header                Issue #16               November 2015

These pages are an attempt to inform bridge players of  the laws governing our game.  In particular, we will be looking at everyday situations where the TD is called.
These pages will be updated each month, so please come again!  

Always call the TD for any infringement, however minor -  do not take the law into your own hands.

Unauthorized Info (UI)

Incident 1

The Clarification Period

By coincidence this happened on the day before writing this article, so I decided to use the "fresh" input.

I was West in a pairs game at The Links. First the hands -

West    North    East    South
2NT*    Pass     3C      Pass                                   
3Sº     Pass     4S      All Pass
    Now the explanations -

  • 2NT was alerted and explained as the minors by East
  • 3C was selecting a minor and a willingness to play there
  • 3S was now explained as "spades and diamonds"
  • 4S was bid by East, albeit reluctantly.

After the final pass, I now for the first time entered the fray and offered an explanation.

After the last bid but before the initial lead is what is now known as "The Clarification Period". During this time misexplanations are corrected but only by declarer or dummy, not by defenders. The defenders state any misexplanations at the end of the hand, and the TD will gauge if prejudice ensued. The clarification period is also used to explain slam bids, i.e. key card asks and responses.

I offered the following explanation: "I would like to correct some errors in explanation. My 2NT overcall of the weak 2H bid was meant as a strong NT. I have to ignore partner's explanation as that is unauthorized to me and I thus treated 3C as the systematic stayman ask, to which I responded 3S. That is what my bids meant. You can call the TD afterwards if you feel you were prejudiced."

Our opponents, Ian Katz and Barbara Smith, thanked me for the explanation and they promptly proceeded to beat 4S by one trick. The TD was not called at the end of the hand. All was fine.

Incident 2

Playing in a Gauteng major pairs event I was called to a table. West dealer, all vul. The bidding with alerts:

West    North    East    South
2D      Pass     2NT     Pass
3D      Pass     3H      Pass
4H      All Pass
  • 2D was alerted as Multi with 5 possible meanings
  • 2NT was alerted by West as 20-22. He had forgotten he opened!
  • 3D is alerted as a minimum weak 2 in spades; West meant it as a transfer (!)
  • After a prolonged hesitation, East bids 3H
  • 4H is bid in a flash.


What ensued

I ascertained 3H was meant as a "mild slam try" and East explains that there is no bid in the system like 4H in response, so now she assumed that partner had a heart suit and passed. They played the hand out and made 4H+2 when many pairs were going down in 6H (N/S could have held them to 11 tricks). I was called back to the table at the end of the play.

Due to the time constraints of a pairs game, I ruled quickly. I applied Law 16 (UI) and Law 23, which allows a TD to adjust a score that was gained after an infraction - where the infraction contributed to the good score. I assigned Ave/Ave to both sides.

At the end of the session, East/West appealed! They felt that the 85% matchpoint score they earned making 4H+2 was legitimately obtained. After hearing all the facts, the Appeals Committee relayed their findings. Craig Gower said that if screens were in use, East would simply bid 4S after 3D. And that is where they would be playing. For -3.

The explanations were authorized for the opponents but not to partner. The AC felt that 3H was a catch-all bid giving 4H some legitimacy. The score was changed from Ave/Ave to 4S-3 by East, resulting in a bottom.

Law 16 extracts


A. Players' Use of Information
1. A player may use information in the auction or play if:

(a) it derives from the legal calls and plays of the current board (including illegal calls and plays that are accepted) and is unaffected by unauthorized information from another source;


3. No player may base a call or play on other information (such information being designated extraneous).

Larry Cohen has started a new series   on his website with emphasis on not cheating.
It is high time that this subject receives due emphasis!


Please feel free to write in regarding the bridge laws, to   webmaster [at] gbu.co.za


Sid Ismail
National Director

1 November 2015

All the Laws of Bridge Previous law articles Back to Laws Page