Telling partner you broke tempo

I had an interesting idea for reducing UI issues (and thus reducing the chance of having good results adjusted away), but it's a little strange so I wanted to check that it's legal.

The idea is that an otherwise spare call in a bidding system could be defined to mean "I broke tempo, sorry" or "this is the sort of hand which I have to think about a lot". Making the call (slowly, obviously) would inform partner that you have the sort of hand that requires a lot of time to think about, and thus all the unauthorised information from the hesitation would be duplicated by authorised information from the call itself. (The advantage of such a call would be that your partner could then take the hesitation into account when determining how to make their own calls, as it would be part of the legal auction and thus authorised information.)

Other than the need to find room for this in the system, is there any particular reason why a call like this might be problematic?

(I guess this idea generalises to defining certain calls in your system to always be made slowly – a sort of built-in Stop card effect on the call. I remember reading the advice that 4NT ace-asking calls should be treated this way, in order to reduce the risk of perpetrating Hesitation Blackwood via getting your thinking done in advance.)


  • Without making it part of the bidding, and with the different aim of avoiding arguments about hesitations and generally decreasing the tension in such situations, I have been encouraging people to acknowledge their own break-in-tempo when they have been slow, saying something like "sorry, that was slow, 3D".

    The extent to which such an approach is allowed within the formal rules I do not know; I treat it as just acknowledging the UI which would otherwise be in everyone's mind but unspoken.

  • Well you certainly don't have to acknowledge your break in tempo - but you should be prepared to accept that opponents may draw attention to it - and that such drawing of attention isn't contrary to the spirit of the game.

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