header                Issue #26               Sept 2016

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.

Taking Advantage of UI

Hand played on 23rd July at The Links

Scenario 1 - using screens Scenario 2 - no screens

The Bidding with South dealer and N-S Vul

West    North    East    South
 3D     Pass      3S     Pass
 3NT*   Pass      4S     Pass
 Pass   Pass
 * alerted a) by E to N as "2 spades"
           b) by W to S as "0 or 1 spade"

Since there were different explanations on each side of the screen there was a case for calling the Director on the grounds of misinformation. But since 4 went down 3 with N-S receiving +150, they bypass calling the TD as there was no damage.

E-W, an established pair, will sort out their system.

West    North    East    South
 3D     Pass      3S     Pass
 3NT*   Pass      4S     Pass
 5D     Pass     Pass    Pass 
 * alerted by E and explained as "2 spades"

After the final pass West did not volunteer that East made the wrong explanation. The system was "0 or 1 spade" and this was discovered only when N-S asked if the explanation was correct. West's failure to clarify the mistaken explanation before the lead is an infraction.

Upon seeing dummy N-S reserved their rights to call the TD. 5 made on the nose but N-S felt damaged and called the TD. The TD was told that West acted on the misinformation given, which was unauthorised information (UI) to her. The TD would rule later as there was no time left, being a pairs event and a move was being called. We scored it as 5D= in the meantime...

Tea-time was an inopportune time to make a ruling so we left it to the end. At the end of play the exact sequence of bidding and explanations was given to the TD (E-W had left already, even knowing that the ruling was pending (!)). The TD, armed with the hand record and the full bidding left us and deliberated, consulting Craig Gower in the process.

Ruling returned: Contract rewound to 4-3.

This equates to scenario 1 using screens!   I was South, incidentally, and agreed with the TD's decision.

Please remember -

  1. After the final pass and before the lead, this is called the "clarification period". During this phase of the hand all misexplanations must be corrected, as well as high-level slam bids explained. This information must be volunteered without them having to ask.  However...
    If you are defending you need to wait for the end of the play before correcting any misinformation or non-alerts.
  2. You are ethically bound not to take advantage of partner's explanation. It is unauthorized information that cannot be acted upon by you.
  3. This writeup should give you an appreciation of why screens are used at top-level bridge.

Laws governing the infractions above:

Law 20

5. (a) A player whose partner has given a mistaken explanation may not correct the error during the auction, nor may he indicate in any manner that a mistake has been made. ‘Mistaken explanation’ here includes failure to alert or announce as regulations require or an alert (or an announcement) that regulations do not require.

(b) The player must call the Director and inform his opponents that, in his opinion, his partner’s explanation was erroneous (see Law 75) but only at his first legal opportunity, which is
(i) for a defender, at the end of the play.
(ii) for declarer or dummy, after the final pass of the auction.

Law 73

C. Player Receives Unauthorized Information from Partner
When a player has available to him unauthorized information from his partner, such as from a remark, question, explanation, gesture, mannerism, undue emphasis, inflection, haste or hesitation, an unexpected* alert or failure to alert, he must carefully avoid taking any advantage from that unauthorized information.


After a misleading explanation has been given to opponents the responsibilities of the players (and the Director) are as illustrated by the consequences of this following example:

North has opened 1NT and South, who holds a weak hand with long diamonds, has bid 2D, intending to sign off; North explains, however, in answer to West’s inquiry, that South’s bid is strong and artificial, asking for major suits.

A. Mistake Causing Unauthorized Information

Whether or not North’s explanation is a correct statement of partnership agreement, South, having heard North’s explanation, knows that his own 2D bid has been misinterpreted. This knowledge is “unauthorized information” (see Law 16A), so South must be careful to avoid taking any advantage from that unauthorized information (see Law 73C). (If he does, the Director shall award an adjusted score.) For instance, if North rebids two no trump, South has the unauthorized information that this bid merely denies a four-card holding in either major suit; but South’s responsibility is to act as though North had made a strong game try opposite a weak response, showing maximum values.

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Sid Ismail
National Director

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