ACBL Laws Commission Minutes

LONG BEACH, CA -  JULY 18, 2003


Members Present
Ralph Cohen
<--- Co-Chairmen --->
Chip Martel
Karen Allison
Jon Brissman
Bob Friend
Dan Morse
Ray Raskin
Eric Rodwell
Roger Stern
Bobby Wolff
Also Present
Gary Blaiss
Rich Colker
Mike Flader
Joan Gerard
Olin Hubert
Barry Rigal
Matt Smith


The meeting was called to order at 10:00 A.M.

The minutes of the Philadelphia meeting were approved.

The propriety of posting online draft minutes of the ACBL Laws Commission that refer to preliminary drafts of laws by the WBF Laws Revision Subcommittee was discussed.

Chip Martel brought up the issue of how directors and committees should proceed with certain hesitation rulings when screens are in use. The example cited was one where a player takes an action that would be disallowed by law if his partner had hesitated and the logic of the auction strongly indicates that it was his partner who hesitated, but it is determined later by the director that the player’s partner was in no way responsible for the hesitation. Should the player’s actions be constrained or should the director simply decide that no infraction occurred so the player is therefore free to proceed as he chooses? A consensus emerged that while recognizing this situation as a potential problem it would be inadvisable to solve it by allowing information regarding who did or did not hesitate to be communicated across the screen prior to the completion of the hand.

Richard Colker brought up the problems in law interpretation that can result from the use of the words “irregularity” and “infraction” in the current laws. Specifically, does “the irregularity” in 12C2 refer to a player’s illegal choice of calls after a hesitation or does it instead refer to the both the hesitation and the illegal choice? There was a consensus that the irregularity referred to in
12C2 may include the event that transmitted the unauthorized information. After much discussion and as a result of general agreement that the non-offenders not get an undeserved windfall that may harm the field after an disallowed action by the opponents, the Laws Commission agreed that 12C3 (if applicable) should apply when appropriate only to the non-offending side while 12C2 should always apply to the offending side. As for definitions, the following suggestion was offered:

--an infraction is an action by a side that illegally benefits his side and for which one would normally expect to result in a penalty or a score adjustment or both.
--an irregularity may be an infraction and is a deviation from correct procedure set forth in the laws that will not necessarily result in a penalty or a score adjustment.

Strong reservations were expressed for the WBFLC Drafting Committee suggestion that procedural penalties accompanying score adjustments should normally not be waived except for certain social considerations. Consensus emerged that specific instruction on procedural penalties in general would be more appropriately included in conditions of contest produced by the sanctioning authority or the sponsoring organization rather than being stated explicitly in the laws. This item led to a more general discussion on the purpose of the laws. The Commission agreed with the philosophy that the laws should strive to address those things intrinsic to the game and fairly universal while conditions of contest should be used to address those things that tend to vary from setting to setting.

There was a discussion of the standard for adjustment in the proposed Law 23. This led to a more general discussion that any move away from current penalty based laws to more equity-based laws such as the proposed Law 23 should be done with great care. A preference was expressed for clear laws that are easy to understand and for not changing the current laws radically, but that where laws can be rewritten to allow a normal bridge result to be obtained with only a small likelihood of damage or complication then that is a desirable goal. It was acknowledged that such laws would need to be written to allow an adjustment if exceptional damage occurs and that
creating laws that require judgment render the laws more difficult to administer.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 P.M.