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In this article I will present five hands that occasioned director calls and rulings during the ACBL's summer National in Washington, DC.  As the National concluded more than three months ago, I hope that we can now discuss the hands and rulings without derailing any of the previous, more general, threads.  I think there is some subtlety to at least one hand.

 

HAND ONE - Matchpoints (LM pairs, day 2).

 

West
5
K2
AK10653
10954
North
QJ987
AQ96
72
AK
East
1063
4
QJ8
QJ7632
South
AK42
J108753
94
8
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
5
P
5N
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

1 was natural and limited to at most 16 HCP.  3 was alerted and explained as natural, less than invitational, but not insane.  When the auction reached 6, North suggested calling the director: something was clearly off the rails, and because of that South was likely in possession of UI.

 

All bids after and including 4 were made in tempo.

 

East led a trump, and North/South made all thirteen tricks.  The director was called back; South stated that he thought 3 was an ambiguous, game-forcing splinter in support of spades, interpreted 4 as a cuebid, and went from there.  North/South produced system notes showing their actual agreement was natural and less than invitational, as North described.  Before getting a ruling, North/South petitioned the director for a procedural penalty to be assessed, as they thought that pairs should know their agreements on the first round of the auction and that issuing a procedural penalty in this case might set a precedent for other pairs to be assessed procedural penalties for similar issues in the future.

 

The ruling: result stands, no procedural penalty assessed.

HANDS TWO AND THREE - Matchpoints (Wernher pairs, day 1).

 

West
963
J872
Q109632
North
AK7543
Q5
KQ94
4
East
6
108742
65
AK875
South
QJ10982
AKJ
A103
J
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
X
4NT
6
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

4 was alerted and explained, correctly, as a splinter in support of spades.  When the auction concluded, South called the director and informed the director that he had overheard a table talking about a board that he thought was probably this one.  What South had overheard was "One, three, five, eight, eleven; sorry, partner, one too many".  North had not overheard anything.

 

North/South duly made twelve tricks in six spades.

 

The ruling: result stands, no penalty assessed to the talkative East/West pair.

 

But wait, there's more!  The next hand, against the same opponents:

 

West
10
K82
AK108653
85
North
AQ63
A93
J42
K107
East
7
QJ10754
Q97
J93
South
KJ98542
6
AQ642
W
N
E
S
1
X
1
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

East called the director back in the passout seat, as a precaution in case this was actually the board that South overheard something about.  (Note that it can't really be, because the vulnerability doesn't make sense for -1100 to be a bad sacrifice against a making 6, but better safe than sorry).  The director pulled out a hand record, looked up the board, and said something to the effect of: "No, it's not this board, the sacrifice is good on this one."  The director then indicated his comment was not AI to East/West.  East tanked but eventually passed out 6.  North/South took all thirteen tricks, of course.  

 

The ruling: result stands.

HAND FOUR - MATCHPOINTS (Wernher pairs, day 2).

 

West
9873
54
J432
K83
North
64
K97
AQ75
AJ76
East
QJ5
Q1083
10986
95
South
AK102
AJ62
K
Q1042
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2NT
P
4NT
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

I mentioned this hand in a previous thread.  When East/West arrived at the table to play this hand, North/South called the director, stating they had overheard a comment about this board, the comment being that their side could make 7.  They requested to not play the board.  The director told them to bid and play it anyway.  They protested and the director insisted, threatening both sides with a penalty if the board was not played.  The auction: 

 

1NT: 11-14 balanced

2: game-forcing Stayman

2NT: no four-card major, no five-card minor

4NT: invitational

 

North/South duly made all thirteen tricks.

 

The ruling: North/South keep their score, East/West receive AVE+,

 

East/West considered appealing the ruling, without any malice, but because they believed it to be atrocious, but were told by other directors that an appeal solely to decrease their opponents' score (whether that was their intent or not) without improving their own score would not be looked kindly upon.

HAND FIVE - IMPs (regional KO).

 

North
AKx
KJ9xx
AQx
Qx
South
xxx
Q10x
Kxx
Jxxx
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

 

North/South wrapped up 4 when East/West defended in a way that set up dummy's club jack for a spade discard.  

 

After the KO match concluded but before comparing scores, North spoke to a director privately.  North explained that his partnership ostensibly plays Precision, yet he had opened 1 with a 19-count.  North told the director that he had deliberately deviated from system, that South was not in on the joke, and that they had no methods to 'catch up' in such auctions, and furthermore, that this was the first time he had done this with this partner.  He continued that South might well have passed 1 with some random 7 or 8 count without heart support, missing an easy notrump game, and that his system notes, while not particularly detailed, would support everything he had said.

 

North noted that he did not think opening 1 on these cards while playing Precision was particularly good bridge, but he had a reason for doing so, and it wasn't because he was trying to deceive his opponents or had any sort of wire on the board; nonetheless, he wanted to make sure his opponents were protected since he considered his bid a psych.  The director did not ask North what his reasoning was.

 

The ruling: 1 was not a psych; result stands.

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