Commentary on Appeals from Malta 1999
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Appeals from European Championships, Malta 1999

Commentary by David Stevenson (Great Britain)


Editor's note:

Full details of the Appeals have been published by the European Bridge League.
They are also available on the Swiss Federation site.


Appeal No 1.
It is normal for an Appeals Committee to let a Director decide questions of fact. Here, the Director did not seem entirely sure of his decision, since he needed to look at the hand, so the Appeals Committee very properly investigated themselves.

Appeal No 2.
A good example of an Appeals Committee using their powers under Law 12C3 to do equity after considering all the facts.

Appeal No 3.
If the Committee had decided there was misinformation but had decided not to adjust (the minority view) then they would have assumed there was no damage caused by the misinformation: perhaps that the choice of lead did not depend on the misinformation.

Appeal No 4.
It is preferred that Appeals Committees should come to conclusions by discussion and convincing each other as to what is correct. However, if that proves to be impossible, the method used here is acceptable. The Committee members take a vote, and then abide by the decision reached. Certain jurisdictions allow the Chairman a greater representation at such a time: this shows a lack of faith in the Appeal system and it is pleasing that the Chairman of this appeal made clear he would not expect that.

Appeal No 5.
East 's comments seem to mean that his hand is suitable for play in part-score or slam, never in game. These sort of self-serving comments should be listened to, but not accorded much weight. Whatever East's intentions at the time he bid 4C he is required by Law to make every effort not to use Unauthorised Information once he has it, and his bid of 6C after a non-forcing bid of 4C is raised is totally unacceptable. It is very strange that his captain allowed this case to go to appeal.

Appeal No 6.
The captain's comments are interesting. What is the difference between a 'hesitation' and a 'pause'? Both are breaks in tempo, and suggest that the player concerned may have a problem. Furthermore, having suggested that the 'pause' gave no information, he then argued what information it showed! For an adjustment not to be given because of the opening lead, then the lead would require to be "irrational, wild or gambling", which is hardly the case here: ill-judged or a mistake is not a sufficient reason not to adjust.

Appeal No 7.
It is very unusual for an Appeals Committee to overrule a Director on a determination of fact.

Appeal No 8.
It seems a fairly abstruse argument presented by the players.

Appeals No 9 and 10.
It is important that players are persuaded to follow the basic regulations of the game when playing International events, even if there is more latitude in lesser events. It is not acceptable to fail to alert, and an alert is not made until the opponent is aware of it. As for failing to fill in the Convention Card correctly that is also unacceptable. Players should be able to rely on their opponents to alert and fill their convention cards in correctly, and it is reasonable to be sympathetic to them when their opponents fail to follow these procedures.

Appeal No 11.
In Unauthorised Information situations the critical question is whether a player has chosen amongst logical alternatives one suggested over another by the Unauthorised Information. Usually, what the player originally intended to do is irrelevant. However, in this case the Committee has determined that, given the auction to date, passing 5C was not a logical alternative.

Appeal No 12.
Note that whether it is easier to return a heart because of a hesitation is not the test that the Appeals Committee used. They considered whether the player had chosen amongst Logical Alternatives one suggested over another by the hesitation.

Appeal Committee Special Meeting No 1. (Appeal No 13.)
It is not satisfactory at any level for regulations to be ignored because players do not like them.

Appeal No 14.
The captain's argument seems without any merit: of course the opening lead did the damage, but the question is whether the damage was caused by misinformation. The Committee thought otherwise.

Appeal No 15.
Misbids are part of the game, and no redress is suitable if there is no misexplanation.

Appeal No 16.
It is not really necessary for a Committee to decide whether a pair is honest: it is very rare that a Committee makes any decision based on the presumption that anyone has told them lies. However, Committees make judgements, partly based on the weight they apply to various statements, and it is normal for self-serving statements to be ascribed a lesser weight.

Appeal No 17.
There is a growing idea to take advantage of the Laws and Regulations of the game. In some cases it is not unknown for players to tailor their answers to questions to make the answer most beneficial to them. This is not acceptable, and it was important that the Committee dealt with this as a serious matter. Note that the Committee does so by a Procedural Penalty: the unacceptable remark does not mean, of itself, that East/West should receive a favourable adjustment. Nevertheless, looking at the circumstances as a whole, it is surprising the Committee decided not to give East/West 800 as well.

Appeal No 18.
Misbids are part of the game, and no redress is suitable if there is no misexplanation.

Appeal No 19.
This does look like an attempt to see if a Committee is in a very generous mood, and thus the deposit was correctly forfeited.

Appeal No 20.
At international level a pair that cannot provide proof of their methods must normally expect to be ruled against.

Appeal No 21.
It is important that players explain their methods adequately. Perhaps South could be told in future to make it clearer which part of the paper contains the answer to a question, if necessary starting each answer on a fresh piece of paper.

Appeal No 22
Players who do not mention tempo breaks until the Appeals Committee should not expect the Committee to take any serious notice of them. An infraction does not necessarily lead to redress: the damage must be consequent on the infraction, and the Committee decided this was not the case.

Appeal No 23.
It is pleasing that the deposit was forfeited: players who are personalities are not exempt from Regulations, even though they may think they are.

Appeal No 24.
One effect of the East/West confusion was that they removed themselves from a making grand slam to one that depends on the opening lead. Do North/South really want more than that?

Appeal No 25.
This is an important principle, namely that at international level it is expected that pairs will have their agreements in place, especially in the early rounds of the auction. Perhaps this could be included in the Conditions of Contest. While at a lower level it is normal for pairs to have little idea of what they are doing, the presumption is that they will know at this level, and that their opponents have a right to be able to rely on this. However, with no Condition of Contest, there is the question of whether a procedural penalty should be applied when it is not being applied at other tables where there are similar misexplanations. See Appeal 19 and Appeal 28, for example. Should, perhaps, the Appeals Committee issue a procedural penalty when a case comes to them but they do not adjust, so long as it is early enough in the auction so that it is reasonable to expect a pair to know their agreements? What about Directors?

Appeal No 26.
The interpretation of Logical Alternative is not consistent in the various jurisdictions around the world, and it is good to have an authority for the correct interpretation in European Bridge League events

Appeal No 27.
It is important that people understand the difference between withdrawing acquiescence in a claim and a cancelled concession. In the former case a player has claimed. His opponents initially agreed to the claim (otherwise the balance of any doubt would go against the claimer). Once the opponents make a call on the next board (or the round ends) "Acquiescence" is said to have occurred. If an opponent withdraws acquiescence after that time, the balance of proof has shifted. Now if there is any normal play which gives claimer the tricks he claimed then he gets those tricks. If the defence had contested the claim at the time they would have got another trick routinely because one possible line (the heart lead) gives them one. Since it was too late for that, they were now only given a trick if the Committee considered there was no normal line of play that did not give the defence an extra trick. That is what the Committee decided, namely that there was no alternative "normal" play to playing a heart for the level of player involved. A cancelled concession is where a player concedes (with or without an accompanying claim) and later tries to get one of the tricks back that he conceded. It is dealt with under a different Law with different effects. Note that a Committee, like a Director, can take action on anything that comes to their notice even if it is not part of the actual Appeal.

Appeal No 28.
Compare Appeal 25. Should the Committee take action against East/West for their lack of knowledge of their system on the first round in an uncomplicated auction, even though no adjustment is in order?

Appeal No 29.
In some jurisdictions it is considered that a player who breaks tempo on a balanced hand over 1NT is not considered to have a "demonstrable bridge reason". Thus this provides an important precedent for European Bridge League events.

Appeal No 30.
Whether there is a break in tempo is a matter for each individual Committee, and it is not a good idea to have specific rules such as there is no tempo break if only one side of the screen comments thereon. Furthermore, there is no reason to wait for proof that West has Unauthorised Information before judging that there is. The Committee should take all the facts into consideration. However, it is fair to remark that there is not particularly likely to have been a tempo break in a tempo-sensitive auction like this one when one side of the screen did not apparently notice it. It is also surprising that the Committee has over-ruled the Director on a matter of fact: while they have a perfect right to do so, it is not a normal procedure. See Appeal 7.

Appeal No 31.
While not disagreeing with the Committee's decision that the Director had investigated fully, it does leave the interesting question unanswered: why did East not bid 2H over 2D?

Appeal No 32.
Note the procedure adopted by the Committee eventually: often in Unauthorised Information cases there is long consideration of irrelevant points, while in fact the answers to those questions are all that is required.

Appeal No 33.
Given the regulations concerning convention cards, the captain of the East/West pair should never have permitted his players to play against a changed convention card.

Appeal No 34.
At international level a pair that cannot provide proof of their methods must normally expect to be ruled against.

Appeal No 35.
An infraction does not necessarily lead to redress: the damage must be consequent on the infraction, and the Committee decided this was not the case.

Appeal No 36.
There is always a danger in using names of conventions in explanations because they mean different things to different people. Notice the method of applying a weighted score under Law 12C3: the imp scores are calculated separately for the different scores, and then the weighting is applied. The European Bridge League then rounds the final figure in favour of the non-offending sides (different jurisdictions handle fractional scores differently).

Appeal No 37.
After North's tempo break, does South not have a logical alternative of pass to his double? It is surprising that the Committee did not think so. The actual decision under law 73D1 (Variations in Tempo) is clearly correct, since North and South had demonstrable bridge reasons for their actions, but why was the double allowed when there was Unauthorised Information?

Appeal No 38.
While a named card must be played, if the next player plays without looking to see what card is moved from dummy it is considered his fault.

General Comments.
The standard reached by the Appeals Committees in Malta was very high indeed. The writer has seen and commented on a variety of Appeals decisions from around the world, and it is pleasing to see 38 Appeals with no obvious clear mistake in any one. There are a few matters that might be discussed as indicated in the comments attached to each appeal, but in general these 38 Appeals provide excellent precedents to the correct way to handle a wide variety of situations.


Editor's note:

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