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So... what does an in tempo double of 7NT look like?

I assume anyone reading this is familiar with the 7NT hand in the Blue Ribbon pairs event in Hawaii. If not, please read the original post on the subject in other threads before reading this.


First up, I’ll acknowledge that I am far from a top bridge player. Indeed I’m probably the least accomplished bridge player on this site…. In particular, in my entire bridge life I've probably defended fewer than ten 7NT contracts.  They really aren't that common in club bridge.  So prior to last week I'd never given much thought to the tempo issues that pertain to the contract.


It’s agreed that South hesitated in a tempo-sensitive situation.

I’m curious what people think an “in tempo” bid would have been after the 7NT bid.

When an uncontested auction heads towards its natural conclusion the tempo speeds up, even behind screens. When the expected last bid is made, the next three passes can be made very quickly indeed. For all that the rules say every bid should be made in the same tempo, that rarely applies to final passes in my experience.

Say you bid 1NT-5NT-7NT.

Would you expect the tray to come back in ten seconds? Five? Three? Might both screenmates on the other side just tap a pass card and push it straight back?


Given your answer to the above do you think South should or even could have acted in tempo when faced with the 7NT bid under discussion?

In this case, South was expecting to pass out 7S, knowing West has a diamond void, and suddenly the tray comes back from the other side of the table with 7NT on it. And he’s looking at an ace of partner’s suit, declarer’s void suit.

This is almost certainly the first time he’s been in this situation (perhaps depending on how much youth bridge he played… )

By the time he’s checked that no, he’s not on lead, then probably tried to work out just how this world class pair has just bid 7NT missing an ace... he’s already broken tempo and that’s before he’s even started figuring out whether to pass or double.

That seems to some experts to be a trivial decision.  I confess to this non-expert, putting myself in South’s place in a non-established partnership with no agreements, it is far from trivial. With no set rule to apply, I have to adapt principles from other situations (suit slams, doubles of 3NT maybe?) to see if they are relevant here while all the time wondering if my expert partner will think the same way.

So is it reasonable to expect anyone to do that in tempo if the expected tempo is about two seconds flat?

For those who object to “two seconds flat”, how much time did South have before a Break in Tempo would have occurred? 


Final point.  Many have said that having broken tempo South simply had to double, regardless of whether he felt that asked for a diamond or asked for something else.  I'm curious if North-South would have lost this in committee even if South had chosen double not pass after the BIT. 

After all if South held the A or A he'd have had a quick, easy double, so the slowness of the double clearly suggests his ace is in one of the suits not bid by E-W.  Everyone agrees that this was far more likely to be a diamond not a club.  With no way of showing that a double demanded a diamond lead, would the committee not have said that a spade was a logical alternative lead for North, and one not indicated by the UI? 

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