Now don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of claiming. The beauty and benefit of genuine claims are that they speed up the play, and avoid the boring inevitability of playing out the cards, when there is only just one possible conclusion. But my oh my, how many times do we see players making claims that are not only reckless, ill-judged, incorrect and false, but also fraudulent. So allow me to divulge a few of my experiences, which might help explain where " my beef " is coming from.
A few months back, I happen to be kibitzing a team of 4 match, and I was sitting behind declarer's RHO. The contract was 6 hearts, and declarer by trick 7 had already conceded a spade trick to the opponents. In dummy, there was king of spades ( boss ), a small diamond and AKxx of clubs. In hand he held a small spade, Q109 of hearts and 2 small diamonds. Thinking he had pulled out all the hearts, he led a small spade to dummy and claimed, announcing his two diamond losers were going away on the two boss clubs. Not surprising his RHO challenged the claim, stating he still had a small trump, and he would be ruffing in on the second club to defeat the contract. Moreover, should declarer choose to over-ruff, he would still be 1 off since a diamond trick would have to be conceded instead. At this point, I felt obliged to point out to this particular individual that his counter-claim was incorrect, because he did have a second club ( which was buried in amongst his spade holding ). In other words, he was revoking on a counter claim which was disputing declarer's potentially dodgy claim......such is the bizarre world of bridge !
Again, as a kibitzer, I was sitting behind a declarer who was in 4S. Midway through the hand he claimed all the remaining tricks, bar one, to secure the contract. An analysis was given about the intended line of play, to which the opponents seemed happy to accept. I asked if I could make an observation to which they all agreed. I then pointed out that technically there was a line of defence possible ( involving a clever unblocking manoeuvre ) which could have defeated the contract.....and so a TD was called over. Quite sensibly, he allowed the score to stand, given the opponents admitted there would never had spotted this defence, and that they had in fact agreed with declarer's explanation. Nevertheless, it didn't alter the fact that the claim was incorrect.
But now, I must come onto an instance where skulduggery was at work. Sitting behind a declarer, who clearly had no conscience or scruples, I was surprised to see him attempt this blatant exhibition of coffee-housing with me in close attendance. He too was in 4S, but this was a doomed contract with only 9 tricks available. Realising his opponents were quite inexperienced, he attempted a rather unethical coup. At trick 8 he claimed the contract plus 1, knowng there was still an outstanding boss trump......and that the opponents would challenge the claim. By deliberately making a false claim, the plan of course was to acknowledge the opponent's counter-claim to score their trump trick, but in the process deflect them from seeing the other defensive trick, which they had in their locker. This ruse would have worked, until I made an observation that even the revised claim of 4S was still incorrect. So yet again time was lost, when a TD was called over to sort out the problem.
Therefore, it is my contention that making incorrect claims causes grief all round. They compromise kibitzers, who some stronly believe should remain silent even after the play of a hand......they embarrass declarers......they upset opponents.....and they cause unnecessary and difficult work for TDs. Therefore in my next article, I intend to lay down some very firm rules about when and how claims should be made.