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Trick One BIT ChCh on the ball

#1 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2019-August-28, 19:14


Matchpoints. Lead A. Table result 4-1

This board caused some annoyance at the North London Club this week. West, ChCh led the ace of diamonds against 4 and SB, South, took his standard ten seconds to plan the play before calling for a low diamond from dummy. East, RR, who had been writing down the contract, took another five seconds to play the nine of diamonds, as he thought it was a count situation when the king was in dummy. West, ChCh, could sense from the tempo that there was no diamond ruff, and switched to the eight of spades, guessing that East's nine of diamonds was suit preference, with nothing much to go on. RR won perforce with the queen of spades, and cashed the ace. South dropped the jack, and RR stopped to think, but eventually gambled that South had the missing spade and gave his partner a spade ruff.

"DIRECTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR", bellowed SB. "RR hesitated at trick one in a tempo-sensitive situation after I spent ten seconds before playing from dummy." He paused for breath. "It was clear to the passing waiter that East had a doubleton diamond, and ChCh picked up on this and had an unsuccessful LA of continuing with a second diamond."

How do you rule?
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#2 User is offline   broze 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 03:07

This one seems very simple so I feel I may be missing the point.

If East played immediately after writing down the contract then there is no UI (as he would do the same with the singleton) so result stands. If he took some time to play after writing the contract and after declarer's ten second pause then there clearly is UI so rule making.
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#3 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 05:36

View Postbroze, on 2019-August-29, 03:07, said:

This one seems very simple so I feel I may be missing the point.

If East played immediately after writing down the contract then there is no UI (as he would do the same with the singleton) so result stands. If he took some time to play after writing the contract and after declarer's ten second pause then there clearly is UI so rule making.


Not sure, I thought you could take as long as you liked at trick 1 anyway (or has that changed recently ?)
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#4 User is offline   broze 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 06:02

View PostCyberyeti, on 2019-August-29, 05:36, said:

Not sure, I thought you could take as long as you liked at trick 1 anyway (or has that changed recently ?)


AFAIK there's nothing about that in the laws (but maybe in some local regs?) I have long been an advocate for a mandatory 10 second pause for declarer at trick one which would completely resolve rulings like this one. Until that's in place I suppose we have to rely on what East's usual tempo with a singleton would be. Absent any other information I would assume that close to 100% of Easts would play a singleton immediately after a ten second pause by declarer so that's the basis I would rule against him.

There's incomplete info in the OP. Did East and West agree that East paused? Do they assert that he usually takes 15 seconds at trick one with a singleton?
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#5 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 06:42

View Postbroze, on 2019-August-29, 06:02, said:

AFAIK there's nothing about that in the laws (but maybe in some local regs?) I have long been an advocate for a mandatory 10 second pause for declarer at trick one which would completely resolve rulings like this one. Until that's in place I suppose we have to rely on what East's usual tempo with a singleton would be. Absent any other information I would assume that close to 100% of Easts would play a singleton immediately after a ten second pause by declarer so that's the basis I would rule against him.

There's incomplete info in the OP. Did East and West agree that East paused? Do they assert that he usually takes 15 seconds at trick one with a singleton?

SB does carefully avoid playing quickly at trick one (so no that does not resolve this issue), and always takes ten seconds (or longer if there is a difficult decision at trick one). The length of time RR takes at trick one as defender depends often on whether he can remember what the contract is (here the auction was short, so he got there quite quickly) when he comes to write it down. I suspect that this was an average length for RR - he has to work out what the contract is, which suit is led, and which card to play. The problem is that he wastes ten of the 15 seconds he normally takes in working out and writing down the contract. RR is most ethical, but ChCh is pretty good at picking up whether his BIT is because he has a doubleton or because he is taking his normal time at trick one.

And all the facts were agreed.
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#6 User is offline   broze 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 07:08

View Postlamford, on 2019-August-29, 06:42, said:

SB does carefully avoid playing quickly at trick one (so not that does not resolve this issue), and always takes ten seconds (or longer if there is a difficult decision at trick one). The length of time RR takes at trick one as defender depends often on whether he can remember what the contract is (here the auction was short, so he got there quite quickly) when he comes to write it down. I suspect that this was an average length for RR - he has to work out what the contract is, which suit is led, and which card to play. The problem is that he wastes ten of the 15 seconds he normally takes in working out and writing down the contract. RR is most ethical, but ChCh is pretty good at picking up whether his BIT is because he has a doubleton or because he is taking his normal time at trick one.

And all the facts were agreed.


I did not say always taking 10 seconds to play would solve the issue, but legislating on it would. I should expand (so apologies for slight derail): the change I am looking for is that declarer must take 10s at trick one (if he takes less time, then any BITs by third hand are AI). If he takes the necessary 10s then any further time taken by third hand is UI to his partner, the opening leader. This makes this ruling easy as it's a basic UI ruling and an easy adjustment.

Moving on to the OP scenario. Taking your comment into account - that RR takes the same amount of time with a singleton - it therefore appears that actually the UI has nothing to do with the length of the BIT. You agree? (Although, as a IRL TD I would have a hard time believing that anyone would ordinarily take more than 15 seconds to play a singleton to trick one). Assuming I did accept that this was RR's normal tempo, I would ask SB whether there was anything besides the tempo that he thought gave away the doubleton. If not, then result stands. If there is, and ChCh agrees it then rule contract making. If Sb says there is, and ChCh disputes it, ask him why he switched to a spade then take a view depending on the quality of his answer.
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#7 User is offline   VixTD 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 07:47

View Postbroze, on 2019-August-29, 07:08, said:

(...as a IRL TD I would have a hard time believing that anyone would ordinarily take more than 15 seconds to play a singleton to trick one).

Isn't this the crux of the problem? They aren't taking more than fifteen seconds to play a singleton at trick one, they're taking more than fifteen seconds to assimilate the information from seeing the opening lead and dummy's cards, and to plan the defence of the hand. Once they've done that, they play a card to the first trick, whether it's a singleton, a choice of cards from several, a discard or a ruff. Declarer should not be able to assume that the pause indicates that there was a significant choice of cards to play to that trick.

Of course, this presumes some measure of consistent behaviour on the part of declarer and their RHO. A lot of defenders feel they have to play quickly for fear of being accused of misleading declarer, giving UI to partner, or just "slowing the game down". I do wish there was more general acceptance of the need to think at trick one.

Compulsory pauses by declarer are an oft-cited solution, but the White Book refers to "the freedom for third hand to think about the deal generally at trick one", and forcing third hand to follow declarer's tempo is not what I consider to be "freedom". What if I need more than ten or fifteen seconds?

I would rule that the score stands in this case unless SB can establish to the director's satisfaction that RR's habits are really likely to convey information about his holding in the suit to ChCh.
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#8 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 08:27

View Postlamford, on 2019-August-28, 19:14, said:

["DIRECTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR", bellowed SB. "RR hesitated at trick one in a tempo-sensitive situation after I spent ten seconds before playing from dummy." He paused for breath. "It was clear to the passing waiter that East had a doubleton diamond, and ChCh picked up on this and had an unsuccessful LA of continuing with a second diamond."

How do you rule?

Whether it's a tempo-sensitive situation isn't up to SB.

"Clear to the passing waiter" is bullshit.

Whether leading a second diamond is a LA is not up to SB.

At what point did RR finish writing in his score card, relative to SB's so-precise "ten seconds"?
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#9 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 08:58

View Postblackshoe, on 2019-August-29, 08:27, said:

Whether it's a tempo-sensitive situation isn't up to SB.

"Clear to the passing waiter" is bullshit.

Whether leading a second diamond is a LA is not up to SB.

At what point did RR finish writing in his score card, relative to SB's so-precise "ten seconds"?

We do not have CCTV at the North London Club, but we can estimate. When RR writes a contract, including the opposing pair number and declarer, and including establishing on which ear he previously placed his pen, he takes about 10 seconds, let us say the same amount of time that SB "thought" at trick one. He normally takes up to five seconds thereafter to play, mainly because he has to collect his thoughts, such as they are.

SB is quite entitled to make points for the TD to consider. The fact that he did so in his usual boorish way should not count against him.
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#10 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 09:01

View PostVixTD, on 2019-August-29, 07:47, said:

Declarer should not be able to assume that the pause indicates that there was a significant choice of cards to play to that trick.

But equally the defender must not be allowed to assume that the pause indicates that there was a significant choice of cards to play to that trick.
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#11 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 09:20

View Postlamford, on 2019-August-29, 08:58, said:

SB is quite entitled to make points for the TD to consider. The fact that he did so in his usual boorish way should not count against him.

Addressing the Director in a manner discourteous to him or to other contestants is a "should not" offence under Law 74.

I'm also surprised that some TDs here are prepared to cut so much rope for East busy using memory aids and paying insufficient attention to the game.
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#12 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 09:31

View Postlamford, on 2019-August-29, 08:58, said:

SB is quite entitled to make points for the TD to consider. The fact that he did so in his usual boorish way should not count against him.

He shouldn't be ruled against because of his demeanor, but he could still get a PP for violating proprieties.

#13 User is offline   VixTD 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 11:54

View Postlamford, on 2019-August-29, 09:01, said:

But equally the defender must not be allowed to assume that the pause indicates that there was a significant choice of cards to play to that trick.

Yes, indeed, and if all players paused for thought at trick one they wouldn't be able to.

In a lot of the club games in which I play I am almost the only player who pauses after a jump bid (STOP cards are generally flashed briefly and returned immediately to the box), and the only player who pauses routinely at trick one. I'm out of line with everyone else, yet I'm the one who's following proper procedure. Sometimes declarers and partners read something into this that they shouldn't (partners are usually trying to avoid any undue advantage) and the director is called. I then find myself (quite unfairly) having to defend myself for my normal behaviour. If I'm called to rule on a hesitation problem in the auction at another table I will be sceptical if a player claims they were just observing the STOP procedure when I know full well they normally ignore it. I'll be equally suspicious of claims that "I can think as long as I like at trick one!" if I know they often don't.

Here the Rabbit is following normal expected procedure by taking a few seconds to think at trick one (even if his thinking is not very effective). To rule against him I'd need evidence that he doesn't do this consistently and that Charlie can read something into his tempo. If the TD thinks they have sufficient evidence then they should so rule.

I think the solution could be to have a compulsory pause at trick one. It needn't be a fixed length, just long enough to allow the players time to think about something. No one else will know whether it's the choice of card to this trick, the whole plan of the play, or a combination of the two that they're considering. Of course there's still potential for villains to play singletons in five seconds, from a small doubleton in eight, from holdings with an honour in ten, or whatever, but opportunities for cheating in this way are available elsewhere too. We're trying to cut down the inadvertent use of unauthorized information.
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#14 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 12:17

View Postpescetom, on 2019-August-29, 09:20, said:

Addressing the Director in a manner discourteous to him or to other contestants is a "should not" offence under Law 74.

I'm also surprised that some TDs here are prepared to cut so much rope for East busy using memory aids and paying insufficient attention to the game.

As SB has quoted verbatim from the introduction to the Laws many times: “should” (failure to do it is an infraction jeopardising the infractor’s rights but not often penalised). And there is case law that writing down the contract is not a memory aid. The player, in this case RR, can ask at any point in the play what the contract is and whether it was doubled, but not by whom!
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#15 User is online   Vampyr 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 13:06

View PostVixTD, on 2019-August-29, 11:54, said:

Yes, indeed, and if all players paused for thought at trick one they wouldn't be able to.

In a lot of the club games in which I play I am almost the only player who pauses after a jump bid (STOP cards are generally flashed briefly and returned immediately to the box), and the only player who pauses routinely at trick one. I'm out of line with everyone else, yet I'm the one who's following proper procedure. Sometimes declarers and partners read something into this that they shouldn't (partners are usually trying to avoid any undue advantage) and the director is called. I then find myself (quite unfairly) having to defend myself for my normal behaviour.


I think that the Stop card regulation could be improved. If a player does not follow correct procedure, then his LHO (who may have something to think about) should not be expected to take upon herself the onus of estimating ten seconds. I feel that if the Stop card is not displayed for a sufficient length of time LHO should be permitted and expected to bid when she chooses, whether that be 1 second or 10 or 30 with no implication of UI (or MI).
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#16 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 15:09

View Postlamford, on 2019-August-29, 08:58, said:

SB is quite entitled to make points for the TD to consider. The fact that he did so in his usual boorish way should not count against him.

Not so sure about that. IAC, if RR took his normal time to consider the defense and what to play on trick one, there was no BIT, no infraction, and no reason to adjust the score.
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#17 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 15:21

View PostVampyr, on 2019-August-29, 13:06, said:

I think that the Stop card regulation could be improved. If a player does not follow correct procedure, then his LHO (who may have something to think about) should not be expected to take upon herself the onus of estimating ten seconds. I feel that if the Stop card is not displayed for a sufficient length of time LHO should be permitted and expected to bid when she chooses, whether that be 1 second or 10 or 30 with no implication of UI (or MI).

That is our Norwegian regulation and how we enforce it, except that we do not "appreciate" excessive delays beyond 10+ seconds.
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#18 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 15:33

View Postlamford, on 2019-August-29, 12:17, said:

And there is case law that writing down the contract is not a memory aid.

Interesting. Of course one has a right to ask the contract anyway. But did they also decide that writing down the lead, or dummy's hand, is not a memory aid? If not, is TD supposed to inspect their scribbles?
I suspect that case law here in Italy was that you should not be writing anything, because nobody would ever dream of doing so once the opening lead is faced.
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#19 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 16:32

View Postpescetom, on 2019-August-29, 15:33, said:

Interesting. Of course one has a right to ask the contract anyway. But did they also decide that writing down the lead, or dummy's hand, is not a memory aid? If not, is TD supposed to inspect their scribbles?
I suspect that case law here in Italy was that you should not be writing anything, because nobody would ever dream of doing so once the opening lead is faced.

I think writing down the lead is a memory aid, and certainly writing down dummy or the auction would be. I have found sometimes that North has looked at the opening lead during the play to enter in the Bridgemate (sometimes while an opponent is thinking), and I think this is wrong, but it seems churlish to object and SB does not. I think that one should not be allowed to write down the contract until the end of the hand, but the laws seem silent on it.
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#20 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2019-August-29, 16:36

View Postblackshoe, on 2019-August-29, 15:09, said:

if RR took his normal time to consider the defense and what to play on trick one, there was no BIT, no infraction, and no reason to adjust the score.

The relevant issue is whether RR would play more quickly with a singleton, or with less apparent consideration of which card to play. On average he will only have a singleton less than 10% of the time, so normal might be to take five seconds, but with a singleton he might take two or three.
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