Disputed Claim

Declarer with 3 cards in his hand claimed the remaining tricks in a suit contract, stating that there were no trumps left and he had 2 master diamonds and the last trump. In fact an opponent had the master trump and two top clubs to cash. Declarer then said he would play his diamonds and said that he would have 2 of the last 3 tricks, just making his contract. This was a match played at a player’s home with no director to refer to, but I was contacted later for an opinion, which I gave as follows:

I think the relevant Law is no.70 – Contested Claim or Concession. Section C is titled ‘Where there is an Outstanding Trump’. This states:

When a trump remains in one of the opponents hands, the Director shall award a trick or tricks to the opponents if;

A claimer made no statement about that trump; and
It is at all likely that claimer at the time of his claim was unaware that a trump remained in an opponent’s hand, and;
A trick could be lost to that trump by any normal* play.

Declarer made a mistake by not stating at the outset of the claim that he was to play diamonds; with him being mistaken about a trump being outstanding he might have played the trump first when the opponents would win all 3 remaining tricks. I think in these circumstances I would award all 3 tricks to the opponents.

I would be grateful for any observations.

Pete Smith – Chepstow