[BLML] When you agree to play a convention, what is your agreement?

Thomas Dehn blml at arcor.de
Sat Sep 11 18:31:17 CEST 2010

Robert Frick <rfrick at rfrick.info> wrote:
> On Sat, 11 Sep 2010 02:04:26 -0400, Thomas Dehn <blml at arcor.de> wrote:
> > Robert Frick <rfrick at rfrick.info> wrote:
> >>  From today:
> >>
> >> 1D      P   1H     P
> >> 2NT     P   3C(1)  P
> >> 3NT(2)  P    P     P
> >>
> >> (1) New minor forcing
> >> (2) Described as denying a 4-card spade suit.
> >>
> >> Declarer in fact had a four-card spade suit. The opps claim damage in  
> >> the
> >> play (probably true).
> >>
> >> I ruled that this was a correct description of new minor forcing, hence
> >> there was no misexplanation and hence no protection. The defenders
> >> vigorously protested.
> >>
> >> The general question is what agreements players have, according to the  
> >> law
> >>
> >> book, when they just agree on a convention. Lately I have become
> >> comfortable with this ruling: If a player misbid according to a common
> >> convention they agreed to play, then it is a misbid under the laws.
> >>
> >> I am making the same ruling above whether the player forgot this one  
> >> time
> >> to bid 3S or never knew that part of the convention.
> >
> > I disagree with this approach. You seem to assume that there was
> > no MI simply because of the way some other players use
> > that convention.
> Without anything to the contrary, the agreement for new minor forcing  
> (over 2NT) includes showing a 4-card major. They agreed to play new minor  
> forcing.

There are many ways to play NMF. This is just one of them. And even if
you play that 3S here shows four spades, that does not imply that 3NT denies
four spades. I know *nobody* (well, maybe except you) who would not
once in a while bypass a four card major in an NMF auction. I know quite
a few players who will very often bypass a four card spade suit in such an
auction - if I had wanted to show the spades, I could have done so
cheaply with a 1S bid much earlier.

> > L21B1(b) "The Director is to presume Mistaken Explanation rather
> > than Mistaken Call in the absence of evidence of the contrary."
> The evidence seems adquate to me. Of course, it hinges on the question of  
> what players are agreeing on when they agree to play a convention.

What evidence? Did they provide written system notes that 3NT guarantees
that opener does not have four spades? That would be sufficient.
Or do you just have his partner's self serving statement? That would be insufficient.

> > Probably this sequence or a similar sequence has come up before
> > when this partnership played together, and once in a while
> > the player decided to bypass a four card major suit for whatever reason.
> > Like, say, one round of bidding earlier when he bid 2NT instead of 1S.
> Is this relevant now? Suppose I sometimes respond 2D to Stayman even  
> though I have a 4-card major. This does not change the fact that 2D denies 
>  a 4-card major. Right?

No, not right. If you sometimes respond 2D to Stayman even though
you have a four card major, then 2D no longer denies a four card major.
You are now playing a different method.

> > Barring evidence to the contrary, I am ruling MI according to L21B1(b).
> > Correct information probably would have included that a four card spade  
> > suit might be bypassed,
> > with some unspecified low probability.
> Basically, I am not required to explain to the opponents the likelihood  
> that partner has forgotten a convention, pulled the wrong card out of his  
> bdding box, or decided to make a tactical bid. Right?

==== snap ====
L40 - Partnership Understandings

A. Players' Systemic Agreements

1. (a) Partnership understandings as to the methods adoped by
a partnership may be reached explicitly in discussion or
implicitly through mutual experience or awareness of the players.
==== snap ====

Once you are aware of partner's tendencies to make unusual bids,
opponents are entitled to that information. 

There is a German player known as "the conductor". His bidding is
horrible. When playing with the conductor, I used to pre-alert opponents
"My partner will quite frequently make outrageous bids, bids you would never
have imagined anybody would even consider." Opponents who thought
I was exaggerating usually changed their mind after a few boards ;-).


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