Board 20
Vul: Both
Dealer: West

West (Willenken)
North (Garner)
S  J 9
H  K
D  A K 9 8 4 3
C  K 8 4 2


East (Delmonte

S  Q 7 5 3
H  10 8 5
D  10 7 6
C  9 7 6

S  10 8 4
H   J 9 4 3
D  Q 5
C  Q J 5 3
  South (Bates)
S  A K 6 2
H  A Q 7 6 2
D  J 2
C  A 10


N        E         S       W      
1D      P       1H      P
2D      P       2S       P
3C      P       3D      P
4C      P       4NT1  P
5D2      P       6D      P
P         P

1 Intended as Keycard (not alerted as otherwise). NS play 1430.
2 Tray on that side for 92 seconds (video was checked to ascertain the time)

Table Result: NS +1390

Director's Ruling:

The length of time it took to respond seems to indicate to South that North was not (or might not be) responding to KeyCard.

4 experts were polled. 3 of them passed 5D, saying that partner could well have a hand with zero Key Cards on this auction. Based on that, passing 5D was deemed to be a logical alternative. The result was changed to NS contract 5D. The actual play was that East ducked when North led a small Diamond towards the Jack, so the result in five was left at NS +640.

Appeals Committee Ruling

The committee felt that North's break in tempo (which was timed at 92 seconds) indicated to South that 4NT was not interpreted as Blackwood. 

As a result, South did not have to deal with the possibility that North had zero key cards, even if the chances were overwhelmingly likely that that was not the case.  Neither did South have to worry about a one keycard response, which would have raised some doubt about slam. 

Given that North was not responding to Blackwood, South had the unauthorized information that North was evaluating his hand for a diamond slam and that he was not sure about his evaluation.  Even though a good part of North's break in tempo may have been attributable to trying to figure out the meaning of 4NT, some part of it was attributable to deciding what to bid in response. 

Therefore, North had in effect committed a slow signoff and his earlier 4C bid was not sufficient to convert the South hand into a slam force - he wasn't close to bidding 7 and could just have bid 6D over 4C if he were always intending to reach slam, so he must have had a reason for bidding Blackwood. 

The director relied on the poll, which established that pass was a Logical Alternative, and the committee saw no basis on which to overturn the director's ruling.


Appeals Committee

Ron Gerard, Chairman
Larry Cohen, Member
Gary Cohler, Member
Eric Rodwell, Member
Kerri Sanborn, Member