header                Issue #29               Jan 2017

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.

Insufficient Bids
Preamble More examples

The revised laws of 2017 took a much softer stance on players. "Penalty" was by and large replaced with "Rectification", revoke laws were also simplified, and this was the case also of INSUFFICIENT BIDS. Law 27 was changed drastically. In short,

  • A: LHO can accept the insufficient bid and simply call over that, making it legal; if not,
  • B: The player must make a legal bid. The law now allows the player to make a bid whose meaning is encompassed in the original intent. More on this below;
  • C: Deals with premature replacement. There may be repercussions on partner. ALWAYS call the TD immediately and do not correct any insufficient bid by yourself;
  • D: If your side suffers through the insufficient bid and the subsequent correction, call the TD. If the TD attributes your bad result obtained as a direct result of the abberation he may adjust the score. However, the TD must consider what the likely outcome would have been had there been no insifficient bid to start with.

Some applications of Law27D in terms of the new laws:

  • West - East
    1S   -   3S
    4NT -   4D
    If the Director is satisfied that East was answering Blackwood but at the wrong level, then East will be allowed to correct to 5D without any restriction.
  • West North East
    4NT   (5H)   5D
    Similarly if E/W are playing DOPI over Blackwood interference, then East could now Pass (to show one Ace) and the bidding would again proceed without further restriction. Conversely, if E/W are playing PODI (Pass = None, Double = One), he would replace his insufficient bid with a double for the same effect.
  • West North East
    1D     1S     1H
    If 1H was intended to show at least four hearts and enough HCP to respond then a replacement of 2H is permitted under Law 27B1(a) without any further restriction.
    Alternatively if a negative double by East would systemically guarantee at least a 4-card heart holding then East could also replace the 1H with a double under Law 27B1(b) without restriction. Here the Director is exercising some discretion since there are certain distributions on which the offender might make a take-out double after intervention, but not respond 1H in an uncontested auction (a typical case would be if East held 5 spades and 4 hearts). In the unlikely event that these negative inferences damage the non-offending side, the Director can still adjust under Law 27D.
    A pass, however, would not convey a heart suit and therefore Law 27B2 applies, i.e. partner will have to pass whenever it is his turn to call and Laws 23 and 26D may also apply. Effective June 1st 2008, Revised June 1st 2011
  • West North East
    1NT   2S   2D
    If East's intention was to transfer to hearts (he did not see the 2S bid) then a replacement bid of 3H would not bar his partner.

  • West North East
    1NT   2D   2C
    2C was intended as simple Stayman. A Lebensohl-type cue bid replacement of 3D (asking about a 4-card major), would now have the same meaning as the original insufficient bid and thus not bar West.
    Alternatively if the Director is satisfied that the player intended to bid 3C naturally, he allows that change without restriction under Law 27B1(b)

  • West East
    2NT   2D
    Similarly if 2D was intended as a transfer, then a bid of 3D (still transferring) would permit the auction to continue without constraints.

  • West North East
    1S   2H   1NT
    Here the replacement of 1NT with 2NT is permitted without restriction under Law 27B1(b) if the Director is satisfied that this was East's original incontrovertible intention. In other circumstances (e.g. if East did not see the 2H bid) the substitution of 2NT is permitted without restriction under Law 27B1(a) if both 1NT and 2NT are natural. The information that East's HCP range might well be different to an original 2NT response is authorised to both sides but Law 27D will apply if the offending side achieves a favourable result that would not have been possible without the infraction (such as stopping in 2NT when it only makes 8 tricks if played by East).

  • West North East
    1C     1H     1D
    E/W are playing a strong club system and East did not see the 1H bid. If 1D was intended to show 0-7 HCP there are now a number of possible replacement calls that would not bar West. For example, the substitution of a Pass (showing 0-4 HCP) or the substitution of a Double (showing 5-7 HCP and no 5-card suit). Note that a call which specifies a narrower HCP range is actually more precise (i.e. it contains more information) than a call with a wider HCP range.
    The Director might also exercise their discretion to permit the substitution of the Double, even if it showed 5-8 HCP. In general the Director should consider allowing auctions to continue under Law 27B1(b) whenever there is only a small discrepancy in hand strength.

Procedure for TDs

Most insufficient bids arise either from a failure to observe the call of RHO or a general confusion about the current level of the auction. Therefore in applying Law 27 the Director should proceed as follows:
  1. Remove the offender from the table and determine his original intent and the specific meaning of the intended call.
  2. Verify the general methods of the partnership and if necessary consult the offender's system card or any other system notes available at the time.
  3. Determine the possible replacement calls available and their meaning.
  4. Return to the table and explain all the options to the players (including that LHO has the option of accepting the insufficient bid as per Law 27A).
  5. Allow the (fully informed) player to select a replacement call and then, based upon the investigations detailed in steps (1-3), apply either Law 27B1 or Law 27B2.
  6. If Law 27B1 was applied, the non-offending side are informed of their right to re-call the Director at the end of play if they believe the outcome of the board would have been different without the assistance of the insufficient bid.

Note: When bidding boxes are in use, the Director should always be aware of the possibility that a player might simply have mis-pulled the incorrect bidding card from the box. If the Director is of this opinion, then he should apply Law 25A and not Law 27.

Excerpt Law 27:
B. Insufficient Bid not Accepted.

If an insufficient bid in rotation is not accepted (see A) it must be corrected by the substitution of a legal call (but see 3 following). Then

1. (a) if the insufficient bid is corrected by the lowest sufficient bid in the same denomination and in the Director"s opinion both the insufficient bid and the substituted bid are incontrovertibly not artificial the auction proceeds without further rectification. Law 16D does not apply but see D following.
(b) if, except as in (a), the insufficient bid is corrected with a legal call that in the Director"s opinion has the same meaning* as, or a more precise meaning* than, the insufficient bid (such meaning being fully contained within the possible meanings of the insufficient bid) the auction proceeds without further rectification, but see D following.

2. except as provided in B1 above, if the insufficient bid is corrected by a sufficient bid or by a pass, the offender"s partner must pass whenever it is his turn to call. The lead restrictions in Law 26 may apply, and see Law 23.

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Sid Ismail
National Director

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