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A final bid of 3 spades is made. The opponent leads a club and dummy lays down a hand showing no diamonds. Declarer wins the lead trick in hand and leads a diamond trumping it in dummy. Declarer then returns to hand and leads a second diamond trumping again. He then plays a club from dummy and in moving it reveals a hidden diamond. Since there is no penalty if declarer revokes, how is this managed?

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I am not a TD, but I am a qualified Club Director, and this situation is actually a fairly clear one. Under the Laws of Duplicate Bridge , laws 61-64 govern revokes. It is a common misunderstanding that there is no penalty if the dummy revokes. There is no automatic adjustment in such cases, but the Director should attempt to restore equity, and a proper rectification should be made.

I quote only the relevant sections of the laws below, for reasons of space. Please see the full laws linked above (2017 version).

Law 61 A defines revokes:

Failure to follow suit in accordance with Law 44 or failure to lead or play, when able, a card or suit required by law or specified by an opponent when exercising an option in rectification of an irregularity, constitutes a revoke.

The situation described is indeed a revoke.

Law 63 A provides:

A revoke becomes established:

  1. when the offender or his partner leads or plays to the following trick (any such play, legal or illegal, establishes the revoke).
  2. when the offender or his partner names or otherwise designates a card to be played to the following trick.
  3. when a member of the offending side makes a claim or concession of tricks.

The revoke described in the question has indeed become established.

Law 64 B provides:

There is no automatic trick adjustment following an established revoke (but see Law 64C) if: ...

  1. the revoke was made in failing to play a penalty card or any card belonging to dummy.

Law 64 C provides:

When, after any established revoke, including those not subject to trick adjustment, the Director deems that the non-offending side is insufficiently compensated by this Law for the damage caused, he shall assign an adjusted score (emphasis added)

Such an ADJUSTED score would be appropriate and required in the case described.

Law 12 A provides:

On the application of a player within the period established under Law 92B or on his own initiative the Director may award an adjusted score when these Laws empower him to do so.

  1. The Director may award an adjusted score in favor of a non-offending contestant when he judges that these Laws do not prescribe a rectification for the particular type of violation committed.
  2. The Director awards an artificial adjusted score if no rectification can be made that will permit normal play of the board (see C2 below).
  3. The Director may award an adjusted score if there has been an incorrect rectification of an irregularity.

Law 12 B provides:

The objective of score adjustment is to redress damage to a non-offending side and to take away any advantage gained by an offending side through its infraction. Damage exists when, because of an infraction, an innocent side obtains a table result less favorable than would have been the expectation had the infraction not occurred.

Law 12 C1 provides:

(a) When after an irregularity the Director is empowered by these laws to adjust a score and is able to award an assigned adjusted score, he does so. Such a score replaces the score obtained in play.

(b) The Director in awarding an assigned adjusted score should seek to recover as nearly as possible the probable outcome of the board had the infraction not occurred.

(c) An assigned adjusted score may be weighted to reflect the probabilities of a number of potential results, but only outcomes that could have been achieved in a legal manner may be included.

(d) If the possibilities are numerous or not obvious, the Director may award an artificial adjusted score (see C2 below).

and 12C2(a) says:

When owing to an irregularity no result can be obtained [see also C1(d)], the Director awards an artificial adjusted score according to responsibility for the irregularity: average minus (at most 40% of the available matchpoints in pairs) to a contestant directly at fault, average (50% in pairs) to a contestant only partly at fault, and average plus (at least 60% in pairs) to a contestant in no way at fault.

The director could attempt to go back to trick 2 and determine what would have happened had the revoke not occurred. Presumably the declaring side would have then lost trick 2. But it may not be at all obvious what the defense would have led or how the declarer would have played on such a lead. If the declarer has the remaining winners such that they can be cashed no matter what the defense does, the director could simply transfer trick 2 to the defense. But if there is significant uncertainty about the result in such a case law 12 C (1) (d) would most likely be applied, and the director would assign an artificial adjusted score.

Both sides have a degree of responsibility for the dummy, but the declaring side has the primary responsibility. Specifically, under Law 41 D the dummy player is responsible for properly displaying the dummy's hand. I would, in such a case, assign the declaring side an average minus, but assign the defense an average, not an average plus. There is an argument for giving both sides average, and for giving the defense average plus, but I think the defense is at least "partly at fault" here. So that would be my ruling on the facts stated above, if the outcome with the diamond loser were not rather clear-cut.

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  • Thanks for the added details. It was unclear to me to what extent the defenders would be to blame. At matchpoints I would have expected an Av-/Av+ decision, but I also see your point. Unless we see the hand it is probably pointless to try and gauge what might have happened with the dummy properly displayed. – Jyrki Lahtonen Feb 21 at 17:36
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    @Jyrki Av+/Av- would be a reasonable decision. The old rule that all players are equally responsible for the dummy is long obsolete, but still often quoted.. Trying to determine what would have happened had the card been displayed properly, or found when the dummy was to play to trick 2 is hopeless without the full deal, and might be unwieldy even with it, unless declarer's other tricks are cold. – David Siegel Feb 21 at 17:40
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David Siegel has the laws almost perfect (and thank you for that!) He didn't mention that there is also no automatic trick penalty for the second revoke in the same suit (even if it wasn't from dummy), 64B2: "it is a subsequent revoke in the same suit by the same player, the first revoke having been established." But either 64B exception works for the second revoke here, so no matter.

But there are multiple infractions here, and we have to consider them all. Like anything with rulings, some things depend on Regulating Authority regulations and guidance; I'll speak for the ACBL because that's where I direct. Other RAs would have slightly different decisions:

  1. When dummy put down a 12-carder, did that affect the defence? In the ACBL, we protect the defence from misinformation from mislaid dummies (again, "everyone's responsible for dummy" never has been a law). Doesn't look like it here, though, declarer is in control after trick 1.
  2. When the first ruff occurred, were the defence damaged, or are they going to get that trick anyway?
  3. When the second ruff occurred, were the defence damaged over where they would have been after applying the law to the first revoke? It's possible - if they were able to take the second diamond, after the first ruff, they might have been able to pull enough trump that there was no second ruff, or take enough tricks that it wouldn't matter, or not set up the diamonds, or...

I disagree with the comment about Average plus/Average minus, however. I'm a bit of a stickler for this; it's almost always a cheapout. The quote is: "If the possibilities are numerous or not obvious". I know this was a trick 2 thing, but the possibilities are rarely if ever numerous or not obvious in this situation - either they would have got the club and don't now, or they would have got the club and still will, or they'd be able to stop the second ruff somehow. I have never, in over 20 years of directing at clubs and tournaments, needed to give a L12C1d ruling. Sometimes the weighted score (L12C1c) has 4 different options, but you can do it. (And yes, awarding a weighted score in ACBLscor is incredibly difficult. Other scoring programs handle it much better. So I can see a club director who doesn't know how having trouble with that).

I don't like A+/A-, because what if just getting there was a 90% score, even if we give the defence everything they are possibly entitled to? Giving out a 40% for a "minor missort" seems overharsh. Also, what if they're in a hopeless contract, and even if equity is "score stands", the non-offending side is still booked for 80%? Is it fair that the "minor missort" gains?

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    Ehh, you've never given A+/A- because something happened at a point where you couldn't otherwise judge the result? For sure A+/A- isn't right if the play for 3S= is obvious, regardless of the diamond ruff, and equally it's terrible if (For example) 4S= is trivial and reached at most tables, or if 3S doesn't make without the 'bonus' transportation - but if most tables are at 3S, and it's 50/50 to make, and requires a clearly different line of play, what else can you do but award the A+/A-? It's not fair to assume declarer will see the correct line of play, is it? – Joe Feb 26 at 9:17
  • I have, of course - the traditional "East swaps the boards, three players take their hand out, North swaps the board because she's the Lord of the Table and it's Her Job, and nobody notices until dummy comes down", or "East opened 2D Multi in a pair game". But I have never given an artificial score when a result had been obtained. I have never used 12C1d. I work very hard at that. Now that the ACBL has gone for weighted scores instead of the 2007 12C1c, the ruling is harder to make and to score, but both fairer and easier to deliver. – Mycroft Feb 26 at 16:11
  • For your example: First, if it's this example, declarer gets no relief from dummy's infraction. He will try the ruff line, and whatever happens, happens (possibly weighted depending on defense options). But say that third hand won the first trick and returned a trump hoping to kill ruffs, and that picked up partner's trumps and let the contract through; if she saw the singleton diamond, the "stop ruffs" line is still possible but not clear, and the successful line is reasonable. Now 12C1e gives me the ability to award say 75% of 3S-1 (good line) and 25% 3S= (try to stop ruffs). Easy. – Mycroft Feb 26 at 16:18
  • Thanks for explaining this. I saw the point of not handing out Av+/Av- without more information, but failed to convey (and properly appreciate) that more information is always available. IMO the big downside of Av+/Av- here is that we then basically ignore the bidding phase of this deal. If 3S was reached at a majority of the tables, then, fine, no biggie. Otherwise there are exactly the cases like the field playing in 4S or in 2S after better or poorer bidding judgement in comparison to this table (cannot tell which without seeing the hand, obviously). – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 2 at 12:04
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    Anyway, I do think that the TD could also strive to give a quick evaluation of the situation (often leading to Av+/Av-) as an initial call. Then inform the players to appeal the decision later. Say, if this is a club evening. To reach a better decision the TD may need to consult a panel of trusted players. Those trusted players are most likely playing in the same event, and are unavailable at this instant. A TD pressed to post running scores will need to score the hand some way. Yes, there will be an asterisk in the running scores, but... Sorry about running away with this :-) – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 2 at 12:10
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An interesting situation. I'm not a bridge lawyer, but a bit of seaching pointed me to this source.

The director should not apply the Revoke Laws. The defenders, however, may well be due an adjustment.

This is in line with my common sense. It is not a revoke, but the defenders have been damaged. Even though they, too, had a chance to count that the dummy has only 12 cards on display. I still think that the dummy and the declarer should shoulder most of the blame for the irregularity.

I would just call for the TD, and let her sort it out. Exactly what kind of an adjusted score will come depends on too many factors to handle here.

Hopefully a qualified TD shows up.

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