Another hesitation ruling

Held by an 'average' club player whose partner is not as good.
N.vul v Vul 1H opened on your right
1H - 3S - 4H - P after agreed hesitation
P - 4S
Partner had spade support and 4S is a save against 4H which is only making 10 tricks against decent defence.
The 4S bidder says "always bidding 4S at the vulnerabilty"
Your ruling ....


  • Directors, I think, would tend to the view that having in effect, by bidding 3S instead of 4S, asked partner's opinion about bidding 4S over 4H a player receiving UI cannot override that decision. However players of the appropriate standard may have a different opinion which is why we poll. It maybe that most of them would try to win the contract in 3S whilst being prepared to take out 'insurance' in 4S over 4H. A poll will tell us.

  • edited November 2019

    3S is a double jump, thus clearly pre-emptive. I think most players of the standard in question would tend to follow rules like "when you pre-empt, you don't bid again". I'd be more inclined to rule 4S not a logical alternative than to rule a pass not a logical alternative.

    There is the question about what the hesitation shows; I can believe that partner is considering a penalty double. In the circumstances, though, it's probably more likely that partner is considering bidding 4S (either to make or as a save), so I'd consider 4S to be suggested over the logical alternative of passing, and thus disallowed.

  • If he was "Always bidding 4S at the vulnerabilty" then why didn't he bid it at the first round of the auction?

    This is a case where I would rule under 73C rather than 16B. Partner's trance suggests that taking some form of action (double or bid) could turn out better - and therefore by passing you carefully avoid being in that better position. This may be an abuse of the laws - but it makes me feel better. The usual use of this law is that comments in appeals are usually of the form "Partner's pause shows values making it safer for the culprit to bid on."

    the EBU guidelines of course say

    "(a) A hesitation followed by a pass would normally be willing to hear partner bid on" (8.16.2)

  • Ideally you need a poll of 'average club players' who don't know about the hesitation.
    I just tried this on a sample group of 1 :) , who wanted to bid 4!s the first time, but thought they that having bid only 3!s they would 'probably' pass the second time.
    I suspect the 4!s is going to be disallowed.

  • TagTag
    edited November 2019

    I had something similar come up recently. The hand which passed had paused to consider whether to double 4H and 4S was a decent sac, which would have given them a top, since it wasn't doubled. I asked a couple of players of comparable ability, without mention of any hesitation. and then rolled the auction back to 4H making.

    The typical response was that they had already shown their hand, so I ruled that pass was a logical alternative to bidding 4S.

    I also withheld any judgement until I had seen what the 4S contract scored, since it might have turned out worse than 4H would fare, ie no damage to opponents.

  • I don't think using 73C is an abuse of the Law here at all

  • @Frances said:
    I don't think using 73C is an abuse of the Law here at all

    Thanks - there are often a lot of discussions about "demonstrably suggested" when it is argued that a bid is not "demonstrably suggested" because partner could have been thinking about doubling.

  • I think the xx in hearts rather than a void
    a) reduces the possibility partner was considering doubling
    b) increases the possibility 4H is making
    If you agree (asume no poll) should we consider either or both.
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