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September 7, 2001
Etiquette and the Law and Partial Double Dummy Problem

Etiquette and the Law

The Scorecard is the publication for ACBL District 16. I was asked and consented to write a regular column aimed at the 0-299 masterpoint player. I will post my columns here as they may be of benefit to the same readers that benefit from my newsletter.

Scorecard, Volume 33, No 5 - September/October 2001

I have had a few questions of late about etiquette and the law. When I was regularly directing a club game I watched how hundreds of people handled themselves with regard to irregularities at the table and there does seem to be a predictable pattern for most players. When they first start out as novices everything is new and perhaps frightful. Most brand new players are completely unfamiliar with the laws of the game and would never call the director and probably would not know if an infraction had occurred. As they grow in experience they learn (usually from the behavior of others) what is acceptable and what is not. This level of understanding rises to the point of absurdity as the 100 to 200 masterpoint player starts to believe that every infraction was intentional and that every infraction of the law should give them a "top" board. Fortunately this behavior soon falls away to a more calm approach although, admittedly, some players never do outgrow this phase.

When should you call the director?

Every time there is an irregularity at the table, the director should be summoned. That is his/her job. Even if you think you know the law you are not entitled to make a ruling, only the director may do so.

How should you call the director?

This is one of my pet peeves and I think you know what I mean. The player that screams so loud and so obnoxious that you think someone must have just insulted their family heritage. Calling the director is not like calling a policeman to a murder scene. You should summon the director respectfully and only loud enough so that they can hear your call. Raising your hand also helps the director quickly locate your table with the least amount of disturbance to the other players.

Who can call the director?

Any of the four players may summon the director. During the play, only the declarer and defenders may do so, but the dummy may call after the play has ended. Irrespective of which side called the director, both sides will be heard and the facts established before a ruling is made.

The problem was insignificant; do I really have to call the director?

The answer is an unequivocal YES. You must realize that  adjustments to the hand result or score do not just affect the two partnerships at your table. All of the players in the game have a stake in this as well. The laws of the game are not written as a punitive code to punish the guilty, but as a framework so that a level playing field for all participants can be maintained. You should not make your own rulings and you should not allow other players to make their own rulings. Likewise are not entitled to waive a penalty for an infraction.

Some of the rules seem overly harsh. Why?

Yes, sometimes the penalties are severe. The benefit of the doubt is always given to the non-offending side (the side which did NOT create the problem). In other areas (revoke comes to mind), the penalties are set forth so as to keep the director from having to make a subjective judgment about the result or outcome.

What if the ruling goes against me?

First, in general I advise that you accept the ruling with dignity. You are entitled to have the director show you in the book what law was invoked. The law itself actually gives you this right. In some venues, such as tournament play, you can appeal the director’s ruling to a committee that will meet after the game and hear both sides. Beware that this committee can penalize you for a frivolous appeal.

Let me hear from you.

-Gary King

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Partial Double Dummy Problem
A double dummy problem is one where you can see all four hands. The challenge is to find the proper sequence of plays that will yield the desired outcome. The answer cannot involve and "error" by the opponents as they get to defend looking at all four hands as well.

This problem comes from George Coffin’s classic book Double Dummy Bridge.

With spades as trump and South to lead. N-S must win all seven remaining tricks:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ6
heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A84
West club.gif (841 bytes)3 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)K2 spade.gif (842 bytes)943
heart.gif (841 bytes)K heart.gif (841 bytes)Q
diamond.gif (837 bytes)J76 diamond.gif (837 bytes)532
club.gif (841 bytes)K South club.gif (841 bytes)
spade.gif (842 bytes)J
heart.gif (841 bytes)AJ3
diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q9
club.gif (841 bytes)A

Partial Double Dummy Problem - Answer

  1. South leads the diamond nine. If West covers, North wins the ace. If West does not cover, the nine will win.
  2. South wins the diamond queen.
  3. The three of hearts is trumped in the North with the six of spades.
  4. The good diamond in the North is cashed with South discarding the club ace.
  5. The club three is played from North and South overtrumps East with the spade jack.
  6. Any heart is played from South. North overtrumps West.
  7. North cashes the master spade.

Easy game. Did you work it out or peek at the answer?

©2001 The Bridge Companion. All rights reserved.