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Sky Blue book 4.3.1: "Undos are allowed"

This has been bothering me for some while.

This rule says that "The time limit on corrections in Law 25A (until partner makes a call) does not apply."

To put it bluntly, you can't do that.

I understand why it's there, and it's a very good reason, but that doesn't mean you can do it. The regulating authority does not have the option to change a law unless the laws specifically say so - and they don't for law 25A. (Compare to 40B2b where the regulating authority may allow players to consult their own system cards.)

As someone (possibly David Stevenson) said, if you're not following the rules, you're not playing bridge.

I realise that this may (will?) sound pedantic in the extreme, but I think it matters. You can't pick and choose what laws you follow, even if you have an excellent reason.

Back on a practical level, banning undos after partner has called will not stop people playing bridge, it will just make them more careful. There are also other things that coud be done - for example not allowing a player to call until at least 10 seconds after his partner last called. This would allow plenty of time to find and click the undo request button.


  • edited August 2021

    Are you not concerned about Laws 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8....?

    And that we don't allow undos at all in our daily 12-board games?

  • A lot of the Laws are, to me, written specifically to work in face-to-face contexts. I believe we need a fresh laws book asap to cater for the online game. We don't want to wait until 2027 for it.

  • I raised this question with the secretary of the WBFLC at the start of the pandemic and he replied that most of what was needed could be done effectively by means of regulations for online bridge rather than new laws, so that was what prompted the SkyBlue book.

    The Laws for online bridge that were published in 2001 didn't really do the job and as far as I know have never much been used.

  • "The Laws for online bridge that were published in 2001 didn't really do the job and as far as I know have never much been used."

    I would agree with that. I did use them for Bridge Club Live, not that they made any significant difference, but not after 2007 when they weren't updated in parallel with the mainstream Laws. Regulation is clearly the way as each platform is different.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • @gordonrainsford said:
    Are you not concerned about Laws 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8....?

    Actually, no. I take your point, but those laws (mostly) still make sense in an online context, taking sensible meanings for the terms used. Example:

    _LAW 1 - THE PACK
    A. Rank of Cards and Suits
    Duplicate Bridge is played with a pack of 52 cards, consisting
    of 13 cards in each of four suits. The suits rank downward in
    the order spades (♠), hearts (♥), diamonds (♦), clubs (♣). The
    Cards of each suit rank downward in the order Ace, King,
    Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
    A card is that represented as such on the screen. The pack is the collection of such cards.

    _B. The Face of the Cards
    The Regulating Authority may require the face of each card to
    be symmetrical.
    _As indeed they are in online systems.

    _C. The Backs of the Cards
    The backs of all 52 cards in a deck should be identical. They
    may incorporate words, a logo or a pictorial design but the
    image used should possess a centre of symmetry.
    _Again they are in online systems (when being dealt)

    The difference between these and law 25A is that with 1 - 8 whilst you may have to make some stretching interpretations of the law, the essence (the reason why it's there) is not changed.

    For law 25A, the reason it is there is that it has been determined (by whoever sets the laws) that partner calling gives too much UI for an unintentional bid to be retracted.

    And that we don't allow undos at all in our daily 12-board games?

    Yes I am. I had heard about that but since I don't play them I had forgotten that aspect.

  • And while I'm at it...

    Is there anything that specifically allows Robots to play (or excludes them from doing so)?

  • Hmm. The laws just seem to refer to players, they're not particularly specific otherwise.

  • I can't find anything that requires players to be humans (although it wouldn't surprise me if it were there and hard to find). Law 76D sort-of implies that players should be people, but doesn't actually break when applied to robots (it basically just implies that robots aren't allowed to kibitz games, and they would have no reason to). Law 80B2a appears to prevent robots serving as Director except on the Tournament Organiser's instruction, but that's a fairly minimal restriction.

    There are references to things like "intent" in the Laws, but these are concepts that can reasonably be applied to computers as well as humans (e.g. you can use a debugger to see which card a robot intended to play in cases where, e.g., it's suspected that someone might have been tampering with its network connection).

    There are also things like the unauthorised information rules, which don't apply in a straightforward way to robots – if information is available in theory but a robot has been made incapable of receiving it, is it violating the Laws if it takes an action suggested over a logical alternative by it? (Robot programmers could sidestep the issue entirely by designing the robot so that it always makes the same choice in the same circumstances; that would have the consequence that any action the robot took would have no logical alternatives, because if you polled a number of identical robots about what to do, they would all do the same thing as it did.)

    There do seem to be a few Laws that don't behave properly in a robot context, though. Law 40A1a stands out because it appears to imply either that robots have no partnership understanding, or that their method of gaining a partnership understanding is illegal (robots don't learn their system as they play, and don't discuss it, they're just created with knowledge of what system they're playing). 40C1 is also interesting; no matter how often you psyche opposite a robot partner, it'll still take you seriously every time.

  • @JeremyChild said:
    And while I'm at it...

    Is there anything that specifically allows Robots to play (or excludes them from doing so)?

    In the Sky-Blue Book: yes. I used some non-descript phrase like 'software agents' - it seems a long time ago!

  • In the Dec21 Sky Blue Book, the update in 4.3.1 reads "the player should not
    request an UNDO if they have seen partner’s subsequent call, but the UNDO request may
    appear to the other players after they see the partner’s call". Can anyone explain what the second part of the sentence means? Also, In the second part, does "partner's" refer to the partner of the misclicker or the partner of the other player?

  • Presumably this is covering that there may be a lag in the undo request being sent and being displayed to the others at the table, and/or that partner did not see the undo request and so made their call before the undo request was brought to their attention?

    For example, 1C - P - (undo request sent) - 1H (undo request pops up on screen)...

  • I think it must refer to the partner of the person who requested the undo.

  • The text is meant to cover the situation where N (say) make an intended call, E passes, N realises their mistake and requests an UNDO, and at much the same time S bids. North requested an UNDO before they saw South's bid but South bid before the UNDO requested was registered. It is up to the internet whether the UNDO request or South's bid appears first (to EW). This request is in time, despite South's bid.

    The UNDO request would not be in time if North had seen the South bid before North clicked UNDO. But we (the rest of the table or the TD) may not always be able to tell.

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