Information can legitimately be transmitted by a player to his partner in one of two ways: (1) during the bidding (2) during the play of the cards, by signalling.
Unauthorised information, on the other hand, is information that has been received as a result of extraneous information, such as an alert, a remark, a hesitation, undue speed, or special emphasis. It is dealt with by Law 16. To base a call or play on this type of information is an infraction of law. Note however that the law does allow the opponents of the infringer to make use of the unauthorised information, but they do so at their own risk.
The EBU has recently provided the club with some very useful guidelines to help judge whether scores may need to be adjusted if it is perceived that the opponents have been ‘damaged’.
A TD adjusts if
There is unauthorised information [UI] from partner, and
There is a logical alternative [LA] to the action chosen, and
The UI suggests the chosen action over the LA, and
The opposition are damaged by that choice.
It takes all four points to be satisfied before an adjustment is appropriate. It is therefore NOT NECESSARILY the case that the partner of the player giving the unauthorised information has to pass.
The tournament director should ideally be called as soon as the giving of ‘Unauthorised Information’ is perceived – ideally BEFORE any other bid is made or card is played. It is common practice for a player to ‘reserve rights’, play the hand out, and then call the Director. Such an approach may well weaken the claimant’s case. The claimant needs to avoid giving credence the the interpretation “we got a bad result – let's see if we can get it overturned as we have nothing to lose”. HOWEVER, please see the separate note about the particular case of ‘Slow Passes’, for which a specific procedure is now recommended by the EBU.
Club member Mike Graham has provided two good illustrative examples of 'Unauthorised Information' – they have been presented in two accompanying notes.