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Quirky bridge law

To begin with, all the problems I have with Bridge Law relate primarily to matchpoints. If a player gets stupid at rubber or IMP scoring, he hurts only himself and his partner or team. But as a club director, I direct primarily matchpoint sessions where a dumb mistake might give a pair an unearned bonus, and affect the outcome of the event.

For example, consider the revoke penalty. In the majority of cases, the revoke itself has no effect on the outcome, but the penalty does. For example, at trick 11, West has the trump AK and a small club. A high club is led, and he ruffs, and then leads the other high trump. If his small club is still a loser, he has just lost the last three tricks while holding the trump AK. His table opponents have scored a huge bonus, earned only by their ability to notice the revoke. But the scores of many others in the field have also been affected.

I could give example after example. Why should an infraction by any pair have the possibility of affecting the score of other pairs who may not even be involved? I would propose instead a system that affects only the offenders. Instead of the convoluted reasoning that prescribes rectifications that affect the entire field, I propose exactly one standard ruling:

The illegal action is cancelled, the offender is assessed a Procedural Penalty of 1/4 board, and the action reverts to the player whose turn it was to act. If the non-offending side is disadvantaged, the director awards an adjusted score to restore equity.

Under current law, the usual option for the non-offending side, when the director is called, is to accept the illegal action as legal. The reasoning behind this escapes me. It is true that if the next player, by acting after an illegal action, creates a situation under which regarding that acceptance as legal is the lesser of evils. But this does not, IMHO, mean that a player ought to be afforded the decision to accept an inherently illegal action as legal. Instead, I think that a player should be ethically bound to call the director whenever he notices that an illegal action has taken place, even if he thinks that acting instead might be to his advantage.

An example might clarify this. Suppose that the auction goes: 2 1 ?? and I hold Qxxx, xxx, xx, xxxx. Under the Standard Ruling concept, the illegal bid is cancelled, and my LHO must substitute a legal call, under a PP of 1/4 board. True, I could now bid 1 instead of calling the director, and the auction would proceed from there. But if I did so knowingly, I would be guilty of unethical conduct. The overriding principle is that every player is obligated to ensure that the game is played according to the rules. Is this too much to require of players? I argue that players ought not to be allowed to accept illegal actions as legal, even if it might be to their benefit. If the non-offending side fails to call the director, it forfeits the right to any rectification. If the non-offending side deliberately acts instead of calling the director, it is acting unethically.

This "standard penalty" would only apply to illegal actions, i.e. to illegal calls and plays. This would simplify the director's task in some respects, but complicate it in others -- let those chips fall where they may. At IMP scoring the PP would be the standard 3 IMPs.

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