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Unauthorised Information

by David Stevenson


One problem in both online and face-to-face bridge is that of unauthorised information, often referred to as UI. As a very simple example, a player doubles a contract after thinking for seventy seconds. It is clear that he is doubtful whether double is correct, so his partner takes it out, and this is the best thing to do. But would he have taken out if it had been a “quick, happy double” as a friend of mine puts it?

Everyone with any experience has had trouble one way or another with UI problems. But many people seem to think it is merely a complication put in by the lawmakers to make life difficult. Not so: bridge using UI would be terrible: let us look at an example.

Suppose your LHO [left hand opponent – remember?] bids 1NT, showing 15 to 17 points. Then he says or types “Sorry: I forgot we were playing strong no-trump: I normally play a weak no-trump”. Your RHO has ten points, and passes, and your opponents make 1NT exactly. Do you think this is fair?

No, of course it isn't. If they are going to tell each other what is in their hands they might as well show their hands to each other – why do we have an auction at all? Now most people would think this is unfair, but as soon as it gets more subtle they do not like it if they are expected to follow the rules. If your partner hesitates so you know his bid is doubtful, and you use that information, then you are getting an unfair advantage. You may think people would not, but there are people who do not know the rules, people who do not care about the rules, people who do not notice hesitations and people who allow for partner's hesitations subconsciously.

The game is much better if players do not use UI from partner. So you should ask the Director to rule if you think the opponents might have used UI [in games where there is a Director] and you should accept cheerfully when you are ruled against due to UI.


Last month I asked people to write in about my article 'Claims with a trump out'. Some did, but I would like a few more opinions before I write the follow-up article.

Please remember to write to me with your problems. I am afraid I will not guarantee to answer each query personally, but I shall look at everything sent, and will write about some subjects submitted this way.


Editor's note:

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