Board 17
Vul: None
Dealer: North

West (Marc Jacobus)

North (Sam Lev)
S  A 4 3
H  Q J T 6 5
D  Q T 8
C K7

East (Eddie Wold)
S   J 7 6
H  -----
D   A 6 4
C  A J T 9 8 6 4

S  K T 8 5 2
H  8
D  J 5 3 2
C  Q 3 2
  South (Bob Hamman)
S  Q 9
H  A K 9 7 4 3 2
D  K 9 7
C  5


N        E         S       W      
1Embarassed   1Foot in mouth     2Foot in mouth    3Cool       
4Embarassed    P        5Cool    P
5Embarassed    P        P        P

Opening lead: Cool2 (3rd & 5th best leads)

Table Result: -1, EW +50


Cool2   Cool5   CoolA   Cool7
Foot in mouth7   Foot in mouthA   Foot in mouthx   Foot in mouth9
CoolK   Cool3   Foot in mouthCoolx

Declarer than cleared hearts, ruffed out the black suits, ending in North and led the Cry8.

East thought for a while, then followed small and told declarer that he had had no problem.

Declarer played the CryK, playing East to have 4 small diamonds for the comment.

Director's Ruling

NS +450

Appeals Committee Ruling

Note that 5H was played from the North side.

The appeal

North and East were present.

The TD explained that he ruled per Law 73F:

Violation of Proprieties
When a violation of the Proprieties described in this law results in damage to an innocent opponent, if the director determines that an innocent player has drawn a false inference from a remark, manner, tempo or the like of an opponent who has no demonstrable bridge reason for the action, and who could have known, at the time of the action, that the action could work to his benefit, the director shall award an adjusted score (see Law 12c).

The TD decided to adjust the score on the basis that for a player of East's skill, had he thought a few seconds he certainly could have known that his comment, while well-intentioned, would serve to make declarer's waters muddier rather than clearer. The tempo alone would serve, if anything, to point declarer more towards the missing honor. The comment went too far the other way to cancel that inference (to which declarer was entitled). A skilled player "could have known" that, even though all would agree that this East had no ill intentions at all.

The TD then judged that had East played in tempo and kept silent declarer would likely have counted East for four diamonds to his partner's three and played East for the DJ.

West explained that his side had appealed because there was no possible holding where East could have had a problem. He also noted that his partner was tired and that after the deal he had explained that for a while he had not realized that NS were playing at the five level.

North explained that when East told him he had no problem he concluded that the only possible East diamond holdings were xxxx or Axxx. He thus played West for the DJ.

The ruling

The AC judged that East could not plausibly have realized that his tempo and statement might work to his own side's advantage. Accordingly the AC had no reason under the Laws to change the table result. It noted that per Law 73D1 inferences from such (innocent) variation are drawn by an opponent at his own risk.

The AC restored the table result of 5H-1, E/W +50 to both sides.

Appeals Committee

Howard Weinstein, Chair
Chip Martel, Member
Adam Wildavsky, Scribe