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Slow return - to the 1990's

All,

I have been interested to read the commentary on Kit's similarly titled article, to which mine is somewhat a homage.  Michael's comment on "in tempo" actions possibly giving UI took me back to the early 1990's.

The scene was a trans-Tasman test match (Australia vs New Zealand).  I have a strong suspicion the opponents were Ishmael (then playing for NZ) and Ashley.  My partner, North, would have been "Geoffo".

I can't remember the exact auction, but it was directly analogous to the following - involving a situation with respect to "running on" in a RKCB sequence.

W
N
E
S
1
P
2NT
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5NT
P
6
P
6
P
6
P
P
P

The auction is a normal Jacoby auction, we would have played 5 as 1 or 4.  The critical juncture is the 5NT bid.  Geoffo would have bid it to show the Q, but for us, it systemically also denied the "farthest" (in this case, )K.  6 would then have asked for the K and 6 would have said "yes" and I also have the Q.  It's possible I mis-remember our agreements of the time, but you get the drift.

Anyway, the auction was complete and had been done in a fairly even tempo.  Before LHO led, I explained along the lines "... The systemic meaning of the auction is that partner has a balanced MIN, one keycard, the trump queen, the K and the Q.  However, he often forgets to run on when showing the trump queen, so more likely has a balanced MIN, one keycard, the trump queen and the round suit kings ...".  I probably added in what he had denied in both cases as well.

Of course, the latter proved accurate and at the time, I felt that I was doing everything possible to be ethical (and my alert, and its accuracy, caused considerable amusement at the table).  However, taking on board some of the commentary on Bridge Winners, there are some who might believe (perhaps accurately, perhaps not) that this isn't the case - there is no doubt the relative likelihood of partner having forgotten would be reduced had he made the 5NT bid noticeably out of the auction tempo thus far.

Without knowing the exact deal, auction and bid meaning, it's hard to know what "logical alternative" I might have had at the time*, if any, but what is certain is that I intended my behaviour to be as ethical as practical - and it might be worth taking this into account considering other protagonists when called to serve on an appeals committee, or for some, perhaps even alter the laws or playing regulations, dealing with the kind of scenarios Kit and Michael have been alluding to. 

I might be persuaded either way, but in general, I find a lot of BIT allegations somewhat over the top (if not outright vexatious litigation) and opening the door to penalising in-tempo actions for, in effect, being in tempo, seems to be a path where the risk is considerably higher than the reward.  It's not a place, on balance, I'd like to see laws, regulations and rulings go - notwithstanding that justice, on occasion, may not be served.

Ian C

* e.g. I might have held the Q, ruling out that interpretation of the sequence

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