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Differing Explanations Is the White Book White?

#1 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 06:09


National team event with screens. Lead 6; Table Result 3NT=

North explains 2C to East as 5-card stayman, South to West as normal Stayman. 2D is explained by North to East as showing a 5-card major. South does not alert it. North then explains 3H to East as to play in 4H if that is South's suit. It is now explained by South as Smolen, showing 4 hearts and 5 spades.

The relevant part of the referee ruling, and I have the full text, leaving the table result unchanged, was:

North/South’s system notes are clear that their methods are as described by North to East, and this is the information that West is entitled to when deciding on his lead. West is not entitled to know that the opposition have had a misunderstanding (White Book 8.21.2). On that basis (the systemic meaning is that South has shown five spades), West would not have led a spade, and therefore there is no damage. There was also no damage arising from East/West being at cross-purposes due to different explanations on the two sides of the screen.

There was a fine of 1VP to NS for not completing the convention card correctly (the actual methods were only in the system notes) but I wonder if the White Book is correct on this subject. West is indeed entitled to the knowledge that the systemic meaning of 2D is showing a five-card major, and that 3NT systemically denies that it is hearts. However the answer to any questions, or the volunteering of information under 20F1 is clearly AI, and West can make use of that in deciding his opening lead. The principle should be, and here I think the White Book is wrong, that the player can use the answers he gets at the table, but he also has a properly completed convention card to consult. If the convention card had been completed correctly, it would have been blindingly obvious, even for RR, that a spade lead was going to be successful. What the White Book does, by offering the opinion (completely absent in the Laws) that you are not entitled to know that your opponents are having a misunderstanding, is to discourage completely filled in CCs.

The referee writes:
The only way West would find a spade lead is if he had partial MI – knowing what each player had. Without screens, he might have been able to deduce this (at his own risk) from the timing of the explanations, but this is not information to which he is entitled, and it is not available with screens.

I dissent, as they say in the Court of Appeal. Another way West would find a spade lead would be if NS had a correctly completed convention card and he received the same information as he did at the table but saw that there was a different explanation on the convention card. And he could then indeed have his cake and eat it. If he believed the explanation he was given and it was wrong, he would get redress. If he believed the information on the convention card and it was wrong, he would get redress. The moral is to complete the CC correctly and give correct explanations!
I prefer to give the lawmakers credit for stating things for a reason. - barmar
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#2 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 09:06

Did West actually check for this on the CC? If not, you're assuming that he would have done so to verify the answer he got, and would have discovered the discrepancy.

I'm not sure how this makes the spade lead blindingly obvious. Yes, he knows that his partner has at least 5 spades, but he has a 5-card club suit and an entry in hearts. If East has 5 spades without a side entry, declarer ducks twice and the spades become worthless.

#3 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 10:31

View Postbarmar, on 2018-October-31, 09:06, said:

Did West actually check for this on the CC? If not, you're assuming that he would have done so to verify the answer he got, and would have discovered the discrepancy.

I'm not sure how this makes the spade lead blindingly obvious. Yes, he knows that his partner has at least 5 spades, but he has a 5-card club suit and an entry in hearts. If East has 5 spades without a side entry, declarer ducks twice and the spades become worthless.

West did look at the convention card before leading but it had very little. An astute West, or even one brain-dead, might reason as follows:
a) South has explained North's 3H as Smolen, showing 5 spades and four hearts. That is AI. South bid 3NT therefore he has only 2 spades. That is AI.
b) The convention card is deemed to show that 2C was 5-card Stayman, 2D shows a five-card suit and 3H offers to play in game in hearts if South has five hearts. That is AI.
c) North did not correct 3NT to Four Spades, which he would do with three spades. That is AI. Therefore partner has six spades and a spade lead is obvious.

Given that the opponents only have four spades between them, a club lead is ridiculous, especially as it would be appalling on a blind auction of 1NT-3NT. I suggest that someone buys you a copy of Bird and Anthias for Xmas.
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#4 User is online   weejonnie 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 10:34

View Postbarmar, on 2018-October-31, 09:06, said:

Did West actually check for this on the CC? If not, you're assuming that he would have done so to verify the answer he got, and would have discovered the discrepancy.

I'm not sure how this makes the spade lead blindingly obvious. Yes, he knows that his partner has at least 5 spades, but he has a 5-card club suit and an entry in hearts. If East has 5 spades without a side entry, declarer ducks twice and the spades become worthless.

I don't think that the spade lead has to be 'blindingly obvious' - all that has to be decided is whether West would be more likely to lead a spade given the 'incorrect' information. If he is then we do a weighted score e.g. 50% 3NT -n off and 50% 3NT making.

Obviously I am not going to second-guess a referee at such an event, however I presume the argument is that if West was apprised of the partnership agreement (Law 20 IIRC) as he is entitled to be, then he can make use of the answers to the questions he has asked (at his own risk) to decide if there is MI. NB He cannot ask South questions once he gets the first inclination that there may be a misunderstanding as this is now specifically forbidden.
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#5 User is offline   HardVector 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 10:40

The only part of this I disagree with, is the idea that EW are not entitled to know that NS have had a misunderstanding, I think that IS authorized information. That's just my personal opinion, not based on any law or anything. If the law stipulates that the opposition is denied the information that NS are off track, I'd have to say the law is wrong.
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#6 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 10:55

View PostHardVector, on 2018-October-31, 10:40, said:

The only part of this I disagree with, is the idea that EW are not entitled to know that NS have had a misunderstanding, I think that IS authorized information. That's just my personal opinion, not based on any law or anything. If the law stipulates that the opposition is denied the information that NS are off track, I'd have to say the law is wrong.


As others have noted, I don't see where the law does stipulate this.
EBU stipulates it as I understand.
Law 20 G.3 concedes that the RA may regulate about access to a player's own CC, from which I would infer that there is no concession to regulate about other aspects of Incorrect Procedure.
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#7 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 14:08

West was misinformed and is entitled to know the NS agreements. A good CC would have made clear to W that S made a mistake and brought to daylight the misunderstanding.
You’re entitled to know that you received MI, and if you’re a defender, you should be told after the final pass (Law 20F5b(ii)). I don’t see how a RA can decide that you’re not entitled to know this. You’re misinformed, you’re informed that you were, what other conclusion is possible then that there was a misunderstanding?
When playing with screens the partner of the misinformer can’t know about the MI, so the TD has to award an AS if the defenders are damaged (Laws 20F6 and 47E). I don’t think that the TD was right in this case.
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#8 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 14:21

View Postpescetom, on 2018-October-31, 10:55, said:

As others have noted, I don't see where the law does stipulate this.
EBU stipulates it as I understand.
Law 20 G.3 concedes that the RA may regulate about access to a player's own CC, from which I would infer that there is no concession to regulate about other aspects of Incorrect Procedure.

The section of the White Book quoted by the referee was:
8.21.2 Misunderstandings
Players often have a misunderstanding over their system, including giving misinformation to opponents. When a TD adjusts because of the misinformation they will consider what opponents would do if correctly informed, but the TD will not normally assume the opponents also know that there is a misunderstanding.

If the answer to the original question was AI, as I think everyone agrees that it is, and the convention card says something different, and that is clearly AI as the laws provide, then whatever the White Book says those two pieces of information are AI, and if the only logical conclusion, as here, is that the opponents each have two spades, then that is authorised, and if this conclusion would have been reached if the CC had been completed in full, then I think an adjusted score is in order.

For what it is worth, I think the opponents ARE allowed to find out which of the CC and explanation is correct, by asking a limited number of supplementary questions, and I don't think the law prevents it in any way. The White Book just appears to be "wrong in law" as they say.
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#9 User is online   weejonnie 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 15:21

View Postlamford, on 2018-October-31, 14:21, said:

The section of the White Book quoted by the referee was:
8.21.2 Misunderstandings
Players often have a misunderstanding over their system, including giving misinformation to opponents. When a TD adjusts because of the misinformation they will consider what opponents would do if correctly informed, but the TD will not normally assume the opponents also know that there is a misunderstanding.

If the answer to the original question was AI, as I think everyone agrees that it is, and the convention card says something different, and that is clearly AI as the laws provide, then whatever the White Book says those two pieces of information are AI, and if the only logical conclusion, as here, is that the opponents each have two spades, then that is authorised, and if this conclusion would have been reached if the CC had been completed in full, then I think an adjusted score is in order.

For what it is worth, I think the opponents ARE allowed to find out which of the CC and explanation is correct, by asking a limited number of supplementary questions, and I don't think the law prevents it in any way. The White Book just appears to be "wrong in law" as they say.


It's slightly obscure - the law (20G) says "2. A player may not ask a question if his sole purpose is to elicit an incorrect response from an opponent." Once you know that there is a partnership misunderstanding then asking a question whose sole purpose is to find out what the opponent thinks is happening i.e. elicit an incorrect response, seems to be forbidden.
The hardest director decisions inevitably are caused by the first failure to call at the appropriate time.
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#10 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 16:28

View Postweejonnie, on 2018-October-31, 15:21, said:

It's slightly obscure - the law (20G) says "2. A player may not ask a question if his sole purpose is to elicit an incorrect response from an opponent." Once you know that there is a partnership misunderstanding then asking a question whose sole purpose is to find out what the opponent thinks is happening i.e. elicit an incorrect response, seems to be forbidden.

It says sole purpose, so is not obscure in the slightest. The purpose of any supplementary question is to find out what are the actual methods of the partnership. You can then conclude whether the person bid according to them during the auction. In this case you would know with almost certainty that the spades are 2-2 and that a spade lead is called for.
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#11 User is online   weejonnie 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 18:00

View Postlamford, on 2018-October-31, 16:28, said:

It says sole purpose, so is not obscure in the slightest. The purpose of any supplementary question is to find out what are the actual methods of the partnership. You can then conclude whether the person bid according to them during the auction. In this case you would know with almost certainty that the spades are 2-2 and that a spade lead is called for.

But if a player has given you misinformation then it is going to be impossible to find out the methods of the partnership by asking him. If you know he has given you misinformation then I can think of no other reason for the asking.

I have wondered how this law could ever be applied - and I think that this is the circumstance for it.
The hardest director decisions inevitably are caused by the first failure to call at the appropriate time.
"Funny hand: both sides can make 4 hearts - VM"
No one ever becomes a TD because of the money. They do it because they want to help bridge flourish in their club, region or nation.
Getting rid of one rude player might result in the arrival of four pleasant ones.
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#12 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2018-October-31, 18:32

View Postweejonnie, on 2018-October-31, 18:00, said:

But if a player has given you misinformation then it is going to be impossible to find out the methods of the partnership by asking him.

You are asking in order to find out South's opinion of the partnership methods. Surely you are entitled to know this, as it dictates why South chose the calls he did. The original 2C is just explained as Stayman, or more likely a gentle wave of the alert card. If you ask about the 3H bid, at the end of the auction of course, and before the opening lead, you will be told "Smolen, 4H and 5S", which is not right, but your purpose in asking is solely to establish what South thought 3H was, not solely to get a wrong answer! In this example, however, South volunteered that 3H was Smolen, so Law 20G is irrelevant. In the OP I wrote "it is now explained as" rather than "in response to a question it is now explained as", which I would have written if West had asked there.

And 20G is circumvented trivially by not looking at the CC until after asking the questions. Most ChChs do that.

A correspondent has pointed out White Book 2.8.3.4.e:

"If an incorrect or incomplete card causes damage at the table, the TD should usually give a PP as well as an adjustment on the board if the pair concerned are known to be a regular partnership. If the TD announced at the start of the event that two system cards were compulsory, this may be considered to be the warning" (my emphasis). And I should clarify that I do not play in the event in question, which is in a different RA to me for the event's purpose.

And I understand that an appeal to the National Authority has now been made, so further comment is inappropriate until that has been heard. Could the moderators please close this thread.
I prefer to give the lawmakers credit for stating things for a reason. - barmar
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#13 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2018-November-01, 14:18

Done. Thread closed. Let me know when the appeal has been heard, and I'll reopen it.
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#14 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2018-November-06, 10:36

I'm told the appeal has been withdrawn, so the thread is now open again.
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#15 User is offline   jallerton 

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Posted 2018-November-08, 16:30

View Postlamford, on 2018-October-31, 06:09, said:

I dissent, as they say in the Court of Appeal. Another way West would find a spade lead would be if NS had a correctly completed convention card and he received the same information as he did at the table but saw that there was a different explanation on the convention card. And he could then indeed have his cake and eat it. If he believed the explanation he was given and it was wrong, he would get redress. If he believed the information on the convention card and it was wrong, he would get redress. The moral is to complete the CC correctly and give correct explanations!


The point you seem to be missing is that in practice the few players using screens who look at the opposing convention card (and find the relevant sequence there) do not waste time by asking theor screenmate to write out the meaning of the same sequence. [At least 90% of players using screens who want to know the meaning of a sequence ask for an explanation without attempting to find the sequence on the convention card.] So the misunderstanding would not come to light.

You can crticise the White Book as much as you like, but this particular "interpretation of Law" comes from the WBF Laws Committee:

WBFLC 2003 minutes said:

The committee considered the proposition that when there has been misinformation and a damaged side is to receive and adjusted score this should be assessed on the basis that the non-offending side is entitled to know the partnership understanding and to draw logical conclusions, given the information it received. The adjusted score, the Chairman suggested, should be assessed on the action likely to be taken by the non-offending side in the circumstances. It was observed that if given the correct information the partnership might or might not be aware that a misunderstanding had occurred, depending on the situation. There is, of course, the possibility of backing up the auction if declarer or dummy corrects an explanation as Law 75D requires (see also Law 21B).

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#16 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2018-November-11, 11:01

View Postjallerton, on 2018-November-08, 16:30, said:

WBFLC 2003 minutes said:
The committee considered the proposition that when there has been misinformation and a damaged side is to receive and adjusted score this should be assessed on the basis that the non-offending side is entitled to know the partnership understanding and to draw logical conclusions, given the information it received. The adjusted score, the Chairman suggested, should be assessed on the action likely to be taken by the non-offending side in the circumstances. It was observed that if given the correct information the partnership might or might not be aware that a misunderstanding had occurred, depending on the situation. <snip of irrelevant bit>

The section you quote seems to me, and it would appear to others on here, to reinforce the view that the score should have been adjusted, based on the above minute. The only logical conclusion, given the information he received or should have received, the player would draw from getting the right explanation is that the spades are 2-2. The actual explanation profferred by South, that his partner has shown five spades and four hearts, is AI. He is also entitled to the correct explanation of South's own bid that it shows five spades. The only logical conclusion is that North and South both have two spades.

I think, on this occasion, that you are missing the point. Which of the original explanation and the correct explanation do you not think is AI, and why cannot West use both to decide on his lead?
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