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Time to change the guidance for TD's ?

Very recently, I played in a national EBU event on RealBridge and on one board, I had occasion to call the director. The situation was that I was declarer in 3NT and we had reached trick 10 when I led from dummy an established card, the 13th Heart. My RHO discarded in tempo as did I. My LHO however thought for what seemed ages before discarding a small club. Now with the lead still in dummy, I play a Club towards my AQ and need to decide whether to finesse against RHO’s King or whether LHO had now bared his King, thinking (wrongly as it happens) that he had to keep his QS protected.

Taking into account the opponent’s long think, I played for the drop of the bared KC. Wrong choice, the finesse would have been right. It was shortly apparent that LHO had thought for ages before discarding a small Club from
S: Q7
C: 43

I called the director who took it away for consultation. When he came back, he told us that the time between my discard and my LHO’s was 14 seconds. As this was online, however, he said that there would be no action as there is a presumption that delays should be ignored online as the cause might be IT related.

I remember some guidance along those lines when we first started playing extensively online during covid. It was all without video then, usually on BBO. But this event was on RealBridge. We could all see my LHO thinking just as if this were F2F. He made no attempt to explain his delay to the director – he gave no suggestion that this was anything other than seeming to think.

The point of this post is to ask, in these days of RealBridge and of players at this level being very used to online competition and fully geared up for it, is it not time to change this guidance about ignoring delays in online bridge ?


  • The only guiidance I can find is this, from the White Book:

    8.16.11 Unauthorised information online
    Significant hesitations and remarks (‘table chat’) are unauthorised information, which will
    constrain the player and can be subject to a ruling under Law 16B or Law 73C.
    There can be reasons for pauses in an online game, due to the environment, but the TD is
    entitled to determine that a significant hesitation is nevertheless unauthorised information and
    rule accordingly.

    I recently ruled in an online case (on BBO) where I determined, based on the commments made by the players, that there had been a hesitation in the auction. It went to appeal and my ruling was upheld.

  • Thank you Gordon

    It is good to read that there is nothing compelling a director to ignore a pause in an online game.

    In this case, the breach which I was drawing to the attention of the directors was of Law 73(D)(2) with, I thought, a consequence under Law 73(E)(2).

    We finished mid-table and our opponents were not the winners ...if we had been close to winning or if the opponents had won the event, I would have appealed. As it was, it did not seem appropriate to take up the time of an appeal committee. If I had done so, would we have won the appeal ?

  • @MJK43 said:
    If I had done so, would we have won the appeal ?

    I'm not in the business of prediction, but I think an appeal would have had a foundation.

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