Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

What would a Nationals be without appeals


I hate appeals and I hate appealing.  In fact, it has been a long time since I have been involved in one but then again I don’t play many tournaments these days.  However, I find reading about appeals very interesting.  I ran into David Lindop who had been involved in the Appeal published in today’s Bulletin.  And while the outcome doesn’t seem unreasonable I do see some issues with it.

The way Ray and I like to think about “break in tempo” deals  is to take the hand in question and decide what we would do if there hadn’t been a hesitation and then decide if it would affect our choice.

Here is the hand in question

You, Paul Bethe, are sitting North in the second session of the Blue Ribbon and are vulnerable against not.  Your hand is

J1063  J QJ106 KJ72 

The auction started out this way


Richard Zeckhauser Paul Bethe Michael Rosenberg Kitty Cooper
1NT ?    

You decide to double.  I know it’s close but this is matchpoints and +200 is gold.  Michael bid


Richard Zeckhauser Paul Bethe Michael Rosenberg Kitty Cooper
1NT dbl 2 pass
2 ?    

2 is a transfer to hearts.  Now the first question comes to my mind.  Are we in a forcing auction and what does Kitty’s pass mean.  If Paul had doubled an opening bid 1NT then this is a forcing auction.  Without discussion I would still think that was true even over the 1NT overcall?  Have you discussed this situation with your partner?  Ray and I admitted we  hadn’t.  We didn’t play the same thing over a 1NT overcall as over a 1NT bid.  For example, in this auction,  2 over the overcall would be weak with clubs but we thought that over double the auction would be the same.  If that’s true than Paul is in a forcing auction.  Now back to Kitty’s pass.  Over 1NT dbl the double of 2 (transfer) is a penalty double of hearts according to their notes.  Therefore passing it shows that she does not have a penalty double.  What should Paul do here? 

Assuming he is not going to sit for a double of 2 should he bid something now?   What does he expect Kitty to do?  She could double which I assume would be cooperative, she could bid 2 or she could bid 3.  In suppose that if I pass and she bids 2 I am better off since I can happily pass that.  So for now I will pass. 


Richard Zeckhauser Paul Bethe Michael Rosenberg Kitty Cooper
1NT dbl 2 pass
2 pass pass dbl
pass ?    

What does Kitty’s double mean?  She is forced to bid so it doesn’t show values.  It probably suggests three good hearts since couldn’t double directly and she knows I don’t have good hearts since I also passed.  I would think she probably doesn’t have four spades since she might bid  2 with that (but I suppose you could argue with that conclusion).  I personally would bid 3.  Paul bid 2.  This went 1 down.  Kitty’s hand being

Q97  AQ4 94 A9854 

The problem?  There was a break in tempo before Kitty’s double in the pass out chair.  So was pass a logical alternative for Paul?  The director didn’t think so and in the end the committee didn’t think so.  But that does assume that the agreement for 1NT doubled applied to an overcall of 1NT and a double.  Ray thinks that pass is a logical alternative anyway although he wouldn’t have pass, given the agreements. 

David and I chatted about this one for a while and we both agreed we should talk to our partners about what our agreements were over an overcall of 1NT doubled and probably about all the meaning of bids over a 1NT overcall.



David Lindop

It was fun to visit with David who is a big Obama fan and we did try to solve some of  the problems of the world during David’s sitout. 


Paul GipsonNovember 30th, 2008 at 8:09 am

After any penalty double of 1NT (an overcall in this case), our rule is that passes are forcing and the next double is takeout by either side. Once we have made one takeout double, then doubles are penalty as we have ‘shown’ the other suits.

This is slightly different from the methods that the Scottish Women’s team uses. They all seem to play that each player has one takeout double, then doubles are penalty.

There is no significant difference and everything is playable … when you have an agreement.

Bobby WolffDecember 2nd, 2008 at 3:32 am

Subject: Unseen and worse fallouts of appeals transgressions

Trying to combine solutions to problem areas in administrating bridge requires discipline,

attention to detail but, even more importantly, innovative thinking.

Linda’s recent interesting blog on appeals brings to mind a good example of the above.   The appeal was somewhat of a  ho-hum subject — competitive bidding, a slow double which was taken out by partner and a final result.  There were several broken disciplines involved:

1.  A “slow double”,

2.  Lack (or at least an arguable fact) of understanding on whether the double was penalty or takeout.

3.  A takeout of the double by partner (agreed to be an honest effort according to the administrators) was ruled by the Committee as there was no logical alternative to the takeout.

4.  Complicated nuances present (such as transfers; possible partnership misunderstanding on immediate defense against the transfer; and finally follow-up action during the extra round of bidding created by the transfer).

Having said the above, we need to recognize what has become the normal human condition:

1.  At the table I have not ever seen someone be able to determine honestly whether or not he was affected by possible unauthorized information (UI).

2.  Even if that person existed, unless he decided against his side, there is no way that his opponents will believe that he actually felt the way he said he did.

3.  Unless the appellant volunteered what he felt, I, as chairman, did not take the time to ask him, since I opined that his answer would only cause harder feelings among all the appellants.  It also, on occasion, would allow a clever appellant to get in a blow for his side which, at least to me, was probably unfair to the other side.

4.  The result of the last sentence is that it was up to the Committee to decide on whether the UI was helpful (and more often than not — it usually is).

On the appeal in question, it appeared that all the appellants were honest and forthright. However ….

If Kitty, at her third turn to bid, had doubled 2 hearts without pause and with a good result from it (probably the result of a heart stack in Kitty’s hand) — could we cancel the result if Paul had stood for it and the opponents had appealed — the ground being that it wasn’t a logical alternative for Paul to consider passing?

If so, I would applaud that decision, although the defense could easily be that “Partner’s double was a penalty double, so why would I overrule her judgment?”  Even though the above supposition has been discussed, my experience dictates that it never comes to a committee when that happens since when one player follows his partner’s direction — no one really believes that he can change a committee’s verdict.

Now let us get to the meat of this matter which is why I tend to inject some maverick ideas.

MOST IMPORTANT (at least to me):  When, at a low-level (or sometimes a higher one), an opponent injects what could be interpreted as a penalty double and partner, acting on his own judgment, takes it out, it is a VERY difficult judgment for either of the doubled opponents to bid one more in the face of such happenings. After all, they cannot enter either Kitty’s or Paul’s mind to determine just how close it was for 2 hearts doubled to be the final contract.  If this is agreed to be included in our rendering, let us consider how this came to happen.

1.  A hesitation disruption (HD) occurred and partner acted by disagreeing with partner’s decision.

2.  Convention disruption (CD) also occurred since neither partner knew for sure what Kitty’s double meant and it was also overruled by partner, perhaps as a safety play, but also possibly because the HD suggested there was not a heart stack. 

3.  Add to that, neither partner was sure after Paul’s initial double just how high the bidding needed to go, before their force was off — another version of CD.

4.  All of the above precluded their opponents from apparently even considering bidding 3H which was very likely, (perhaps 90%) to be fulfilled.  By the way, when either HD or especially CD occurs, let alone both, the ambivalence by the innocent pair is a VERY common occurrence.

Because of the explanation above — I think that Cooper/Bethe’s opponents’ result should be upgraded to either an average or perhaps their percentage score during that session — while the culprits (Cooper/Bethe) depending on their attitude, should receive anywhere between 0 up to perhaps 1/4 of the board score on that hand.

[…] I elaborated on my views and suggestions relating to the whole process.   See my Comment “Unseen and worse fallouts of appeals transgressions.“ […]

Paul BetheDecember 22nd, 2008 at 4:30 pm

* At the appeal, we produced written notes which described that after:

1N-X-xfer-? X then X is penalty, P then X is co-operative, with 3 trumps. We are in a force to 2S.

(the initial X was Penalty)

* It does not seem a stretch to apply Bobby’s initial statement, such that 1C-1N-X-xfer is the same situation.

* Armed with this knowledge, that Kitty’s double was co-operative how can Pass be an LA for a hand that stretched to X 1NT, and *knows* that the opponents have a 9-card fit?

+ that is why I understand that both the director and the committee found the table result of 2S down 1 to stand.

+ as a *learning point*, my mother should have taken the time from passing over the xfer to the bidding coming back around to think about whatever she was thinking about, so that her X was in tempo. 2nd, since she didn’t double the Xfer, I should have realized that I would not sit her next double, and simply bid over 2H.

+ finally, with all due respect to Bobby, I do not understand why a hesitation automatically means that the score should be adjusted.

Bobby WolffFebruary 23rd, 2009 at 2:51 am

Hi Paul,

Sorry for the delay, but I hadn’t ventured onto this site since I wrote what I wrote.

Let me say first, that considering who you, your mom and your dad are, there is not a doubt that whatever comes from any of the three of you would always be considered by me to be totally true in every sense of the word. Having said that, let me address what I think is primarily important in cases of this type.

There is no debate that the logic of this sequence is very similar to an original NT, Dbl (Strong Hand), Pass, etc. so that, at least as far as I am concerned, your important system point is agreed with by me. I also agree with your “learning point” referred to by you in your blog. Sometimes (probably all too often) the decision to stand a penalty double or not is determined by whether your partner has a trump stack or not. The tempo (slow double) usually (except perhaps by diabolical players) denies that trump stack.

I also agree with you that the only possible reason for you to chance a penalty pass is that the opponents do not hold nine+ trumps enablng a defensive penalty to be a reasonable goal. However, at least from my vantage point, a slow double conveys the unauthorized information that the double was merely a TO and not penalty. When conventions are played, unfortunately the important nuances MUST be worked out and all bids need to be made in proper tempo;

otherwise, bridge becomes a lesser game than (I hope) the people involved and the ones reading this discussion want it to be. I realize that since that treatment was very similar to the example in your notes that you acted on that and I, for one, cannot blame you. However, if I would have been your mom, and after not doubling promptly, I would have selected another reopening action other than double (perhaps 2 spades, with only 3, or 2NT).

This discussion is not without considerable pain for me, since I know the cast of characters involved. But perhaps we can rejoice in even that circumstance, since the honest and forward thinking representative group involved here might just establish some important caveats which up to now have not happened, nor given any evidence that they will even eventually occur.

Sure, it puts pressure on conventioneers to immediately know one’s conventions (and all the twists), but it will be certain if everyone knows that once he (or she) has broken tempo, DO NOT put partner in such a bind with his decision that he is left with a Hobson’s choice (an ethical dilemma).

Perhaps we will be striving for the impossible, but we have come some distance so join in our crusade and let’s go ALL THE WAY!

Your friend,

Bobby Wolff

[…] of appeals, and only recently saw Paul’s response. I would like to draw your attention to Unseen and worse fallouts of appeals transgressions. […]

Brian SeniorMarch 27th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Sure, it puts pressure on conventioneers to immediately know one’s conventions (and all the twists),

I have a big problem with Bobby’s position – with particular reference to the above, which is copied from his previous comment.

We are not the cause of the problem on this deal. We are not the original conventioneers. Had the opposition been playing natural methods over Paul’s double, i.e. Michael bids 2H to show hearts, would we have had the same problem in knowing our methods? Perhaps it is the opposition’s use of a convention which has created doubt and the Convention Disruption debt should be laid at their door.

They could have been playing that Michael had to redouble as the start of a wriggle to get to his long suit. That would have been a different convention and perhaps we would have required a third set of rules to bid effectively against it. Again, they would be the ones who created the CD issue – all we are doing is trying to overcome the problems created by their use of a convention.

It is unrealistic for most partnerships – even regular ones – to have a complete set of hard agreements for every situation they might find themselves in – for just this one situation we need at least three sets of agreements to cater to possible opposing methods. Casual partnerships, which was not an issue in the Bethe case, of course, are even less likely to have every agreement that they need firmly in place.

No, partnerships frequently find themselves having to think on their feet at the table and look for, perhaps, a closest parallel situation solution to decide what their methods should be in a situation which is not firmly agreed. That may take a little time and, for that reason, a hesitation does not necessarily show a hand with no clear direction.

It is not reasonable for the overwhelming majority of partnerships to be at a disadvantage every time they come across a situation that is not quite standard for them. Whenever a convention creates a problem, it is the original user of a convention to whom the CD debt should be assessed, and not the opposing pair, who have to work out what their agreements/conventions may be.

We have to have some understanding in each situation or we cannot ever bid anything – and even a pass has a meaning. So we are completely stuffed as soon as we are not both able to, in tempo, know what everything means, irrespective of how obscure our opponents’ agreements may be – sorry Bobby, but that isn’t the world I want to live in and I can assure you that it is not the world in which most players around the globe do live in real life.

The opposition in the actual case failed to compete effectively. That is unfortunate, but it was their convention that created the uncertainty in the first place. Perhaps they should have competed. Both Kitty and Paul had heart holdings entirely consistent with their methods, as far as they have been explained to us.

An issue which has not been discussed to date is the difference between Paul’s actual sequence, pass over 2H then remove the double to 2S, and an immediate 2S over 2H. If we really have a complete agreement here, then only one of these sequences can be correct for this hand. The other sequence must either show a stronger all-round hand, or more emphasis on spades, or…

Brian Senior

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