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Exposure of hand by defender not on lead immediately prior to their claim

After about trick 9 declarer's right hand opponent who was not on lead faced his hand on the table. It contained 2 top trumps and a 3rd small trump along with the master Spade. He simultaneously made a claim for all the tricks stating 'I've got the top Spade and all the trumps so I can trump your lead and win all the tricks' or words to that effect.
Declarer called the TD who ruled that the claim was good as defender on lead would lead a Club for partner to ruff enabling him to draw trumps.
3 rounds of Spades had been played with declarer ruffing the 3rd round.
Hands were something like:
East (Declarer) 8D (trumps), QH, 63 Clubs
South 10S, QJ10 Clubs
West 7D, 7H, 105 Clubs
North KJ5 Diamonds, QS
2 rounds of Diamonds have been played and only 1 round of Clubs won by Declarer's Ace.
When challenged as to the validity of the claim the TD ruled that it was reasonable for defender on lead to lead QC, applying note 21 to Laws 70 and 71.
Declarer has now appealed the ruling on the grounds that the claimer was not on lead and that a defender's cards were faced so either Law 49 applies and the claimer's cards become penalty cards or applying note 21 that play of 10S would be 'normal' albeit careless or inferior for defender on lead (a 6 on NGS).
Please let me know whether Law 49 or 70/71 applies and if 70/71 whether play of 10S enabling declarer to ruff is 'normal' for the purposes of Law 70/71.


  • Card exposed as part of a claim are not penalty cards and a defender not on lead can claim. So Law 70 nor Law 49 applies. BUT

    Law 70D2. The Director does not accept any part of a defender’s claim that depends on his partner selecting a particular play from among alternative normal plays

    So a club lead from partner being "reasonable" it not enough. It has to be the only normal play.

  • edited November 2023

    Currently, the rules don't say that , "any legal play that gives the non-claiming side additional tricks" is the standard we judge the likely card to be led.

    The standard is, "careless or inferior play for the class of player" - a novice is more likely to make some types of mistakes than a seasoned player. Any other reading of that caveat is not reasonable. Consequently, the TD was entitled to conclude that in the absence of spades in dummy, and knowing declarer had no spades, that South would not lead a spade to partner's boss, giving declarer a ruff and discard.

    If the standard we need to judge things by is "any legal play...", then the rules should clearly say so, otherwise the TD is free to draw reasonable conclusions as to what play might be considered "careless or inferior for the class of player" and which plays would be grossly unfair for that class of player.


  • Thank you Robin. I think it's normal for defender on lead to lead any one of their cards in this instance. Robin's advice does lead open the possibility that a defender who carelessly placed their hand face up on the table should sometimes make a claim/concession in the hope they get a better result than that from having all their faced cards becoming penalty cards. Might this even work when a defender mistakenly believes they are dummy at trick 1?

  • I think if they tabled their entire hand at trick one (thinking they were dummy) stating a line of play would be something of a sticking point to the notion they were making a claim. Law 68 specifically references the instance where a defender "demonstrably did not intend to claim". I guess they might get away with pretending they were making a claim partway through the hand, there does seem to be a soft assumption in LAW 68 that a defender that shows their hand is claiming. Certainly it seems clear that in this case we're adjudicating a claim, not dealing with penalty cards.

    Robin sums it up well, as you'd expect, that the Q Clubs isn't sufficient to allow the play, you have to rule out the 10S as a 'normal' play.

  • edited November 2023

    Dummy has no right to make a claim, and any claim that is made whilst a trick is in progress is essentially ignored (until the trick is played at least).

    So when a hand goes down, it is presumably due to a lead out of turn and accepted. But I can't imagine how we end up with a defender placing their hand on the table thinking they're dummy, unless they were not paying any attention at all.

  • "But I can't imagine how we end up with a defender placing their hand on the table thinking they're dummy, unless they were not paying any attention at all."

    And yet, I've seen it a number of times!

  • I’ve never seen it outside the teaching room.

    So are you saying, that on those occasions, the offending players were paying attention? If not, I can’t see the point of your comment.

    What rulings were given?

  • In the EBU standard practice is to rule that all exposed cards are penalty cards, which usually gives the declarer quite a bit to think about!

    I know that in some other countries they would just cancel the board as being unplayable.

  • edited November 2023

    Thanks, that is interesting.

    For me, the offence being described goes beyond a simple revoke*, that is why I would be interested to know the reason given by the particular player for their action. If it was in response to an inappropriate lead, then the offence has some mitigation.

    As I say, it isn’t something I’ve ever come across, but if I did, I would be leaning towards the issuance of a warning. Whether we equate this to not paying attention or ignoring the opposition, without a mitigating factor the player has switched off and left the table in mind, if not body. It would be deserving of a warning.

    I would be interested to hear any arguments against, particularly as dummy can receive a warning for not paying attention and yet that arguably has nil impact on the hand.

    Again, thanks for the above insight.

    *a revoke is dealt with after the hand is played and equity can be restored. The particular offence has to be dealt with in realtime by declarer and any mistakes are on them.

  • At the risk of straying even further from the original topic, it's always worth remembering that a TD is allowed to deem that an exposed card is not a penalty card, and this can be done when the other side bears some responsibility for it being exposed.

  • Thank you. That’s a good point.

  • An interesting thread which raises one or two thoughts on what has been said so far.
    Jaded I don't think I can answer your request to "I would be interested to hear any arguments against, particularly as dummy can receive a warning for not paying attention and yet that arguably has nil impact on the hand."
    I looked at the definitions section of the laws of Duplicate Bridge and found the dummy is defined as "Declarer's partner" so no matter how hard either defender thinks they are dummy the laws say that they can't be if they do not partner Declarer. So in a way that would be the main argument against giving poor old dummy a warning.
    I haven't had this particular incident happen in the games I have directed but I can quite understand why it happens. The contract is determined, then all four players write up their scorecard and put their bidding cards away one is completing the Bridgemate and "bang" there you go someone puts down their hand. I think that some kind individual has probably said "it isn't your lead" and there are probably three embarassed faces around the table. The one that did it, one that thought of doing it and one that thought "I should have made my lead earlier" This is then followed by a hushed voice "pick them up and don't worry, it makes no difference. We needn't disturb the director." So whilst it may not have been dealt with in the games you have organised I don't think they called you.

    I suspect that most directors can think of other reasons why it can happened. However, the very big question is how to prevent it happening again. I really don't think that issuing warnings will either help the club or instill good practice to all the membership in general.

    There are numerous books about bidding, on this forum we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time determining how to deal with irregularities or infractions (or if there are any). There seems to be a complete lack of educating the vast majority of our players as to how they should deal with issues. I know that many years ago I was told not to worry about it because "you will pick it up as you go along". Well sorry but that is just not good enough these days. We probably need a "small" guide, similar to David Stevenson director guide for beginners and for improvers. Many do not understand what they can do as dummy (prevent revokes). Some defenders discard and say "having none" even though partner hasn't asked. After someone has made an insufficient bid just saying "that's insufficient" and no one calling the director so there is a substantial "mess" to clear up later. Being called for a revoke only to find, contary to Law 66 that all players have turned over their cards because "we only wanted to save time so you could see when the revoke ocurred". I have even found players have "taken back" a played card into their hand. I can imagine other directors of smaller clubs have similar experiences. I even went to a congress and found a fairly experienced player sitting as dummy turning over the quitted cards so that only they could see them (I don't think they will do that again). It is only because the greater part of our membership have no idea about the laws.

    I can remember someone started a thread about doing lessons and I just wondered how they got on.
    So Jaded you seem to have a handle on the laws how about turning some of your intellect into wise words for the "unwashed" and help us all with these absurdities. Have a word with EBED and see what you can muster.
    Yes I understand that some will not take it in but hey! we have to try. Otherwise we will all be playing "Kitchen bridge" with laws we want to apply (or are allowed to apply).

    Ducks behind the parapet.

  • I teach mine a number of laws as we go - announcing and alerting and essentially tell everyone to call the director if there is any issue - bids out of turn, revokes etc, as the laws are complex, ever changing and we want to ensure that issues are dealt with fairly. Plus, that is the directors job and what they get paid for (or don't pay session fees for playing directors).
    I add that trying to solve issues yourselves can make things worse.
    Also, things happen all the time and give examples of stupid things I have done at the table.

    I encourage the person that made the mistake call the director, as it removes a lot of the embarrassment etc.

  • The part where you say, “I don’t think that issuing warnings will either help the club or instill good practice to all the membership in general…” is one of a number of barriers* that need to be overcome (but never will be) before the problems you describe are eradicated. Please note that I am not saying your view is wrong.

    I’ve mentioned previously that people have different appetites about calling the director, protecting their own interests etc. The “etc” includes the reasons people play bridge.

    I can’t make people take an interest in the reason why a particular law ensures fairness, if the particular individual is of a mind that “life’s too short to deal with such nonsense”.

    TD’s also have different appetites for applying the rules. When we can’t deal consistently with something as “simple” as slow play, we make a rod for our own backs.

    The problems you’ve described can’t be solved without fundamentally changing the nature of every bridge club in the country. It isn’t going to happen.

    All we can do is what the EBU expects us to do, and that is simply do the best we can.

    *players will play to the rules that are enforced, not the rules you tell them to play to. When a TD moderates their decisions because they are concerned about the impact it will have on the club we must consider whether the law is wrong and/or the TD is wrong and/or the particular player is “out of their depth”.

  • edited November 2023

    Amusing side comment: I am currently directing the third division of the Premier League, played with screens, and dummy has just managed to put down all her screen-mate's cards as though they were hers and open the screen to expose them to everyone!

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