Commentary on Appeals from Tenerife 2001
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Appeals from European Championships, Tenerife 2001

Commentary by David Stevenson (England)


Editor's note:

Full details of the Appeals have been published by the European Bridge League. If you want a copy then write to Anna Gudge.
They are also available on the Swiss Federation site.


General comment:
Appeals 16, 29 and 41 are very important cases establishing important precedents.

Appeal 1:
That's a large club!
At international level players are expected to take some care in deciding what methods their opponents use. Here declarer should have taken note of the C8: in a lesser event she might have been adjudged to be damaged because she would not be expected necessarily to think it through.

Appeal 2:
What damage?
The Appeals Committee presumed misinformation when there was no evidence to indicate whether it was misinformation or a misbid: that is what the Law requires. For an adjustment not only must misinformation be present but damage as well. In this case the Appeals Committee did not believe there was damage

Appeal 3:
What was the weighting?
While it is legal to give a score under Law 12C3 solely in matchpoints, it would be a help if the Tournament Director were to explain the basis. The normal approach is to quote percentages of individual scores, as the Appeals Committee did.

Appeal 4:
Different standards
The Tournament Director might have weighted the adjusted score, since it does not look certain that 3NT will make with the correct explanation. However, the Appeals Committee felt that players should protect themselves more. While North might have made sure she got the correct answer, perhaps East-West might also have been aware that this is an ambiguous situation.

Appeal 5:
What happened elsewhere?
The problem with considering what happened at other tables when deciding frequencies is that the results are only really relevant if the situation is identical. So really, only tables where West is known to have a singleton club should be considered and that information is not usually available to a Tournament Director.

Appeal 6:
Two-thirds of a make!
Unlike Appeals 1 and 4 the Appeals Committee considered that declarer did make a reasonable effort to protect himself so felt an adjustment was appropriate. Weighted scores are especially useful in misinformation cases where it is not known what would have happened with correct information.

Appeal 7:
No redress for misbids!
Did North really feel he had been damaged? If not, it is difficult to see why North-South appealed. South got a correct explanation, and an international standard player should realise there is no redress for a misbid.

Appeal 8:
What happened?
In general an Appeals Committee will not overturn a Director on a finding of fact unless they have strong reason to do so.

Appeal 9:
Where are we going?
It is interesting to know how the Appeals Committee reached a contract of 3S. North passed over 3C: would he bid 3S if West had bid 3H? Surely, South is not rebidding 3S if 3H comes round to him. Perhaps South will double for takeout and then North will bid 3S.

Appeal 10:
Oh no! Not Ghestem again!
As we have seen earlier Appeals Committees in Tenerife do expect players to protect themselves, but here there is no real way of doing so. East-West were misinformed: were they damaged? It is somewhat surprising that the Appeals Committee thought otherwise, though it was close. It is difficult to believe that West would bid 3H when a two-suiter was passed to him. Despite the expert's comments, at the table I believe most good players would deduce a misfit and pass: the void spade is not a good feature.

Appeal 11:
How long is a pause?
With screens tempo problems should be reduced, and allowing for some randomness in returning the tray, and the acceptance that it is normal in complicated situations to be a little slower, it takes a very long pause before unauthorised information is considered to be passed.

Appeal 12:
Which meaning?
Even with the policy of investigating fully, a player is in a very difficult situation when the meaning of his partner's call depends on the meaning of an opponent's call. Since East was put in an impossible position he deserved some redress.

Appeal 13:
Speedy Swedes
It is a pity that North-South are known as fast bidders. Current recommendations with screens are to vary the return of the tray somewhat and with pairs that tend to randomise a fifteen second pause before returning the tray creates no unauthorised information whatever.

Appeal 14:
Is it takeout?
Certainly there is no reason to suppose that a protective double either does or does not contain the spade king. But the Appeals Committee made a surprising decision here in not accepting there was damage from the description of a takeout double. It is not clear what more investigation they expected declarer to make.

Appeal 15:
Seeking help
Note the methodology: the Director consulted various top players to find out what they would have done. This is now recommended at all levels of the game.

Appeal 16:
East did not hesitate on purpose, he said. No-one doubts him, but he should have said sorry after finding he had hesitated with a small doubleton.

Note the Tournament Director gave a "split" and "weighted" score. A split score is one where the two sides get different scores. A weighted score is one where there are percentages of various scores to do equity.

Appeal 17:
Let's try again!
This is the sort of appeal that we can do well without, and a forfeited deposit may not be enough: perhaps an Appeals Committee should have the power to issue a procedural penalty as well. North has no case, but wishes to try it on the Tournament Director and the Appeals Committee in case one of them is having a bad day.

Appeal 18:
I was always going to sacrifice really!
South was intending to sacrifice if the opponents reach slam, but as this appeal shows, that is not good enough. When a player is in receipt of unauthorised information from partner she is limited in what she may do, and previous intent is not enough to make certain calls legal.

Appeal 19:
The three-pronged attack
Damage has to be consequent on misinformation to get an adjustment. Here West tried a dubious double, and tried to get it back via Tournament Director and Appeals Committee. See comments on Appeal 17.

Appeal Committee Special Meeting No. 1:
Follow the regulations
While the regulations seem at first sight very harsh it must be remembered that this is a top international event, and players and their captains are expected to attain very high standards.

Appeal 21:
Strange methods
This seems a little strange: East-West seem to be playing methods, which if explained accurately, do not cover all the likely hand types.

Appeal 22:
Convention not on the card
I feel the deposit must have been at risk here. North-South do not seem to have much of an argument. It is a position where players normally play conventional defences but it is not a common position. It seems unlikely that North-South check for this position at the start of each match.

Appeal 23:
When is a card played?
East said that the ace of hearts had been played so she could see it but this is a common misconception: a defender's card is not played when declarer or dummy can see it, but when partner can see it. However, this was a red herring as the Appeals Committee accepted.

Appeal 24:
Some of the time
An example of why weighted scores seem fair in certain situations. East would probably have gone wrong. Without Law 12C3 the decision would either be to give East full redress which hardly seems fair when she would probably go wrong, or to give her no redress which also seems unfair because she might have got it right.

Appeal 25:
Do you know which doubles need alerts?
According to the Director South's double if not alerted was for takeout. I am not entirely sure this is what I would expect, but if East needs to know [as he does] then at this level he should ask more, and not rely on a non-alert in a situation where it is not entirely clear what a non-alert means.

It is my personal view that even behind screens no doubles should be alerted after opener has rebid. Unfortunately, some authorities make no doubles alertable, but that it not right either: first round doubles need the protection of alerting.

Appeal 26:
Short suit lead
If you lead a spade you are hoping for a five-card suit and normal breaks: if you lead a heart then you are hoping for more: a six-card suit, a 3-3 break, or a semi-solid suit. So a spade looks better odds. Without the unauthorised information of course North may choose a spade if she wishes but it becomes illegal with the unauthorised information, which suggests some sort of extreme distribution.

Appeal 27:
When in doubt, ask!
Throughout these appeals one thread runs: players need to protect themselves at this level. In this case where a bid of the opponent's suit has different meanings dependent on the opponent's method it is a matter of care to check that method.

Appeal 28:
Quick, quick, slow!
This is in line with the Code of Practice but there are some worries. Deducing voids in partner's hand because the opponents are world champions sounds like a losing policy to me! To make this tempo business work the tray should not have come back fast if there had been a quick Blackwood response: slowing it down to the normal fifteen seconds avoids tempo problems.

Appeal 29:
Write, don't speak
The Tournament Director seems to have a surprising view that the failure to follow the regulations was South's fault, rather than both players. All questions and answers at this level are required to be written. In fact they often are not but that is no excuse. When a player ignores the regulations and something goes wrong he is at fault, and that applies to West as much as to South.

The Appeals Committee decision, while clearly reasonable, is a landmark one. The normal use of Law 12C3 is to weight scores when it is not clear where the auction would have gone without the infraction. But the actual wording of law 12C3 leaves it up to the Appeals Committee to use this Law in a wider fashion "to do equity". Here they have used it because they have apportioned blame partly to each side.

Appeal 30:
Wild hand, wild bidding
North-South have certainly got some unfortunate arguments in support of their case. Everyone gets into difficulties sometimes, and for them to suggest that you should not get into difficulties when a double is ambiguous is not reasonable. Furthermore, it was not really ambiguous: both sides of the table seem to be playing it as points. Fortunately the Appeals Committee did not fall for the blarney and gave them no redress.

Appeals Committees [and Tournament Directors] are required to deal with everything that comes to their notice, so it is correct that they considered East's 6H bid even though that was not the basis of North-South's objection. Interestingly, the Appeals Committee now split the score: what is the basis for this? For them to do that, they clearly thought that North-South's actions were irrational, wild or gambling: South's failure to double 6H was certainly wild!

Appeal 31:
Of course we bid the game!
Misinformation, yes, but was there damage? What did East think was going on? Is there any chance that East guessed, and felt he could have a two-way shot? Were East-West a bit lucky here?

Appeal 32:
Ask and you shall know
If your opponents appear to be confused you have two courses open to you: you can let them stay confused or you can try to find out what is going on. If you hope to gain from letting them stay confused you should not expect the Tournament Director or Appeals Committee to give it back to you. West had a fair idea what was going on because of his hand, and might easily have doubled 4D without an alert. He decided not to so as to gain from the confusion, so is not entitled to redress when his decision rebounded.

Appeal 33:
Careless alerting
There is a laid-down procedure on how to alert behind screens. Many players do not follow it, and when players accept the actual practice of alerting which is not the correct one they are not going to get redress at a later time because the method of alerting is not to their liking.

Appeal 34:
How many suits has North got?
Throughout these appeals there is a recurring theme of self-protection. Usually it shows the difference at international level, but surely it is sensible at any level to check on the meaning of a possible cue-bid or shortness bid when your side's double ahs different meanings based on the answer? Perhaps the answer in an ordinary game of bridge is that unauthorised information problems may preclude such questions, but there are no such problems with screens.

Appeal 35:
If it is not for penalties then it is not for penalties
West wrote a description that was clearly not that of a penalty double. Now South asked a further question as to whether it was for penalties. Common-sense suggests that when getting an answer apparently contradicting the first one some more investigation is required, especially when South knows it will make such a big difference to the meaning of her bidding.

Appeal 36:
How did you explain it, partner?
While screens do solve a lot of problems, they do create the problem of different explanations on the two sides of the screen. Some might feel that in this case the Appeals Committee might have given East the benefit of some percentage of a spade lead. Even if not, with the apparent misexplanation on one side of the screen, it is surprising the deposit was forfeited.

Appeal 37:
You have a Strong Club and I have all this?
Somewhat like Appeal 32, North chose to let East-West stumble on when he had a fair idea what is happening. He cannot expect redress in such a case.

Appeal 38:
What is going on?
It is not entirely clear whether there was misinformation. No damage resulted in the Appeals Committee's view, so they did not need to decide whether there was any misinformation.

Appeal 39:
Once a decision has been made with a number of players and Directors in agreement an appeal seems unnecessary. The purpose of an appeal is because the appealing side have reason to believe that the Director's ruling is wrong, not because they just want two tries at getting the decision they want.

Appeal 40:
Where's the void?
It appears there was no misinformation. However, it was not an unreasonable view by the Director that there might have been, though if so the A lead does not look a 100% lead.

Appeal 41:
Contested claim and an outstanding trump
It is a very important principle of Law that the Appeals Committee corrected here: contested claims are decided by Law 70, and are not assigned scores. Thus Law 12C3 can not be applied: for that matter, nor can Laws 12C1 and 12C2.

The other very important point is that the Appeals Committee decided that normal play did not include playing the trump suit when declarer thinks all the tricks are his. A reasonable conclusion, but not one that is universally applied. Perhaps this appeal will be considered a precedent.


Editor's note:

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