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The Challenges of Playing when everyone doesn't speak English

The Senior team reports a bizarre incident which illustrates the difficulties of directing with screens at a multi-lingual world championship.

East, on one side of the screen: 1NT = 15-17.

On the other side of the screen, South bids 2S = spades and a minor. West passes.

Back under the screen, North bids 2NT = forcing enquiry, East passes.

North pushes the tray part way under the screen in the usual way, leaving it to South to pull it through further as far as needed.   But, South sees East’s pass, assumes the bidding is over, and takes his bidding cards off the tray.

West also removes his bidding cards and leads, assuming the contract is 2S. South lifts the screen and the fun starts!

The first two attending directors rule that the contract is 2NT since South and West are deemed to have passed, but that West’s lead out of turn is only unauthorised information, not a penalty card, since South’s failure to pull the bidding tray right through was the cause of the lead. And so, East can lead what he likes.

Before that can happen, North-South (who speak very little English) ask for someone to explain what’s happening. Very reasonable! A runner is sent for another director with the necessary language skills, and he explains to North. All good so far.  South also requests an explanation on the other side of the screen, at which point suddenly the screen goes back down, the bidding cards are put back on the tray, and the bidding resumes!!

The end result is that South plays in 4S making 5, instead of 2NT making 4. The fair and normal result on the hand, but a very puzzling process. It seems that taking your bidding cards off because the bidding phase is over (as South thought was the case) is treated differently from taking your cards off to indicate that you are passing out the last bid. Interesting to know.

Also clear that it would have been much better if a director with the necessary language skills had attended in the first place!

Posted by Kim Frazer on Tuesday, 15 August 2017 at 15:55