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Attributable

The following is motivated by another discussion "Interesting ruling situation" (Oct 9). In the first place it is a question for the directors familiar with the new rules, but I am presenting this as a poll anyway.

My question is about the intended meaning of the word "attributable" in Law 23 (regarding Comparable Calls). Let us restrict our attention to Insufficient Bids. An IB does not have a systemic meaning, but we can assign a meaning to it, based on... well, let's see.

Let us suppose that we have already ruled out a mechanical error, and that the player did not make any UI about his intentions available at the table. In my experience the latter is not realistic, but for the sake of simplicity let us take this for granted.

Let us suppose furthermore that there are different things the player who made the IB might have thought at the time, and that the various possible intentions behind the IB lead to substantially different "meanings" of the IB. (I will present an example shortly.)

The director can take the player away from the table (in order to avoid spreading UI) and find out what the intended meaning was. Or he can just collect possible intentions behind the IB and summarize them all as "attributable".

Position 1: Every such meaning is attributable in the sense of Law 23, even if it was clearly not the player's intention.

Position 2: Only the intended meaning of the IB is attributable in the sense of Law 23.

Example: 1NT-(2)-2*

Responder may have overlooked the interference and wanted to make a transfer bid. In this case, "hearts" is the intended meaning of the IB. Or he may have had a blackout regarding the level of the bidding (as said before, no mechanical error). In that case, "diamonds" would be the intended meaning behind 2.

Following Position 2, the director could decide that "hearts" is the only meaning attributable to the 2 bid if responder holds a lot of hearts, or that "diamonds" is the only meaning attributable to the 2 bid if he holds a lot of diamonds.

As a result, either 3 or 3 is a Comparable Call, but not both. Now, the director should not tell the entire table which actions he has found to be CCs because this would be the same as telling everyone about responder's hand.

In practice there will often be a viable solution, i.e. the director will be able to explain the laws to the players without spreading UI, such that the players are able to complete the hand in a reasonable manner.

However, a problem with this approach is that the player in question might start to inquire about what calls are comparable. I am not sure how explicitly the director is supposed to advise the player himself - still away from the table - about which calls he considers comparable.

The last thing you want is tell the player on the spot that a certain bid is a CC in your opinion and later reverse your views. On the other hand, if you give the player no guidance whatsoever, he might feel that he is at the director's mercy and subject to a potentially arbitrary decision later.

Following Position 1, the director would rule that "hearts" and "diamonds" are both meanings attributable to the 2 bid, no matter what responder actually holds.

In the given example, this might be a simpler (and better?) solution. However, in general the approach might run into problems because the director must gather all possible intentions behind an IB, and this can be highly impracticable.

Also note that this actually means responder is allowed to bid 3 with diamonds or 3 with hearts without barring his partner. I don't see why he should to do so in our particular example, but it might open some unexpected doors in more complex cases.

In the end I believe either Position can be more convenient in a specific case. But for the sake of consistency our Position should be the same in all cases; I don't think the application of the law should be that the word "attributable" can be interpreted at will.

What do you think is the right view?

Position 1
Position 2
Other (feel free to elaborate)

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