[BLML] (2017) Lack of Mutual Agreement

Eric Landau ehaa at starpower.net
Mon Apr 23 22:57:10 CEST 2012

On Apr 23, 2012, at 11:12 AM, Robert Frick wrote:

> On Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:23:20 -0400, Eric Landau  
> <ehaa at starpower.net> wrote:
>> On Apr 21, 2012, at 9:25 AM, Robert Frick wrote:
>>> I would like the following to be clarified. Players agree on a
>>> system or
>>> convention by name, but do not have the same understanding. The
>>> opponents
>>> of course are entitled to the mutual understanding. Are they
>>> entitled to
>>> either of the person understandings?
>>> Richard Hills has suggested the following; Tony Musgrove also rules
>>> this
>>> way. I would not make the laws this way, but there is nothing
>>> particularly
>>> bad about this idea, and the important thing is just to clarify the
>>> situation.
>>> "When players agree on a system or convention by name, opponents are
>>> entitled to know only about the mutual understanding; they are not
>>> entitled to information about personal understandings. The correct
>>> answer
>>> concerning personal explanations is no agreement."
>> In real life, what Robert calls "personal understandings" are in fact
>> what a player incorrectly believes to be partnership understandings.
> To be clear, we have been using the phrase "mutual understandings".  
> If you
> equate the two (partnership understandings = mutual  
> understandings), you
> get Richard's view of what the laws should be. I think you need to add
> that to L40B6(a) too, but I am going to write on that.
>>> For example, players agree on RKCB, but one player thinks that 5
>>> hearts
>>> shows the queen of the agreed suit and 5 Spades denies it; his
>>> partner has
>>> the reverse understanding.
>> And, critically, neither is aware that the other's "personal
>> understanding" is different from his own.
> That certainly affects their answer. Typically, it does not affect  
> what
> the opps are entitled to know.
>>> When opponents are given the wrong information,
>>> the director rectifies for what would have happened had the
>>> opponents been
>>> told "no agreement".
>> Correct.  That is what should, and, hopefully, does, happen.
> I would be surprised. This is true? You see a lot of rectifications  
> for if
> the opponents had been told "no agreement" when there were  
> differences in
> understanding? Even in this situation, when the player has stupidly
> misunderstood a well-known convention?
>>> Or, one player thinks that they do not have an agreement on  
>>> whether 5
>>> Hearts and 5 Spades then when asked if 5 Spades says anything about
>>> queens, he responds "no agreement". This is a correct answer.
>> He responds no such thing, because he is unaware that it is the
>> "correct answer"; we reach this situation because he incorrectly
>> believes that his "personal understanding" is mutual.
> This example was intentionally constructed so that your conclusion is
> incorrect. "One player thinks they have no agreement". So he  
> responds "no
> agreement". You are right, he doesn't understand why it is the correct
> answer. But he still gets it right. So no rectification (in Richard's
> position)
> This happens in Richard's proposal whenever one player has no  
> additional
> understanding over the mutual understanding and the other player does.
>> What Robert overlooks is that the laws do not presume that the
>> correct answer is the one that the player is "expected" to give -- if
>> that were true, we wouldn't have these problems.  "The director
>> rectifies for what would have happened had the opponents been told X"
>> does not require or imply that the infractor was capable, much less
>> expected, to tell the opponents X at the time of the inquiry.
> I never overlooked that. In the position you once advocated, all the
> opponents are entitled to know is the awareness of the partner of the
> player making the bid or play. The partner is rarely going to get that
> wrong. So there would rarely if ever be any basis for rectification.
> Of course, all the player can do is give his best answer. But you went
> farther than that and said it was all the opps were entitled to.
> April 21:
> When two players agree on a convention name but have different  
> personal
> understandings, the opponents are entitled to know _______________.
> Eric: ...anything you know that might be relevant to understanding
> partner's call.  It's that simple, and it works no matter what you put
> between "When" and "the opponents are entitled to".
> You seem to perhaps be abandoning that position in this post; no one
> should be committed to a position.

What motivated me to post the above is the realization that we -- not  
just Robert, but I and others -- have been conflating two entirely  
different questions:

(1) To what information does the law "entitle" your opponents when  
they inquire as to your methods?

(2) What information does the law prescribe that you convey to your  
opponents when they inquire as to your methods?

This has occurred in large part because Robert has given us several  
hopelessly unrealistic scenarios, in which partners explicitly agree  
to something aware that they do so absent a mutual understanding of  
what they've agreed to without trying to correct that lack of  
understanding -- they devote their mental energy to how to tell their  
opponents that they don't know how partner would show the queen  
instead of just asking and finding out first.  Real life problems, or  
course, arise because they do neither; they are unaware of any lack  
of understanding, and so just assume that their partner shows the  
queen the same way they do.

I concede, therefore, that I am "abandoning my position" in Robert's  
context, since he was apparently asking (1), to which I responded  
with my (unabandoned, and oft-repeated) position on (2).  Had I  
replied in the context of (1), I expect I would have merely echoed  

The crucial point here is the illogicalness of the notion that the  
law requires -- or even that it is possible for -- the answers to  
both questions to be the same.  Perhaps in the future it behooves us  
to be clearer as to which one we're discussing.

Eric Landau
1107 Dale Drive
Silver Spring MD 20910
ehaa at starpower.net

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