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The Curse of Buxton

by David Stevenson and Michael Amos, Birmingham, UK


Mike Amos:

Board 6
Dealer East
E/W Vul
S AKT7432
H 9
C ---

North played in 6S

  • Heart lead won in dummy
  • Club A - Diamond discard
  • Top Heart - Diamond discard
  • Diamond finesse
  • Top Spades and third Spade
  • When Spades did not break declarer faced his hand and conceded a second trump trick for one off
  • NS -50
S 95
H 642
D K7632
[ ] S QJ86
D 98
C J42
S ---
H AK875
D T5
C AT8753

The players moved on to Board 7 and completed it. At this point, the nice lady from the next table came over with the Club 9 (henceforth known as the Curse of Buxton) "Does anyone want this?" she asked.

Comparison with the curtain card revealed that North's hand on board 6 had in fact been

S AKT7432
H 9
C 9

North now came to search for the TD - "I bet you have never seen anything like this before" he said. Of course we have seen things like this - but how do you rule?


North was in breach of L7B1 since he did not have 13 cards. The WBF's intended and stated policy is to make the recipient of a hand responsible for ensuring it has 13 cards, so North is clearly responsible. Do we fine him? No, we have no evidence to show that he is a habitual offender.

L14 refers to a hand with a deficient card: unfortunately it does not apply after the end of the play. The Lawmakers appear not to have intended this, since the 1997 Laws will change this so that L14 will apply, but that Law book does not apply yet. Accordingly we cannot use it.

What about the revoke? Did he revoke?

Law 44 - Sequence and Procedure of Play
C. Requirement to Follow Suit
In playing to a trick, each player must follow suit if possible. This obligation takes precedence over all other requirements of these Laws.

It was possible for him to follow suit: he could have counted his cards at that moment, discovered he was one short, searched, found the card and played it. So it was possible: so he was required to: a failure to follow suit as required under this Law is a revoke per L61A.

Of course, there are no automatic penalty tricks for a revoke when attention was first drawn after the start of the next deal [L64B4] merely the catchall L64C to restore equity:

Law 64 - Procedure after Establishment of a Revoke
C. Director Responsible for Equity
When, after any established revoke, including those not subject to penalty, the Director deems that the non-offending side is insufficiently compensated by this Law for the damage caused, he shall assign an adjusted score.

Well? What this means is that if a player who revoked would have made ten tricks without the revoke, then L64C gives his opponents at least three tricks, whether there are any penalty tricks to be transferred or not.

If he had not revoked then presumably he would have finessed in diamonds twice [no other play making sense] to make eleven tricks. He did make eleven tricks, so L64C does not affect the outcome.


We have a claim and acquiescence. Reading L69A shows there was acquiescence, since each side has made a call on a subsequent board, but the opponents may make an attempt to withdraw acquiescence under L69B, since it is within the Correction Period.

Law 69 - Acquiescence in Claim or Concession
B. Acquiescence in Claim Withdrawn
Within the correction period established in accordance with Law 79C, a contestant may withdraw acquiescence in an opponent's claim, but only if he has acquiesced in the loss of a trick his side has actually won, or in the loss of trick that could not, in the Director's judgement, be lost by any normal Note1 play of the remaining cards. The board is rescored with such trick awarded to the acquiescing side.

Note1 For the purposes of Laws 69, 70, and 71, "normal" includes play that would be careless or inferior for the class of player involved, but not irrational.

Their side have not acquiesced in the loss of a trick their side has actually won, so have they acquiesced in the loss of a trick that could not be lost by any normal play of the remaining cards?

At the moment of the claim, the cards were:

Board 6
Dealer East
E/W Vul
S T743
H ---
C [9]
S --
H 6
D K76
[ ] S Q
D 9
C J4
S ---
H 875
D ---
C T87

... even though no-one realised it! One possible normal play with the West hand is to discard the club honours since they seem irrelevant, so the defence do not get an extra trick under L69B. Note that the balance of the doubt has changed for withdrawn acquiescence: if there is a normal play that does not give the non-claimers a trick then they do not get that trick.Note2


How will this be different under the new Law book?

Law 14 - Missing Card
A. Hand Found Deficient Before Play Commences
B. Hand Found Deficient Afterwards
When three hands are correct and the fourth is found to be deficient after the play period begins, the Director makes a search for any missing card, and:
  1. Card Is Found
    • (a) If a card is found among the played cards, Law 67 applies.
    • [b) If a card is found elsewhere, it is restored to the deficient hand, and penalties may apply (see 3., following).
  2. ...................
  3. Possible Penalties
    • A card restored to a hand under the provisions of Section B of this law is deemed to have belonged continuously to the deficient hand. It may become a penalty card (Law 50), and failure to have played it may constitute a revoke.

The revoke is still out of time for penalty tricks. In fact the effect is - no change whatever! It just saves searching through the exact wording of L44C to make sure that it was a revoke.


Editor's note:

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