Board: 9
Vul: E-W
Dealer: N

West (Brod)
North (Wolfson)
S  4
H  K J T 7 6 5
D  J T
C  K T 7 4


East (Greenspan)

S  K J T 8 5 2
H  A 2
D  8 3
C  A 3 2

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


W         N       E       S
            2H    P        P
2S       P       2NT   P
3NT     All pass

Table Result: 3NTE - 2, EW -200

The Play:

C5 to the C2, CK, and C8. North returned the C4 to declarer's CJ, and South ducked.

After the hand, N-S claimed that East's (now singleton) ยง J was played out of tempo, which caused South not to cover, and that had he covered the final result would have been down three rather than down two. The directing staff watched the video of the play and decided that the play was not out of tempo and ruled that the table result stands. N-S also watched the video and requested an appeal.

Video of the play can be found here:
Video of the first ten boards of the segment can be found here:

Director's Ruling

3NT-2, EW -200

Appeals Committee Ruling

The Committee's review of the video evidence was inconclusive, since declarer had slightly hesitated before playing the club jack but did not replace it in his hand or otherwise indicate clearly that he had a choice of plays.

The Committee determined that Law 73D1 ("Otherwise, unintentionally to vary the tempo or manner in which a call or play is made is not an infraction") was not violated because declarer's variation was unintentional. 

The Committee determined that Law 73E2 ("If . . . an innocent player has drawn a false inference from a . . . manner, tempo or the like, of an opponent who has no demonstrable bridge reason for the action, and who could have been aware at the time of the action, that it could work to his benefit, the Director shall award an adjusted score.") had been implicated, since all of the elements of an adjustment, including the possible awareness of an advantage, were present.

However, the Committee judged that the same 7 tricks would have been taken had the jack of clubs been covered.  On the actual play after the jack of clubs held, declarer could reasonably hope for 8 tricks if South held AQx of spades or 9 tricks if the defense slipped. 

In a vacuum, declarer might have known that spades were not running after trick 5 and led a heart rather than a diamond (which could not cost even if spades were running) after winning the ace of clubs, but it would taken unusual foresight to guarantee down one with only one trick at stake and the illusion of a vulnerable game in view. 

However, had the jack of clubs been covered, it would not have taken any foresight for declarer to realize that he could no longer have taken even 8 tricks and he would have led a heart after winning the ace of clubs.  Then he would have scored one club, two diamonds, two hearts, one spade and either a diamond or a spade, depending on how South chose to be endplayed. 

Since there was no damage resulting from the violation of Law 73E2, the Committee declined to award an adjusted score and upheld the directors' ruling.

Appeals Committee

Ron Gerard, Chairman
Danny Sprung, Member
Adam Wildavsky, Member