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Is this law unfair ?

edited 7:01AM in Bridge Laws
When a question is asked about the opponents bidding the 2 main alternative rules seem to depend on whether it was a mistaken explanation or a mistaken bid. In the case of a mistaken bid the opponents are not entitled to a remedy. Could anyone please explain why. If required I can give an example of where I think this rule was totally unfair


  • edited 7:01AM
    You have correctly identified two main possibilities if a player’s bid does not correspond to his partner’s explanation of the bid:
    The player has forgotten the system and made a bid which is not in accordance with the system (a Mis-Bid).
    The player has bid correctly in accordance with the system, but his partner has given an incorrect explanation of the system (a Mis-Explanation).

    There is also the further possibility that the player has deliberately made a bid, which is not in accordance with the system (a Psych or Deviation).

    Bridge is not a game of based on secret codes. The general principle is that your opponents are entitled to be fully informed of any partnership agreements that you may have. Such agreements may be explicit through partnership discussion or implicit through mutual experience and observation of partner’s previous bids in similar situations. But your opponents are not entitled to additional information that does not form part of your partnership agreements.

    Since you are entitled to be informed about your opponents’ agreements, it follows that you are entitled to redress if you are given a Mis-Explanation – meaning that you have not been properly informed of your opponents’ systems.

    A different situation arises if the opponent makes a bid that is not in accordance with their system (whether mistakenly – a Mis-Bid or deliberately – a Psych). As long as the your opponent has no more reason than you have to suspect that the bid is not in accordance with their agreements, your opponents have fulfilled their obligations and you are not entitled to redress. But:
    The first time that the Psych or Mis-Bid occurs your opponent will be as much in the dark as you. If there are multiple occurrences their partnership experience may suggest an implicit agreement.
    Often it is not clear whether there has been a Mis-Explanation or a Mis-Bid. The laws require the director to presume a Mis-Explanation unless there is evidence to the contrary (e.g. two identically completed convention cards).

    This may seem unfair if you are on the receiving end of a Mis-Bid. But really the situation is no different from other occasions where the opponents bid poorly but obtain a good result through good fortune. Imagine that the opponents hold a combined 28 points, but fail to find 3NT due to their inept bidding. Just occasionally, every finesse fails and 3NT can’t make. It’s what golfers call the “rub of the green”.

  • edited 7:01AM
    Many thanks for the explanation. Perhaps I can explain what happened and why I think the laws produced an unfair conclusion.
    I opened 1 diamond and LHO overbid 2 spades.  When asked what this meant his partner said a strong 2 overcall.  Because of this, mine and my partners bids were reserved and we finished missing a game contract in 5 diamonds.  At the end of the game we were informed that the 2 spades was a weak overcall, but that their usual would have been strong.  Were we deliberately  psyched ? (in which case we should deserve redress no matter what is said in the rules) or was is a genuine mistake (I doubt it, the player concerned is very good)
  • edited 7:01AM
    Did you call the director? Did the director determine that your opponents' agreement was to play strong jump overcalls and that LHO had mis-bid? If so, did the director explain his/her reason for ruling that their agreement is to play strong jump overcalls?

    Assuming that you did call the director and the director did explain the reasons for ruling that LHO had mis-bid, it would appear that you were unlucky, but that is not the same as saying that you were treated unfairly. It would be interesting to see the actual hand.

    My guess is that it is unlikely that the opponents psyched. This would be a very high risk strategy as the danger would be that RHO would raise the auction much too high in the expectation of the strong jump overcall. Even good players can have bidding misunderstandings.
  • edited 7:01AM
    Many thanks for all your help. Although I don't necessarily agree with the position in the rules and I think this leaves it open for strong players to psych other players, I do appreciate your help and advice. 
  • edited October 2016
    I have always felt that it is not really right that mis-explanations and misbids are treated differently, but these are the laws and I can see some difficulties with treating them the same.

    Please note that you are not entitled to redress if an opponent has psyched, unless the psyche is "fielded" (partner's actions catered for a psyche) or is evidence of a concealed partnership understanding.
  • edited July 2017
    Yes, man. In this situation, that you described here there is no fair. I know that our law like to choose the right party of conflict, but this situation is strange
  • edited 7:01AM
    Trev said
           Because of this, mine and my partners bids were reserved and we finished missing a game contract in       5  diamonds.

    Tramticket gave as thorough an explanation as he could, given that you did not reveal pertinent facts. Of those, the most important is the fact that you both chose to underbid your hands after the intervention. Had you shown the four hands, better players might suggest what you do; beginning with more applicable ways to evaluate your hand. Sounds like 3N was another missed opportunity.
    If we DID look at the hand, we would suggest evaluation by adjusted LTC, taking into account controls, position, etc. 
    In short, this is more a system and evaluation issue than a fault of the law

  • edited 7:01AM
    The following discussion of this topic was given in the daily bulletin at the North American Bridge Championships in 2006. Although it is by an ACBL national director, the ideas are the same on both sides of the pond:

    One of the most vexing problems that directors face is determining what is going on when the hand held by a player does not match the explanation that has been given by his partner or what is marked on his convention card. Following are some guidelines for players and directors alike to follow when dealing with this situation. If the agreement explained to the opponents is in fact the partnership agreement, and the bidder has simply forgotten what he is playing, there has been no infraction, and there can be no penalty regardless of damage. In determining this to be the case, the director should accept as proof that the explanation is the actual agreement when both members of the partnership have identically-filled out convention cards reflecting the agreement or they have system notes reflecting the agreement. If the evidence of the agreement is less compelling, the director should rule that there has been a mistaken explanation rather than a mistaken bid. If the player who made the call in question has forgotten his agreement, but his partner has given an accurate explanation of the agreement, then the player who made the bid is under no obligation to his opponents to disclose that he has made a mistaken bid. If the player who made the call in question made a bid that reflected his partnership agreement and his partner has given a mistaken explanation, then the player who made the bid must correct his partner's explanation at the earliest legal moment. If his side declares, that moment is at the end of the auction and prior to the opening lead being faced. If his side defends, he must wait until the end of play. In either case, the director must be summoned to protect everybody's rights. When partner makes a mistaken explanation of our call or when his Alert or explanation alerts us to the fact that we have made a mistaken bid, it creates information for us which is unauthorized, and we must be careful not to make a call which could be based on an inference from the Alert or explanation when we have a logical alternative. What we must do is continue the auction as though partner had made an explanation that corresponds to the hand that we actually hold. Here is an example from a recent tournament. I was the offender. The auction proceeded 2C by my RHO, pass by me, pass by my LHO, 2NT by my partner. RHO passed, and I bid 3C holding a 4-1-3-5 distribution and believing that my bid was Stayman. MY partner announced a transfer, however, and I now remembered that we had agreed to play "systems on" in this situation. She now bid 3 • and it went pass to me. By law, I am obliged to continue the auction as though she had responded 3 • to my Stayman inquiry, so since I had enough points to bid game, I was compelled to bid 4S even though I knew from her announcement that she might not have more than two spades. Virtue was rewarded when she turned up with four spades to match mine, but any other call by me would have been a violation of law. In much the same way, we must continue to follow the regulations of the ACBL when partner's Alert awakens us to a problem that we are not on the same wavelength. Say that I respond 2NT to partner's 1S opening, thinking that we are playing Jacoby forcing raises. There is no Alert, and, when asked partner states that I am showing a balanced minimum opening bid. He now proceeds to bid 3D. If our agreement is that this rebid over Jacoby 2NT shows a singleton or void in diamonds, I must Alert and if asked, explain our agreement even though I may suspect that my partner and I are having a misunderstanding. Our side cannot profit from this action since my Alert and explanation and partner's failure to Alert all have created unauthorized information for us. In most of the situations listed above, the director will need to be called. He should be called as soon as it becomes apparent that there is a problem in order to ensure that the rights of all the players are protected.
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