Appeal 1 - 2015
Reported by Pauline Gumby

ITS STage I - 16/2/2015

Appeals Committee: Appeals Committee: Michael Wilkinson (chair), Michael Courtney, Liam Milne

Board 14
Nil Vul
Dealer East

S  KJ2
H  108
D  KQ7654
C  52

S  1084
H  42
D  J10832
C  A98

S  753
H  Q95
D  9
C  KJ10643
S  AQ96
H  AKJ763
D  A
C  Q7

Auction and Explanations

West North East South
    P 2C
2D X* P 2H
P 2NT P 3S
P 3NT** P 4H
* values
** agreed break in tempo

Play - N/A

Result:        NS +420

Tournament Director's Statement of Facts and Ruling :   

Relevant Law: 16

I was called to the table by EW at the end of the play of the board. It was claimed that South's action in bidding 4H after 3NT may have been influenced by the unauthorised information arising from the break in tempo.

I ruled that there was no infraction, as although there were logical alternatives to 4H (eg. Pass), I did not believe that the break in tempo could have demonstrably suggested that 4H was likely to be more successful than passing. (For instance North may hold a heart shortage and extra values and be considering moving towards slam. Withh a minimum holding for the 2C opening, pass by South hand would be likely to be more successful opposite such a hand.)

The table result was allowed to stand.

Reason for Appeal: In our view, there are three main categories of hand type that N can have for their 3NT bid:
1 Minimum, no H or S support, length in minors.
2 Secondary H and/or S support, doubt about which game to play in
3 Maximum, slam possibilities (with or without Major suit support)

In case #1, South must pass, in case #2 South must bid on, and in case #3 South can make another bid, but may still stop in game (e.g. 4NT).

Case #1 will have the highest frequency of occurrence, but is the only one where pass offers the last chance of obtaining a good result. However, the Unauthorised Information conveyed by the slow 3NT bid has all but eliminated that hand type. As a result, the 4H bid has changed from odds against to likely to lead to contract improvement or at worst it cannot lose.

There are only two logical alternatives for South: pass, or 4H. Normally, bidding 4H carries the considerable risk that 3NT was the last making contract. That risk is dramatically reduced by the break in tempo.

The hesitation has in our view 'demonstrably suggested bidding anything other than pass', and therefore should not be allowed.

Decision of the Appeals Committee:  Although the relative frequency may have changed we do not feel that the hesitation demonstrably suggested 4H. Bidding 4H carries significant risk opposite a slam try with no heart fit. E.g. 4NT might well be RKCB.


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