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Down to the last two rounds in rubber bridge. Declarer claims remaining tricks only to discover that he has miscounted. He claims the two tricks with Q-10; however, opponent holds the J and depending on how he plays the cards could lose one trick. How is this handled? Is scoring affected?

Consider the same scenario only opponent holds the Q. Do opponents just get the one trick and game is scored as usual?

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2 Answers 2

The laws of Contract bridge try to achieve a result equitable to both sides (and not to punish), but in case of doubt, resolution might favour the non-offending side.

Laws 68-71 deal with claims (and there are alternative versions for the Club setting), and you can read about them here: (2008 version).

Quoting a paragraph from Law 69 (non Club, 2004 version):

The objective of subsequent play is to achieve a result as equitable as possible to both sides, but any doubtful point must be resolved in favor of the defenders. Declarer may not make any play inconsistent with the statement he may have made at the time of his claim or concession. If he failed to make any appropriate statement at that time, his choice of plays is restricted thereby:


I believe there is also a provision which allows declarer to follow a routine/rational line of play which does not contradict the plays specifically disallowed, in case the claim is rejected. Of course, there are quite a few subjective words in the laws which might lead to different resolutions by different directors.

Perhaps in your case, it would probably be irrational for declarer to play the 10 instead of Q and dropping the J.

Disclaimer (pun intended): I am not qualified to be a director, so what is written here is just my interpretation. (Though I did get a chance to talk to some directors about this in the past few years of playing and what I write here is influenced by those discussions)

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All true, and a director would give a fair ruling based on the circumstances which we don't see. But the question is specifically about rubber bridge, with no director. – TimLymington Aug 31 '12 at 11:09
@TimLymington: Yes, but you can "appoint one temporarily" or just choose to apply the laws in that case (but you still need an unbiased view, likely from a fifth person). Otherwise, the question is not really answerable IMO... – Aryabhata Aug 31 '12 at 14:36
Laws of Duplicate Bridge 2008 now available here:… – Pieter Geerkens Apr 19 at 12:55
@PieterGeerkens: Thanks for the link! Updated the answer. – Aryabhata Apr 20 at 5:39

Laying down your cards doesn't automatically end the hand: either opponent can ask to play it out, with you playing as you said you would. So if an opponent has the Q of trumps, he will take it on the first trick, and then choose what to lead knowing what is in your hand; if that gives him an extra trick, so be it. You can't be expected to play irrationally; so if the lead is in your hand, and you say 'Play trumps', it would be expected that you play the Q before the 10. On the other hand, if the lead is in dummy, and you play towards the Q10 without specifying which, the opponents can ask you to play either. This is because, having seen all the cards, you can't choose whether or not to take a finesse.

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A proviso on finesses: Declarer can take a finesse if (a) his LHO has shown out, either before or after the claim was made; or (b) the claim explicitly specified how and when such a finesse would be made (such as in an endplay). – Pieter Geerkens Apr 19 at 12:59
@Pieter: Certainly a claim may include taking a finesse (as I mentioned). But LHO showing out after the claim is made is the very situation where you are not allowed to decide whether or not to finesse. Bear in mind also that this is rubber bridge (and may or may not be in the US), so the ACBL has nothing to say to it. – TimLymington Apr 21 at 13:29
Careless wording in my comment above - Claimer must still address the possibility of a finesse in the statement of claim, such as with "If LHO shows out I finesse for the overtrick; else I throw <whomever> in for the endplay and just in." – Pieter Geerkens Apr 21 at 21:35

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