Polling You #56: Contract Bridge Laws Partnership Understanding, March 23, 2011

Duplicate and Contract Bridge: Partnership Understandings

 

Among the prerequisites of great Bridge, no one would disagree it helps if you begin with great players, solid agreements forming a great partnership, and great cards. 

Visitors – Click here to view Part 1 of the video commentary

BridgeHands Free Members: Click here to view Part 2 of our video commentary

BridgeHands Premium Members: Click here to view Part 3 of our video commentary

And since our fair game is intended to pay dividends to the most skilled players, it’s only fair that the rules of Bridge clearly state that we are required to: disclose our partnership agreements and understandings to the opponents, have the ability and right to learn the agreements of the opponents calls, and to fairly provide redress to the non-offending side when a player have given mistaken or misleading information to their opponents.  Well that all sounds fair and good, but what about when a player makes a mistaken call or autonomously makes a call not in accordance with their partnership agreements?  Ah, that’s where the Bridge Laws start to become interesting, all very interesting – read more…

Law 20 – Review and Explanation of Calls

F. Explanation of Calls

  1. During the Auction

During the auction and before the final pass, any player may request, but only at his own turn to call, an explanation of the opponents’ prior auction. He is entitled to know about calls actually made, about relevant alternative calls available that were not made, and about relevant inferences from the choice of action where these are matters of partnership understanding. Except on the instruction of the Director, replies should be given by the partner of the player who made the call in question. The partner of a player who asks a question may not ask a supplementary question until his turn to call or play. Law 16 may apply and the Regulating Authority may establish regulations for written explanations.

  1. During the Play Period

After the final pass and throughout the play period, either defender at his own turn to play may request an explanation of the opposing auction. At his turn to play from his hand or from dummy declarer may request an explanation of a defender’s call or card-play understandings. Explanations should be given on a like basis to F1 above and by the partner of the player whose action is explained.

ACBL Directors Decisions – Law 20 

Review and Explanation of Calls

Right to review a call, a bid or the auction

1. A player who did not clearly hear a call has the right to ask immediately that it be repeated. If, however, that player does not immediately ask for the call to be repeated, he must, at his turn to call, ask for a complete review of the auction and listen to all of it. He must not simply ask that the single call be repeated.

2. During the auction a player is entitled to have all previous calls and Alerts restated only if it is his turn to call, and then only if he is not required (by an earlier application of the Laws) to pass at that turn.

3. After the final pass either defender has the right to ask if it is his opening lead. Law 47 E. states that a lead out of turn may be retracted without penalty if the leader was mistakenly informed by an opponent that it was his turn to lead.

Procedure for review

1. A request to have calls restated should be responded to only by an opponent.

2. Declarer or either defender may, at his first turn to play, require all previous calls to be restated. Declarer’s play from either hand, whether or not in turn, is deemed to constitute his first play and thus terminates his right to a review.

Error in restatement of review

Any player, including dummy or a player required by Law to pass, may, and should, promptly correct an error in restatement when a review has been requested.

NOTE: When confronted with a situation where a review was not corrected, the director should try to have the players agree on the auction up to the point of the error. He should allow the bidding to proceed without penalty. He may later need to award an adjusted score (Law 12) if the failure to correct the review caused damage.

Explanation of opponents’ calls/plays:

1. During the auction, any player at his own turn to call may ask for and receive a review of the bidding or an explanation of an opponent’s call. Also, after a face-down opening lead, leader’s partner and/or declarer may ask for and receive a review of the bidding (see Procedure for review” #2 above.) or an explanation of an opponent’s call. Replies should be given by the partner of the player who made the call in question.

2. After the final pass and throughout the play period, declarer or either defender at his own turn to play may request and receive such an explanation.

3. Questions may be asked about calls that were made and about calls that were not made but were available and relevant.

4. Declarer may request and receive an explanation of the defenders’ card play conventions.

5. When explaining the significance of partner’s call or play in reply to an opponent’s inquiry, a player should disclose all special information conveyed to him through partnership agreement or partnership experience, but he need not disclose inferences drawn from his general bridge knowledge and experience, Law 75.

If the meaning has not been discussed, “no agreement” or “undiscussed” is the proper response. Players should not say such things as “I am taking it to mean … ” In addition, “standard” or the name of a convention is not a proper answer.

NOTE: If a defender’s questions impart unauthorized information to his partner, Law 16, Unauthorized Information, may apply if, for example, a successful line of defense could have been suggested.

 

Law 40 – Partnership Understandings

A. Players’ Systemic Agreements

1. (a) Partnership understandings as to the methods adopted by a partnership may be reached explicitly in discussion or implicitly through mutual experience or awareness of the players.
(b) Each partnership has a duty to make available its partnership understandings to opponents before commencing play against them. The Regulating Authority specifies the manner in which this shall be done.

2. Information conveyed to partner through such understandings must arise from the calls, plays and conditions of the current deal. Each player is entitled to take into account the legal auction and, subject to any exclusions in these Laws, the cards he has seen. He is entitled to use information specified elsewhere in these Laws to be authorized (see Law 73C).

3. A player may make any call or play without prior announcement provided that such call or play is not based on an undisclosed partnership understanding (see Law 40C1).

Directors Decisions: Law 40 – Partnership Understandings

Director’s Option: This Law allows the Director to award an adjusted score if he decides a side has been damaged through its opponents’ failure to explain the full meaning of a call or play.

 

Law 75 – Mistaken Explanation or Mistaken Call

 

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 2 Diamond, 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 2 Diamond 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 2NT, South has the unauthorized information that this bid merely denies a four-card holding in either major suit. South’s responsibility is to act as though North had made a strong game try opposite a weak response, showing maximum values.

B. Mistaken Explanation

The actual partnership agreement is that 2 Diamond is a natural signoff; the mistake was in North’s explanation. This explanation is an infraction of law, since East–West are entitled to an accurate description of the North–South agreement. When this infraction results in damage to East–West, the Director shall award an adjusted score. If North subsequently becomes aware of his mistake, he must immediately notify the Director. South must do nothing to correct the mistaken explanation while the auction continues. After the final pass, South, if he is to be declarer or dummy, should call the Director and must volunteer a correction of the explanation. If South becomes a defender, he calls the Director and corrects the explanation when play ends.

C. Mistaken Call

The partnership agreement is as explained — 2 Diamond is strong and artificial; the mistake was in South’s call. Here there is no infraction of law, since East–West did receive an accurate description of the North– South agreement; they have no claim to an accurate description of the North–South hands. (Regardless of damage, the Director shall allow the result to stand; but the Director is to presume mistaken explanation, rather than mistaken call, in the absence of evidence to the contrary.) South must not correct North’s explanation (or notify the Director) immediately, and he has no responsibility to do so subsequently.


Directors Decisions: Law 75 – Partnership Agreements

NOTE: Law 75 is a very exacting Law in dealing with partnership understandings and should be used in conjunction with Law 40, Partnership Understandings.

Special Partnership Agreements, whether explicit (from firm discussion) or implicit (arising from experience without specific discussion), must be fully and freely available to the opponents.

The methods by which this information is made available to the opponents are:

1. through the Alert procedure.

2. by announcing special agreements at the outset of a round or session to the opponents.

3. by reviewing the opponents’ convention card.

A pair may then alter their defenses against the opponents’ conventional calls and preemptive bids. This must be announced to their opponents. The opponents may not vary their system after being informed of these alterations in defense.

A Player May Violate an Announced Partnership Agreement

1. A player may do this as long as his partner is unaware of the violation. Repeated variations from partnership agreements create implicit agreements which must be disclosed to the opponents.

2. No player has the obligation to disclose to the opponents that he has violated an announced partnership agreement.

3. If the opponents are subsequently damaged, as through drawing a false inference from such violation, they are not entitled to redress.

Example: On the convention card it is stated that the partnership always holds two of the top three honors when they open a weak two-bid. A player opens with Q–J–x–x–x–x and his partner happens to hold the ace. When declarer plays the weak two-bidder for the ace, expecting it to be in front of dummy’s king and it isn’t, declarer becomes upset. The weak two-bidder violated a partnership agreement without partner’s knowledge. This does not constitute an infraction. However, after the second time this happens in a two or three-session time frame, a new, implicit, agreement has come about and the opponents must be so informed.

When explaining the significance of partner’s call or play in response to an opponent’s inquiry, a player should disclose special information that he has from both partnership agreement and partnership experience. He need not, however, disclose inferences drawn from his general knowledge and experience. For example, if a player can tell that his partner has violated an agreement by the actual cards he sees (his hand, dummy’s hand and cards played in quitted tricks), he need not disclose this

When Correcting Errors in Explanation

A Player Recognizes His Own Error: If a player subsequently realizes his own explanation was erroneous or incomplete, he must immediately call the Director. The Director will apply either Law 21, Call Based on Misinformation, or Law 40, Director’s Option to Award an Adjusted Score in Partnership Misunderstandings.

A Player Recognizes His Partner’s Error: It is improper for a player whose partner has given a mistaken explanation to correct the error immediately or to indicate in any manner that a mistake has been made. He must not take any advantage of the unauthorized information so obtained or leave the table to consult with the Director.

1. If the side that has given the mistaken explanation becomes the declaring side, the player MUST call the Director after the final pass in the auction and before the opening lead is faced. He must inform the Director and his opponents that in his opinion there has been a mistaken explanation. The Director may allow the last bidder on the non-offending side to withdraw his pass if he deems it probable that the pass was based on the misinformation. If the player withdraws his pass and substitutes another call, the bidding can then proceed from that point. If the last passer on the non-offending side does not change his call, the bidding as it occurred stands. The play now proceeds.

NOTE: When the Director arrives at the table before play has been completed, he should speak separately with each non-offender away from the table to ascertain what different action, if any, would have been taken with the correct or alternate information.

2. If the side that gave the misinformation in the bidding becomes the defending side, at the conclusion of the play, the partner of the player who gave the mistaken explanation

MUST call the Director and inform the Director and his opponents that in his opinion his partner gave a mistaken explanation. This is the one case in the Laws where the offending side must own up to its own infraction.

NOTE: In both cases above, the Director can award an adjusted score if he deems that the non-offending side was damaged by receiving the misinformation.

When the Partnership Misunderstanding Results in Giving Misinformation to the Opponents

Two examples may clarify responsibilities of the players (and the Director) after a misleading explanation has been given to the opponents. In both examples following, 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.

Example 1 MISTAKEN EXPLANATION: A player makes a bid in agreement with the partnership understanding, but partner misinforms the opponents of the meaning of the bid.

The actual partnership agreement is that 2D is a natural signoff. The mistake was in North’s explanation. This explanation is an infraction of Law since East–West are entitled to an accurate description of the North–South agreement. When this infraction results in damage to East–West, an adjusted score should be awarded.

If North subsequently becomes aware of his mistake, he must immediately notify the Director. South must do nothing to correct the mistaken explanation while the auction continues. After the final pass, South, if he is to be declarer or dummy, should call the Director and must give the opponents a correct explanation. If South becomes a defender, he should call the Director when play is over and give a correct explanation.

Example 2 — MISTAKEN BID: A player makes a bid that is not the partnership agreement but the opponents are informed of the agreement.

The partnership agreement is as explained — 2D is strong and artificial; the mistake was in South’s bid. Here there is no infraction of law, since East–West did receive an accurate description of the North–South agreement. They have no claim to an accurate description of the North–South hands. Regardless of damage, the Director shall allow the result to stand. The Director, however, is to presume a mistaken explanation rather than a mistaken bid in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary. South must not correct North’s explanation (or notify the Director) immediately, and he has no responsibility to do so later.

In both examples, South, having heard North’s explanation, knows that his own 2D bid has been misinterpreted. This knowledge is unauthorized information. Consequently South must be careful not to base further actions on this information (if he does, the Director shall award an adjusted score).

For instance, if North rebids 2NT, South has the unauthorized information that this bid merely denies a four-card holding in either major. South’s responsibility, however, is to bid as though North had made a strong game try opposite a weak response, showing maximum values.

 

Free, Premium and ULTRA members – please login to view video of additional hand/s

Please login or register to view this content. Please login or register to view this content.
Please login or register to view this content.

Happy Bridge Trails and Tales,

BridgeHands

Comments

  1. Jeff Holst says:

    On the misinformation/misbid issue, what should one do if partner’s explanation is not exactly what one thought, but may or may not be correct? In a recent duplicate event, we were plying a convention that was new to us. When it came up partner explained that it showed at least 5-5 in 2 specific suits, but I had thought that it was simply a take-out to those 2 suits and did not have the hand she described. As it turns out, partner was correct, but I was not certain. In any case, it did not affect my subsequent bidding.

    Not being sure whether there was MI or a misbid, should I still call the director and ask to talk to him away from the table?

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Jeff,
      .
      Yes, it sounds like you faced with a difficult choice. When we are not certain about a partnership agreement, it’s often best not to call the Director since even the act of making a call can establish Unauthorized Information to one’s partner (waking partner of misinformaiton, etc.). So it turns out that in the event of a gray area like yours where you are not certain about a new agreement, then you’ll have to make up your own mind – is it a 50-50 chance, 60-40, 70-30, etc.
      .
      Some players feel very strong ethical standards and would rather error calling the director in some situations, such as whether or not to alert a response bid when partner seems to have missed an alert on your call. Others would just as soon wait until after play, then call the director if things did not sort themselves out.
      .
      I can think of a recent example where the auction began:
      .
      1N – (P) – P – (X);
      P – (P) – (XX)
      .
      The redouble was intended as “SOS” but was not alerted. The doubler (who should not have doubled with a flat 9 point hand) assumed the redouble was for business and then entered the auction. In this situation, calling the Director after completion of play made more sense than calling the director before the opening lead was faced.
      .
      Warm Regards,
      Michael
      • Jeff Holst says:

        On the hand in question, I knew that I should not do anyhting while the bidding was going on. Partner became declarer. Thus there was no concern about UI, and it would quickly become clear that my hand was not as she described. I suppose I should have called the director, but what I actually did was make a statemnt to the opponents beforet he opening lead that one if us (my partner or I) had either misbid or misexplained my bid.

        • BridgeHands says:
          Rehi Jeff,
          .
          Well done. Yes, it’s not all that uncommon to find partnerships have different views on conventional treatments, thus no consensus on partnership agreements/understandings. Aside from calling a director for resolution, that was ethical of you to make a statement regarding either a misbid or misexplanation. And now we’re all aware of the three associated “partnership agreement” laws, number 20, 40 and 75, it’s the last of these that details your situation.
          .
          Regards,
          Michael
  2. abe stenberg says:

    Michael, I would like to suggest that you have a series teaching English Loser Count, both from the First bidder and responders perspective. I think it would be very helpful.

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Abe,
      .
      Agreed, I will plan on devoting some future lessons to Losing Trick Count and associated responder Cover Card theory.
      .
      Thank you for suggesting the topic,
      .
      Michael

Speak Your Mind

*