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First unpleasant experience of changed 2017 Laws

Australia adopted these new laws on 1st August 2017. The Law that applies to the situation my partner and I encountered is Law 25 (Legal and Illegal Changes of Call). I have pasted the 2007 & 2017 Laws (the parts that are relevant) for comparison.

2007: LAW 25 - LEGAL AND ILLEGAL CHANGES OF CALL (Old) A. Unintended Call

1. Until his partner makes a call, a player may substitute his intended call for an unintended call but only if he does so, or attempts to do so, without pause for thought. The second (intended) call stands and is subject to the appropriate Law.

2017: LAW 25 - LEGAL AND ILLEGAL CHANGES OF CALL (New) A. Unintended Call

1. If a player discovers that he has not made the call he intended to make, he may, until his partner makes a call, substitute the call he intended for the unintended call. The second (intended) call stands and is subject to the appropriate Law, but the lead restrictions in Law 26 do not apply.

2. If the player’s original intent was to make the call selected or voiced, that call stands. A change of call may be allowed because of a mechanical error or a slip of the tongue, but not because of a loss of concentration regarding the intent of the action.

3. A player is allowed to replace an unintended call if the conditions described in A1 above are met, no matter how he may have become aware of his error.

West
AKJ107
J62
A64
73
North
432
K5
K1082
10654
East
Q85
AQ10743
Q
AK9
South
96
98
J9753
QJ82
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
?
D

My partner and I were playing in a West Australian State event. This was the second night of a 2 session event. The standard is average but better than a club session.

After the bidding reached 5 Hearts (2 Key Cards without QH) my partner passed and West went into a long tank wondering whether to bid on or pass 5 Hearts. Two or three minutes passed and now East became agitated and called the Director. After stepping away from the table to discuss the matter with the Director the player returned and, with the Director’s agreement, changed the bid from 5 Hearts to 5 Spades. West now bid 6 Hearts which made 7.

My partner and I were incensed but the Director stated that the revised bidding was acceptable and the result should stand. In particular the Director advised that he accepted the player’s explanation that the original 5 Heart call was a genuine mistake. The Director brought the rule book and quoted the above 2017 Law. We did not appeal this decision – mainly because neither pair was in contention to win nor did this Board have any major impact on the overall results.

It should be noted that East recently played for an Australian representative team and that West is a reasonable player but inexperienced. Why mention this? Because Directors worldwide are now going to be put in the position of having to decide on the ethics of any player that changes a call in this situation. In fact the Director asked me, away from the table, if I thought East was an unethical player. That is not the point. For me this was a definite lapse in concentration – for what other reason could it take two or three minutes to decide you made the wrong call?

Changing the previous wording in Law 25 is crazy – now players could be in the position of being able to have an each way bet in numerous bidding situations.

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