The following three articles were written originally as (three out of dozens of) Bridge Laws Mailing List postings on Law 68, The Law of Claims. My "Proposed Re-Draft" was an attempted re-write of Law 68, Sections A and C, as they now exist in the 1997 Bridge Laws. I was not trying to change the force of the current, 1997, Law 68 even one iota; I was simply trying to reword the Law of Claims text to convey the construction (interpretation) that I have always put on Law 68 as published by the ACBL in 1997. [By the way, if I had known that my impromptu BL posting would be memorialized here, I would certainly have given it more thought and effort.] Why did I go to the trouble of presenting a partial re-draft (rewording) of the text of the existing law? On reading many, many of the Bridge Laws (BL) postings on Law 68, I was increasingly convinced that the BL posters were mired in a morass of confusing and inadequate terminology, the primary culprit being the text of Law 68. I felt that, in the real world, a claim proceeds, formally or informally, through the following stages (not acknowledged by the law text:
Often, two or more these formal stages are compressed, as in the claimant's statement: "Pulling trump, making 6" (where stages 1, 2, and 3 have been compressed into one sentence). Unfortunately, the way Law 68 reads, statements like "after any claim, play ceases" are not well defined. (For instance, what if a claimant declarer says "Pulling trump . . ." and is about to concede a trick, when LHO immediately says: "What if I lead a Diamond?" Declarer might now say: "In that case, making 7!") Law 68 should make it clear that claimant's commitment to the claim process is the point at which play ceases. In this example, defender's what-if about a diamond lead clearly should not constitute a play.
Having said all of the above, let me point out that David's posting, wherein he critiqued my re-draft, was based on a faulty premise. He thought that I was offering a draft which proposed to change the force and/or procedure of Law 68. I was not. Nevertheless, read David's review for what it is: his attempt to correct what he sees as deficiencies or inequities in the current Law 68. He is, indeed, presenting a proposal for a new Law of Claims, to supersede the 1997 version. I am sympathetic to some of David's viewpoints, which, as always, are well thought through and carefully expressed. Finally, Adam's critique straightforwardly addresses his issues with David's proposed revised Law of Claims.
In this thread on claims, several postings have called attention, at least obliquely, to the insufficient clarity of L68A in combination with L68C. Specifically, in this regard, I believe that there is not adequate distinction made in Law 68 among the following actions:
Consequently, some posters to this thread have expressed confusion or doubt as to exactly when the claimant's right to state a line of play has expired.
(BTW, in my opinion, where any of the players express doubt that one of the players has actually committed to making a claim, the Director should be summoned to adjudicate that issue first. Consequently, it would be premature and inappropriate for the potential claimant to offer a proposed line of play, pending that adjudication.)
Alternatively, if a contestant suggests that play be curtailed, he has initiated a claim announcement and should state immediately how many tricks he is claiming.
Similarly, a contestant who shows his unplayed cards has also initiated a claim announcement and should state immediately how many tricks he is claiming (unless he is the declarer and has clearly stated that he is not making a claim).
In the case of a defensive claim, claimant's show of his hand and statement of a line of play will necessarily preclude his partner's playing out the hand and, therefore, Law 16, Unauthorized Information, and Law 57A, Premature Play, may apply. Consequently, when a defensive claim is made, contestants should not hesitate to summon the Director if they have any such concerns.
It is interesting to see what can be suggested as an alternative set of Laws. Personally, while I applaud your efforts, I dislike the result intensely, which I do not think is beneficial overall to the game.
I have added detailed comments.
As I think clear from my approach throughout this thread, I believe this to be completely wrong. I believe claims must be intentional. Other odd remarks should be treated under the laws dealing with extraneous remarks.
Again, this is a vicious sort of approach, and I think it should definitely be reduced. I do see the point though - defining curtailing play as initiating a claim statement has something going for it, but even under the technical reading of the current Laws people are not really suggesting this.
For example, under the current Laws, if you say "Come on, this looks fairly easy" to declarer you may be dealt with for rudeness, or extraneous remarks, but it is not a claim. The wording here would make it a claim, which I think is definitely worse than the current position.
There seems no reason for a different rule for declarer. If a defender did not mean to claim, then he did not mean to claim. Of course, if he has showed his hand then there will be penalty cards. Also, why the wording "has clearly stated ..."? That is a BL's delight. If someone does not mean to claim, and everyone knows it, then it should not be a claim: it should not only be for people who know the Laws and know they have to say so.
I wonder about 'at once'. I like 'as soon as possible' myself. That covers the case where your oppo immediately starts shouting his head off - you can state the line when the TD shuts him up.
The point of my statement above is that while I approve of the Law saying he must have an opportunity it also covers the situation where the oppo did not permit him that opportunity.
There are a lot of claims made without showing the hand and I see no reason to refer to it. I also do not think Laws should really say why they are - that is for additional Commentary.
This last is superfluous. It is made clear in the Laws that the TD must be called when there is a problem. Players do not read the Laws. While it is right to keep telling the players this, this is not the medium.
Well, criticism should be constructive, so I shall try my own. Rather than alter the above, I shall alter the current. As with the above, I shall leave concessions and acquiescence alone for the time being.
For a statement or action to constitute a claim or concession of tricks under these Laws, it must refer to tricks other than one currently in progress [*]. If it does refer to subsequent tricks:
The Director proceeds as follows.
All Laws not mentioned are unchanged, except that in the revoke Law I am suggesting that an opponents' claim establishes the revoke.
The logic behind and reasons for L70B5 can be seen [referred to as L70B4] in the article Strange Claim by David Stevenson and Herman De Wael.
David Stevenson has posted his suggested version of Law 70 (and parts of L68). I'm assuming that this was serious, i.e. intended as something for the Lawmakers to consider actually putting into the book. With that in mind, I have a few comments of my own.
If the revoke was not established previously, that is. I don't know whether it's necessary or beneficial to include such language, however.
I notice that in adding this clause, we've taken away, in some cases, the opportunity for a revoker to notice he has revoked and correct it immediately. As a declarer, I'm often in a position where I know that the hand is over as soon as my opponent plays a card, unless something unexpected happens; in such cases, I will face my hand about 0.2 seconds after the opponent's play. If this happens in a case where the opponent has revoked, this isn't enough time for the opponent to notice it and say something.
I'm not saying I disapprove, either. I'm one of those who does not mind that the revoke penalties sometimes give more tricks to the non-offenders than they could have gotten on their own, and if this makes people more cautious about following suit next time, that's a big plus.
However, if someone were to suggest that, in order for claimer to be protected by this law, claimer must let a certain short period of time elapse from the time an opponent who is not on lead plays until the claim, say 1 to 1.5 seconds, that also might make sense.
I notice that this doesn't address the L64A2 issue, i.e. determining whether the penalty is one or two tricks when an additional trick may have been won by the offending player if play were to continue. Perhaps some might think this is covered by "doubtful points shall be resolved against the revoker." However, I think it's possible to interpret the action of "adjudicating the result of the board" as separate from the action of applying the revoke penalties, and thus the "doubtful points" clause wouldn't necessarily apply to the determination of the revoke penalty. Plus, there will still be those who argue that no player wins any tricks after a claim. I'd suggest including some language to clarify how the penalty is computed after a claim (either in L70 or L64A2); other solutions, such as scrapping L64A2 entirely and going back to a two-trick penalty in all circumstances, would be acceptable to me also.
Maybe this should be narrowed this down a bit further, to stipulate that we follow the clarification statement as far as possible; i.e., when we're considering possible lines of play, we consider lines that deviate from the clarification statement only after it will become obvious to claimer that the original clarification statement is impossible. This clarification may not be necessary, however.
I'm not sure the word "successful" is necessary here, and it may be harmful. If declarer in 4 claims "making 4", but because of a flaw in his claim, the actual result would be making 4, down 1, or down 2 depending on which (normal) line declarer actually takes, the Director should be instructed not to consider the "down 1" line either, even though such a line can't be considered a "successful" one.
One other potential problem that may need to be addressed: L68D says "If [a claim] is disputed by any player (dummy included), the Director must be summoned immediately . . ." Some time ago, I wrote of a situation where declarer claimed down 1, and after we showed our hands, I pointed out that if I led a certain card he'd be stuck in dummy and forced to give up another trick, so he changed his claim to down 2, and we scored it up that way. This seems to violate the language of L68D; however, when I posted this as a question, everyone on BLML thought it was OK, and everyone gave an interpretation of the Laws to show that our actions didn't violate the Law. I'm not quite convinced, though; it still seems like L68D made our actions illegal. If we think it should be fine for the table to briefly discuss a claim and then agree on the result (which may or may not be the result claimer originally claimed), does the Law need to be amended to say it's OK?