In my bridge world, the reality is so bizarre I often feel as though I'm always being magically transported to Alice's Wonderland . As you seem the only one on this blog capable of eliciting comments from your readers, I would be very grateful if could invite readers to offer their points of view regarding this recent but true incident.
My partner and I were held accountable of a deemed hesitation. It came about when my honest partner denied hesitating, after being openly accused by one of the opponents. The TD was summoned . When I was asked about what I had seen, I told the TD I had seen nothing, as my mind was concentrating on the bidding and what I ought to do for the best. The partner of the accuser seemed unwilling perhaps fearful to offer an opinion of her own. So basically, it was one person's word against the other. Notwithstanding these facts, the TD took the view a hesitation had taken place. I needed to know how he reached this conclusion. Two reasons were given : (i) the balance of probability in favour of the accuser, in that his perception of the passing of time is more likely to be accurate than that of the alleged offender.....and (ii) a player would not claim a hesitation if one had not taken place. In other words the claim itself is prima facie evidence of a tempo infringement.
As a result, the bid I made ( shocking as it was ) was declared unacceptable because of the established hesitation. Moreover, I was told that my failure to spot my partner's delayed pass was irrelevant , because this is how the Bridge Laws work !
So there you have it. If one does not see a hesitation , which partner also denies, the TD can determine that one might well have taken place .....especially when the accuser, who also happens to be a registered TD, clearly has a better grasp of time....... plus of course the balance of probabilities going in his favour.
But what I want to know are answers to these questions :
- Can a hesitation be established if only the accuser believes a tempo infringement has occurred ?
- Can a questionable hesitation be treated as an unmistakable one ?
- What actually constitutes a break in tempo/ hesitation ?
- Do the laws make any reference to the balance of probabilities, and the presumption that the accuser has a better grasp of " real time " than the alleged offender.
Incidentally, the bidding went as follows : 1NT - Double - Redouble ( showing clubs ) - Pass ??? ( weak 6-card diamond suit ) - 2C - 2H ( flat 15 count with 4 hearts ) - 3C - 3D !!! - passed out. This went one off, but the TD substituted a 3C+1 score for the opponents.
If you, or anyone else, could shed some light on this matter I would be most grateful.
Yours Robert C. S. Jay
As I am not a qualified TD I cannot answer your questions. But it does seem peculiar that the balance of probability requirement was only applied to the question of " Can I possibly believe you ? ". If however it had been applied to the question " Would anyone else with your hand bid 2H, opposite a known passed hand ? " , then surely the answer would be not a single sole...... 0%.
If one had to bid again to force partner to bid his lowest 4 card suit, perhaps another double might have been in order. Indeed, on the balance of probability only one of 2 things can be established ; you are either ( i ) a very undisciplined maverick-type bidder , or ( ii ) completely bananas.
However, let's hope someone out there who reads your letter can offer more authoritative observations.
Yours respectfully, Carp