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Archived bits
Claims

It’s good to see the statement on ‘claims’ in the recent committee minutes because there is a common misconception (even by very good players) that you can say ‘play it out’ after a claim has been made. While it is normally claims that give rise to problems it does also apply to concessions. Law 68D is very clear – after any claim or concession play ceases.

A claim should be accompanied at once by a clear statement. Non descript statements like ‘the rest are mine’ or ‘dummy is good’ are not good enough and just showing your cards without saying anything is also very bad. You are expected to say something like ‘I’ll draw the last trump, cash two diamonds, cross to dummy with a club to take A K and give you a heart at the end’. Often it will be obvious but any doubtful point will be resolved against the claimer.

Try this one as an example:

Dummy (N) holds S KQ    H K   D KQ   C void. The contract is NT and the lead is in dummy. Declarer South says ‘dummy is good’. West shows signs of doubt so South says ‘I’ll play them out’. He cashes S KQ, D KQ and then loses the last trick to West who holds HA. Now they call the TD. What should the TD do?

The West hand is S 9   H AJ10   D 9  C void. The East and South hands are immaterial.

The TD will apply Law 68D.
After any claim or concession play ceases so the TD should void the play that has taken place and go back to the 5 card ending. If South thinks all dummy’s cards are winners then he could have played them in any order. When adjudicating a claim the TD should resolve any doubtful point against the claimer (Law 70A). We use what I like to call ‘The Principle of the losing winner’. The TD should rule that the ‘winning’ HK could have been played first – in which case West wins the HA and can cash two more hearts. North has to find two discards and common sense says he will throw the two queens. West then leads a diamond or a  spade and dummy makes the last two tricks. So declarer scores two tricks only.

Now give West a fourth heart instead of D9 . This means that declarer has to discard one of the kings when West plays the fourth heart. Which king will you make him discard? There is no reason why he should guess correctly so you make him throw the SK and West wins the last trick with S9. Declarer makes no tricks.