[BLML] 12A1 case or not?

Sven Pran svenpran at online.no
Tue Dec 22 18:08:47 CET 2009

On Behalf Of Konrad Ciborowski
> Hi,
> Here is a case from the final of the Grand Prix Of Poland cycle.
> The level of the field is about as high as you get in this country,
> 16 top pairs who vied for qualification all year.
> The players involved in this incident are experts, First Division level
though none
> of them has ever played on the national team.
> Matchpoints. Future declarer opens 14-16 1NT with a nice 16 count.
> Everyone passes and partner tables an 8 count. Few pairs play 1NT 14-16 in
> Poland so it looks that everyone else is in 3NT; dummy will invite game
> 15-17 and opener will probably accept.
> The 3NT contract hinges on the diamond suit where you have 9 cards
> the queen.
> In the middle of the play it dawns on declarer that the previous hand
might have
> been miscored. He stands up to talk to his partner about the score of the
> board (screens are used so it is easier to speak when you stand) then sits
> and the play of the current hand resumes. Declarer gets the diamonds right
> finessing on the second round of the suit.
> The opponents object that declarer could have seen his screenmate's hand
> he suddenly and unexpectadly stood up.
> Declarer assures that he saw nothing and explains that he didn't play
> for the drop because everyone else will be in 3NT so if diamonds are 2-2
he is
> headed for a bottom anyway.
> How do you rule?
> In principle it looks like a typical 12A1 case to me. Declarer violated
L74C8. There
> is no specific rectification for violating this particular law this case
seems to be
> covered by L12A1.
> The only problem that I have is that L12A1 is not a law of the "could
have" type. It
> simply says that "The Director may award an adjusted score when he judges
> these Laws do not provide indemnity to a non-offending contestant for the
> particular type of violation committed by an opponent"
> Now in order to provide indemnity you would have to determine that the
> were damaged. Not that they _could have_ been damaged but that indeed they
> were. In this case it seems that the rules require the TD to determine
> declarer did actually see his screenmate's hand or not. How is he supposed
to do
> that?
> The declarer in question is a person with a very good reputation and there
is little
> doubt about his honesty. The question is:
> should such things matter to the ruling? Because if they do then
invariably it boils
> down to the TD saying "I trust you, sir, that you didn't see anything" or
"in my
> opinion it is possible that you did see your opponent's hand and now
you're lying
> to me".
> I really believe that the TD shouldn't be put in such a position to begin
with. When
> somebody accidentally opens a traveller before playing the hand then we
> give A- to the guy even if he swored by his mother's grave that he didn't
see the
> hands and the scores.
> I would like the TD to rule in the same vein here but I'm not sure if the
wording of
> L12A1 permits him to.
> I'd prefer L12A1 to contain words like "could have gained advantege"
> so that ruling on cases like this one be independent of the TD's personal
> about the honest of the player in question.
> Or am I missing something?
> What is your ruling and why?

My ruling would primarily be that this is an incredible, deliberate and
absolutely unacceptable violation of screen regulations. I would impose a
procedural penalty in the order of 50% to a full 100% of the top score on a
board. There is absolutely no excuse for players at this level when
committing such errors.

Then, as I understand that the irregularity took place way out in the play
period it obviously had no effect on reaching a contract of 1NT or 3NT so I
would simply investigate what effect the resulting number of tricks (8 or
9?) would have on the MP score. If for instance the declarer is in for a
bottom anyway there is no reason for any score adjustment.

If he judges that there has been a real possibility that declarer could have
gained from his irregularity then he can certainly use Law 12A1, but he also
has Law 23 available. His adjustment under these laws should in any case be
limited to the possible consequence of selecting a line of play for the
diamonds different from the one he chose. 

Regards Sven

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