To the Editor:
Thank you for your detailed report and editorial on the controversial Vancouver Case 5 (June Bulletin).
We will never be able to fix the problems unless they are understood correctly. In this case, Jon Brissman and David Stevenson have it right: the committee was not informed of the applicable laws and their correct interpretation. I regret that you (in your editorial) and Rich Colker seem to be promoting the same incorrect view that the committee was given. (They -- along with the floor director! -- ignored the requirement in Law 45C4b that the player try to change the inadvertent designation; there is no authority to give an adjusted score after the hand is over. See Law 12A.)
The solution for this sort of problem seems to lie in better training for committee members and especially directors. Committee procedures should guarantee that a competent person advises the committee on the laws. I was very pleased to read of initial steps being taken along these lines, and I hope the effort will continue. In the longer run, Hamman's suggestion of more prescribed penalties and fewer optional ones is a good way to go, but I don't agree with the specific example given. Our principal target should be laws that require mind reading, not those that require merely bridge judgment.
For reference, I am attaching an article I wrote for the Bridge Laws Mailing List, an email list with which you may be familiar. So far there have been no corrections, but silence does not necessarily imply consent.
Very truly yours,
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Here's something I posted to RGB. The laws comments were based mainly on postings to BLML, but of course the obvious personal opinions are mine. Comments or corrections welcome.
L45C4b and the corresponding L25A for the auction seem to me two of the worst laws in the book precisely because they are so unclear. It doesn't help that 'inadvertent' has two similar but distinct meanings nor that mind reading is needed to determine whether an action qualifies for either one of them. If I may summarize the requirements for changing an action, as it appears the laws now stand:
Vancouver Case 5 seems an excellent candidate for appeal to the National Authority (L93C) precisely because the controversy is mainly a matter of unclear law rather than fact or bridge judgment. Too bad no such appeal was lodged. I'll be quite interested to see the expert commentary on this case.
The two meanings of 'inadvertent' (from my old Merriam-Webster):
The example of passing partner's forcing 1 bid would be inadvertent under 1) but not under 2), so the definition adopted makes a practical difference. It seems 1) requires less mind reading than 2), and 1) seems more consistent with my understanding of the history of this law, but 2) seems to be more popular, at least on this list.