Law 25

The bidding starts 2H(weak) - P - 2N*, P - 3C*
There are now some questions about the flavour of OGUST.
The bidding continues P - P! Short pause, 'Oops!' (before anyone else has bid, and euphemism!)
Law 25A taken in isolation allows the bidder to change to 3H (which was presumably the intended call)
And that seems "fair".
But Law 25B differentiates between mechanical errors (it wasn't) and loss of concentration (clearly!)
But does this aspect of Law 25B only apply 'If the players original intent was to make the call selected'?
On the one hand, as the phrase lies in 25B that seems to be the case.
But on the other if the 'intent was to make the call selected', how can there be need to change the call?
Ie the phrase cannot really apply to the circumstance of 25B.


  • I think this is the same as passing a cue bid having decided to sign off in game (rather than make further slam tries): 'loss of concentration' not 'mechanical error'; and therefore not Law 25A.

  • BUT the counter argument goes:-
    The player's intention was NOT to make the call selected, therefore Law 25A2 does NOT apply.
    (Sorry, I wrote 25A & B before should have been 25A1 & 25A2)

  • TagTag
    edited January 23

    A similar and not entirely uncommon situation arises after
    1NT - p - 2D ("Hearts") - p

    I have no idea what causes such errors. There was never any intention to pass yet the pass card is there on the table and was pulled out by the player who had just announced a transfer to hearts. It is clearly an inadvertent bid/call but it is left to the director to decide what the intent was with regards to Law 25.

    Law 25A2 states that a change may not be made if there was a loss of concentration regarding the intent of the action and we are left to decide what the intent of the action was. That something went wrong 'twixt brain and bidding box is clear but we don't know what that something was with regards to any actual intent.

    By the way, this happened to me last week. I didn't have to argue my case to the director, since I was the director. I made no case to the table in self-defence (I didn't even realise that I had passed) but one of my opponents asked me to change it to 2H and play continued. At no point did passing enter my mind, yet I did pass and I have no idea why. I certainly wasn't thinking ahead to a future pass. It was the second time that night I'd pulled the wrong card from the box (the other was pulling a double when I meant a redouble) amidst other silly errors, such as mis-sorting my suits.

  • When I've done it it has definitely been lack of concentration. Last time I was thinking about whether to try beyond game or not after partner's limit raise to 3H. Playing in a part score was never an option but having decided to settle for game I absent-mindedly passed.
    My intent a few seconds before I reached for the bidding box was to play in game...
    but my intent when I actually did reach for the box was 'oh well I'll pass then'
    I ruled lack of concentration against myself and I would probably rule the same against "Pass - Oops!"

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • From a few weeks back, please note:

    What if you were to ask "how did the Pass get on the table?"

  • edited January 23

    I too have struggled with applying law 25A1, and I think there is some inconsistency between the law book, the white book and the commentary.

    25A1 is quite clear, the issue is around the meaning of intended.

    Suppose I intend to bid 4H, but for some unknown reason I pull out a pass card (it happens). Perhaps I have lost concentration whilst making the bid, maybe being distracted by something, but I have not lost concentration regarding the intent of the action. I always intended to bid 4H.

    So by 25A2, I can change the call.

    The white book, 8.25.2, appears to support this: "“What did you intend to call at the moment your hand reached out to the bidding box?”

    The commentary, however, is adamant that "The mistake has to be entirely one of fingers, not brain!". I like this because it is clear-cut.

    Mechanical errors aside (two bidding cards stuck together, for example) it is almost impossible to pull out a wrong call without some level of failure of concentration.

    I tend to take quite a hard line in such cases. If I believe the call was a simple mechanical error, and came as a complete surprise to the player, then I will allow it. Otherwise I (generally) don't. My basis for doing this (apart from the commentary which is explicit with "The mistake has to be entirely one of fingers"), is that it is usually impossible to determine if it was a re-appraisal or brain-fart, and in cases of insufficient evidence one way or the other we should rule in favour of the NOS.

  • My query really is, what is the bit about mechanical error doing in 25A2 anyway, why not in 25A1?
    25A1 deals with NOT making the call intended, 25A2 with making the intended call.
    (A bit bizarre since the heading to 25 is 'Unintended Call.' Also if the bid selected was the bid intended, why is there any situation when the bidder wishes to change it.)
    So in the situation I described, the bidder hasn't made the call intended, so 25A2 is NOT applicable.

  • @MikeK said:Also if the bid selected was the bid intended, why is there any situation when the bidder wishes to change it.)

    Commonly because the player realises what a silly choice it was! One typical situation is where a player thinks for a long time about whether to accept an artificial game invitation, eventually decides not to accept it and passes, forgetting to return to the trump suit in order to decline the invitation.

    Certainly at the moment the player passed, that was the intention and so the call is not unintended in the sense required by the laws.

    In terms of the consequence of this, the player is left playing in a cue-bid or similar, which was not the intended outcome, but that's not something that L25 allows to be changed.

  • I cannot help but note that the spirit of the Laws is all about rectification and sensible bridge results rather than penalising accidents - and that the letter of the Laws as described above goes in quite the other direction (and in a position where the NOS will not be harmed). I would hate to find myself winning something because the opponents had an accident of this nature. Seeking success this way is not why I play this game.

  • Bridge is a sport of the mind. If you have a brain fade, or lapse of concentration, then you have to live with whatever are the consequences. This could be temporarily forgetting your system, forgetting that there is an outstanding trump, following suit to RHO's discard rather than to the card led, or passing in a forcing auction.
    In any other sport, there would be no going back after making such a howler. You don't see a football team not accepting a victory after an opponent's own goal, or a cricket team after an opponent drops a 'sitter'.
    If a bridge-player chooses to waive a penalty in such a situation, I would understand, but IMO there is no moral obligation. (& there is an argument that such a player that waives the penalty in this situation is giving an unfair advantage to their opponent, since other players who have brain fades are not being relieved).

    There is a mild difference between brain fades and mechanical errors, because bridge should be a measure of mental processes, not of sticky bidding cards & arthritic fingers. However, there are times when it is unavoidable that mechanical errors are also punished.

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