Thirteen penalty cards

I know this has been discussed before, but it actually happened in a game at our club on Tuesday, so I'm paying attention this time. Before the opening lead was made a defender faced their hand as dummy. The TD was called, didn't know what to do and said to me later they had "chickened out" and cancelled the board, awarding 60%-40%. They wanted to know what the ruling should have been.

I said that if they were to apply the letter of law 49 they should treat every card as a major penalty card. Every time offender is to play the declarer gets to choose which of legal exposed cards is to be played to the trick, and every time offender's partner is on lead declarer can (i) allow any lead, or (ii) insist on the lead of any of the remaining penalty-card suits, in which case all penalty cards in that suit are picked up, or (iii) forbid the lead of any remaining penalty-card suit or suits, in which case all penalty cards in those suits are picked up. Offender's partner is subject to the Byzantine UI restrictions of law 50E for all unplayed cards in partner's hand.

This will lead to the offending side being forced to underruff, throw kings under aces, lead into tenaces or double voids and so on.

I told the director that their ruling could be justified under law 12A2 - he could decide that there was no rectification that will allow normal play of the board. The only thing I said I would do differently was to check that the non-offenders weren't likely to be heading for a better than 60% score when the irregularity occurred (e.g. they've bid to a difficult-to-reach, favourable making contract), in which case giving 60% would be penalising them for their opponents' mistake. I said in that case I would award a (weighted) assigned score based on the likely outcomes.

A closer reading of laws 12A2 and 12C2 doesn't appear to allow an assigned score if the board is declared unplayable, but that the artificial score could be more extreme than 60-40. Does this mean I can judge what matchpoint or IMP score would have been likely and adjust the percentages to match (or slightly exceed, for the non-offenders) that estimated score?

Which laws would you really apply in this situation?

Comments

  • When I had this arise, I just followed Law 49 and was disappointed that declarer did such a poor job of maximising his advantage.

  • TagTag
    edited January 23

    Note Law 12B2 - "The Director may not award an adjusted score on the grounds that the rectification provided in these Laws is either unduly severe or advantageous to either side."

  • I'm aware of law 12B2, but that wouldn't be the reason for awarding the adjusted score, it would be because the TD judges that there's no way to play the board normally.

  • If declarer is happy to play the hand with thirteen penalty cards then the law should take its course. If declarer expresses the opinion that they won't enjoy having to think about the play of 3 (sometimes 4) hands then I would waive the penalty cards.

    If you are looking to award an assigned adjusted score, then let them play the hand out, and then something in Law 50E should allow an adjustment.

  • Can declarer, who perhaps can't be bothered to figure out the double-dummy problem, just claim all 13 tricks without stating a line and then when the defence object it's the TD who has to figure it out instead? Any doubt would go against the claimer, but when it's DD there is no doubt!

    Yeah, I realise we're not really playing bridge any more. :)

  • @michael said:
    Can declarer, who perhaps can't be bothered to figure out the double-dummy problem, just claim all 13 tricks without stating a line and then when the defence object it's the TD who has to figure it out instead? Any doubt would go against the claimer, but when it's DD there is no doubt!

    There is always the possibility that a player who can't be bothered to state a line would choose an inferior one! Depending on who the TD is, there's no reason to imagine they would get it right either.

    This is an objection to the suggestion that I think David Burn has made, that in claim cases where no line is given the players should be given the worst possible outcome: sometimes it's really hard work to discover what the worst line is!

  • In principle I like the "worst possible outcome" idea, although I might amend it to "the opposition can determine the play of the cards", removing any onus on the director.

    My objection to this idea is that for very good reasons we encourage people to claim, and one or two of these going against them this is likely to put them off. What we need (as in so many things) is education of players.

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