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UI came then went ?

Partner first in hand opens a weak 2S, next hand bids 3D and you double for penalty.
No alert from partner for your intended 100% penalty X so you have UI,.
After some thought partner bids 3H.
Can you now assume partner isn't treating your double as penalty, in effect 'cancelling' the UI you received from the failure to alert, rather than partner didn't fancy passing your penalty double.


  • Why should you assume that? The only information you have got is partner did not alert when he should have done (so UI)and when he bids 3H you know by his failure to alert that he is unsure or has got it wrong.

  • Well the UI suggests that, so you must carefully avoid taking advantage of it. So: what kind of hand could partner have that doesn't want to defend 3D X? That suggests extra offence that has previously been undeclared.

    Partner possibly has 6-5-0-2 (or 6-4-0-3) if that is permissible using the methods of the partnership. If you have decent hearts you will have to consider whether to bid game or pass. (If this isn't an agreement then maybe partner has deviated and we poll (inevitably). It seems that we have the following options.

    Convert to 3S with equal numbers of spades and hearts - * Logical Alternative
    Bid 4S with something like 17 points and a good doubleton spade * Logical Alternative
    Pass 3H - with moderate values and heart support.
    Raise to 4H - with a good hand in support of hearts.
    Bid 3NT - with club values. (I assume you have the diamonds well held).* Logical Alternative.

    Of course if partner cannot have 4 hearts then we look at Law 16A

    A. Players’ Use of Information
    1. A player may use information in the auction or play if:
    (a) it derives from the legal calls and plays of the current board (including illegal calls and
    plays that are accepted) and is unaffected by unauthorized information from another source;
    (b) it is authorized information from a withdrawn action (see D); or
    (c) it is information specified in any law or regulation to be authorized or, when not
    otherwise specified, arising from the legal procedures authorized in these laws and in
    regulations (but see B1 following); or
    (d) it is information that the player possessed before he took his hand from the board (Law
    7B) and the Laws do not preclude his use of this information.

    You cannot use 1(a) because the call is affected by unauthorized information from another source (failure to alert) so the only escape is 1(d). If your agreements are that 2S specifically denies 4 Hearts then I might be predisposed to allow the AI (Would mention it in the poll). (Partner's hesitation is of course also UI, expressing doubt as to the meaning of the call.)

  • Should you not assume that the double was alerted and possibly confirmed by Q & A that it is a penalty double, so that you know that partner knows it was a double, but made the 3H call regardless, what might this mean?
    If there is no specific agreement for this, but there is an agreement that 2S open denies 4H and that doubles are penalties; is this then not clear that partner has forgotten the system, not because of the UI, but because of the crazy bid? Would this not bring a) in because the 3H call is legal but also crazy?
  • For what it's worth, if I were playing with an unfamiliar partner and they didn't alert 2S, (3D), X, I would assume that they didn't know the double was alertable, rather than assuming that they'd interpreted it as takeout.

    A free followup bid of 3H would be weird, but I don't think it necessarily implies that partner has interpreted the double as takeout – they could have a diamond void. (One approach I sometimes use when I have a good pre-empt plus a void is to pre-empt one level lower than normal and then bid again, showing the void and values whilst still getting some amount of pre-emption in. I find it's important to not let your pre-empts interfere with your own constructive bidding, so this is one of the techniques that can be used to try to avoid pre-empting partner rather than the opponents.)

    In my main partnership, this question would be even more interesting because we play 2S as a weak two in spades but 2H as a weak two in both majors (at least 4-4); 2S, (3D), X; 3H would therefore logically show 7402 or possibly 6403 shape (pre-empt then bid again showing a void, the void has to be in diamonds otherwise you wouldn't pull the double, and 5 hearts is mostly impossible because that would be a 2H opening; I guess a 7501 or 8500 hand might open 2S but this is getting into very unlikely hand types). I would be much more confident that partner has remembered that the X is penalty (this is an explicit agreement, and also matches both our meta-agreements for doubles and common sense) than I would be that partner has remembered that penalty doubles of suit contracts at the 3 level are alertable (failing to alert this is very common – in fact it's left unalerted much more often than not).

    The fact that I can construct logical reasoning for a 3H call even after a penalty double implies that the AI isn't duplicating the UI here; if you assume that UI exists at all (i.e. that there's any information in the missed alert of a 3-level double – in practice there usually isn't), then the 3H bid isn't enough to remove the constraints that it places on responder. The bid may be unusual enough to negate implications from the hesitation, though (it's very common for unusual/weird bids to be slow, so if you're planning to make one, it makes sense to consistently make it slowly to avoid producing UI).

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