says "any", I always select the card I wish him to play

    and opponents, especially Dummy, get upset when you exercise your right ...

    The last time it happened, I discarded dummy's only remaining honour, worthless though it was. On the next trick, dummy said, "Make sure you specify a card this time". :-j

  • First lead of a 4, dummy has 257 and I say - "win with the 7"
    When I have a singleton Ace in dummy and that suit is lead, I as for "small"

  • Why not just say "7"? That protects you from any claims the defenders might have of "the declarer initially called for the 5, but then changed their mind". (I don't think the defenders would succeed in such a claim, but it's surely better to just avoid the situation altogether.)

  • Better still - use up some calories, reach over and play the card from dummy.

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