Meets every Thursday at 7.25 for 7.30
at Mountnessing Village Hall, Roman Road, Mountnessing, Essex, England, CM15 0UG

Appeal Committee, 6th November 2008

Director: Alaric Cundy; Appeal Committee: Ian Moss, Val Mollison, Mike Graham

What is an Appeal Committee?

When there is a problem, the first line of appeal is the Tournament Director, who rules initially on all matters of law, regulation, or conduct at the table. The ruling may be appealed to an Appeal Committee, who may override the ruling but is not always empowered to do so. The Director rules on which Law or regulation is applicable; the Appeal Committee acts as the final authority on whether any alleged infraction occurred, and how to apply the relevant Laws or regulations.

An appeal was lodged with the Director on this deal (Board 12, Red Section):

Dealer West, NS Vulnerable










West East
















1NT (i)





(i) 12-14 HCP

(ii) Described as hearts plus another suit

The Players

North / South: Tim Connett & Steve Ensor; East / West: Angela Spittal & Dave Brace


2was alerted, and, on enquiry, was described as hearts and another suit. The contract went one down, for +100 to EW. However, the NS convention card described 2as hearts and a minor suit; NS agreed that that was the correct meaning. West stated that, with the correct explanation, she would have bid 2ª. The Director was summoned, and the matter was referred to an Appeal Committee.

The Committee’ Decision

NS agreed that the 2bid had been explained as hearts plus another suit; their convention card was available and clearly stated that 2was hearts and a minor suit. The Committee agreed that EW had received an incorrect explanation of the 2bid.

That being established, the Committee had to determine whether EW had suffered any damage as a result of the incorrect explanation. The Committee decided that West had sufficient values to wish to compete, and that the stated intention to bid 2♠ was reasonable. The Committee therefore decided to allow West to bid 2♠.

However, the Committee did not regard the 2♠ bid as requiring East to pass. The EW methods included Stayman and Transfer bids over 1NT, and neither of these bids had been made. The Committee decided that East was allowed to infer from the absence of a transfer that the 2♠ bid was competitive with only a four-card suit; also, the lack of Stayman implied a balanced or semi-balanced hand. Under these circumstances, the Committee decided that a 3bid by East was a logical alternative, given that East could deduce that 2♠ would be a 4-2 fit. The Committee ruled that the result be changed to 3making by East, for EW +110. This ruling was accepted by the players.


It is not against the Laws of Bridge to forget your system. However, any mis-description comes under the heading of an infraction, and, if the Appeal Committee decides that the opponents were damaged as a direct result of that infraction, may award an adjusted score.

The degree of “damage” is something that can be very hard for the Appeal Committee to decide. For example, NS are having a slam auction; South asks for aces, gets a one-ace reply, and signs off in five. However, North has forgotten the methods, and made a wrong response; he actually has two aces, and a good slam is missed. As it happens, the trumps break 5-0 and the slam cannot be made; NS score a top, as all other pairs have bid the slam and gone down. Should EW get an adjusted score?

No, because they have not been damaged. They have simply been unlucky. There is no action that they could have taken which would have affected the result; therefore the score stands. EW may feel that they are hard done by, and so they have, but that is unfortunate.

On the actual deal, the damage was the incorrect explanation of the 2bid, which dissuaded EW from competing when it was reasonable to do so. Note that although this is an infraction, there is no question of penalising NS; what the Appeal Committee are doing is to restore equity to enable EW to take actions based on the correct explanation of the 2bid.

Notes recorded by Mike Graham (07/11/2008) – with grateful thanks

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