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Obligation to Appeal?

Playing in the Fort Lauderdale Regional KO, you're in a 3-way match with two survivors (all three teams are world-class). You face the following problem. With no one vulnerable yourRHO opens a strong club and you bid 1, takeout for the majors, holding J10xxxAxxxJ Axx. Partner does not alert 1. The auction continues:


2 is alerted and explained as an artificial GF, balanced, 8+ HCP, no 5-card suit, says nothing about diamonds, or diamond stoppers. RHO asks about the meaning of 1 and your partner says "Natural." RHO doubles,you ask, and are told that it's a penalty double.

Can you bid?

You bid 3, which is doubled. Before the opening lead you volunteer the information that you had intended 1 as takeout for majors. The director is called at this point, and establishes the facts, to which everyone courteously agrees. The director does not establish the meaning of 3 facing a 1 takeout for majors (perhaps because your partnership appears not to have an agreement about 1).

You are one off in 3. There is no makeable contract in the other direction. The director is called back to the table to discuss whether you were permitted tobid 3 under the circumstances, since you had some unauthorized information (partner's failure to alert 1, and partner's explanation of your 1 call.) 3 would have failed by several tricks (probably 4 down). The director does not make a ruling until after the match, and it turns out not to matter. You win the match by a small margin, but your opponents have survived anyway, and your team has has also survived to play the following day. No harm done?

Switch positions now. I was the opponent who opened 1 and called the director when I learned that 1 was not a natural call. The director never returned to the table. We scored up and survived to play the next match, so I wasn't too concerned. But, out of curiosity, I asked the director if he had ever made a ruling. He had: The result stands because, in his own partnerships, 3 would ask for the better major. It seemed a curious ruling to me, given that diamonds had never been bid (thus, 3 is not a cue-bid). And the opponents did not indicate that they had any such agreement. But I was glad we didn't have to appeal to a committee - a solution to be avoided at all costs!

I was heading for the bar when I heard that the third team had gone out by 1 IMP, and the alarm bells went off. If the director had ruled in our favor, as I believe he should have, then the result of the match would have changed. We would still survive, of course, but the other teams would switch places. I felt I needed to discuss this with the director. It seemed to me that we had an ethical obligation to appeal, particularly since I felt that we would probably prevail.

I asked and was told by the DIC that it would be wrong to appeal because the result would not affect our team. I pursued the conversation, asking if this was a matter of law. His reply was, "If your team is not affected, don't appeal." He didn't really answer my question, but I went away to discuss it with my teammates, all of whom felt that we probably had an obligation to appeal. We weren't feeling at all comfortable and were considering how to proceed when we learned that there was an appeal in the other match which could potentially change the outcome, resulting in the third team qualifying after all. So we did nothing for the moment, hoping that our "appeal" would not be relevant. It turned out that it wasn't. Within a half-hour after game time the result in the other match had been reversed and equity was restored. The third team qualified after all. So we dropped the matter.

But it still doesn't sit well with me. Are we really not supposed to appeal a result that affects other teams, when our own team is unaffected?

What do you think?

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