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"Slip of the Tongue" vs. "Slip of the Fingers"

The following scenario occurred at a recent club game:

South, the declarer in 3, led a small diamond from North’s (dummy’s) QT543; East played the 7; South played the 4; West underplayed with the 2. Declarer then admitted to owning a diamond and played the K, with the comment, “Sorry, I pulled the wrong card.” West, after obtaining confirmation from the Director that Law 62.C.1 permitted him to retract his play of the 2, played the A, winning the trick. Given the actual lie of cards, the un-established revoke and its correction did not present any unauthorized information issues under Law 16.C.2.

So, “nothing happened.” I understand that the correction of an un-established revoke is consistent with the Laws and also that it make sense as a policy matter.

However it occurred to me that “nothing happened” here only because the ”wrong card” that declarer pulled happened to constitute a revoke and was thus eligible for correction under Law 62.B. Declarer’s diamond holding was K6. As I understand Laws 45.C.2 and 47.F.2, if the “wrong card” that he pulled had been the 6, instead of the 4, something would have happened – he would have lost a trick and earned a lower matchpoint score – even if his play of the 6 were the result of a “slip of the fingers.”

As I understand Law 45.C.4(b), declarer is permitted to change a designation of a card from dummy, if the initial designation was a “slip of the tongue.” Thus, in the notorious 1999 “oh, s…” ruling, because declarer’s designation of a “wrong card” from dummy was determined to have been “inadvertent,” the result achieved at the table was “corrected” to allow a slam to be made. However, if the deal had been played “the other way up,” so that the “wrong card” had been played from declarer’s hand, instead of called from the dummy, the “oh, s…” declarer would have been, to use the same vernacular, “s… out of luck.”

As I understand Law 25.A, a player is permitted to change an “inadvertent call” in the auction, if the inadvertent call was made “… because of a mechanical error or a slip of the tongue,” and this rule applies regardless of whether the bidding is conducted using bidding boxes (“mechanical error”) or vocally (“slip of the tongue”).

Law 48A provides that “Declarer is not required to play any card dropped accidentally.” However, as I understand this Law, it is intended to address cards that “fall” from declarer’s hand, rather than “being pushed.” Thus, it would not offer relief when declarer reaches into his hand for Card X, but inadvertently pulls out Card Y and places Card Y on the table.

(I recognize that in a perfect world, a player would look at the face of a card that he was about to place on the table, to give himself an opportunity to correct any “slip of the fingers,” just as he would look at the card he extracts from the bidding box to ensure that it is the call he intends to make. But, his failure to do so can have painful consequences only if the “pulls the wrong card” in the play, not if he does in the auction.)

Assuming that my understanding of the Laws 45.C.2 and 47A is correct, my question is:

Given that the Laws protect a player from a “slip of the tongue” or a “slip of the fingers” in the auction and protect declarer from a “slip of the tongue” in the designation of a card from dummy, what is the policy rationale for not providing any protection from a “slip of the fingers” in the play?

I would appreciate any comments from BW’s Laws mavens.

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