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They call him the flash...

A question comes up from a post by Nicholas Hammond. He claimed that an opponent chose to finesse him at trick 2 for a queen, and then gave him a smirk as she did it, as if she knew he had the queen. This was proof of cheating in his mind, he appears to argue that she had apparently stacked the deck.

My response is that there may be many reasons for her action, not all of which involve cheating. For example, suppose he had inadvertently flashed his hand to her, without any overt action on her part to see what he held, she still saw the queen, clear as day. Clearly a smirk from her, if she did take advantage of information so obtained was poor behaviour on her part. I cannot even be sure that what he interpreted as a smirk was not just a piece of smug showboating, that she needed an early finesse, and that she was proud of herself for making a necessary play.

So the question is, at what point does flashed information become AI? Personally, I make every effort possible to avoid seeing a card when dropped. I learned this once when a card came flying out from an opponent's hand. It dropped on the floor next to me, and my eyes were drawn to it. I saw the card, knew it was the spade jack, and so I picked it up for her. She gave me a dirty look like I should not have done this, so since then, I've learned to avert my head completely when something like this happens, holding my hand immediately in front of any cards that might be visible.

Another time, we were playing in a team game, and our opponent made a completely insane play, justified at the time only by the fact that it worked. As they walked away from the table, I overheard him smugly explaining to his partner that MY partner had flashed his hand to him. He knew the lie of the cards, so he used that information.

I've learned since that it is a good idea to sort my cards with all the red cards together, the black cards also together, so an inadvertent flash potentially gives away less information. I leave the short suits in the middle of the hand, and only spot cards at the ends, as they are arranged. (No, I cannot do as TGBH does, and leave my hand completely unsorted.)

But suppose you are talking to your opponent, and he flashes his hand to you? Information learned cannot be unlearnt. Partner and I both immediately tell our opponents to hold their hands back if they are close to flashing information, but sometimes they flash away. Perhaps you are in a slam, and see the king of clubs on your right, clearly in your field of view, so with the ace in dummy and missing 5 cards in the suit, should you finesse knowing the hook will fail anyway? At what point does active ethics just become plain dumb?

Should you just call the director and explain what happened, then asking for a did-not-play on the hand? Even this is not without problems, since if you know the hook would fail, then everyone else in the field who bid the slam but lacks this information is getting a bad result.

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