Law 73 - Communication

D. Variations in Tempo or Manner

1. Inadvertent Variations

It is desirable, though not always required, for players to maintain steady tempo and unvarying manner. However, players should be particularly careful in positions in which variations may work to the benefit of their side. Otherwise, inadvertently to vary the tempo or manner in which a call or play is made does not in itself constitute a violation of propriety, but inferences from such variation may appropriately be drawn only by an opponent, and at his own risk.

2.  Intentional Variations

A player may not attempt to mislead an opponent by means of remark or gesture, through the haste or hesitancy of a call or play (as in hesitating before playing a singleton), or by the manner in which the call or play is made.

E. Deception

A player may appropriately attempt to deceive an opponent through a call or play (so long as the deception is not protected by concealed partnership understanding or experience). It is entirely appropriate to avoid giving information to the opponents by making all calls and plays in unvarying tempo and manner.

F. Violation of Proprieties

When a violation of the Proprieties described in this law results in damage to an innocent opponent,

1. Player Acts on Unauthorised Information

if the Director determines that a player chose from among logical alternative actions one that could demonstrably have been suggested over another by his partner's remark, manner, tempo, or the like, he shall award an adjusted score (see Law 16).

2. Player Injured by Illegal Deception

if the Director determines that an innocent player has drawn a false inference from a remark, manner, tempo, or the like, of an opponent who has no demonstrable bridge reason for the action, and who could have known, at the time of the action, that the action could work to his benefit, the Director shall award an adjusted score (see Law 12C).

The principles of Hesitation are not completely understood by all bridge players and may lead to some confusion. These principles have been the topic of discussion for some time, mainly from the legal standpoint as to the correctness of the decision by the Tournament Director. The Tournament Director will attempt to make a fair evaluation of the situation, consult the Laws governing Hesitation, and make his decision based upon the facts of the individual case. If the offended bridge players do not agree with the decision of the Tournament Director, they have then the option of the Appeals Committee.

Below are several examples borrowed from the 42nd Generali Europeans Bridge Championships, which took place in Vilamoura, Portugal, between June 17 and July 1, 1995. The wording of the Laws may have been altered or are under new consideration since then, but the letter of the Law continues to be the factor on which the Tournament Director will base his decision. We have included two examples, where Hesitation has been the deciding factor in the result.

Appeal # 11
Open Teams Round 6.
Reported by Tommy Sandsmark.
Appeals Committee: Jose Damiani (Chairman), Helgi Johannsson, Iceland, Marian Frenkiel, Poland and Steen Moller, Denmark.

Board 21
Vulnerable: North/South
Dealer: North

AQ95
2
AQJ8
AJ73
103
A1096
K9652
65
J742
J873
43
KQ9
K86
KQ54
107
10842
 

North

 

East

 

South

 

West

1

 

Pass

 

1

 

Pass

1

 

Pass

 

1 NT

 

Pass

3 NT

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

Pass

Facts: South called the TD at the end of the hand complaining about an undue hesitation.

West led the 2 of Diamonds to the 10 of Diamonds, and South played another Diamond to the Jack of Diamonds in the dummy. Now, the 3 of Clubs, and after some hesitation, East played the King of Clubs. East switched to a Heart, which went to the King and the Ace, West continued with another Heart. The declarer won with the Queen, followed by three round of Spades from the top, ending up with South on lead, who played the 10 of Clubs. East won, cashed his good Spade and his Heart tricks. The declarer discarded the A of Clubs from dummy allowing the 9 of Clubs to take the last trick.

Result on the board: 6 tricks to N/S; N/S -300.

TD's ruling: TD ruled damage owing to the hesitation. Score adjusted to 3 NT down 1; N/S -100.

Appellant: East/West.

The players: South claimed that at trick three, it took East at least one minute to play the King of Clubs. East/West contested this, and maintained that East had only paused for 5-10 seconds. South then stated that the hesitation may not have been a full minute, and East added, that it might well have been at least 10 seconds.

South claimed that the hesitation made him believe that East had a serious problem with e.g. Kx of Clubs, and East said he was very surprised at the lead of a small Club from dummy and that he had to consider playing the 9 of Clubs in order to avoid a later end play in the suit.

The committee: The committee established, that since East had at least two main possibilities in his defense (he could play one of the honors or the 9 of Clubs), he would also have every right to think for as long as he pleased. However, when he decided to play an honor, he should have known that by choosing the "abnormal" alternative, he would (inadvertently) violate the ethic code, as this play was bound to mislead South. In situations of this kind, East should always play the "natural" card, the Queen of Clubs, which gives the declarer a real choice instead of an imaginative misleading one.

The committee's decision: The committee supported the TD's decision. The deposit was returned.

Committee's note: The committee was confident that it was not East's intention to coffee-house South. The EBL wants the highest possible standard of ethical conduct to be followed in these championships. Therefore, after a hesitation, players are advised to do the "normal" thing rather than the "abnormal", whenever there is a choice between the two.

As an example, consider this situation:

 

 

10x

 

 

xxx

 

 

 

KQX

 

 

AJ98x

 

 

South plays a No Trump contract, and is known to have a weak hand. There are ample entries in North. The 10 of Clubs is led from dummy. Now East has to consider the possibilities of splitting his honors now, or ducking completely to block the suit.

If East, after a hesitation, decides to split, he should use the Queen of Clubs, and not the King of Clubs.

Relating this to the current appeal: by playing the Queen of Clubs, East guides his partner as to who has the King of Clubs, but on the other hand, he really does not help the declarer through his honesty. Declarer will still be facing the same problem after the hesitation.

Appeal # 18
Open Teams Round 22.
Reported by Tommy Sandsmark.
Appeals Committee: Steen Moller, Denmark (Chairman), Ron Andersen, USA and Tommy Sandsmark, Norway.

Board 6
E/W Vul
Dealer: East

AQ3
Q2
K74
Q10743
J9
J10863
Q10863
J8
765
543
J
AK9652
K10842
AK87
A952
 

East

 

South

 

West

 

North

Pass

 

1

 

Pass

 

2 NT

Pass

 

4

 

Pass

 

4

Pass

 

4

 

Pass

 

4 NT

Pass

 

5

 

Pass

 

5

Pass

 

5

 

Pass

 

6

Pass

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

 

Facts: The TD was called to the table after the hand was played. The lead from West was Jack of Hearts and dummy won with the Queen of Hearts. South then led a small Club from dummy at trick two.

East then paused, for at least two minutes, before he played his Ace of Clubs. Through the bidding, South had shown short Clubs (singleton or a void).

Result on the board: 10 tricks to N/S; N/S -100.

TD's ruling: Result stands.

Appellant: East/West.

The players: South pointed to the fact that the Appeals Committee had ruled earlier, in a similar case, that when hesitating, you must put in the "normal" rather than the "abnormal" card.

He claimed damage because the Ace of Clubs made him misplay the Clubs. He maintained that if East had played the King of Clubs, South would have had a chance of playing the Queen of Clubs from dummy and he would have won his contract. (He would have played the Ace and King of Spades and the Queen of Spades which he would let run. By ruffing the 3rd Heart with dummy's last trump, he had ample Diamond connections to cross back and forth and make the contract.)

South did admit that he was not sure whether he would have made this play, but at least, with the "normal" play, he would have had a chance of doing so. South pointed out to the committee that he had paused for more than a minute, after the first trick, before he led a Club from dummy.

East/West did not appear in front of the committee, nor had they written anything on the appeal form.

The committee: The committee found that East, however involuntary, violated the ethic code when he paused and then played the Ace of Clubs from Ace/King. The committee tried to estimate at what percentage South would actually make his contract if the normal card is played from East and found that in approximately 50% of the times, South would win 980 and in 50% he would go down two = -100. Since the difference in the score is 880, the committee gave North/South 50% of this score.

The committee's decision: The committee overruled the TD's decision. Score for North/South = +440 on the board. The deposit was returned.

 


     
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