header                Issue #24               July 2016

These pages are an attempt to inform bridge players of  the laws governing our game.  In particular, we will be looking at everyday situations where the TD is called.
These pages will be updated each month, so please come again!  

Always call the TD for any infringement, however minor -  do not take the law into your own hands.

The STOP card re-visited

Using a hesitation to convey info Introducing the STOP card

Look at the two scenarios below:

  1. You open 3 and next hand passes immediately, in fact as you completed your bid, he went for his PASS card;
  2. You open 3 and next hand hesitates forever, some 30 seconds(!) then reluctantly PASSes.

What can you deduce from the above?

Yes, even a passing waiter would know that your LHO (left hand apponent) in scenario 1. is broke but the LHO in case 2. certainly has values, very close to formulating a bid at the 3-level. This deduction is somewhat obvious, wouldn't you agree?   Is this allowed?

Law 16 protects us:

1. (a) After a player makes available to his partner extraneous information that may suggest a call or play, as for example by a remark, a question, a reply to a question, an unexpected* alert or failure to alert, or by unmistakable hesitation, unwonted speed, special emphasis, tone, gesture, movement, or mannerism, the partner may not choose from among logical alternatives one that could demonstrably have been suggested over another by the extraneous information.
(b) A logical alternative action is one that, among the class of players in question and using the methods of the partnership, would be given serious consideration by a significant proportion of such players, of whom it is judged some might select it.

2. When a player considers that an opponent has made such information available and that damage could well result he may announce, unless prohibited by the Regulating Authority (which may require that the Director be called), that he reserves the right to summon the Director later (the opponents should summon the Director immediately if they dispute the fact that unauthorized information might have been conveyed).

3. When a player has substantial reason to believe that an opponent who had a logical alternative has chosen an action that could have been suggested by such information, he should summon the Director when play ends**. The Director shall assign an adjusted score (see Law 12C) if he considers that an infraction of law has resulted in an advantage for the offender.

But this still led to all sorts of problems for the TD when he is called - the TD has to establish if there was a hesitation; How long was the hesitation?   "Of course I needed time to think," they say. etc etc.

So the bridge community brought in the STOP CARD to standardise procedures when jumping:
You pull out the STOP CARD then make your jump bid.   Now the next bidder (LHO) must make a mandatory hesitation of 10 seconds before bidding, irrespective if he has a yarborough or if he has a reasonable hand. Can you see what has happened?

No unauthorised information passes between your opponents and everyone is happy.

Please note that some TDs (I am one) allow a hesitation of 5 seconds; but there has to be an unmistakable break in tempo. Some players like to leave the STOP card on the table for as long as they want LHO to hesitate and LHO can bid only when the STOP card is lifted.

IMPORTANT: A lack of any hesitation or too long a hesitation (then pass) both run foul of Law 16 and the opponents can seek redress if they feel that they are damaged.

The following incident occurred in 2012 in a major event (States). E-W complained that they received a bad matchpoint score since North, after a STOP bid, had passed immediately with nary a hesitation and thus gave UI!   It went to appeal:

They won the Appeal and the score was altered from 4S+1 to 4Sx+1 !!

    No STOP card need to used at the last bid below - since the opponents are not in the auction any further:

1S  -  (stop)3S          1D  -  1H           3H  -  (stop)4NT         1H  -  (1S)  -  2S  -  (P)          2NT - (stop)4NT
4NT                (stop)4H  -  6H           6C*                      3C  -  (P)   -  4NT                 6NT
                                              * 1 + void

Interested in becoming a Tournament Director?     Contact me please.


Please feel free to write in regarding the bridge laws, to   webmaster [at] gbu.co.za


Sid Ismail
National Director

July 2016

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