Overwhelmed and not concentrating

The dealer (sitting north and inexperienced) put down a pass card and then reached back towards the bidding box. Meanwhile LHO passed. North did not notice LHO's pass and slowly started to pull out a bid and eventually put 2C (23+ HCP) on the table. South stopped himself from bidding his 2H (6-card weak with 10 HCPs) as he was about to and called the director. North said she was overwhelmed by picking up such a strong hand (28 HCPs as it turned out), was still deciding whether it was a 2C or 2D bid, and had not concentrated on selecting the stop card and had pulled out a pass instead.
A. Did her using the term 'had not concentrated' prevent a ruling of mechanical error?
B. As south had deliberately not bid at the usual pace and waited to see what north was doing up, does that affect the ruling?
C. If mechanical error was not allowed, how does south proceed knowing partner has 23+ HCPs.


  • A. The Pass card was a mechanical error - although the perpetrator talked about lack of concentration, the error between Pass and Stop was a mechanical one.

    B. Given Law 25A3, I think South is allowed to recognise that there may be a problem with unintended actions and allow time for partner to attempt a correction. Indeed, if the Pass card had been displayed in the manner of a Stop card (Pass cards are placed neatly in front, Stop cards are displayed with a flourish), then I wold not object to South asking North what they were trying to do.

    C. South should proceed in the expectation that this is going to be a bad board. Assuming that 2C is not accepted as Law 25B1 allows, Law 25B2 says that 2C is withdrawn and the auction has started with two Passes. Law 25B3 tells us that 2C is unauthorised, so South should bid 2H as he was about to. If North is not more overwhelmed, they will realise that their plan should be to bidding contracts they hope will make until South passes. Whatever North does, South may soon be allowed to realise (from North's subsequent bidding) that the opening Pass was in error but not that North has 23+HCP.

  • If Mechanical Error was not allowed then from Robin's comments it likes like it should have been allowed.
    Is this a case where North-South could appeal with confidence that at least that their deposit would be returned?

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

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