Law 20F1

Last night my opponents had the unopposed auction:

...P.....1!h
.1!s...2!d
...P

As my partner went to lead, responder said that his 1!s should have been alerted. Opener corrected him and said that it was not alertable because he was a passed hand, and responder agreed that he was right.

My partner then wanted to know what 1!s would have meant had he not been a passed hand, and opener refused to answer, saying this was a "theoretical question" and he didn't have to provide the information. "Nonsense!" retorted my partner, "I'm entitled to know what your system is."

A row ensued, and the director was called to adjudicate. She stood there indecisively while they continued arguing, and opener eventually relented and gave an answer. (Everybody knew I was the only person in the room who actually knew what the laws say, but I was grateful that nobody asked me.)

So what do the laws say? Law 20F1 says of a questioner: "He is entitled to know about calls actually made, about relevant alternative calls available that were not made, and about inferences from the choice of action where these are matters of partnership understanding." The WBFLC minutes (WB8.20.3) add: "At this time he is entitled to an explanation only of calls actually made, relevant available alternative calls not made, and any partnership understanding as to inferences from the choice of action among the foregoing. (An ‘alternative’ call is not the same call with another meaning – for example, if the reply to an opponent is that “5!d shows diamonds preference”, any reply to a further question “what would it mean if 4NT were Blackwood ?” is given voluntarily and not as a requirement of Law 20F1.)"

My view is that my opponent was right, but that he did the sensible and ethical thing by volunteering to answer. I also think it's a stupid rule because (in this case and in the Blackwood example above) the questioner could just look at their convention card to get the answer, and that if I'm right it gives an advantage to players who don't complete convention cards fully.

What do you think?

PS It was artificial (0+ spades) and forcing, if you're interested.

Comments

  • edited May 2019

    "A row ensued, and the director was called to adjudicate."

    Well the timeline should have been reversed. (And then there would have been no row). In fact, as I am sure you know the director should have been called in before the explanations were given. (And he might re-open the auction if it had turned out there was a misexplanation - as I understand it there wasn't) and there is UI around of course (unexpected failure to alert).

    So we come to the main part.

    Opponents are not, IMHO, entitled to know per se that you have misbid, nor the reason why you have misbid (although they can infer such from the table conversation - at their own risk). They are only entitled to the meaning of the bid (which I assume is 'natural with 4+ spades'). They would be entitled to know "If your partner had been 4-3-3-3 would they have have responded 1 Spade" or ' would your partner have bid 1 Spade with 4 spades and 4 hearts' since those are inferences from the choice of action. Under Law 20F

    Are players entitled to know the partnership system?

    The short answer is yes!

    The long answer is:

    A Regulatory Authority

    (ii) may prescribe a System Card, with or without supplementary sheets, for the prior
    listing of a partnership’s understandings, and regulate its use. (Law 40B2a)

    "Infraction: a player’s breach of Law or of Lawful regulation." (Definition)

    Thus if a pair do not have a system card that is prescribed by the RA then there is an infraction and hence an irregularity - and Law 12 applies. Thus if it can be shown that damage has resulted from a player being unable to look at the system card then the director can adjust. (Players can consult opponents's system cards during the clarification period of course).

    "If an incorrect or incomplete card causes damage at the table, the TD should usually give a PP as well as an adjustment on the board if the pair concerned are known to be a regular partnership. If the TD announced at the start of the event that two system cards were compulsory, this may be considered to be the warning." WB 2.8.3.4

    Obviously it would be helpful of the TD to advise players that they should disclose the meaning of the call if an unpassed hand. I think that under the circumstances "A player has no redress if they make a call based on their own misunderstanding" 21A won't apply.

    In summary: IMHO

    1) You DON'T have to explain what partner's call would have meant in a different auction. (20F) BUT
    2) Opponents can look at your system card to find out. AND
    3) If you dont have a system card (or the situation isn't covered and a system call has been made) and opponents are damaged through not being able to find out the information then the director will adjust the score and should usually penalise the players without a system card.

  • I think the meaning of 1H=1S by UPH is the sort of thing that WBF minute covers, and does not have to be disclosed.

    Once the argument broke out, I think the 1S bidder should just explain his intention - after all it would be on a system card.

    The players who continue to argue once the TD was present should be penalised.

  • Robin: "I think the meaning of 1H=1S by UPH is the sort of thing that WBF minute covers, and does not have to be disclosed."

    Yes, I think so too, but I find it difficult to reconcile with the requirement to disclose your system generally. If we'd asked before the round started "Do you have any unusual responses to one-of-a-suit opening bids?" they would obviously have to explain all this. I wonder if the intention of the WBFLC minute is to remove the obligation to explain their methods once they are in a sensitive situation such as this. I note that the minute says: "At this time he is entitled to an explanation only of calls actually made...", so presumably once the "situation" has passed, the obligation returns.

    Robin: "Once the argument broke out, I think the 1S bidder should just explain his intention - after all it would be on a system card."

    Yes, and I would always disclose this kind of thing. I think it's quite different from the situation where a player alerts a call, isn't required to explain it during the auction and then partner convinces the table that it shouldn't have been alerted. The opponents often want to know: "What did you think it meant when you alerted it?" but they're not entitled to know this.

  • I'm a bit confused. Were they playing Granville responses to 1!h (where 1NT shows spades and 1!s shows the equivalent of a forcing 1NT response) and having an accident as to whether or not they applied as a passed hand?

  • Abbeybear: "I'm a bit confused. Were they playing Granville responses to 1!h"

    Lord only knows what they were doing. I confess I've never heard of "Granville responses", but it seems to fit here. A certain number of players in this club play bizarre methods (and foist them on their wholly unprepared partners), and I assumed they'd just made them up.

  • TagTag
    edited May 2019

    I've never known the name but I've played Granville responses to 1!h for about three years with one partner in a strong club context. We don't care, however, whether partner is a passed hand.

    After 1!s, 1NT shows 5+ hearts and four spades. 2!s shows six hearts and 4+ spades in a maximal hand (14/15 points).

  • What is widely known as the "Kaplan inversion" was invented by Richard Granville in Cambridge when they were all playing strong club ("Cambridge Precision"). Granville has returned to playing bridge recently with some successes: https://www.ebu.co.uk/biographies/richard-granville lists the "Two Stars" Pairs in 2016.

  • I play 1H - 1S as artificial and 1!H - 1NT as 5+ spades. There are lots of possible continuations (in fact in two partnerships I play different continuations by opener). There is quite a good argument for not playing this by a passed hand, so the OP's scenario is plausible.

    I think weejonnie has it right.

    In general, the opponents are not entitled to know what a bid would have meant in a situation which hasn't happened and could not have happened on the actual auction. So as a general point, they are not allowed to know as part of their questions about this auction, what the 1S response would have meant by an unpassed hand.

    But the EBU (and presumably the club) are also legally entitled to have regulations about system cards and how system should be disclosed. If those regulations say that the pair must have a card with responses to 1H shown, then either the card gives the answer or they are in breach of that regulation. [I guess technically they still don't have to answer the question for that board, but can be fined and made to play simple system instead....]

  • @Tag said:
    I've never known the name but I've played Granville responses to 1!h for about three years with one partner in a strong club context. We don't care, however, whether partner is a passed hand.

    After 1!s, 1NT shows 5+ hearts and four spades. 2!s shows six hearts and 4+ spades in a maximal hand (14/15 points).

    That's the way I play it, too, but if I were to play that it was off by a passed hand (like you, I don't*) and there was any history of forgetting, I think I would alert and tell opponents if asked "it's natural by a passed hand although it would be artificial if he hadn't passed, and it's possible that he's forgotten that it's different by a passed hand".

    *Frequency is lower by a passed hand, because maximum hands for the original pass can now bid 2m, for which they would not have been good enough if unpassed.

    I think this is akin to situations where there is a specific agreement in an uncontested auction, but LHO has, say, wandered in with a double before partner's last bid, about which RHO now asks. It seems routine to say "without the double it would be X; we haven't specifically discussed it after the double..." and go on to give any further relevant information, such as if the partnership has any general agreements about passes or redoubles in similar situations.

    I do think that it would be better if the laws made it clear that players should disclose not just information such as inferences from calls not chosen in the actual auction, but also inferences from agreements about similar auctions.

    I would much rather be considered a player who tries to be helpful to opponents about situations in which there is no explicit agreement (without, of course, descending the slippery slope of "I'm taking it as"), rather than one who hides behind a bald "no agreement".

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