Oct - Dec 2018

Query received from Natie Hirscovitz on 30 Sep

Natie was playing in 4 and claimed the last 4 tricks as declarer with K-8-5-3 trumps in hand. He had forgotten that there was a trump outstanding, the 7. Left hand opponent was on play and demanded one trick since Natie did not say "drawing". DIRECTOR!

Natie asks what the law is in this regard.


There is provision in the Laws for a penalty of one trick, but fortunately it will not apply here. There are three conditions that have to be met for the 1-trick penalty to be enforced. Law 70 states:

C. There Is an Outstanding Trump
When a trump remains in one of the opponents’ hands, the Director shall award a trick or tricks to the opponents if:
1. claimer made no statement about that trump, and
2. it is at all likely that claimer at the time of his claim was unaware that a trump remained in an opponent’s hand, and
3. a trick could be lost to that trump by any normal* play.

For the purposes of Laws 70 and 71, “normal” includes play that would be careless or inferior for the class of player involved.

Whilst laws 70C1 and 70C2 are satisfied, 70C3 was not. Since LHO has to play, declarer will win and the normal way to play the outstanding trumps are from top-down. Thus, no 1-trick penalty applies to you. Lucky this time!

Query from Brenda Elkabir

Please could you let me know if someone doubles a contract are they obliged to leave out the double card?


No, not OBLIGED. But it is fast becoming standard practice. Always state your club in future please.

It transpires that Brenda plays at Helen's club on Tuesday mornings.

Now, the Local Rules apply:   A club can have their own rules in place, e.g. no psyching, sorting cards into suits at end of play, leaving the double card out during play, etc. The WBF Laws do not take precedence over local club rules. However, the opposite is true.

Happened at The Links 6th Oct - the bidding proceeded:

P    P    P   2H    strong 2's
P   2NT   P   3H    2NT explained as "values"
P   4H    P    ?

Now while the player is busy pinching the 4NT bid in the box, partner exclaims: "My 2NT is weakness and not values!" and bidder now changes her bid to PASS. The opponents are agrieved as 6H can go -1 on the spade ace lead and a ruff.

I was called to the table, the circumstances described to me and I said "play on, call me back if there was damage." I warned the player that an outburst during the bidding is an automatic quarter-top discipline penalty in any case.

I was called back to the table 2 minutes later. Declarer made 4H+2 on a non-spade lead. How to rule? I asked them to score it as 4H+2 and that I would deliberate.

I took a poll among 3 players and my co-td and they all said that will explore slam with 4NT. Of course, in the poll I said 2NT was "values". Now I can formulate a weighted score based on: will they get to 6H after 1-ace response?; will the SA be led (as this is the only way to beat 6H) and continued when partner gives the S4; Else 6H makes! Then there is quarter-top penalty. Since this was the last round and everyone was waiting for their scores I had to act quickly. I assigned Ave-/Ave+.

Speaking out loudly to your partner during the auction is running foul of Law 16: Unauthorised Information, and is considered a serious infraction.

Law 16B. Extraneous Information from Partner
1. Any extraneous information from partner that might suggest a call or play is unauthorized. This includes remarks, questions, replies to questions, unexpected alerts or failures to alert, unmistakable hesitation, unwonted speed, special emphasis, tone, gesture, movement or mannerism.

Happened at The Links 6th Oct

The bidding proceeded -
1C*   -   2C overcall. The 1C was alerted as "Precision, 16+" the 2C was not. At the end of play, it transpires that the 2C was supposed to be explained as 5-5 in the reds. DIRECTOR! Declarer went -2 in 4S, but the TD had to consider:

How could the bidding have gone with the alert? ; would they still bid to 4S? ; could declarer save a trick(s) knowing lefty was 5-5 in the reds? etc.

SABF laws dictate that a 2-suiter misbid as well as misinformation (wrong explanation or non-alert) are both penalizable. All things considered and after consultation with my co-td we decided to assign 4S-1 instead of 4S-2. 4S-1 gave a 85% score, as many were in 4S-2.

Reminder: Address your query to: forum [at] sabf.co.za