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Controlling the Tray to Avoid Giving Partner UI

Steve Weinstein raised this question during the editing of this article and since nobody commented then, I thought I'd pull it out and see what people thought since I agree it's an interesting question. The salient features of this situation are as follows:

  • You are North, playing behind screens, so you are in control of the tray and LHO is your screenmate
  • LHO makes a bid that will end their auction 99.9%+ of the time and leave your partner on lead
  • You have a difficult decision about whether to make a lead-directing double
  • In passout seat you'll be the only one on your side of the screen to act, and on the auction you can't realistically be thinking about taking an action other than pass or double

There are probably other analogous situations but let's assume all of that for now. A simple auction that might produce this situation is 1NT by LHO, invitational 2NT by RHO, 3NT by LHO. If you think and pass when the tray comes back, you'll give partner UI since it has to be you thinking and you can't really be thinking about anything except doubling for the lead.

The question is: are you allowed to hold the tray after LHO's bid while you think to prevent transmitting UI to partner? Also, does it matter if you and/or LHO already broke tempo on your side of the screen (i.e. if you are lengthening the BIT not creating one)?

This is allowed regardless
Allowed if you're lengthening an existing BIT but not if you're creating one
Not allowed regardless
Depends on some other factor (please explain)

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