Counting cards and knowing system

I put down as dummy a 3118 hand. Unfortunately one of the clubs was hidden and my partner played on the assumption that there were 7 clubs (not eight) and went down instead of making. Would it have been OK to state the number of cards in each suit as I placed the cards on the table?
At another club the oppo on my right opened 1NT announced as 10-14 points. Pass by me and 3Ds bid on my left. RHO bid 3Hs and LHO ended the auction with 3NT. When I asked for an explanation of the 3D and 3H bid they said they couldn't answer because those bids hadn't been discussed. It didn't matter as my lead was in one of the other suits. I guess my point is were they correct in answering the way they did? It seems unfair when people don't know their system especially for quite common situations. A few years back in the summer congress there were two occasions against the same opponents where the oppos couldn't give an explanation of their bids. In a 7 board match this caused the results to be random. We might just as well have been playing poker.

Comments

  • 1) No: Law 73B and 73A in part

    A. Appropriate Communication between Partners
    1. Communication between partners during the auction and play shall be effected only by
    means of calls and plays, except as specifically authorized by these laws.

    B. Inappropriate Communication between Partners
    1. Partners shall not communicate by means such as the manner in which calls or plays are
    made, extraneous remarks or gestures, questions asked or not asked, or alerts and
    explanations given or not given.

    Extraneous means: not part of the lawful procedures of the game.

    2) No: They should alert each call and advise you at the time that they had no partnership understanding. If you felt you had been damaged the TD (assuming he found out they had no agreement) would rule on that basis. Law 75D3

    (At least we can hope that is what their calls meant to each other i.e. nothing, some players may not be above hiding their agreements or not fully disclosing them and their inferences, to prevent opponents defending correctly. )

    All you can hope for is that they do have a bidding misunderstanding and end up in a silly contract - this should in theory happen more often than them falling on their feet.

    It is perfectly possible that ONE opponent knows what the bid means by agreement, but their partner doesn;t. If so the partner should admit he doesn't know - then you can call the TD who can send him away from the table while his partner explains the partnership agreement (or lack thereof) - he doesn't have to say what is in his hand - and he must carefully avoid taking advantage of the fact that he knows that his partner does not know. (LAw 73C)

  • Scenario 1 : counting
    ... 43A(c), 40B2(d) - no contribution from dummy, no reminders.

    Scenario 2 : explanation
    ... 20F1 - you can ask what other bids would mean to try to narrow it down; you can also ask what it does show - suit, length, strength - "not discussed" may mean one of those is unknown but the others are known. Also cough alerts/announces and cough system cards.

  • Two very different questions on one thread.... :/

    There are a small number of things dummy is permitted to say, generally along the lines of preventing an infraction by declarer ("Having none", "on Table", "Trick the wrong way round").
    stating the number of cards is not one of them.

    Opponents who "forget" their system is one of my pet gripes about this otherwise wonderful game. And there is very little that a TD can do about it. It is understandable and forgivable from novices and scratch pairs, and indeed from established partnerships who find themselves in an unusual bidding sequence.
    But if a pair are playing an "unusual" system (such as in your case of opening 1NT 10-14), I would have expected them to have discussed basic responses. But if they haven't then presumably it is natural, and they should really say so. They must have discussed something (certain bids are transfers, others Stayman, everything else by implication natural....).

    On one occasion I opened 1N, partner transferred with 2D and RHO doubled, alerted. I asked what it meant and they said "lead directing".
    So i continued "what sort of hand would bid that then?".
    "One that wants that suit leading.....".
    "Does it promise a decent suit?"
    "That is one possibility...."
    "You are an established partnership", I tried to push (I'd played against the married couple a few times over the previous 10+ years), "can you give examples of previous hands that have made this bid previously, please?".
    "Sorry, no, I can't remember any"
    "Could it be a void?" I tried.
    "I suppose my partner would want me to lead a suit in which she is void, so yes",
    I despaired, and gave up before they accused me of intimidation. Very little that could be done about it....
    ....until they do it to m again.

    Maybe I should have called the TD, but had I been the TD and been, what could I have done? Maybe it was the first time it had come up, and all they had discussed was "lead directing".

  • For the first part, rather than stating the number, just count them. When I am Dummy I try to remember to count the cards as I put them down. If it isn't 13 I find the hidden one.

    Alan

  • Scenario 1 : counting

    I have some sympathy with allowing this.

    I'm not sure 73A and B are relevant to this case - they're about communication of hidden information (how many hearts I have) not what is (in theory) available to everyone.

    43A1(c) - I'm not sure stating the number of cards he has just put down is participating in the play or communicating anything about the play to declarer (although after trick 1 it would be). In fact I can't see anything in 43A that specifically forbids this.

    40B2(d): again, stating information that is available to everyone does not constitute "aids to his memory, calculation or technique". In contrast, saying "nice long suit to dump your losers on" would be.

    If I was being a true devil's advocate, I would go:
    42B2: "may try to prevent any irregularity."
    WB 8.41.4: "If dummy is displayed incorrectly so that all the cards are not visible or a card is in the wrong suit, this is an irregularity."

    By identifying the number in each suit, Dummy is trying to prevent (his own) irregularity (card not visible), which he may do under 42B2.

  • Scenario 2 : explanation

    There's a difference between "don't know" and "haven't discussed" their system. Don't know implies there is one, haven't discussed that there is not.

    When players say bids hadn't been discussed, they usually mean "nothing special it's a natural bid", as opposed to "that bid is anti-systemic and I have no idea what it means" or "that (cue bid of opponents suit) is clearly not natural but we do not have any agreement"

    If my partner responded 3D to my 1NT opener, I would be rather surprised but I would not alert it. It has never been discussed but I have no reason to suspect it is any other that natural, so using "standard bridge knowledge", it would in principle be a 5 card suit and game going points.

    Note that if I had a suspicion I may have forgotten something the I would alert, but here I am absolutely sure that I have not.

    If my partner had decided to use some convention that they play with another partner, well that's not our system so no alert.

    Yes it is frustrating when we get a bad result because opponents don't have a clue - just like when they end up in the wrong contract which works out well for them because of a bad trump split.

  • Thanks for your replies.
    It seems there is some doubt about whether you can state the number of cards in each suit put down. If you are partnering someone who has seeing difficulties then you might state each card in dummy. I guess there must be some law that permits this. I wonder if this might cover the situation.
    Their bids meant "nothing special it's a natural bid" - at least that's what they seemed to take it as - but the idea of asking them questions such as what would 2Ds or 2Cs mean is a good one. I don't think either alerted their bids so next time I see them I'll let them know of that obligation.

  • I know you can get cards for the partially sighted - are any of them duplimatable? i.e. with barcodes.

  • Duplimates don't need barcodes anymore.

    Alan

  • @16248 said:
    Duplimates don't need barcodes anymore.

    Some do, some don't.

  • @AlanB said:
    Thanks for your replies.
    It seems there is some doubt about whether you can state the number of cards in each suit put down. If you are partnering someone who has seeing difficulties then you might state each card in dummy. I guess there must be some law that permits this. I wonder if this might cover the situation.

    We have regulations about accommodating players' disabilities and it's routine in those cases for dummy to state the hand as it goes down. This is rather different from a dummy trying to mitigate their own failure to put down their cards as required.

  • 40B2(d): again, stating information that is available to everyone does not constitute "aids to his memory, calculation or technique".

    I'm going to dispute this one. Surely stating information available to everyone is an aid to memory. Were they to have forgotten you'd be reminding them, and if they haven't it's superfluous.
    And surely counting cards in each suit for declarer is an "aid to calculation"? What else is it, if not?

    But then I'm easily riled by people that tip the bid-contract in the bidding box, declarers that write down the bidding, and dummies that point to the hand on lead.

  • @Mark_Brown said:

    40B2(d): again, stating information that is available to everyone does not constitute "aids to his memory, calculation or technique".

    I'm going to dispute this one. Surely stating information available to everyone is an aid to memory. Were they to have forgotten you'd be reminding them, and if they haven't it's superfluous.

    An aid to memory is in essence something that's extra to what's already there - having the contract (or worse the bidding) written down where it can be seen, keeping the contract card tilted in your bidding box, bidding system notes...

    Compare to the quitted tricks pointing in the direction of the winning side - certainly an aid in remembering how many tricks you've taken, but not illegal.

    And surely counting cards in each suit for declarer is an "aid to calculation"? What else is it, if not?

    Apart from the obvious calculator, the scoring tables on the back of the bidding boxes, little tables of how many tricks you can afford to go down in a sacrifice based on vulnerability.

    I have seen all of these and more!

    But then I'm easily riled by people that tip the bid-contract in the bidding box, declarers that write down the bidding, and dummies that point to the hand on lead.

    Of course all of those are infractions!

    There was a discussion a while back about numerous aids to memory and which were allowed and which not. See https://www.ebu.co.uk/forum/discussion/comment/5572/.

  • Supposing when dummy puts down his cards he puts them down one at a time so it becomes obvious how many cards are in a suit, would this be OK? The other thing dummy could do would be to put down the top four cards in a suit with a slight gap between the fourth card and the following ones - again any problems?
    One of the problems with putting down an 8 card suit is that the board can be in the way especially if you're N/S. This increases the chance of cards being squashed up and hidden.

  • I was asked yesterday was it legal to use your fingers to count.

  • @AlanB said:
    Supposing when dummy puts down his cards he puts them down one at a time so it becomes obvious how many cards are in a suit, would this be OK? The other thing dummy could do would be to put down the top four cards in a suit with a slight gap between the fourth card and the following ones - again any problems?
    One of the problems with putting down an 8 card suit is that the board can be in the way especially if you're N/S. This increases the chance of cards being squashed up and hidden.

    Dummy is not meant to be participating in the play and declarer is not allowed any aids to the memory. Dummy should just put the cards down in the usual fashion and declarer should pay attention. 8-card suits can go down one side or the other of the board.

  • I once went off in a grand slam by mis-counting dummy.
    To make it worse, my partner then got it written up in the New York Times (it was a great play hand, if only I had the number of cards in dummy correct).

    The generous hospitality provided by the opponents (the House of Lords) before the match may have been a contributing factor.

    Not really relevant to the question, but no, dummy can't tell declarer how many cards are in each suit.
    If any of the players has impaired sight, dummy can call out every card as it is put down, but that is different.

  • @clubanddiamond said:
    I was asked yesterday was it legal to use your fingers to count.

    If the player has 13 fingers then I suggest you call the Guiness Book of Records. (More so if they have a 2NT opening!)

    I suppose technically the answer should be no.

  • But many professionals don't suit there cards so, I guess, they just put them down one at a time. If they can do it why can't mere mortals?

  • @AlanB said:
    But many professionals don't suit there cards so, I guess, they just put them down one at a time. If they can do it why can't mere mortals?

    They suit them to put them down. If no-one else needs to waste everyone's time putting dummy down one card at a time, why should someone be allowed to who is doing so in an attempt to help partner, contrary to law?

  • Great stuff Gordon and thanks a lot for your patience. I'll be more careful in future. Alan.

  • If you watch an expert's hands carefully (which you shouldn't), then between the end of the auction and putting dummy down you will see a fair amount of resorting going on.

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