2023 Open United States Bridge Championship - Round of 16 Day 1

 [7] Juster (EW) vs [10] Simson (NS)

Board 37
North Deals
N-S Vul

A Q 7


A J 9 7 5 3

A 10 8

K 10 6 5 3

A Q J 10 7 6 4









9 4 2

K 8

8 6 2

K Q J 6 2


J 8

9 5 2

K Q 10 4

9 7 5 3





John Schermer

Gary Cohler

Neil Chambers

Billy Cohen




1 NT









5  by North

Down 1

The Facts:
On the North-East side of the screen on the second round of the auction, Double-Pass took a total of 50 seconds. (North's double took 46, East's pass took 4.)

The Polling:

The Director conducted a poll of four players to see if it was clear which player took the extra time. All players polled said it was clear that North was overwhelmingly likely to be the one who took the extra time.

Two more players were independently polled with the South hand, up to the point of 4  - Dbl - Pass; one said it was clear to pass, and the other said it was clear to pull to 5 .

Those same two players were asked what a slow double by North would mean. Both answers were quite similar. They both said that there were many different reasons North might take time before doubling, and that those reasons conflicted; the tempo of the double did not suggest either passing or pulling to 5 .


The Ruling:

Law 16B1a deals with unauthorized information, like the extra time taken on this board:
(a) A player may not choose a call or play that is demonstrably suggested over another by unauthorized information if the other call or play is a logical alternative.

The polling made it clear that it was "known" which player took the extra time and seemed likely to point to pass being a logical alternative to bidding 5 . The players' responses, however, showed that the 5  call was not demonstrably suggested by the out-of-tempo call. ACBL guidance says this about the use of the word "demonstrably" in this Law:
The actions that will be removed by Law have to be suggested in an obvious, easily understood way – it must be readily apparent rather than a product of some subtle bridge argument.

Since the 5  call did not meet both tests under Law 16B1a, there was no adjustment to the result.

The Appeal:

The appeal was heard the next morning before play. The committee members, Martin Hirschman (Chair), Rich DeMartino, and Stan Subeck, were present via Zoom; at the tournament site Jacob Morgan represented the appealing side, Gary Cohler represented the non-appealing side, and Tournament Director McKenzie Myers presented the information above.

Committee Report:

By a 2-1 vote the committee determined not to grant redress to the appealing party. The table result stands.

Subeck and DeMartino determined that there was probably a discernible break in tempo attributable to North, but that it did not demonstrably indicate anything about the exact nature of North’s hand. Therefore, South was at liberty to make any decision he thought was correct. 

Hirschman. dissenting: I would have ruled that the break in tempo was obviously attributable to North, and that this BIT suggested that North was considering other actions besides double. That is U/I to South, suggesting it would be more successful to bid 5D than to pass. Therefore, I would have rolled back the result to 4Hx, which West usually would make.