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Is this law unfair ?

When a question is asked about the opponents bidding the 2 main alternative rules seem to depend on whether it was a mistaken explanation or a mistaken bid. In the case of a mistaken bid the opponents are not entitled to a remedy. Could anyone please explain why. If required I can give an example of where I think this rule was totally unfair


  • You have correctly identified two main possibilities if a player’s bid does not correspond to his partner’s explanation of the bid:
    The player has forgotten the system and made a bid which is not in accordance with the system (a Mis-Bid).
    The player has bid correctly in accordance with the system, but his partner has given an incorrect explanation of the system (a Mis-Explanation).

    There is also the further possibility that the player has deliberately made a bid, which is not in accordance with the system (a Psych or Deviation).

    Bridge is not a game of based on secret codes. The general principle is that your opponents are entitled to be fully informed of any partnership agreements that you may have. Such agreements may be explicit through partnership discussion or implicit through mutual experience and observation of partner’s previous bids in similar situations. But your opponents are not entitled to additional information that does not form part of your partnership agreements.

    Since you are entitled to be informed about your opponents’ agreements, it follows that you are entitled to redress if you are given a Mis-Explanation – meaning that you have not been properly informed of your opponents’ systems.

    A different situation arises if the opponent makes a bid that is not in accordance with their system (whether mistakenly – a Mis-Bid or deliberately – a Psych). As long as the your opponent has no more reason than you have to suspect that the bid is not in accordance with their agreements, your opponents have fulfilled their obligations and you are not entitled to redress. But:
    The first time that the Psych or Mis-Bid occurs your opponent will be as much in the dark as you. If there are multiple occurrences their partnership experience may suggest an implicit agreement.
    Often it is not clear whether there has been a Mis-Explanation or a Mis-Bid. The laws require the director to presume a Mis-Explanation unless there is evidence to the contrary (e.g. two identically completed convention cards).

    This may seem unfair if you are on the receiving end of a Mis-Bid. But really the situation is no different from other occasions where the opponents bid poorly but obtain a good result through good fortune. Imagine that the opponents hold a combined 28 points, but fail to find 3NT due to their inept bidding. Just occasionally, every finesse fails and 3NT can’t make. It’s what golfers call the “rub of the green”.

  • Many thanks for the explanation. Perhaps I can explain what happened and why I think the laws produced an unfair conclusion.
    I opened 1 diamond and LHO overbid 2 spades.  When asked what this meant his partner said a strong 2 overcall.  Because of this, mine and my partners bids were reserved and we finished missing a game contract in 5 diamonds.  At the end of the game we were informed that the 2 spades was a weak overcall, but that their usual would have been strong.  Were we deliberately  psyched ? (in which case we should deserve redress no matter what is said in the rules) or was is a genuine mistake (I doubt it, the player concerned is very good)
  • Did you call the director? Did the director determine that your opponents' agreement was to play strong jump overcalls and that LHO had mis-bid? If so, did the director explain his/her reason for ruling that their agreement is to play strong jump overcalls?

    Assuming that you did call the director and the director did explain the reasons for ruling that LHO had mis-bid, it would appear that you were unlucky, but that is not the same as saying that you were treated unfairly. It would be interesting to see the actual hand.

    My guess is that it is unlikely that the opponents psyched. This would be a very high risk strategy as the danger would be that RHO would raise the auction much too high in the expectation of the strong jump overcall. Even good players can have bidding misunderstandings.
  • Many thanks for all your help. Although I don't necessarily agree with the position in the rules and I think this leaves it open for strong players to psych other players, I do appreciate your help and advice. 
  • edited October 2016
    I have always felt that it is not really right that mis-explanations and misbids are treated differently, but these are the laws and I can see some difficulties with treating them the same.

    Please note that you are not entitled to redress if an opponent has psyched, unless the psyche is "fielded" (partner's actions catered for a psyche) or is evidence of a concealed partnership understanding.
  • edited July 22
    Yes, man. In this situation, that you described here there is no fair. I know that our law like to choose the right party of conflict, but this situation is strange
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