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How Late is Too Late?
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In the first match of Day 1 of the Roth Open Swiss at the Chicago Summer NABC, we had a situation come up that I am still a bit puzzled/peeved about, and I'd like to get the insights of the Bridge Winners Community.

Let me preface this by saying that I haven't been playing much at all in the past several months. As a result, I made more mistakes last week than I probably made in the entire previous year. Some really embarrassing mistakes. Mistakes that made me feel like I was a 299er again. (I'll be writing more about that in a future post, as my limited playing time is certainly affecting my bridge way more than I had anticipated.)

My very patient partner, Michael Bodell, wrote up a hand on Bridge Winners that I want to talk about.  Before I continue with this article, please review/answer the following bidding problem (IMP scoring, short matches):

South
10863
J10
104
A10963
W
N
E
S
1
2NT
3
P
3
P
?

South
10863
J10
104
A10963
W
N
E
S
1
2NT
3
P
3
P
?

Now for the story behind the hand, which was held by my partner Michael:

I alerted Michael's 3 bid as showing the lower of the unbid suits, hearts. Apparently I thought 2NT was unusual for the minors, forgetting, of course, that I had in fact opened a minor suit myself. Oblivion is a blissful state! I bid 3, and Michael now bid 3. At this point I decided 3NT was the proper spot to place the contract given my hand, with a diamond stopper.  I can't recreate exactly what I was thinking or when I clued in to my mistake or if I even did, but 3NT became the contract.

Before the opponents made their opening lead, Michael dutifully informed them of the mistaken alert. When the play was finished, I was down 1, for -100. My recollection is that we went on to play a few more boards, before ending the match, although it's possible it was the last board in the match. At no time was the director called, or any fuss made about my silly misalert mistake; I should also mention that one of the opponents was also a director of online ACBL games and presumably knew the rules. I suspect the opponents were feeling good about being the beneficiaries of a goofball mistake.

When the match ended, we did the comparison, and we wound up winning the match by 11. The mistake board cost us 4 IMPs.  I brought over the slip for the opponents to sign, which they did. Our scores agreed.

As we were playing the first board of match 2, one of the directors came over to ask us about the 3NT board. Apparently the opponents were claiming that we should be in something like 4, down a bunch, rather than in 3NT, down 1, given my misalert.  I was a bit taken aback that this complaint had been lodged after the start of the next match, given the amount of time the opponents had to call the director during our first match, or to mention something before we turned in the agreed-upon scores. 

We gave the director everything we could remember about the hands, the auction and the results, and the director went away to poll some players, having constructed the hands from both sides' collective memories.  She came back later to tell us they had adjusted the score to 5, down 2 for -200, changing the result for that board from -4 IMPs to -6 IMPs.

Needless to say, I was quite annoyed. Should I be? I don't want to cast aspersions on my opponents, as they were both very nice players. It's possible that they were talking about the hand after the scores had been turned in and decided after talking that they were damaged.  Our second-round matchups were both affected by the score: in a way, their failure to deal with this earlier meant that they received an easier matchup and we received a harder matchup in round 2 than either of us would have been entitled to. So the delay in reporting benefited them and hurt us (either wittingly or unwittingly).

So... what are the rules? Shouldn't there be a time limit on this sort of protest, and if so, what is it?  Did the directors do the right thing?

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