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Mixed Quarter-Final Romania vs. Italy

#1 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-02, 09:52

I was wondering what people here thought - from a legal point of view - about the controversy at the end of this encounter.

In case you missed it, Italy was winning with +1 IMP after the last board, but then received a 3 IMP penalty for an infraction on the penultimate board.
Here is what I have gathered about the incident, please let me know if I am mistaken on any point.

What had happened is that when the Italian in South was due to enter the score and lead, he asked the opponent what the lead had been but received no answer: so he extracted the relevant hand from the board to see. Unfortunately in the meantime an opponent had placed the next board on the table and so he saw a hand he was not due to play. This was duly resolved by playing the board rotated, but a penalty was also assigned on the basis of Law 7B3.

The team captain was notified of the penalty and after discussion with the team made a written complaint, the penalty was lifted. Romania then appealed as the complaint had been made more than half an hour after the end of the morning session (it is not clear how they were aware of this or why the complaint was accepted out of time). After a long meeting the penalty was reassigned.

It seems that the Italian complaint hinged around shared fault of the Romanian players (not replying and changing the board on the table prematurely) and not upon excessive severity of the penalty or presumed inapplicability of 7B3. It is not clear to me on which basis the penalty was initially lifted (it seems the basis for reimposing it was the 30 minute limit).
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#2 User is offline   axman 

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Posted 2023-September-02, 16:40

View Postpescetom, on 2023-September-02, 09:52, said:

I was wondering what people here thought - from a legal point of view - about the controversy at the end of this encounter.

In case you missed it, Italy was winning with +1 IMP after the last board, but then received a 3 IMP penalty for an infraction on the penultimate board.
Here is what I have gathered about the incident, please let me know if I am mistaken on any point.

What had happened is that when the Italian in South was due to enter the score and lead, he asked the opponent what the lead had been but received no answer: so he extracted the relevant hand from the board to see. Unfortunately in the meantime an opponent had placed the next board on the table and so he saw a hand he was not due to play. This was duly resolved by playing the board rotated, but a penalty was also assigned on the basis of Law 7B3.

The team captain was notified of the penalty and after discussion with the team made a written complaint, the penalty was lifted. Romania then appealed as the complaint had been made more than half an hour after the end of the morning session (it is not clear how they were aware of this or why the complaint was accepted out of time). After a long meeting the penalty was reassigned.

It seems that the Italian complaint hinged around shared fault of the Romanian players (not replying and changing the board on the table prematurely) and not upon excessive severity of the penalty or presumed inapplicability of 7B3. It is not clear to me on which basis the penalty was initially lifted (it seems the basis for reimposing it was the 30 minute limit).


Play of a board is not complete until the official score is entered, thus it is improper to move the board prior to recording the official score (board is in the proper place while it is in play). Part of the score is the OL, thus the score had not been agreed. The Romanian by his conduct has committed improper deception and improper delay of game.

The side controlling the boards ought to be careful about others touching/moving the boards. As for me (when an opponent interferes with the boards) I would have lodged an official** objection and not budged until it is resolved. L7D Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining proper conditions of play at the table.

** Part of being responsible is that I on the hook for all those nice things that happen because of the opponents' supposed kindness. The time is right away for putting a stop to it.

Did S receive permission to touch the other's cards?

I suggest that the scorer ought not return his cards until after completing the scoring.
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#3 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2023-September-02, 16:44

View Postpescetom, on 2023-September-02, 09:52, said:

It seems that the Italian complaint hinged around shared fault of the Romanian players (not replying and changing the board on the table prematurely)

This seems to be the crux of the initial ruling, and I think the directors got it right on the facts presented:
  • Not answering the question is not an infraction and there are other ways the Italian player could have dealt with the situation. E.g., asking again or pointedly putting the machine in front of the opening leader to enter their lead.
  • Moving the board is not an infraction. Law 7D reads "Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining proper conditions of play at the table." Law 8A tells us that North is responsible for moving the boards at the end of the round, but that's not relevant here. Additionally, 7A says that "[the board] shall remain, correctly oriented, until play is completed." Play was completed, so E-W were within their rights to replace the board.
  • Handling the opponents' cards is an infraction even after the end of the hand. Law 7B reads in part "No player shall touch any cards other than his own during or after play except by permission of an opponent or the Director." Despite the gendered pronoun, that applies to everyone.


So the way I understand it, the Italian player was the only one who did anything wrong according to the laws and the infraction led directly to the situation at the table.
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#4 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2023-September-02, 20:09

"The opening lead is part of the score."

Which law or regulation says that?
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#5 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2023-September-02, 20:22

View Postaxman, on 2023-September-02, 16:40, said:

Play of a board is not complete until the official score is entered

I couldn’t find a description of when play of the board is complete, but the laws do state that after completion of play the cards should be placed back in the board. To me this suggests that play is complete when there is an agreed claim or when the 13th trick has been played.
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#6 User is offline   axman 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 03:36

View Postblackshoe, on 2023-September-02, 20:09, said:

"The opening lead is part of the score."

Which law or regulation says that?


Do bridgemates advance to the next board without entering OL?
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#7 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 04:02

View Postaxman, on 2023-September-03, 03:36, said:

Do bridgemates advance to the next board without entering OL?

Many do - it's just a configuration in their software.
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#8 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 10:44

View Postaxman, on 2023-September-02, 16:40, said:

Play of a board is not complete until the official score is entered, thus it is improper to move the board prior to recording the official score (board is in the proper place while it is in play). Part of the score is the OL, thus the score had not been agreed. The Romanian by his conduct has committed improper deception and improper delay of game.

The side controlling the boards ought to be careful about others touching/moving the boards. As for me (when an opponent interferes with the boards) I would have lodged an official** objection and not budged until it is resolved. L7D Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining proper conditions of play at the table.

So basically you are arguing that proper procedure should be followed and that the TD should give priority to this and to common sense when assessing events and interpreting Laws which are not always sufficiently detailed or precise, as in this case.
That is the essence of the Italian complaint (combined with an invitation to study the audio-video recording of events), that both sides failed to follow procedure and thus jointly created the mishap: although it was arguably ingenuous not to use other possible arguments (excessive severity, dubious applicability of 7B after play ends).

View Postaxman, on 2023-September-02, 16:40, said:

Did S receive permission to touch the other's cards?

No, and nor did he ask - so a clear infraction.
Nor did EW ask or receive permission from NS (responsible for physical management of the boards, even though both sides are responsible for whatever happens) to change the board on the table - apparently not considered an infraction.

View Postaxman, on 2023-September-02, 16:40, said:

I suggest that the scorer ought not return his cards until after completing the scoring.

That's an interesting proposal which had not occurred to me. Need to think about it, but at first sight it seems a good idea and would certainly be a quick partial fix for the gap in Laws here.
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#9 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 10:56

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-02, 20:22, said:

I couldn’t find a description of when play of the board is complete, but the laws do state that after completion of play the cards should be placed back in the board. To me this suggests that play is complete when there is an agreed claim or when the 13th trick has been played.


Exactly, the Laws cover end of play very poorly, as I have mentioned in previous years.

Things basically peter out in the limbo between 7C:

Quote

C. Returning Cards to Board
After play has finished, each player should shuffle his original thirteen cards, after which he
restores them to the pocket corresponding to his compass position. Thereafter no hand shall be
removed from the board unless a member of each side, or the Director, is present.


and 66D:

Quote

D. After the Conclusion of Play
After play ceases, the played and unplayed cards may be inspected to settle a claim of a revoke,
or of the number of tricks won or lost; but no player should handle cards other than his own. If
the Director can no longer ascertain the facts after such a claim has been made, and only one
side has mixed its cards, the Director shall rule in favour of the other side.


The Laws recognise the need to count and agree tricks, but do not mention the need to formally register the contract, lead and number of tricks or score. To some extent this should be more regulation than Laws, but it still seems necessary to me to formalise that all such information must be registered and confirmed before the board is removed from the table.

Law 7 is also unsatisfactory about how the board should be managed during the period after end of play, see below.
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#10 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 11:15

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-02, 16:44, said:

This seems to be the crux of the initial ruling, and I think the directors got it right on the facts presented:

I'm not convinced yet, if you refer to the initial penalty (on the facts presented by the Italian captain, they initially decided to remove the penalty, which suggests they were not convinced that only the Italian committed an infraction. The justification for back-tracking on that was the 30 minute limit, so it's not clear if they also changed their minds a second time about responsibility).

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-02, 16:44, said:

[*]Not answering the question is not an infraction and there are other ways the Italian player could have dealt with the situation. E.g., asking again or pointedly putting the machine in front of the opening leader to enter their lead.

Agreed, of course (nor is it entirely logical to look at the hand, as opponent was obliged to shuffle, although this is a barometer event and in any case looking at the bottom card is often what happens by tacit acception of both sides).

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-02, 16:44, said:

[*]Moving the board is not an infraction. Law 7D reads "Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining proper conditions of play at the table." Law 8A tells us that North is responsible for moving the boards at the end of the round, but that's not relevant here. Additionally, 7A says that "[the board] shall remain, correctly oriented, until play is completed." Play was completed, so E-W were within their rights to replace the board.

I think you are being selective about which Laws are to be respected. Why is the responsibility of NS for moving boards "not relevant here"? Was a board not moved? Was 8A not violated?


View Postsfi, on 2023-September-02, 16:44, said:

[*]Handling the opponents' cards is an infraction even after the end of the hand. Law 7B reads in part "No player shall touch any cards other than his own during or after play except by permission of an opponent or the Director." Despite the gendered pronoun, that applies to everyone.

This is true, but it is also true that Law 7C starts rather significantly "After play has finished", which would seem to define its intended scope and is coherent with the logic that successive articles define successive phases of play. And Law 7C imposes no limitation on the reasons for which a hand may be removed, only the need for an opponent to be present (a condition clearly satisfied here). Be that as it may, the the 7B infraction exists only if there is no permission from an opponent. An examination of the video would have clarified what degree of consent was present at the table (I have no idea, but can imagine tired players looking at each other and nodding).

Quote

B. Removal of Cards from Board
1. Each player takes a hand from the pocket corresponding to his compass position.
2. Each player counts his cards face down to be sure he has exactly thirteen; after that, and
before making a call, he must inspect the faces of his cards.
3. During play each player retains possession of his own cards, not permitting them to be
mixed with those of any other player. No player shall touch any cards other than his own
(but declarer may play dummy’s cards in accordance with Law 45) during or after play
except by permission of an opponent or the Director.
C. Returning Cards to Board
After play has finished, each player should shuffle his original thirteen cards, after which he
restores them to the pocket corresponding to his compass position. Thereafter no hand shall be
removed from the board unless a member of each side, or the Director, is present.
D. Responsibility for Procedures
Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining
proper conditions of play at the table.

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#11 User is offline   PeterAlan 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 15:03

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-02, 16:44, said:

...
  • Moving the board is not an infraction. Law 7D reads "Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining proper conditions of play at the table." Law 8A tells us that North is responsible for moving the boards at the end of the round, but that's not relevant here. Additionally, 7A says that "[the board] shall remain, correctly oriented, until play is completed." Play was completed, so E-W were within their rights to replace the board.


I believe that the WBF screen regulations contain the instruction "It is North’s responsibility to place the board on, and to remove the board from, the bidding tray. ... The sequence is this: North places the board on the bidding tray ..."
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#12 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 17:25

View PostPeterAlan, on 2023-September-03, 15:03, said:

I believe that the WBF screen regulations contain the instruction "It is North’s responsibility to place the board on, and to remove the board from, the bidding tray. ... The sequence is this: North places the board on the bidding tray ..."

You're half right. The full relevant quote is "The sequence is this: North places the board on the bidding tray and the aperture is closed completely." But the regs don't talk about removing the board.

You make a fair point though.
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#13 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 17:35

View Postpescetom, on 2023-September-03, 11:15, said:

I'm not convinced yet, if you refer to the initial penalty (on the facts presented by the Italian captain, they initially decided to remove the penalty, which suggests they were not convinced that only the Italian committed an infraction. The justification for back-tracking on that was the 30 minute limit, so it's not clear if they also changed their minds a second time about responsibility).


I'm not convinced either. This sort of ruling is above my pay grade, so maybe I should have said "I think the decision is justifiable in law on the facts presented."

Quote

I think you are being selective about which Laws are to be respected. Why is the responsibility of NS for moving boards "not relevant here"? Was a board not moved? Was 8A not violated?


Because 8A only talks about moving boards between tables for the next round. It's an oddly specific situation which I can only presume is in there to try and avoid fouled movements.

Quote

This is true, but it is also true that Law 7C starts rather significantly "After play has finished", which would seem to define its intended scope and is coherent with the logic that successive articles define successive phases of play. And Law 7C imposes no limitation on the reasons for which a hand may be removed, only the need for an opponent to be present (a condition clearly satisfied here). Be that as it may, the the 7B infraction exists only if there is no permission from an opponent. An examination of the video would have clarified what degree of consent was present at the table (I have no idea, but can imagine tired players looking at each other and nodding).


You're right that 7C allows for the hand to be removed, but 7B3 makes it clear that an opponent can't do so whether or not the director is present. It also makes it clear that partner can't do it, so feel free to use the next board to rap the opponent's knuckles when they try to look at their partner's hand in the post-mortem (follow advice at your own risk).
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#14 User is offline   PeterAlan 

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Posted 2023-September-03, 23:10

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-03, 17:25, said:

You're half right. The full relevant quote is "The sequence is this: North places the board on the bidding tray and the aperture is closed completely." But the regs don't talk about removing the board.

You make a fair point though.

My mistake: I was quoting from what appears to be a previous version of the WBF regulations that's on the SBU website. I should have checked the WBF site.
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#15 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-04, 09:13

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-03, 17:35, said:

You're right that 7C allows for the hand to be removed, but 7B3 makes it clear that an opponent can't do so whether or not the director is present.

7B3 says "except by permission of an opponent or the Director", which to me indicates that an opponent can grant permission without the presence of Director.

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-03, 17:35, said:

Because 8A only talks about moving boards between tables for the next round. It's an oddly specific situation which I can only presume is in there to try and avoid fouled movements.

Yes, but it sets the precedent that North is the board mover unless Director or Regulations specify otherwise.
And the tournament regulations specify that it should be North placing boards on the table.

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-03, 17:35, said:

I'm not convinced either. This sort of ruling is above my pay grade, so maybe I should have said "I think the decision is justifiable in law on the facts presented."

Me too, of course, I was just curious how others saw the legal side of things (which was little discussed at the time) and what extra information they might have. All due respect to an international TD doing his job as he sees it.
The real errors IMO were made by the two team captains: I would like to think that they could have gone together to the TD and said "we don't want this penalty"... if not then it was up to the Italian captain to at least get there in time.

I think I'll take away from this thread axman's idea of not returning my cards to the board until the score has been registered and confirmed. Until the Law takes note of score registration and better defines the end of the play phase, I guess it can be considered during play and thus admissable under 7B3.
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#16 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2023-September-04, 15:14

View Postpescetom, on 2023-September-04, 09:13, said:

7B3 says "except by permission of an opponent or the Director", which to me indicates that an opponent can grant permission without the presence of Director.


Sure, but it seems clear that the opponents did not grant permission in this case.

Quote

Yes, but it sets the precedent that North is the board mover unless Director or Regulations specify otherwise.
And the tournament regulations specify that it should be North placing boards on the table.


I read 8A differently. The framers could have set that precedent had they wanted to. The fact that it is specific suggests to me that it was deliberately written to not set a wider precedent.

However, you and PeterAlan are right about the regulations. E-W definitely contravened those when they moved the board.

Quote

I think I'll take away from this thread axman's idea of not returning my cards to the board until the score has been registered and confirmed. Until the Law takes note of score registration and better defines the end of the play phase, I guess it can be considered during play and thus admissable under 7B3.


This case is pretty rare and axman's solution slows down the game. You may not find it workable from a social point of view even if you can justify it in law. But give it a go and see how it works.
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#17 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-September-05, 08:32

View Postsfi, on 2023-September-04, 15:14, said:

Sure, but it seems clear that the opponents did not grant permission in this case.

It does? I haven't seen this affirmed either way in various accounts. Italy did ask to review the audio-video recording and this was not done, but then the penalty was initially removed anyway and so presumably it was felt there was no need to do so. The successive decision hinged around the 30 minute rule, at least nominally.
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#18 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2023-September-05, 09:08

I would be fine with penalties to both, more to Italy. I do realize that in a QF, both teams can't lose (but in the RR, I'm 100% comfortable with a 14-14 VP result). I realize that the exact valuation of the penalties would determine who wins a close match. I hope they didn't look at the "at the table" result of the match when deciding. (Frankly, I'd be happy with "you both lost, 8-board playoff". Which I'm sure is *not* in the conditions of contest, unfortunately, and might be foul of 12C4 (maybe not, though - these are penalties, not adjustments to score).

Yes, the opening lead question should have been answered. Yes, East-West shouldn't change boards without *clear* notification to N-S.

But *you don't touch someone else's cards for any reason* without permission (7B3); not only can/does it cause problems like this, it is profoundly insulting (usually to partner, but still).

Yes, this is one of those rules that is never penalized because it "never" causes a problem. "But when it does, you committed an infraction, and there's a penalty for that."

[Edit: I see there's "no evidence of no permission". That isn't enough. If there had been permission given, I'm quite certain that would have been trumpeted. If it wasn't, then it didn't happen. I mean, "what was the lead?" got no answer; I'm therefore obviously convinced that "may I look at your hand to see the lead" got agreement. I take possession of the bridge Thursday.]

Of course, my standby "One would think that players at the skill level and experience required for international competition would know the answer to 'I need to enter the lead and my opponent isn't helping' is 'Director, please'. But it seems the laws only apply to the opponents." comes to mind...
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#19 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2023-September-05, 16:59

I would think that should a match, especially in a quarter-final or semi-final, end in a tie the coc would specify how to handle it. if they don't, that's the TO's fault -- and the DIC has authority to deal with it. Also, I don't see how a tie is equivalent to "you both lost".
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#20 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2023-September-05, 17:06

View Postpescetom, on 2023-September-05, 08:32, said:

It does? I haven't seen this affirmed either way in various accounts. Italy did ask to review the audio-video recording and this was not done, but then the penalty was initially removed anyway and so presumably it was felt there was no need to do so. The successive decision hinged around the 30 minute rule, at least nominally.

I'm just using your account of what occurred:

Quote

What had happened is that when the Italian in South was due to enter the score and lead, he asked the opponent what the lead had been but received no answer: so he extracted the relevant hand from the board to see.

If the facts change, I may well change my assessment.
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