The Thinking Director
When the Laws Require Thinking
The Unexpected Situation
The Unexpected Situation (you are here)
Headless Chicken Rulings
Stretching Laws
What to Do
More Examples
Laws About Directing
Supporting Directors

The Unexpected Situation which is not Covered by the Laws

Consider now the problem I began with. The to-be-dummy faces an opening lead. LHO now starts putting down his hand as dummy, getting as far as displaying his diamond holding -- he has three small diamonds.

This is a perfect example of a situation which is not covered by the laws. Simply put, the laws do not say what to do when this occurs. In this case, the hole is especially obvious, because the laws do say what to do when the wrong defender leads and declarer starts putting down his/her hand as dummy, but the laws stop there.

What to Do?

A first instinct is to treat the diamonds as accepting the lead. However, this idea will not last long as a practical consideration, because the defender cannot be dummy. So then what? If the opening lead is to be retracted, then the faced opening lead becomes a major penalty card. But then it is just added to the dummy after the opening lead and is not a penalty card. This is a small penalty to dummy, and I think a totally deserving one.

But what about those three small diamonds? It is pretty natural to call them penalty cards, and a prominent director so ruled. He knew this was an inequitable ruling, and indirectly expressed the hope that the players would ask it to be rescinded. (He also said that Law 50 gave the director the right to not treat them as penalty cards.)


This ruling -- making the three diamonds major penalty cards -- is inequitable because the first offense was created by dummy. The defender was merely responding to the dummy's opening lead. I do not know if the defender's response counts as an infraction. But at most, it is a small infraction, whereas the dummy's opening lead out of turn was a large infraction (in addition to being the first infraction and the precipitating infraction). So it is obviously not equitable to give a large penalty to the defender and a small penalty to the dummy/declaring side.

Next: The Headless Chicken