Board: 21
Vul: N-S
Dealer: N

West (Donner)
North (Rosenthal)
S  A Q 5 2
H  6 5
D  T 2
C  A T 7 6 3


East (Sobel)

S  K T 7 4 
H  A Q J T 3
D  A K 4 3

S  J 8 6 3
H   ---
D  Q J 8 7 5
C  K J 8 4
  South (D. Rosenberg)
S  9
H  K 9 8 7 4 2
D  9 6
C  Q 9 5 2


W       N       E        S 
           P       P       P
1C1    P      2C2   P
D3   P      2S     P
3D      P      3H     P
3S      P      4C     P
5D      P      P        P

1 Strong, artificial, and forcing
2 Diamonds, game forcing
3 Hearts

Opening lead: D10


Trick     Lead   2nd    3rd    4th
1. N      D10     5        6       A
2. W     H A      5      C4     2                
3. W     HQ       6      C8     4
4. W     D3        2       Q      9   
5. E      SJ        9       4       Q


Table Result: -1, EW -50

Director's Ruling:

With North on lead to trick six, West claimed, stating "if the spades are 4-1 I'll take the ruffing finesse in hearts again." The Director was summoned. Declarer stated that he knew the SA was still out, and repeated his claim.

Law 70D states: The Director shall not accept from claimer any successful line of play not embraced in the original clarification statement if there is an alternative normal [which includes careless or inferior for the class of player involved] line of play that would be less successful.

It was decided that based on West's statement ("if spades are 4-1") he did not know the S9 had fallen and his remaining spades would be winners once the SA was knocked out. Following his stated line, declarer would find out on the next heart lead that the presumed ruffing finesse would not work, but playing a "loser on loser" would fall under normal (careless or inferior). The result was scored up as two more tricks(SA, HK) to the defense.

Present at the Committee hearing: Donner, Rosenthal, Sobel, D. Rosenberg and Adam Grossack.
McKenzie Myers, presenting Director.

Appeals Committee Ruling:

McKenzie was called after the claim was made and questioned. McKenzie explained the sequence of play. There was agreement as to the play.

McKenzie reported that the statement made to him was that if spades are 4-1 I have the ruffing finesse in hearts. Additionally West stated to him that if South has the king of hearts “I’m toast”

Donner stated that his initial claim was that I’ll lose the ace of spades and the spades are good. He also confirmed that he had missed the 9 of spades played on the first round. When questioned by North he then stated that if spades are 4-1 “I’ll repeat the ruffing finesse”.

At that point the director was called

Sobel stated that North said “whoa what’s your line of play” and called the director.

Rosenberg also testified that Donner stated the “I’m toast” comment. She did not recall him saying that he would give up the ace of spades and his spades were good.

The committee considered the matter referencing relevant laws 68-70

Referencing Law 68A – Any statement by declarer or a defender to the effect that a side will win a specific number of tricks is a claim of those tricks. A player also claims when he suggests that play be curtailed.

Law 68C A claim should be accompanied at once by a clear statement of a line of play.

Law 70A – In ruling on a contested claim the Director adjudicates the result of the board as equitably as possible to both sides but any doubtful point as to a claim shall be resolved against the claimer.

Law 70 D - Director’s considerations – The Director shall not accept from claimer any successful line of play not embraced in the original clarification statement if there is an alternative normal line of play that would be less successful.*

*For the purposes of Laws 70 and 71 “normal” includes play that would be careless or inferior.

The committee deliberated whether declarer after stating a specific course of action could then change course once North shows out on the heart. This is less than clear in the laws. The committee also considered whether giving up a heart on the assumption that the spades are not good would constitute a careless or inferior play.

The committee gave considerable weight to the statement made to the opponents and director that if spades are 4-1 and the heart is off side “I’m toast”.  According to the testimony it does not appear that the declarer stated a third option of ruffing the heart and falling back on the spades coming in.

The committee agreed with the director that playing a loser on loser given declarer’s assumption that the spades were not good would constitute a careless or inferior play.

The USBF regulations do not permit a weighted ruling on claims.

The committee upheld the ruling made at the table. 5D down 1.

Appeals Committee

JoAnn Sprung, Chairman
Beth Palmer, Member
Stan Subeck, Member