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Hesitation Blackwood - how would you rule?

this poll was influenced by the discussion in the "Incomplete explanation" thread.

it is not based on real events.


South opens 1 and the uninterrupted auction continues:

1 - 2NT (GF raise)

4 - 4NT (balanced minimum - RKC)

5 - 5* (1 or 4 - To play *Break in tempo)

6 - Pass

East/West call the director after the 6 bid and North/South acknowledge the BIT.

the director instruct them to play the hand and call him at the end of play.

East is visibly very upset by the blatant use of UI by South and at some point during the play carelessly drops the K on the table while pulling another card from his hand.

the director is called again and since the card that accidentally fell on the table is an honor card it becomes a Major penalty card.

The slam depends on the club finesse which is off side but now declarer makes the otherwise unmakable slam by taking advantage of the penalty card.

How would you rule if you were the director?


Relevant laws:


A. Power to award an Adjusted Score

1. the director may award an adjusted score when he judges that these Laws do not provide indemnity to a non-offending contestant for the particular type of violation committed by an opponent.

B. objectives of Score Adjustment

1. the objective of a score adjustment is to redress damage to a non-offending side and to take away any advantage gained by an offending side through its infraction. damage exists when, because of an infraction, an innocent side obtains a table result less favorable than would have been the expectation had the infraction not occurred – but see c1(b) below.

2. the director may not award an adjusted score on the ground that the rectification provided in these Laws is either unduly severe or advantageous to either side.

C. Awarding an Adjusted Score

1. (a) When after an irregularity the director is empowered by these Laws to adjust a score and is able to award an assigned adjusted score, he does so. Such a score replaces the score obtained in play.

(b) if, subsequent to the irregularity, the non offending side has contributed to its own damage by a serious error (unrelated to the infraction) or by a wild or gambling action, it does not receive relief in the adjustment for such part of the damage as is self-inflicted. the offending side should be awarded the score that it would have been allotted as the consequence of its infraction only.

(e) in its discretion the regulating Authority may apply all or part of the following procedure in place of (c)*:

      (i) the score assigned in place of the actual score for a non-offending side is the most favorable result that was likely had the irregularity not occurred.

      (ii) For an offending side the score assigned is the most unfavorable result that was at all probable had the irregularity not oc- curred.

(f) the scores awarded to the two sides need not balance.


I'm listing the full options here since there was not enough space. Please vote below for the conclusion you prefer.


Option 1: The damage was not caused by the infraction but by the defenders serious error (Law 12.B.1 should not apply) - Result stand for both sides

Option 2: The offenders got a better score then they would have gotten without the infraction but the Non offenders contributed to their bad score by committing a serious error (12.B.1 apply but also 12.C.1b) - Non offenders keep their score but Offender's score adjusted to 5 making 5

Option 3: Accidentally dropping a card is not a "serious error" so the infraction led to the damage (Law 12.B.1 apply but 12.C.1b does not) - result adjusted to 5 making 5 for both sides

Option 4: The defender's error was influenced by the infraction so should be cancelled (very loose interpretation of 12.A.1) - result adjusted to 6 down 1 for both sides

Result stand for both sides
Non offenders keep their score but Offender's score adjusted to 5 making 5
Result adjusted to 5 making 5 for both sides
Result adjusted to 6 down 1 for both sides
Other - please elaborate in comments

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