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Ruling, adjustment?

In a STAC this week the following hand arose. I will give only one hand as I think it's the only one that's relevant, East's.  EW are a regular partnership but far from expert-class players:


WIth none vul, in first seat, you hold







You open 2S, pass, partner bids 3C, what is your call?


Of course you have already guessed there is more to it than that.  The 3C bid comes in very slow tempo, so slow that N good-naturedly says to W "This is where you're supposed to say 'no problem.'"


East passes, S looks at both convention cards and calls the director.  While the director is coming (I THINK this is when it was said, I KNOW it was said but I'm not 100% sure when) E says "I had a reason, and I'll tell you later."


The director asks EW what their agreement is and they both say "2N is the only force" although they don't say it with enormous conviction.


EW are in the primo contract, as W has a 0-4-3-6 14 count.  Spades likely makes 6 tricks.


The director rules that EW had the agreement that 2N was non-forcing and just forgot to mark it on their cards and didn't know it was alertable, and rules no adjustment.  Upon consultation with the DIC of the STAC at ACBL headquarters, they rule that if 3C had been properly alerted, N would have made a takeout double and S would have bid 3N on his 5-3-3-2 7 count with T9 of clubs and gone down two, changing the NS result from -110 to -100.


I consider the adjustment both ridiculous enough to not warrant discussion and trivial enough to swing exactly zero matchpoints.


My belief is as follows:


1) EW never had such an agreement until the director was called.  They had three opportunities to explain such an agreement, (1) on their convention card; (2) by alerting, and (3) when asked before the opening lead rather than saying "I had a reason and I'll tell you later."  They improvised the agreement when the director is called.

2) The long hestiation (30-45 seconds) is UI, and suggests an unusual action.  The usual action would be for E to rebid 3S, so the hesitation suggests an abnormal action.  Since 3C is their last making contract, any non-pass will lead to a worse result.

3) The table director was entirely too gullible and accepted the self-serving statements about 2N only force."  The ruling addressed the possible MI aspects of the hand, but MI isn't the significant issue, it's the UI.


Had W bid 3C in tempo and E found an inspired pass, we'd have been legitimately fixed.  I hope it's no the last fix of my bridge career because to avoid future fixes I'd have to give up the game.  Case closed.  But the long tank is a wake-up call.



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