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Suppose, the declarer claims 12 tricks in a slam, but you have the opinion that declarer can make a mistake.

Can you demand declarer to play it out, or does the tournament director decide how many tricks declarer can claim ?

If the last answer is right, does this not prevent the defense from profitting from declarer's errors ?

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  • I wanted to add the tags "rules" and/or "claim", but I do not have enough reputation.
    – Peter
    Apr 19 '15 at 9:52
  • Are you claiming the possibility of error from (a) the claim itself being inaccurate; or (b) that declarer could not actually track the claim accurately through the remaining (unplayed) tricks? It sounds like you are asking the latter, but only the former even makes sense as a question. Apr 19 '15 at 12:48
  • Of course, I mean error in playing. Even if the claimer CAN make 12 tricks, he might miss them if he has to play.
    – Peter
    Apr 19 '15 at 12:58
  • Making a proper claim is vastly more complicated, in general, than playing the hand out. Any declarer who can accurately make a complicated claim might as well be reading the backs of the cards - playing the hand out will be trivially easy. Apr 19 '15 at 13:01
  • If a proper claim is defined to be a claim which is correct assuming good play (choosing the right track WITHOUT knowing the enemy cards based on statistics), then a claim could lead to more tricks than the player would have achieved in a real game. So, how is a claim handled in practice ?
    – Peter
    Apr 19 '15 at 13:11
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See The Laws Of Bridge (pdf), specifically Laws 68-71.

If a claim is doubted by any player (including dummy) the Director must be summoned. It's worth noting that:

A claim should be accompanied at once by a clear statement as to the order in which cards will be played, of the line of play or defence through which the claimer proposes to win the tricks claimed.

and:

The Director shall not accept from claimer any successful line of play not embraced in the original clarification statement if there is an alternative normal line of play that would be less successful.

“normal” includes play that would be careless or inferior for the class of player involved

So the rules would preclude a claimer from gaining an advantage by claiming.

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Your question displays a gross misunderstanding of the capabilities of good players, even those merely the best in their club. At the club in Kingston where I mastered the game, the top 10 or 12 players could all remember the location of every significant card, for all 26 hands of a session, even several hours after a game. Once or twice a year the Director would be called in the auction of the first or second round with "This hand hasn't been shuffled since last week.", followed by an outline of where all the cards were in all four hands, and what contracts could and couldn't be made by both sides.

Also, a sound claim must cover all possible lies of the cards that remain possible given the knowledge available when the claim is made. It is for this reason that claims are only rarely made when trumps are outstanding. However it is not at all unusual for expert players to claim and concede even endplays such as Throw-ins and Simple and Double Squeezes. At this caliber of play, those techniques are common place, and thoroughly understood by all parties. By the time the hands are well enough known for a sound claim to be made, there are no mistakes left to be made in the hand by any competent, never mind expert, player; any to be made are already history.

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  • This is overstating the abilities of many people playing in club duplicate games who are in the upper third of their clubs. Perhaps these people are not "competent" players by your standards, but they include regular players, many of them life masters. I havve seen many such players make occasional errors in stating claims that if not challenged would lead to incorrect resuts. This soes not happen all the tiem or even very often, but it does happen.. Jun 25 at 20:33
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The Laws of Bridge state that once declarer makes a claim, play has ceased. If the claim is disputed, the director may be called (Law 69). If all four players agree to play the hand out, they may do so but must accept the result. In tournament bridge, the director always is called as the declarer may have unlawfully gained information through the dispute to his claim.

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According to the official Laws of Duplicate Bridge (2017 version),

Law 68 C reads:

A claim should be accompanied at once by a clear statement of the line of play or defense through which the claimer proposes to win the tricks claimed, including the order in which the cards will be played. The player making the claim or concession faces his hand.

LAW 68 D reads:

After any claim or concession, play is suspended.

  1. If the claim or concession is agreed, Law 69 applies.
  2. If it is doubted by any player (dummy included); either
    (a) the Director may immediately be summoned and no action should be taken pending his arrival, Law 70 applies; or
    (b) upon the request of the non-claiming or non-conceding side, play may continue subject to the following:
    (i) all four players must concur; otherwise the Director is summoned, who then proceeds as in (a) above.
    (ii) the prior claim or concession is void and not subject to adjudication. Laws 16 and 50 do not apply, and the score subsequently obtained shall stand.

Law 70 reads

A. General Objective
In ruling on a contested claim or concession, the Director adjudicates the result of the board as equitably as possible to both sides, but any doubtful point as to a claim shall be resolved against the claimer. The Director proceeds as follows.

B. Clarification Statement Repeated

  1. The Director requires claimer to repeat the clarification statement he made at the time of his claim.
  2. Next, the Director hears the opponents’ objections to the claim (but the Director’s considerations are not limited only to the opponents’ objections).
  3. The Director may require players to put their remaining cards face up on the table.

...

D. Director’s Considerations

  1. The Director shall not accept from claimer any successful line of play not embraced in the original clarification statement if there is an alternative normal21 line of play that would be less successful.
  2. The Director does not accept any part of a defender’s claim that depends on his partner selecting a particular play from among alternative normal21 plays.

E. Unstated Line of Play

  1. The Director shall not accept from claimer any unstated line of play the success of which depends upon finding one opponent rather than the other with a particular card, unless an opponent failed to follow to the suit of that card before the claim was made, or would subsequently fail to follow to that suit on any normal21 line of play.
  2. The Regulating Authority may specify an order (e.g. “from the top down”) in which the Director shall deem a suit played if this was not clarified in the statement of claim (but always subject to any other requirement of this Law).

This means that the claimer should state, right after the claim is made, how s/he proposes to play the hand, in sufficient detail so that no significant questions are left. This statement is binding. If any player thinks the claim is not correct, that person may suggest playing out the hand, and if all 4 players agree, play resumes. If anyone objects to the claim but there is not agreement to play out, the director is called and decides the result based on the claim statement, any stated objections, the previous play, and the lie of the cards. The claimer is not allowed to take a winning finesse not mentioned in the claim statement unless it would become marked before it needs to be taken on any normal line of play.

In general, any doubtful points are resolved against the claimer. Making a claim that one is unsure of is poor play, but claimers do make mistakes. Making a claim when the result is clear is considered good play and proper courtesy, leaving more time for subsequent hands. This is especially true in online play, where time limits are strict, so not making an obvious claim is considered poor play or poor sportsmanship.

Making a dubious but complex claim in hopes that the opponents will accept it rather than figure out whether it is valid or not is considered very poor sportsmanship, hardly better than cheating. However, I have seen this done in club play.

Prior to the 2017 laws the Director had to be called for all challenged claims, playing one out was against the law.

If the claimer's statement indicates that the claimer has made (will make) an error, as assessed by the Director, the non-claiming side gets the benefit of that error.

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    I wish that any downvoters would leave a comment indicting what they think is wrong with this answer. In the absence of a comment, I cannot improve the answer, others cannot use the reasons to write better answers, and readers have no idea why someone objects to the answer. Such a downvote seems pointless. The above answer quotes directly from the Laws, and is i think correct in all aspects. If anyone can point out an error, please do so. Jun 26 at 13:52
  • No idea why the downvotes. Seems comprehensive to me!
    – AndyT
    Jun 28 at 9:37

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