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Concession Cancelled?

by Alexander Ferapontov, St Petersburg, Russia and David Stevenson

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Alexander Ferapontov

I want to offer your attention the next judgement problem that took place in the Christmas Match-Point Pairs in Saint-Petersburg in 7.01.2000. This is the full deal.

Contract:
4H from E
S J3
H 1052
D 1073
C J6543
S 8642
H 83
D AK
C AK872
[ ] S Q
H AKQ764
D J52
C Q109
S AK10975
H J9
D Q9864
C --

S began from two spade leads. E ruffed the second round and drew three trumps. Then he claimed 12 tricks with the next plan:

"I shall play the club queen, club to the ace and king of clubs. If clubs turn out to be 3-2 there is no problem. If it will be 4-1 I shall ruff the fourth round and pitch a diamond on the master club."

After some pause N said:

"I have five clubs."

E was silent. Then N asked:

"What now? Eleven tricks?"

East: "Well, eleven."

(There is worth mentioning that N was an expert and authoritative player, and E was the mediocre player).

Three players at the table (declarer and defenders) entered the result in the score sheet and N-S moved to the next table.

Then W, that was absent during the play, returned to the table and looked into the sheet. Seeing the full deal he said his partner that it was impossible to take less than 12 tricks. After the discussion E-W decided to call the Director.

Director after some thought judged 12 tricks. I also was the Director on this tournament and I wasnít agree with his decision. But later I looked the appropriate laws and understand that my colleague was absolutely right.

Letís open the Laws.

Law 68B (Concession Defined):
Any statement to the effect that a contestant will lose a specific number of tricks is a concession of those tricks; a claim of some number of tricks is a concession of the remainder, if any...

Law 68D (Play Ceases):
After any claim or concession, play ceases. All play subsequent to a claim or concession shall be voided by the Director. If the claim or concession is acquiesced in, Law 69 applies; if it is disputed by any player (dummy included), the Director must be summoned immediately to apply Law 70 or Law 71, and no action may be taken pending the Directorís arrival.

Law 71C (Implausible Concession):
If a player has conceded a trick that cannot be lost by any normal play of the remaining cards. Until the conceding side makes a call on a subsequent board, or until the round ends, the Director shall cancel the concession of a trick that could not have been lost by any normal play of the remaining cards.

So, as was mentioned above, the Directorís decision at the table formally was ideal, however I have yet some kind of unsatisfaction.

If we abstract from Laws and will look on the problem from playerís point of view it will be apparent Eastís error. Certainly this error could be provoked by Northís authority and Eastís bad knowing the Laws. But it isnít the Directorís duty to correct the playerís errors, and the Laws shall not doing the same thing too.

Consider now the next (hypothetical) situation. The same contract, the same beginning of play, but in the sixth turn declarer leads the queen of clubs and sees discarding on the left. Then he says: "I shall concede a diamond at the end." Then dummy sees the full deal and says that it is impossible to take less than 12 tricks. E-W call the Director.

It is undoubtedly that the player which make one more turn must see at least one turn later. This player, seeing all spot cards in combined hands, is obliged to find the winning ruffing finesse. In this situation his error becomes more obvious. But in that case the Director must judge the same result accordingly the same laws.

I will be very gratitude if you inform me your opinion about this problem or site for discussion, if it will take place.

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David Stevenson

In many ways the most important Law for deciding claims is:

Law70A [General Objective]:
In ruling on a contested claim, the Director adjudicates the result of the board as equitably as possible to both sides, but any doubtful points shall be resolved against the claimer.

The Director's aim is to decide what would have happened if play had been continued. If he is confident then he rules that way. If there is more than one reasonable possibility then he rules doubtful points against the claimer.

When the claim statement breaks down then he has to decide what would have happened. In the first case, declarer has shown that he intends to ruff clubs out. Would he have inevitably realised that the suit plays for four tricks? In my view, yes, though this is a judgement decision [and thus appealable] so I would allow twelve tricks.

In the second case, even though it is a trick later, he no longer suggests he would have ruffed the clubs out, so it is not certain he would ever have realised that he has twelve tricks. So, in the second case, I rule eleven tricks. The difference is in what the claim statement says. In general we follow the claim statement until it breaks down.

What about the wording of Implausible concession? Well, I believe that failing to ruff out the clubs is a "normal" play so I do not give a trick under Law 71C in the second case. But I do not treat it as a normal play in the first case where we "know" how declarer intends to play the hand.

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