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I would very much like to know the correct ethical procedure for the following play. Hearts are trump.

  • West led a small club
  • North played a small club
  • East played a small spade
  • I as South played a Jack of clubs thinking I was taking the trick
  • Then, East said "Oh, I have some clubs" and played the Queen of clubs.

I had the King of clubs and would have taken the trick given the opportunity. It didn't seem fair for me not to get to play it after East's card was changed.

Do I get the chance to take the trick I would have taken or does this trick belong to East?

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2 Answers

East reneged (played an out-of-suit card when they had a card of the correct suit), but fixed the error before the next trick; since they're the defender, two things happen:

  1. East's small spade is left face up on the table in front of East. It's a "major penalty" card, and must be played by East as soon as it is legal to do so, on some future trick. (Furthermore, if that card is still face up when West leads, you get to pick whether West must lead spades for that trick, or must not lead spades until he loses the lead.)
  2. You can change the card you played, so that you played the king of clubs and took the trick.

If the declarer made an error (you as South, or you playing the dummy North hand), then you get to fix the error, and everyone playing after the corrected player may also change their play. Declarers don't get penalty cards.

Short Answer: you get a chance to take the trick, and there are additional penalties for East playing incorrectly.

If it's an informal game, then maybe you don't worry about the penalty card (how friendly is your game?), but you definitely get to change your play.

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And East should thank his lucky stars; in most other trick games, a revoke like that would have resulted in much more severe penalties. –  KeithS Mar 13 '13 at 17:28
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@KeithS, it gets nastier if the next trick has already started by the time the revoke is found; if East won the trick, then they transfer that one (plus one more if they win any further tricks down the line); if East lost the trick (even if West won it), then they transfer only one trick (as long as East-West won that trick or any later trick). This case has lighter penalties because it was caught in time. –  Paul Marshall Mar 13 '13 at 17:36
    
That's true. In Bridge, these are more appropriate penalties because East's action probably still would have been to play Q-Cl to try and take the trick, rather than "evading" it to foist it on someone else. In exact-prediction and evasion games, evasion is seen more often, and so the ill-gotten knowledge of a revoke is doubly damaging; the revoking player has a chance to take or lose the trick to their advantage. Penalties for revoking in such games are usually far higher, up to and including a misdeal and severe points penalties for the offending side. –  KeithS Mar 13 '13 at 18:02
    
The one time I remember a revoke happening in the bridge games my family played, we just called it a misdeal and dealt out the next hand. They were friendly games. –  Paul Marshall Mar 13 '13 at 18:06
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Reference - Laws of Duplicate Bridge 2007

In a tournament the correct procedure is to summon The Director (Law 9B):

After Attention Is Drawn to an Irregularity

  1. (a) The Director should be summoned at once when attention is drawn to an irregularity.

(b) Any player, including dummy, may summon the Director after attention has been drawn to an irregularity.

(c) Summoning the Director does not cause a player to forfeit any rights to which he might otherwise be entitled.

(d) The fact that a player draws attention to an irregularity committed by his side does not affect the rights of the opponents.

  1. No player shall take any action until the Director has explained all matters in regard to rectification.

The Director (rather than the players) take the appropriate steps to rectify the situation. Laws 61-64 cover revokes (failure to follow suit) and the steps The Director may take to rectify the situation.

If you're playing informally, you'll have to sort the situation out yourselves. I'd suggest following Laws 61-64. In the situation you described the following would happen:

  1. East withdraws his card (if East is defending it becomes a Major Penalty Card), East now plays a legal card.

  2. You (South) may withdraw your card and play a different (legal) card.

Penalty cards are covered under Law 50. There are various restrictions imposed on you (and potentially your partner) when you have a penalty card.

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