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A BIT of assistance ChCh and his chum

#1 User is online   lamford 

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Posted 2022-August-17, 12:38


Charlie the Chimp saw yet another opportunity to score a goal against SB, South, who was seething over ChCh's persistent lack of ethics. The normal but poor slam was reached and SB won the heart lead in dummy and led the queen of spades pretty quickly. He knew that this would create a problem if East had Kx or Kxx in spades. ChCh recognised the situation immediately of course. Percentage was to play low half the time, necessary if his partner had Txx. But he wanted more, and took a full minute to duck. His partner and friend Micky the Mandrill, a visitor from Gabon, used the minute to think and he realised that he had to drop the ten or nine from T9x and did so. SB got it wrong of course but then launched into a tirade against ChCh.

"You broke tempo deliberately so that Micky would focus on the necessary false-card", he began. "the BIT was excessive from Kx as you knew and was only to "wake up" your partner".

"Nonsense", replied ChCh. "I had quite a few game theory calculations to perform". He finished: "With Kxx I would indeed always play low; with Kx I have to play low when partner has Txx but cover when he has T9x. Assuming South has four spades including the ace, I think it is 50% to duck and 50% to cover."

How do you rule?
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#2 User is offline   smerriman 

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Posted 2022-August-17, 14:03

No idea how to rule, but why did SB get it wrong? Surely someone of SB's nature would realise that playing East for Kx and then complaining about the unnecessary BIT if East held Kxx basically guarantees the contract?
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#3 User is online   lamford 

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Posted 2022-August-17, 14:15

View Postsmerriman, on 2022-August-17, 14:03, said:

No idea how to rule, but why did SB get it wrong? Surely someone of SB's nature would realise that playing East for Kx and then complaining about the unnecessary BIT if East held Kxx basically guarantees the contract?

SB knows that ChCh could break tempo with Kxx as he only needs a "bridge reason" for the BIT not a GOOD bridge reason. Considering whether to cover with Kxx is a bridge reason.
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#4 User is offline   smerriman 

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Posted 2022-August-17, 14:29

View Postlamford, on 2022-August-17, 14:15, said:

SB knows that ChCh could break tempo with Kxx as he only needs a "bridge reason" for the BIT not a GOOD bridge reason. Considering whether to cover with Kxx is a bridge reason.

But if he thinks ChCh is within his rights to pause with Kxx, then he wouldn't have complained about pausing with Kx.

If he thinks at least one of these is unlawful, the other one seems a much better case. Seems something someone like SB would have deduced, that's all. But this is aside from the ruling at hand.
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#5 User is online   lamford 

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Posted 2022-August-17, 15:30

View Postsmerriman, on 2022-August-17, 14:29, said:

But if he thinks ChCh is within his rights to pause with Kxx, then he wouldn't have complained about pausing with Kx.

If he thinks at least one of these is unlawful, the other one seems a much better case. Seems something someone like SB would have deduced, that's all. But this is aside from the ruling at hand.

I think one is entitled to think with a choice of card, however unlikely one is to play one of them. One can always think of covering a jack with a queen, as that is a bridge reason, so legal. People often think longer than they need to.

His argument here is that pausing to wake partner up to the need to false card ought not to be a bridge reason. I think SB believes there was a breach of 73B1 only.
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#6 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2022-August-17, 19:30

If the Chimp is so brilliant, he would know which card to play to the obvious spade T2 (taking whatever time was needed) before playing from his hand to the heart T1. And SB wouldn't have had the opportunity to "cause a problem" with the fastplay T2. Which we know the Chimp is capable of seeing would happen, given the SB's amazing ethics. So if we rule coffeehousing, we can express the appropriate amount of sympathy to the Chimp.

But we aren't being asked to rule on the coffeehousing; we're being asked to rule on "passing the information to partner that they have to think here." That's good news, because I'm not touching the "mislead SB" with a 3-m pole.

The good news is that that means that "demonstrable bridge reason" doesn't apply; that only applies to false inferences drawn by opponents (Law 73E). So we don't have to wonder if working out all the options to come to the conclusion that Txx/9xx and T9x are about equally likely, so the Chimp should play the K 50% of the time, is a demonstrable bridge reason to take the time.

We're in Law 73D1 territory here: "Players should be particularly careful when variations may work to the benefit of their side" (with a dollop of 73B1 "Partners shall not communicate by means such as the manner in which...plays are made...").

I say we throw the book at the Chimp; C&E and let's see if he'll do better after a month away from the Griffins North London, and be grateful that it's only a suspension from the card-room. And I expect the Owl, and the committee will agree with me. Because the first statement the committee will hear is 15 months ago...

As I said then, this is a move, however illegal, that works - provided you don't pull it too often. And if my immediate reaction to the OP is "he's done it again, hasn't he?" (which it was), then with any luck OO's would be as well - and that's assuming the SB won't be reminding him. And as I seem to recall saying before, "Private Clubs [in the London, rather than EBU, sense of the word] have advantages in situations like these".
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#7 User is online   lamford 

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Posted 2022-August-18, 04:02

View Postmycroft, on 2022-August-17, 19:30, said:

I say we throw the book at the Chimp; C&E and let's see if he'll do better after a month away from the Griffins North London, and be grateful that it's only a suspension from the card-room. And I expect the Owl, and the committee will agree with me. Because the first statement the committee will hear is 15 months ago...

As I said then, this is a move, however illegal, that works - provided you don't pull it too often. And if my immediate reaction to the OP is "he's done it again, hasn't he?" (which it was), then with any luck OO's would be as well - and that's assuming the SB won't be reminding him. And as I seem to recall saying before, "Private Clubs [in the London, rather than EBU, sense of the word] have advantages in situations like these".


ChCh would be ready against these arguments. He would state that there was a demonstrable bridge reason for considering whether to duck with Kx (with which I concur; I have not yet worked out the Nash equilibrium a day later, even after talking to a masters in stats). To say that he should not take a minute to try to work out whether to cover is ridiculous. And this is NOT a situation where a variation in tempo could deceive declarer as he is marked with the king when the queen holds.

As for communication by the "manner in which plays are made", it is the "tempo" that is being questioned not the manner. Players often lead a singleton quite quickly, and are slow to lead a doubleton as it may be thought to be a singleton. If they get it right that should be ruled against. ChCh is quite clever here. He KNOWS that partner will be aware that he has Kx in the suit and therefore there is NO communication. If suspended, ChCh would take it all the way to the CAS and throw in the AAA for good measure.

There appears to be no law preventing someone taking his time to make sure his partner is focusing on the hand. Perhaps there should be.
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#8 User is offline   axman 

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Posted 2022-August-18, 06:16

View Postlamford, on 2022-August-17, 12:38, said:


Charlie the Chimp saw yet another opportunity to score a goal against SB, South, who was seething over ChCh's persistent lack of ethics. The normal but poor slam was reached and SB won the heart lead in dummy and led the queen of spades pretty quickly. He knew that this would create a problem if East had Kx or Kxx in spades. ChCh recognised the situation immediately of course. Percentage was to play low half the time, necessary if his partner had Txx. But he wanted more, and took a full minute to duck. His partner and friend Micky the Mandrill, a visitor from Gabon, used the minute to think and he realised that he had to drop the ten or nine from T9x and did so. SB got it wrong of course but then launched into a tirade against ChCh.

"You broke tempo deliberately so that Micky would focus on the necessary false-card", he began. "the BIT was excessive from Kx as you knew and was only to "wake up" your partner".

"Nonsense", replied ChCh. "I had quite a few game theory calculations to perform". He finished: "With Kxx I would indeed always play low; with Kx I have to play low when partner has Txx but cover when he has T9x. Assuming South has four spades including the ace, I think it is 50% to duck and 50% to cover."

How do you rule?

This ought to be a case of improper deception but was made a L72 case (intentional infraction): "You broke tempo deliberatelyÖ".

East does have a bridge problem- which spots to play for W. The strongest holding is T96 and the least is 245. Without the T it does not matter what card E plays but because he could have the T it might matter yet with also the 9 it does (covering forces a spade trick while ducking yields a possible finesse or drop) matter.

South charged that E paused to intentionally infract (communicate other than by call or play L73A1). He did not offer evidence that demonstrated improper motivation by E. He also did not assert that he was misled nor that he was damaged.

Making the charge of deliberately infracting law without evidence that demonstrates the alleged intention is a frivolous claim that breaches proprieties of deportment (L74A2). Such breaches once committed cannot be undone and warrant a discouraging disciplinary penalty.
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#9 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-August-18, 15:17

View Postlamford, on 2022-August-18, 04:02, said:

There appears to be no law preventing someone taking his time to make sure his partner is focusing on the hand. Perhaps there should be.

Perhaps his partner should not know the time he took in the first place, if bridge wants to become a serious game.
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#10 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2022-August-19, 08:49

I would agree with you that there probably should be a bright-line Law that says this [ETA: like we decided last time about 20G1]. Good news: the new Laws subcommittee is accepting submissions! [ETA: but expect when it is added, that it will be as well applied, and as easy to apply, as 20G1]

However:
"Partners shall not communicate by means such as the manner in which...plays are made..." You may claim that "tempo isn't manner", but I'll respond with "such as".
"Players should be particularly careful when variations may work to the benefit of their side". This usually means "deceiving the opponents", but.
"...remarks, questions,...unmistakable hesitation,...,special emphasis,...[is UI]" "Hey, think about your play to this trick carefully, it's important; here, I'll give you time to do so" is just as much useful (but Unauthorized) information as pressing one's card on the table and staring at partner to make sure they have noticed.

The club's ethics board may require even more evidence than this, and the almost identical one last year, and the "5 minutes to work out which 0% play is more likely to give the impression of a possible line", but the nature of players who do these things is such that a suitable query of members will likely acquire it. As I said last time, players who get away with these tricks once usually can't help themselves the next time. And sure, if the player is as prone to litigation as you claim, they might want to be more careful yet. Of course, I'm sure there's something in the bylaws (as the ACBL has) that says "players suing the club in an ethics case are suspended until the case is resolved in their favour" - so the month "go and reflect" is guaranteed to now be years, and quite possibly permanent. Which seems that Charlie the Chimp may turn out to be the Pyrrhic Pan...

At the table, however, "...acting during...the play so as to call attention to a significant occurrence" is one of the *examples* of something deserving a procedural penalty. "I'm sure that partner would have worked this out without the extra time you gave to him. That's why we're [whatever we do to the score]. But we're also assigning a standard penalty. (Is that a term the rank-and-file of the EBU would know, or is it just "white book" jargon?) If you're so sure he'd work it out, next time you'll pause at trick 1 and work out what card you're going to play to the obvious spade finesse, when you're allowed and expected to. And if that gives your partner time to work out what to play at trick 2 in tempo, well, that's one of the purposes of the trick 1 pause."

I will say that I'm glad this level of gamesmanship only seems to apply with and against the Usual Suspects. Because this is the kind of thing that has to be (and usually isn't) dealt with as soon as possible, despite the fear that the player may not come back - because if they're allowed to stay and allowed to keep doing things like this, *tables* of average Joes don't come back instead.
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#11 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2022-August-21, 02:02

Mycroft is absolutely right. The long pause in trick 2 conveys UI to the partner. And itís undeniably unauthorized according to Law 16: ďAny extraneous information from partner that might suggest a call or play is unauthorized. This includes [Ö] unmistakable hesitationÖĒ. If ChCh needed to work out the chances, he should have done so in trick one. Although thatís not in the laws, AFAIK itís standard policy in many if not all jurisdictions that players should think in trick one. Thatís even more important for defenders, since a hesitation on their part creates UI.
That the UI induced falsecarding by ChChís partner, is not my primary concern. Thatís the UI caused by the long hesitation in trick 2, so I will act accordingly: 6= and a stiff penalty for EW. Make it impossible for ChCh to find a partner if they get bad scores every time heís up to his tricks.
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#12 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2022-August-21, 10:34

I mean, you should care about "induced falsecarding". We give UI all the time, without it being considered an infraction - it's use of the UI that is an infraction. The issue here - and it's a very interesting issue, that is actually difficult to police in the real world, especially in places where there isn't the opportunity to "develop a reputation" like our regulars at the club, or the pros on the tournament trail, or the teams you always find at world championships! - is that it's when "a bridge reason masks the intent to communicate with partner and will be used in defence to a director call" that there's a problem.

It's obvious when the UI is spoken, like the pair around here that plays 2 mini-Roman, 2 Flannery, and is perfectly willing to bid 2 "Alert, 5 hearts and 4 spades, 11-15"-2NT; Pass. And sure, that level of obviousness tends to get questioned by even the most innocent of opponents; but if it had been another of the 15 directors that caught the call at [Big Regional] instead of me, they probably wouldn't have known about the same auction happening in [small sectional] 6 months earlier. So, it wins when the opponents don't question the auction enough to call the director; it breaks even when they do call the director and are ruled as if they followed system; it only *loses* when enough people know about this pair that someone in the chain recognizes the pattern.

Which is what the Recorder is for in the ACBL - cases where "there probably isn't any 'there' there, but it's fishy; let's put all the fishy in one place and see if we get salmon." Whether, and how well, it works at this task is an open question.

It is less obvious when it's a "tempo or manner", like my "hey, this is a *signal*" one above; especially less obvious when it's a "legitimate issue" situation like this one.

As an counter-example, let's put the Rabbit in the Chimp's seat. He is famous for not thinking ahead, and not seeing what might develop. So when the Q is played, he is actually reaching to play the K, when he stops and remembers how annoyed HH was last week when he didn't wait to cover the second honour (of course it was different last week, because it was Hxx that couldn't get popuped). "See how I learn?" and he ducks after 20 or so seconds, proud of his play. And, coincidentally, that gives our Tourist West the time to work out the trump position and put in the 9 (the Hog would always have got this one right, or I'd put him in the Tourist's seat).

Lamford and I have a strong disagreement about what the Laws permit. Frankly, he's not wrong, even if he's not right either. Frequently we absolutely have to play the "spirit of the Law" "such as"/"examples" games to rule as required (which is a Kaplanesque legacy that I am all for clearing up in obvious or frequently used cases. Kaplan was brilliant, and wonderful for the game, and well known for wanting the Laws to be written so that Directors could give the "right" ruling, rather than being hamstrung. But that required Directors with impeccable bridge skill - and remember, "if you *could play*, you would" - and barrister-level legal reading skill - maybe at the Kojak level; definitely not at the OO level.) As such, I have always welcomed these "there's a problem with the Laws as written" setups, even as I am the person who points out where the Laws are currently sufficient, and issuance of a PP is not a criminal charge that must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt". Or that every hand is not in fact a blank slate, and the many years of previous experience with a player absolutely can be used when ruling in this case.

Lamford and I also have a strong disagreement about how stupid experts are allowed to be when it's clearly to their advantage to "be stupid". Normally this comes up in the kinds of "explanation doubleshot" rulings that I won't rehash here because it's a sore point for both of us (and I am truly sorry about that); but here it's "I'm sorry, a player at your level is expected to see this trivial trap when declarer elected to win T1 in the dummy. You claim you didn't, but magically your requirement to think was at a time where the time required would in fact be more useful to your partner than to you. You have a history of 'not noticing' like this only when giving your partner time to work things out is critical; most of the time, you do see things in advance." I think in this case we are on the same page that it *should be* illegal to do this; I think we disagree on whether it *is illegal* (or is enforceable) currently; unfortunately I think we are on the same page as to how effective a Law change to specifically make it illegal would be.

Is "long pause before 4NT 'reviewing my system to ensure it isn't Ace-asking'" (with the "magical happenstance" that partner is triggered by the long pause to 'review system' and remember it isn't Ace-asking) the same case as these? Which "of course" they would do anyway - in fact, they knew it wasn't Ace-asking, but just had to check...

Long digression over: the issue with this one (and the one before, and all the other examples of this from RL and elsewhere) is that it is difficult to rule "use of UI" in these situations; after all, if the player is of sufficient calibre, it's hard to argue that not making the "obligatory falsecard" is a Logical Alternative. Even if it would be "careless or inferior, but normal" (to steal a quote from a different portion of the Laws). I note that I have been careful, in this one and the last, to avoid delving into the "table score" ruling, because of this issue. But we can - in a way that we wouldn't with the Rabbit, or the very new player, or... - assign a procedural penalty for the careless play; sufficient to make clear "we don't like this play pattern. If it's deliberate, stop it; if it's not deliberate, fix this deficiency in your obvious skill now." And if the one assigned last time didn't take; well then maybe matchpoints aren't a suitable cost. Remember, pre-197x, the Proprieties were not Laws per se; they were made so to counteract "we don't mind being known as boors, provided we're known as boors that win."
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#13 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2022-August-21, 20:03

View Postlamford, on 2022-August-18, 04:02, said:

ChCh would be ready against these arguments. He would state that there was a demonstrable bridge reason for considering whether to duck with Kx (with which I concur; I have not yet worked out the Nash equilibrium a day later, even after talking to a masters in stats). To say that he should not take a minute to try to work out whether to cover is ridiculous. And this is NOT a situation where a variation in tempo could deceive declarer as he is marked with the king when the queen holds.

The time for ChCh to work out what he's going to do is when he's planning his defense during trick 1. He knows that declarer will eventually lead the Q. And it's not like this is an unusual card holding -- we've all had to make this decision thousands of times during our bridge careers, it's hardly necessary to perform the Nash equilibrium analysis every time.

There shouldn't be any good excuse for the BIT at trick 2.

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