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The Teapot Trick Law 23?

#1 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 07:40


Matchpoins. Table Result 6X-1 EW +200. Opening lead K.

The relay auction at a North London club took so long that West, one of the club's weakest members, had time to order a pot of tea, which arrived as South was considering whether or not to bid a slam. The tables were relatively small, and with a full house there were no side tables. As the waitress was putting the pot on the table, she accidentally touched West's right hand with the pot, and he, known as RR, jumped and dropped the king of spades onto the table. The TD was called and ruled, perhaps wrongly, that it was now an MPC and that East was silenced throughout but West could bid anything he liked. South, who looks and behaves like the Secretary Bird, jumped to 6S, and RR, who was a bit flustered, decided to double, despite the risk of a correction to 6NT. This ended the auction, and West was forced to lead the king of trumps, but his excellent spade pips meant that the contract still had no play.

SB was apoplectic with rage. "You could have been aware that the infraction of exposing the king of spades would cause declarer, who knew that his partner had the queen of spades, to jump to slam." he ranted at RR. "Damage exists when, because of an infraction, a non-offender gets a worse score than would be the case if the infraction had not occurred". "Even someone with your level of intelligence could tell that you had two likely trump tricks", he continued. "Director, please", he bellowed. The TD arrived but decided that this was just rub of the green, in that someone of RR's ability could not have pulled this off as a coup. "Also", SB continued, "there was TD error in that the king of spades should not have been designated an MPC, and I should have been obliged to consider it UI from an external source". "The TD should have decided the board was unplayable and awarded both sides average plus instead of the zero I ended up with".

"Nice lead, partner", chipped in Charlie the Chimp, East. "A small spade would have been fatal, and you were safe enough in doubling a run to 6NT as well, as I am sure you would have led the king of spades against that."

How would you rule?
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#2 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 10:50

Let's not spend too much time on the behaviour of SB, who again violates law 74. Of course he should have asked how RR's hand was and certainly not be ranting. Since he seems to be incorrigible, he deserves a PP of 100% or more.
How RR could have been aware that the exposure of the King could be advantageous to his side, is far beyond me. That he dropped a card because the waitress held a hot tea pot to his hand, is an accident, or did SB asked her to do so? I fail to see how the slam can be made, with or without the dropping of the king.
Indeed, the TD made a mistake by forcing E to pass more than once, but this has no effect on the bidding. Laws 24 makes the king a PC and law 50B a MPC. The,knowledge of the card is authorized for SB, Law 24 again. So, there's no TD error, but even if there was, the board is playable according to the TD, and I agree with him, so no way a AAS can be awarded, even if there was a reason to give an AS.
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#3 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 12:21

View Postsanst, on 2016-January-17, 10:50, said:

How RR could have been aware that the exposure of the King could be advantageous to his side, is far beyond me. That he dropped a card because the waitress held a hot tea pot to his hand, is an accident, or did SB asked her to do so?

The Probst cheat, realising that South was considering bidding a slam, clearly in spades, would pretend that the teapot touched him and drop the king of spades. The gain was in persuading South to bid the hopeless slam, not in making any difference to whether it made.

And if the TD had "designated otherwise" he could have made the king of spades "not a penalty card". It is not clear to me that the fact that West had the card is AI to SB, as it is information "arising from another source".
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#4 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 13:32

Leading K might have been fatal (make the spade suit AQ93/J742) or 6N could have been cold so he could not know it could work to his advantage.
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#5 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 14:14

I would give SB a disciplinary, rather than a procedural penalty, because his antics are disruptive to the game. I would make it clear to him that a second offense will result in a larger penalty, and a third will result in his suspension from playing in the club for at least 30 days. Also if, after he returns, there is another such offense, he will be asked to find another club.
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#6 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 15:49

View Postlamford, on 2016-January-17, 12:21, said:

And if the TD had "designated otherwise" he could have made the king of spades "not a penalty card". It is not clear to me that the fact that West had the card is AI to SB, as it is information "arising from another source".
Law 24: "When the Director determines that during the auction period because of a player’s own error one or more cards of that player’s hand were in position for the face to be seen by his partner, the Director shall require that every such card be left face up on the table until the auction period ends. Information from cards thus exposed is authorized for the non-offending side but unauthorized for the offending side. If the offender becomes declarer or dummy the cards are picked up and returned to the hand. If the offender becomes a defender every such card becomes a penalty card (see Law 50)".
It's open for discussion whether the card was exposed by RR's own error. It was caused by a outside agent, i.e the hot tea pot and the clumsiness of the waitress (why not a waiter?). But the laws don't give an answer what should be done if the exposure is accidental. I would rule that the card should be picked up and the information that W has the king is UI for all, as it's information "arising from another source". Afterwards the TD should decide whether it has influenced the play. Since the finesse is obvious, probably not. SB's claim that RR, given the burning of his hand, dropped the card on purpose is something only a lunatic or a very devious mind can come up with.
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#7 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 16:02

View PostCyberyeti, on 2016-January-17, 13:32, said:

Leading K might have been fatal (make the spade suit AQ93/J742) or 6N could have been cold so he could not know it could work to his advantage.

He did know that trumps would break 5-0, by examining his hand. He could have known that dropping the king of trumps, when North has shown the queen in the auction, could work to his advantage, by persuading South to bid a slam. He could have worked out that South was 4-3 on to have the nine of spades (on available spaces, as North has shown the queen of spades). He could have worked out that Six Spades would be heavily against the odds with trumps 5-0, but that South would bid it if he dropped the king of spades.

The test in these cases is not whether the TD thinks that West might have dropped the king of spades deliberately. The ONLY test is whether he could have been aware that it might work to his advantage. If I wanted to cheat, I might try the same ruse, knowing that trumps were 5-0, and I would order something hot, ideally tea without milk or in a teapot. And it is easy enough to accidentally touch the teapot without someone suspecting subterfuge.
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#8 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 16:04

View Postsanst, on 2016-January-17, 15:49, said:

Afterwards the TD should decide whether it has influenced the play.

The TD should also decide whether the exposed card has influenced the bidding. It clearly did.
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#9 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 16:22

View Postlamford, on 2016-January-17, 16:02, said:

He did know that trumps would break 5-0, by examining his hand. He could have known that dropping the king of trumps, when North has shown the queen in the auction, could work to his advantage. He could have worked out that South was 4-3 on to have the nine of spades (on available spaces, as North has shown the queen of spades). He could have worked out that Six Spades would be heavily against the odds with trumps 5-0, but that South would bid it if he dropped the king of spades.
And he did all that working out the moment the tea pot hit his hand??? Or had he worked this out beforehand, assuming that N would show two key cards and the queen of trumps, and keeping his hand in such a position that the pot had to touch him? If you think that's the case, I put it to you that NS deliberately had such a slow auction that W had time to order the tea, burn his hand and work out that he, for some odd reason, should drop the king, seemingly by accident. Which of the two it is, the culprit is cheating, since he must have had prior knowledge of the hand.
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#10 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 16:28

View Postsanst, on 2016-January-17, 16:22, said:

And he did all that working out the moment the tea pot hit his hand??? Or had he worked this out beforehand, assuming that N would show two key cards and the queen of trumps, and keeping his hand in such a position that the pot had to touch him? If you think that's the case, I put it to you that NS deliberately had such a slow auction that W had time to order the tea, burn his hand and work out that he, for some odd reason, should drop the king, seemingly by accident. Which of the two it is, the culprit is cheating, since he must have had prior knowledge of the hand.

No, he was a cunning devious cheat and ordered the tea normally as one does. When he heard North show two key cards and the queen of trumps and saw South thinking, he was willing him to bid slam with trumps breaking 5-0. The tea arrived and he seized his chance as any opportunist fraudster might. He moved his right hand so that the wait-person would touch it with the teapot and then he dropped the king of spades. South took the bait, hook, line and sinker. West, of course, denies the offence, but we all know he is lying ...
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#11 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 17:01

View Postlamford, on 2016-January-17, 16:28, said:

No, he was a cunning devious cheat
That seems to be totally out of character for one of the weakest players of the club. Somebody that bad can't loose all the time.
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#12 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 17:07

View Postblackshoe, on 2016-January-17, 14:14, said:

I would give SB a disciplinary, rather than a procedural penalty, because his antics are disruptive to the game. I would make it clear to him that a second offense will result in a larger penalty, and a third will result in his suspension from playing in the club for at least 30 days. Also if, after he returns, there is another such offense, he will be asked to find another club.
May I suggest that Lamford sends SB on a behavioural course, so that he in the future first calls for the director quietly and then to the TD explains why he thinks that he has been damaged by his opponents without making accusations and refraining from aggressively ranting or shouting. The North London Club could only gain by that.
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#13 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 17:38

View Postsanst, on 2016-January-17, 17:07, said:

May I suggest that Lamford sends SB on a behavioural course, so that he in the future first calls for the director quietly and then to the TD explains why he thinks that he has been damaged by his opponents without making accusations and refraining from aggressively ranting or shouting. The North London Club could only gain by that.

He has had around 1 DP a month, and has been suspended twice for one month each time; but he continues to behave much the same on his return.
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#14 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 17:39

View Postsanst, on 2016-January-17, 17:01, said:

That seems to be totally out of character for one of the weakest players of the club. Somebody that bad can't loose all the time.

Indeed, but the "could have been aware" part of L23 assumes he is cunning devious cheat, even though you and I know that he is not.
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#15 User is online   barmar 

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Posted 2016-January-17, 21:04

IMHO, this is the stupidest SB hypo you' ve ever posted. A player who can't even execute a squeeze intentionally deliberately burns his hand just so he can perpetrate this incredible coup?

#16 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-18, 11:28

View Postbarmar, on 2016-January-17, 21:04, said:

IMHO, this is the stupidest SB hypo you' ve ever posted. A player who can't even execute a squeeze intentionally deliberately burns his hand just so he can perpetrate this incredible coup?

IMHO, this is the stupidest comment ever posted by a moderator. Nobody is arguing that RR deliberately touched the teapot and "burned his hand" is a bit of an overstatement for "touching the teapot with his hand". Law 23 only requires that "he could have been aware" that dropping the king of spades would work to his advantage. If there had been no teapot (and it should be irrelevant), and he had just dropped it clumsily, how would you rule?
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#17 User is online   barmar 

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Posted 2016-January-18, 11:39

View Postlamford, on 2016-January-18, 11:28, said:

IMHO, this is the stupidest comment ever posted by a moderator. Nobody is arguing that RR deliberately touched the teapot and "burned his hand" is a bit of an overstatement for "touching the teapot with his hand". Law 23 only requires that "he could have been aware" that dropping the king of clubs would work to his advantage. If there had been no teapot (and it should be irrelevant), and he had just dropped it clumsily, how would you rule?

Well, I would never consider applying the "could have been aware" law to any accidental action. The fact that this one was triggered by an outside agent makes it even less applicable.

As I've said in other threads, I think "could have been aware" means that the player could reasonably have predicted the favorable results of the irregularity, not that it could be advantageous by any stretch of the imagination. There's just no way that an accident, where you can't even predict which card would be dropped, rises to this level of expectation. Any other interpretation makes the qualification meaningless, which implies that any irregularity that results in a gain must automatically be punished.

#18 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2016-January-18, 18:12

View Postbarmar, on 2016-January-18, 11:39, said:

As I've said in other threads, I think "could have been aware" means that the player could reasonably have predicted the favorable results of the irregularity, not that it could be advantageous by any stretch of the imagination. There's just no way that an accident, where you can't even predict which card would be dropped, rises to this level of expectation. Any other interpretation makes the qualification meaningless, which implies that any irregularity that results in a gain must automatically be punished.

You are missing the point. The irregularity is exposing the king of spades, not touching the teapot. It is clear that anyone could have been aware that exposing the king of spades could cause declarer to bid Six Spades and run into a 5-0 break. Even RR.
'When I write a Law,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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#19 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2016-January-18, 19:16

View Postlamford, on 2016-January-18, 18:12, said:

It is clear that anyone could have been aware that exposing the king of spades could cause declarer to bid Six Spades and run into a 5-0 break. Even RR.

Is it? Explain your logic, please.
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#20 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2016-January-19, 05:12

View Postlamford, on 2016-January-17, 16:02, said:

He did know that trumps would break 5-0, by examining his hand. He could have known that dropping the king of trumps, when North has shown the queen in the auction, could work to his advantage, by persuading South to bid a slam. He could have worked out that South was 4-3 on to have the nine of spades (on available spaces, as North has shown the queen of spades). He could have worked out that Six Spades would be heavily against the odds with trumps 5-0, but that South would bid it if he dropped the king of spades.

The test in these cases is not whether the TD thinks that West might have dropped the king of spades deliberately. The ONLY test is whether he could have been aware that it might work to his advantage. If I wanted to cheat, I might try the same ruse, knowing that trumps were 5-0, and I would order something hot, ideally tea without milk or in a teapot. And it is easy enough to accidentally touch the teapot without someone suspecting subterfuge.


Your odds are out, using empty spaces. N has 11-15 S has more, so the odds of S having the A (and J) balancing it out and making leading the K fatal (Q97x/AJxx for example) are improved, but I think this whole argument is really tenuous. I understand the point you're making, but this is not a good example as the K lead carries too much risk.

If you're going to take any action, it should be to rule the board unplayable which I guess is what you'd do if an errant child came up behind the player, grabbed the K and threw it on the table.
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