North (Moss)J T 4
K J 8 7 5 4
A Q 8 7 5
K 9 2
South (Grue)6 3
Q T 3
T 9 8 5 2
T 6 3
N E S W
P 2 P 3
P 3 P 4*
P 4NT P 5**
P 5*** P 6****
P 6***** P 7NT
* Cuebid (3NT would be cue)
** 0 or 3 Keycards for Spades
*** 34 seconds
**** 3 Keycards with Q and K
***** 85 seconds
Table Result: Making 7, EW +1520
Director's Ruling: 6 making 7, EW +1010
West says that it was only after the 6 a bid that he noticed he had two, and not three, keycards.
East wrote to North after 6 "He gave the wrong response to 4NT."
Three players were polled. Two said that the break in tempo definitely suggested that the partnership was not off a keycard, and a prompt 6 would not give that inference. One player constructed the following hand that he said was consistent with East's auction, but would be off two keycards:
The third player said it was not clear what was going on at all, but he couldn't imagine going on over 6.
It was ruled that the unauthorized information of East's slow 6 demonstrably suggested bidding on over passing and that pass was a logical alternative. The result was adjusted to 6 by West making 7.
Appeals Committee Ruling
West spoke for the appellants. He noted that he realized he had miscounted his key cards shortly after he made his 6 bid and the tray had been passed to the other side. He pointed out that East must have at least two key cards to use RKCB, and that if East had held only two key cards he would have asked for the queen of trump. By inference, then, East must have held three key cards. He also needed at least one red king to take control of the auction, so thirteen tricks would be available if the spades broke evenly or perhaps even if they did not.
East also spoke to explain why he had hesitated, and that his hesitation over 6 was because he was considering passing it.
North spoke for the appellees. He noted that it was entirely possible that West had been "woken up" to the possibility that he has miscounted his key cards by East's two hesitations. He also noted the long delay before the 7N bid and thought that if the logic behind it were so clear it might well have been made sooner.
The committee asked about the E/W methods and was told that neither 3 nor 4 promised extra values - they were consistent with a minimum opener with a club control and no heart control.
The committee's reasoning
The committee addressed three questions per Law 16:
Was there UI?
Yes, both the slow 5 bid and the slow 6 bid provided unauthorized information to West. The auction was such that it could only have been East who was thinking. The times were taken from the video record, so there could be no dispute of this.
Did the UI demonstrably suggest the action chosen (7N) over a less successful alternative (Pass)?
Clearly, it did. The TD's poll showed this, as well as straightforward bridge logic. A slow 6 must suggest the possibility of an alternative contract, almost certainly one at a higher level.
Was the less successful action, here "Pass", a logical alternative?
The USBF General Conditions of Contest read:
A bidding tray returned in 15 seconds or less normally creates the presumption that there is no Unauthorized Information (UI). A tray returned after a longer period may be considered to have made UI available if it is apparent that one side is responsible for the delay.Given that the auction was at a high level East might have been allowed a little more time than that. Had he made his admittedly difficult decisions within 15 seconds or so his partner would normally have had no UI and could have done as he pleased. East was free to take more time, but only at the risk of creating UI that constrained his partner's decisions.
Adam Wildavsky, Chairman
Beth Palmer, Member
Kerri Sanborn, Member