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How Many Diamonds? Infraction by Dummy

#1 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 10:43

IMPs; Lead Q. 1NT was 12-14.

The above hand caused some ill-feeling at a local club last night. Dummy commented when putting his hand down, "A bit of a punt, pard", and declarer, spacing out the diamonds which were a bit untidy, asked "how many of those do you have, six?" Dummy responded, "Seven; I am not that mad." Declarer won with the ace and played for the drop in diamonds successfully, and then claimed his contract exactly. East, the club's equivalent of the Secretary Bird, indicated that dummy had breached law 42A1:

1. Dummy is entitled to give information, in the Director’s presence, as to fact or law. <snip> in that he had confirmed a fact but not in the director's presence.

Without that breach, declarer might have thought there were six diamonds in dummy and finessed unsuccessfully and gone one down. He then argued that although only a PP is prescribed under Law 90, under 12A1 the director could award an adjusted score. He also thought dummy had participated in the play with his remark and had breached 43A1c. East was able to quote these laws by heart, which irritated the director and declarer as well.

How would you rule?
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#2 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 14:59

View Postlamford, on 2011-May-11, 10:43, said:

IMPs; Lead Q. 1NT was 12-14.

The above hand caused some ill-feeling at a local club last night. Dummy commented when putting his hand down, "A bit of a punt, pard", and declarer, spacing out the diamonds which were a bit untidy, asked "how many of those do you have, six?" Dummy responded, "Seven; I am not that mad." Declarer won with the ace and played for the drop in diamonds successfully, and then claimed his contract exactly. East, the club's equivalent of the Secretary Bird, indicated that dummy had breached law 42A1:

1. Dummy is entitled to give information, in the Director’s presence, as to fact or law. <snip> in that he had confirmed a fact but not in the director's presence.

Without that breach, declarer might have thought there were six diamonds in dummy and finessed unsuccessfully and gone one down. He then argued that although only a PP is prescribed under Law 90, under 12A1 the director could award an adjusted score. He also thought dummy had participated in the play with his remark and had breached 43A1c. East was able to quote these laws by heart, which irritated the director and declarer as well.

How would you rule?

I would say (to East or West as the case might be) something like: "Give me strength!" and let the table result stand.

Should the laws require Dummy to answer fairly polite questions like this from Declarer with rude answers like "look for yourself!"?
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#3 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 15:36

View Postpran, on 2011-May-11, 14:59, said:

I would say (to East or West as the case might be) something like: "Give me strength!" and let the table result stand.

Should the laws require Dummy to answer fairly polite questions like this from Declarer with rude answers like "look for yourself!"?


Here here. If dummy refused to answer as per the quoted law what would happen? Declarer would count the diamonds and without having to take off a shoe.
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#4 User is online   blackshoe 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 16:03

One wonders how this Secretary Bird would react if it were pointed out to him that he has left himself open to a procedural penalty for violation of Law 74A2. :ph34r:
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#5 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 16:07

View Postblackshoe, on 2011-May-11, 16:03, said:

One wonders how this Secretary Bird would react if it were pointed out to him that he has left himself open to a procedural penalty for violation of Law 74A2. :ph34r:

I considered that as well, but reserved it for a possible follow-up if needed ;)
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#6 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 16:07

Either answering or making a big deal of not answering is improper, because either might help declarer. Dummy should simply have ignored the question - it doesn't sound as though an answer was expected anyway.

It appears that declarer was about to discover for himself how many of the suit there were. Hence I would just tell dummy not to do it again, and perhaps also explain why answering such questions is not allowed.
... that would still not be conclusive proof, before someone wants to explain that to me as well as if I was a 5 year-old. - gwnn
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#7 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 16:12

View Postgnasher, on 2011-May-11, 16:07, said:

Either answering or making a big deal of not answering is improper, because either might help declarer. Dummy should simply have ignored the question - it doesn't sound as though an answer was expected anyway.

It appears that declarer was about to discover for himself how many of the suit there were. Hence I would just tell dummy not to do it again, and perhaps also explain why answering such questions is not allowed.

So how would you instruct Dummy to act if Declarer asks something like: "Is that the King or Jack you have there?"

Would it matter to you if Declarer had impaired sight, and in case under what specific law?

As I wrote in my first comment: "Give me strength!"
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#8 User is offline   Trinidad 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 17:27

Just continuing East's way of reasoning:

Even if declarer would have asked: "Can you please spread the diamonds?", dummy would not have been allowed to reply "Yes.". After all, that is information and the TD was not present.

Heck, he wouldn't even be allowed to spread the diamonds without an oral reply, since by doing so, he would give the information that he was able to spread them. Ushh.

And imagine that declarer would ask dummy whether he can get a cup of coffee...

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#9 User is offline   campboy 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 18:10

View Postpran, on 2011-May-11, 16:12, said:

Would it matter to you if Declarer had impaired sight, and in case under what specific law?

The accommodation of players with such impairments is dealt with in regulations (in the EBU, the White Book), not in the laws themselves. Certainly such a distinction is made in regulation.

Anyway, I see no damage here. I don't understand why the TD was irritated by East's knowledge of the laws -- though perhaps Lamford is suggesting that the TD did not know those laws himself :)
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#10 User is online   blackshoe 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 19:11

Perhaps the TD was irritated not by East's knowledge, but by his way of presenting it.

I would agree that the TD should not allow a player's knowledge of the laws to irritate him.
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#11 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 21:16

Assuming that declarer's eyes are OK, would the ruling still go the same way if
  • Dummy, with seven diamonds answered "Yes a bit risky -- only six" and declarer then took a successful finesse..
  • Dummy, with six diamonds answered " I'm not mad -- seven" and declarer dropped doubleton queen offside.
IMO these answers (like the original answer) may influence declarer's play. Anyway, If the secretary bird appealed and the committee upheld the directors' decision, surely they must return the deposit?
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#12 User is offline   peachy 

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Posted 2011-May-11, 22:39

There is also Law 74B2. Declarer was counting the diamonds in dummy and was making a social remark, not really even asking a question, I think. In local club game, who cares. In more formal setting, just play the hand and be quiet...
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#13 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 01:52

View Postpran, on 2011-May-11, 16:12, said:

So how would you instruct Dummy to act if Declarer asks something like: "Is that the King or Jack you have there?"

Would it matter to you if Declarer had impaired sight, and in case under what specific law?

As I wrote in my first comment: "Give me strength!"


Declarer is entitled to know what dummy's cards are, and if he can't see them he's entitled to be told what they are. In those circumstances [edit: the circumstances in Sven's first paragraph], he should be told that they are K, 4, 7, 5, A, J, 10, 9, 8, 6, 4, 8 and 7.

Dummy is not allowed to help declarer with his analysis of the deal (Law 43 A1c). Counting the diamond suit is part of that analysis. If declarer lacks the ability to count the suit himself, he's not entitled to know how many of them there are.

Telling declarer how many diamonds he has is also a breach Law 74C4. The fact that dummy has seven diamonds is significant, isn't it? Especially if declarer thinks he has only six.

This post has been edited by gnasher: 2011-May-12, 04:00

... that would still not be conclusive proof, before someone wants to explain that to me as well as if I was a 5 year-old. - gwnn
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#14 User is offline   iviehoff 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 02:06

View Postpran, on 2011-May-11, 14:59, said:

Should the laws require Dummy to answer fairly polite questions like this from Declarer with rude answers like "look for yourself!"?

No. The laws require dummy to maintain a respectful silence, however insistent the questioning. In this case, the "question" can be treated as an extraneous remark and there is no disrespect in remaining silent. Dummy might of course wish discreetly to check that he has arranged the cards properly on the table. (If declarer is known to have a problem with his sight, then this is another issue.)

We recently had a thread where declarer asked "how many tricks have I lost", (Edit: see thread "interesting question" under "simple rulings") and it was quite clear that dummy must not reply. This is just the same.

This post has been edited by iviehoff: 2011-May-12, 02:11

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#15 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 02:16

View Postiviehoff, on 2011-May-12, 02:06, said:

No. The laws require dummy to maintain a respectful silence, however insistent the questioning. In this case, the "question" can be treated as an extraneous remark and there is no disrespect in remaining silent. Dummy might of course wish discreetly to check that he has arranged the cards properly on the table. (If declarer is known to have a problem with his sight, then this is another issue.)

We recently had a thread where declarer asked "how many tricks have I lost", and it was quite clear that dummy must not reply. This is just the same.

OP said:

The above hand caused some ill-feeling at a local club last night

Well, my best guess is that a club where players can expect such experience on their local sessions will soon begin to lose members (drifting to other clubs with a more friendly attitude).

And as Director I rate law 74 the most important law in the book.
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#16 User is offline   gordontd 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 02:35

View Postgnasher, on 2011-May-12, 01:52, said:

Declarer is entitled to know what dummy's cards are, and if he can't see them he's entitled to be told what they are. In those circumstances, he should be told that they are K, 4, 7, 5, A, J, 10, 9, 8, 6, 4, 8 and 7.

I'm sure this is right, but it's not entirely practical. I regularly direct games with a player whose eyesight is non-existent for the purposes of seeing dummy or the cards played by other players. He manages to keep up, but only just, as having the dummy described to him and all the played cards called slows things down a bit. If he wasn't allowed to have dummy described in shorthand it would slow things down further.

His regular partners would say something like "King one, two small, Ace Jack to seven, two small", and he would check by saying "that's a 2272 five-count with Ace Jack of diamonds?"
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#17 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 03:59

View Postgordontd, on 2011-May-12, 02:35, said:

I'm sure this is right, but it's not entirely practical. I regularly direct games with a player whose eyesight is non-existent for the purposes of seeing dummy or the cards played by other players. He manages to keep up, but only just, as having the dummy described to him and all the played cards called slows things down a bit. If he wasn't allowed to have dummy described in shorthand it would slow things down further.

His regular partners would say something like "King one, two small, Ace Jack to seven, two small", and he would check by saying "that's a 2272 five-count with Ace Jack of diamonds?"


Sure. By "in those circumstances" I was referring to Sven's first paragraph, not his second (sorry, I realise that wasn't clear). It would be wrong to apply the rules rigorously to a player with imperfect eyesight.

But this is some way from the situation Paul described, where a fully sighted declarer might have been in the process of miscounting the suit, and dummy's action had the effect of ensuring that he didn't.
... that would still not be conclusive proof, before someone wants to explain that to me as well as if I was a 5 year-old. - gwnn
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#18 User is offline   iviehoff 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 04:19

View Postpran, on 2011-May-12, 02:16, said:

Well, my best guess is that a club where players can expect such experience on their local sessions will soon begin to lose members (drifting to other clubs with a more friendly attitude).

And as Director I rate law 74 the most important law in the book.

And the best way to keep keep a friendly environment is to have zero tolerance of remarks that can lead ill-feeling, ie, enforce Law 74A2. Extraneous remarks which promote a friendly atmosphere are fine, but when they start to impinge on the play they can create ill-feeling, when there is a suspicion someone has benefited from one, or misled someone. This is precisely what happened here. If dummy had had the sense to treat the question as rhetorical, the risk of ill-feeling would have been greatly reduced. His reply was plainly illegal. Declarer's comment was arguably a breach of 74A2, he should learn to be more careful about making comments that might relate to the play.
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#19 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 08:06

View Postgnasher, on 2011-May-12, 03:59, said:

But this is some way from the situation Paul described, where a fully sighted declarer might have been in the process of miscounting the suit, and dummy's action had the effect of ensuring that he didn't.

Indeed this was the conclusion the TD came to, and he decided that half the time declarer would continue to miscount the suit and half the time he would play as he did, so he provided a weighted score. He imposed a 3 IMP penalty under Law 90 on North-South and no penalty on East - in his opinion any remark that is connected with a request for a ruling, provided it is made politely, can never attract a 74A2 penalty. For what it is worth, I think the TD decision was spot on and while "I disapprove of what SB said, I will defend to the death his right to say it."

And I presume a weighted score is permitted, and not Reveleyesque, here?
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#20 User is offline   dburn 

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Posted 2011-May-12, 08:59

Suppose that dummy had replied "eight". Declarer would cash the king of diamonds and, when both followed, claim ten tricks. How should the Director rule if the opponents objected to the claim?
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