Hesitations - the director's bane

Bane number 1.
You are North in a routine weekly Club Pairs game at game all.
Dealer East opens 1NT weak. Two passes come round to you.
You hold ;
S 5
H J 10 8 7 2
D K Q 6 4 2
C 7 6
You are playing Asptro.
Q1. Do you intervene or do you pass?
Q2. If your partner South had hesitated before passing, would that have influenced your decision?

Bane number 2.
Same questions but next day at another club. You hold as East;
S - -
H K Q J 6 5
D A 10 7 6 5
C A 8 6
At love all bidding goes South 1NT, partner passes and North bids 4S.
Q1. As East do you bid or pass?
Q2. What about after a long pause by West?

«1

Comments

  • I would pass in all cases but if the purpose of this is as a poll, you should only ask the first question in each case.
  • I've polled club members with the first question and each (bar one on the first hand) said they would bid.

  • The aggrieved member on the first one polled other player's who said they wouldn't have bid after the hesitation.

  • edited February 8

    @AlanB said:
    The aggrieved member on the first one polled other player's who said they wouldn't have bid after the hesitation.

    Perhaps they are asked a different question to his/her best mates. "Are you out of you mind or would you consider bidding on the pile of cr*p?"

    As Gordon pointed out, maybe they asked question 2 and not question 1.

    For the record, if I was NV and had a way to show a D+H 2 suiter (I don't think 2C Asptro shows that) I would bid, but then I'm quite frisky. V I wouldn't.

    On the second I'd bid a grudging 4N to show the 2-suiter, fully expecting it to be a phantom sacrifice, but in cases of doubt my personal style is to "get in there". Wouldn't be surprised to see others passing, and maybe the occasional double, but am frequently by surprised results of polls. Will depend on the standard and style of the room.

  • I too am quite frisky :)
    However, I would only bid 2C in the first if non-vul, showing 4+ hearts and a second (unknown) 5+ card suit. Vul, I would pass
    in the second, it would depend on partner. But I would want to double with my main partner, 4NT with others and pass with a casual/pickup partner.

  • @Martin said:
    I too am quite frisky :)
    However, I would only bid 2C in the first if non-vul, showing 4+ hearts and a second (unknown) 5+ card suit. Vul, I would pass
    in the second, it would depend on partner. But I would want to double with my main partner, 4NT with others and pass with a casual/pickup partner.

    The partnership grade for the first hand is Ace of Clubs. For the second it's a Queen with West being a 9. Both partnerships play at least once a month.

  • Aren't the two test questions?
    1) What would others have done without the hesitation (logical alternative)
    2) What does the hesitation suggest - there's guidance in the blue book
    ... it doesn't matter what anyone else would have done after the hesitation.

    The 'bane' is, of course the "yes you did", "no I didn't" squabble over whether there was a hesitation.

  • I found this on the Northampton Bridge Club site. It's very clear from the poll I did of each player's peers that the bids should have been allowed - hesitations or not.

    Thanks everyone for your replies.

    https://www.bridgewebs.com/northampton/page45.html

  • edited February 10

    @AlanB said:
    I found this on the Northampton Bridge Club site. It's very clear from the poll I did of each player's peers that the bids should have been allowed - hesitations or not.

    Thanks everyone for your replies.

    https://www.bridgewebs.com/northampton/page45.html

    This looks like a useful webpage, albeit difficult to read with all the underlining.

    From what you say above, I agree that the second bid should have been allowed. The first one depends on how may people you asked, since you say one of them did pass, and whether any of those who bid were considering passing.

  • I'm just amazed that you can find enough players to poll.
    We have ten sessions a week. Apart from one session I would have no chance of finding more than two or three players who knew what Asptro is.
    [That wouldn't include me.]

    Alan

  • Re the Northampton web page - there is no underline in the word doc or on the web page - however there is coloured text that may show as underline .

    Please let me know if you spot any errors in the text . Original doc can be supplied.

  • @gordonrainsford said:

    @AlanB said:
    I found this on the Northampton Bridge Club site. It's very clear from the poll I did of each player's peers that the bids should have been allowed - hesitations or not.

    Thanks everyone for your replies.

    https://www.bridgewebs.com/northampton/page45.html

    This looks like a useful webpage, albeit difficult to read with all the underlining.

    From what you say above, I agree that the second bid should have been allowed. The first one depends on how may people you asked, since you say one of them did pass, and whether any of those who bid were considering passing.

    On the first one , on the night, I was directing and beside myself there were at least two others who know Asptro. I asked them both. A further top club player was asked subsequently about what he would call and without doubt he said he would have bid 2Cs. Interestingly, the person who asked for the ruling was the one who hesitated - people in general like to be ethical about the way they play.
    On the second hand I was the player who bid 4NTs after partner's long pause before passing. As it happened the director of the day held the South hand. It was agreed that the final result should stand. I just wanted to know what players thought about whether I should bid or not.

    On both hands two grand masters were polled by email. Each said he would have bid without the hesitation. Each said he would have passed after the hesitation.

    Are we sometimes too ethical in our bidding?

  • @AlanB said:
    On the first one , on the night, I was directing and beside myself there were at least two others who know Asptro. I asked them both. A further top club player was asked subsequently about what he would call and without doubt he said he would have bid 2Cs.

    I don't think I'm clear what you are telling us about the outcome of the poll.

    How many did you poll?
    How many of those considered passing?
    How many actually passed?

    If you have found one out of three or four who passed, then I don't think you can conclude that passing is not a logical alternative.

  • AlanB: "On both hands two grand masters were polled by email. Each said he would have bid without the hesitation. Each said he would have passed after the hesitation.

    Are we sometimes too ethical in our bidding?"

    I'm not sure what you mean by "too ethical". The comments of your two grand masters are entirely consistent with the ethics of the game. What they are saying is that they would have bid, but would have considered passing, and consider bidding is suggested by the hesitation, so they feel ethically constrained to pass if partner had hesitated. This is the way the game should be played.

    On the first hand I would have bid if the vulnerability had been love all, and I wouldn't consider passing. At game all I would pass and wouldn't consider bidding. At unequal vulnerability I think I'd pass, but I might bid. The second hand is much closer.

  • The 'too ethical' aspect of AlanB's comment is interesting to me.

    For me, there is an ethical imperative to bid as I would regardless of any break in tempo. I usually pre-decide my calls before any prior calls are made. So (for example) I think, I will pass this unless partner calls, in which case I will bid 1H, or 1NT, depending on the suit opened; pass any weak bid unless hearts (when I will raise)... and so on.

    So, my decision on whether/what to bid had 90% of the time been decided prior to any break in tempo. If I now adjust my bidding based on the tempo break, is that not basing my play on partners hesitation? Is that not specifically outlawed?

    In fact, referencing the laws now, Law 73 D 1 - "...Inferences from such variations
    are authorized only to the opponents, who may act
    upon the information at their own risk"

    Doesn't this mean that any inferences that can be taken from a hesitation is, by corollary, not authorised to the partner of the person that breaks tempo? So, to adjust ones bidding based on the supposed inference that partner wishes to bid on, is specifically not allowed by Law 73 A 1?

    Suppose a partnership ends in 4H and makes 11 tricks. During the bidding there was a long hesitation and so partner passes as the hesitation supposedly suggests bidding on and they pass instead. Everyone else in the room bids to 6H and go 1-off. Does this look right?

    To me, players should call/bid as they wish. If the opposition decide that they feel hard done by, they can call the director. Then polls can take place and a ruling made.

  • L73 C. Player Receives Unauthorized Information from Partner
    1. When a player has available to him unauthorized
    information from his partner, such as from a
    remark, question, explanation, gesture, mannerism,
    undue emphasis, inflection, haste or hesitation, an
    unexpected alert or failure to alert, he must
    carefully avoid taking any advantage from that
    unauthorized information [see Law 16B1(a)].

    This is generally considered to require you to do more than just do what (you think) you would have done without the UI, but to actively avoid gaining from it.

  • So, bid what you would bid and let the ops call the director if they wish?

    There is no requirement to pass (or whatever) and you should do whatever you would have done.

    Obvioisly this does not mean that your bid will be accepted by the director following their own investigations.

    As an aside, I think that this draws into question the judgement of the 2 grand masters polled by AlanB that both said would bid without the hesitation and pass with it. This means that their bidding is influenced by their partners change in tempo, which seems wrong and open to abuse (hesitate when you have a good defensive hand to try and avoid your partner from bidding).
  • edited February 10

    Martin: "Suppose a partnership ends in 4H and makes 11 tricks. During the bidding there was a long hesitation and so partner passes as the hesitation supposedly suggests bidding on and they pass instead. Everyone else in the room bids to 6H and go 1-off. Does this look right?"

    It's much more likely that partner will think and then sign off when they have extras, enabling you to get to a making slam when everyone who bids in tempo stops in game. That doesn't feel right to me.

    I agree that trying to be ethical could backfire in the way you describe, and in rare situations an unethical player could predict that a long think could induce partner to pass when it would be to their partnership's advantage, and so pause unnecessarily. It's possible that the director could take action against them if they thought the pause and response were not entirely innocent.

    I don't think it's satisfactory to leave it to the opponents to call the director. They would often feel uncomfortable doing so, and it's not fair to put them in that situation.

  • @VixTD said:
    I agree that trying to be ethical could backfire in the way you describe, and in rare situations an unethical player could predict that a long think could induce partner to pass when it would be to their partnership's advantage, and so pause unnecessarily.

    This tactic's been suggested in various bridge humour articles over the years, typically with a name like "reverse tempo bidding". It should probably be treated the same way as coffeehousing, i.e. the player perpetrating it is cheating. I don't think it's correct to punish the player's partner for it, though (although obviously, if one member of a partnership is cheating, it's quite likely that the entire partnership will end up disqualified).

    Examination of similar offences in the White Book suggests that the appropriate penalty is a DP for the first offence, and a disqualification if it happens again.

    If you need to quote a specific Law to ban this, I suggest 73B1.

  • @gordonrainsford said:

    @AlanB said:
    On the first one , on the night, I was directing and beside myself there were at least two others who know Asptro. I asked them both. A further top club player was asked subsequently about what he would call and without doubt he said he would have bid 2Cs.

    I don't think I'm clear what you are telling us about the outcome of the poll.

    How many did you poll?
    How many of those considered passing?
    How many actually passed?

    If you have found one out of three or four who passed, then I don't think you can conclude that passing is not a logical alternative.

    1. I polled 3 which included myself.
    2. That is a question I didn't ask (next time I hope I get it right).
    3. One passed.

    It looks as if I may have got this wrong and thanks for all the answers. The two GMs seem to have got it right.

    Just for my understanding - isn't bidding a logical alternative to passing?

  • @AlanB said:

    1. I polled 3 which included myself.
    2. That is a question I didn't ask (next time I hope I get it right).
    3. One passed.

    It looks as if I may have got this wrong and thanks for all the answers. The two GMs seem to have got it right.

    Just for my understanding - isn't bidding a logical alternative to passing?

    If you are doing the poll, you don't include yourself as a respondent. After all, you know what the issue is.

    You are trying to find out whether passing is a logical alternative to bidding (in this case), not the other way around.

  • The assumption is always that the hesitation means thinking about going on. Why not thinking about 2 or 3 level raise response and deciding 3 level, or whatever? So a choice between a high bid and a low bid and dwciding on the higher.

    I know personally that when in a 50:50 game raise or not and I start to think about it, if I get to 15 seconds or so, I think "stuff it" and bid game. Should this go on our card and now the oposite to the supposed norm is true. Then partner would need to bid on more often rather than pass?

    Seems that it needs a lot of second guessing and bidding according to the tempo of the bidding, rather than the bids themselves alond with the content of your hand. Whether a good or bad result is obtained, that seems wrong to me. The bidding should be, partner has shown x losers/x point range/x controls/x shape. My hand value is now whatever, based on that information alone and so my bid is now 6 NT (or whatever).

    I cant see another way of bidding unless you take a lot of notice to your partner's tempo and try to read into it what that means, then bid based on that interpretation. I would imagine that creating further hesitation...
  • @Martin said:
    The assumption is always that the hesitation means thinking about going on. Why not thinking about 2 or 3 level raise response and deciding 3 level, or whatever? So a choice between a high bid and a low bid and dwciding on the higher.

    Section 8.16.2 of the White Book has some information on this point and there is further discussion in a paper on polling on the website..

  • As a director I go by a fairly simple mantra:
    1. Was there UI? (powerful questions help here, as does 'the power of silence')
    2.If yes: Did the player in receipt of UI have a choice between Logical Alternatives?
    (polling is vital here - remember 'assume can make an ASS out of U & ME')
    3. If yes: Was the choice they made suggested by the UI? (Always, always, consult!)
    4. If yes: were the non-offenders damaged? (Again - if in any doubt at all then consult on how it would have played out - although it may be clear that there is only one possible outcome once the actual LA is disallowed)
    5. If yes: then I adjust (knowing full well that I can and sometimes will be appealed and lose)

    I believe this helps me follow the rules (Law Book) and guidelines (White Book)

    I've always thought the rules are the way they are because TDs are not and cannot be expected to be telepathic
    As Gordon suggests not even the player making the bid can know for sure what they would have done without the hesitation as they never had the chance to find out.

    Although the White Book does give some hints at what can be inferred from hesitations I think it is essential to consult. In this case the hesitater is playing ASPTRO and that will have an impact on the kind of hands they may have trouble deciding what to bid.

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • TagTag
    edited February 11

    If you're lucky, unless you are considering a PP to go with blatant misuse of UI, the incident can often be quickly resolved with "Were the non-offenders damaged?".

  • @Peter said:
    1. Was there UI? (powerful questions help here, as does 'the power of silence')
    2.If yes: Did the player in receipt of UI have a choice between Logical Alternatives?
    (polling is vital here - remember 'assume can make an ASS out of U & ME')
    3. If yes: Was the choice they made suggested by the UI? (Always, always, consult!)
    4. If yes: were the non-offenders damaged? (Again - if in any doubt at all then consult on how it would have played out - although it may be clear that there is only one possible outcome once the actual LA is disallowed)

    On the standard EBU Appeal Form, there are four tickboxes (well, "Yes / No" questions) to be used in UI cases, approximately aligning with these four questions (not in that order). The answers to all four questions have to be "Yes" for there to be an adjustment.
    In principle you can stop (& rule 'no adjustment') as soon as you get one answer of "No", as Tag observes. But I think that it's good form to actually consider all four questions, even if you don't go through all the motions of polling/consulting.

  • @Mitch said:

    @Peter said:
    1. Was there UI? (powerful questions help here, as does 'the power of silence')
    2.If yes: Did the player in receipt of UI have a choice between Logical Alternatives?
    (polling is vital here - remember 'assume can make an ASS out of U & ME')
    3. If yes: Was the choice they made suggested by the UI? (Always, always, consult!)
    4. If yes: were the non-offenders damaged? (Again - if in any doubt at all then consult on how it would have played out - although it may be clear that there is only one possible outcome once the actual LA is disallowed)

    On the standard EBU Appeal Form, there are four tickboxes (well, "Yes / No" questions) to be used in UI cases, approximately aligning with these four questions (not in that order). The answers to all four questions have to be "Yes" for there to be an adjustment.
    In principle you can stop (& rule 'no adjustment') as soon as you get one answer of "No", as Tag observes. But I think that it's good form to actually consider all four questions, even if you don't go through all the motions of polling/consulting.

    Here's the link to the five (!) questions which on the first hand I would answer as follows.
    (https://www.ebu.co.uk/documents/laws-and-ethics/td-forms/appeal-form.pdf)
    A Which action is being questioned? The bid of 2C by North.
    B Might the player concerned have received unauthorised information in consequence of an action
    by his partner? Yes,.....but.............
    C Could the opponents have suffered damage as a consequence of the alleged unauthorised
    information? Yes,.......but.......
    D Were there one or more logical alternatives to the action
    which is being questioned? If yes, what are they? Pass,...........but........
    E Could the alleged unauthorised information suggest that the player’s selected action might be
    more likely to be successful than one of the logical alternatives? Yes. .........but.........
    I sound like a certain Vicki here....but......
    In mitigation it was South who brought the hand to my attention. Both N&S are extremely good players at a club where the NGS SOF is regularly above 57.00. I would expect over 70% of the players of their standard playing Asptro to bid 2C. Unless it's been brought to your attention earlier it's almost impossible to get enough to poll at the end of the evening. Also, what question do you ask without it being obvious that there has been a UI hesitation situation.

    P.S. Nothing to do with this thread but if there is a serious outbreak of the coronaviirus in the UK it's likely bridge clubs will have to close. Should the EBU be asked to plan to set up virtual bridge clubs just in case? Of course that capability may already exist.

  • @Mitch said:
    In principle you can stop (& rule 'no adjustment') as soon as you get one answer of "No", as Tag observes. But I think that it's good form to actually consider all four questions, even if you don't go through all the motions of polling/consulting.

    It is important when ruling 'no adjustment' that you know which 'No' you are basing the ruling on, even if there are other 'No''s which are also true. This allows all sides to know which aspect of the ruling is critical when deciding whether to contest the ruling.

    e.g. "I am not changing the score because there is no logical alternatives ... but also I do not think the action chosen is suggested by the unauthorised information" OR "... but also I do not think there is any damage because your contract is going for -800"

  • @AlanB said:
    Also, what question do you ask without it being obvious that there has been a UI hesitation situation.

    I write down on a sheet of paper:

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Match Pointed Pairs, Game all, you are South. Dealer is West

    S 5
    H J 10 8 7 2
    D K Q 6 4 2
    C 7 6

    W ..... N .... E .... S
    1NT .. No .. No .. ?

    1NT is 12-14
    You are playing Asptro.

    What do you call now?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I like to rotate the deal so that the pollee is put in the South seat, and to use a standard bidding layout where West is on the left and South on the right.
    Some ask a supplementary question straight off: "What other calls do you consider". I prefer to ask after they have given their first choice.

    As for not making it obvious there has been a hesitation issue, sometimes it can't be avoided but there are sometimes other reasons for polling players and if a pollee says "I'll bet/assume North hesitated", I reply: "Don't worry about any hesitations. There has indeed been some irregularity but it could be anything, and I am not telling you what it is"!

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • Barrie: "Some ask a supplementary question straight off: "What other calls do you consider". I prefer to ask after they have given their first choice.

    As for not making it obvious there has been a hesitation issue, sometimes it can't be avoided but there are sometimes other reasons for polling players and if a pollee says "I'll bet/assume North hesitated", I reply: "Don't worry about any hesitations. There has indeed been some irregularity but it could be anything, and I am not telling you what it is"!"

    Nearly everyone can guess that an irregularity has occurred when they're asked this sort of question by a TD. I don't think it really matters. I don't have any difficulty answering honestly, and I try to choose players to poll that I think will do the same.

    Often the speed at which a player answers the question can indicate whether they are thinking of something else. Sometimes it's obvious what that was, and you can always ask to make sure.

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