Claiming


We had some questions on claims this week, so I'll go over the procedures again. First, it is good to claim. It saves time so that we can play more hands in the allotted time. The problems arise when people don't do it correctly.
When you claim, you should show your cards and indicate how you will play. If you do this, the results are conclusive one way or the other. If you just say "the rest are good" or some such vague statement, it may lead to problems.
When your opponent claims, you should accept the claim or call the director. There is no "Let's play it out" or "How are you going to play?". If you do that and it doesn't work out for you, don't come crying to me. You have alerted claimer to a problem and he may pull the forgotten trump or finesse the forgotten king. The proper procedure is to allow claimer to make his statement and then call the director.
The director will ask for claimer's prior statement of play. The director will then determine if that line of play would be successful or not and that determination is conclusive. If he didn't make a statement or it is insufficient, the director will ask him to make one at that time. He will then require all hands to be faced and will hear the opponents' objection to the claim. Claimer's proposed line of play will not be allowed if there is an alternate normal line of play that would be less successful. Normal play includes careless or inferior play - but not irrational play. Doubtful points will be resolved against the claimer.
Let's look at an example. In a No Trump contract, declarer shows the four remaining Clubs and the Jack of Hearts and says "The rest are mine". A defender, who holds the Queen of Hearts, calls the director. The director asks for the statement of play and, since there is none, asks claimer how he will play. He says he will run the Clubs and then play the Heart. The director asks all players to lay down their hands to determine the outcome. It is evident that claimer will lose the Heart, but a defender says "If he plays the Heart first, I'll take the rest". Declarer concludes that this alternate line of play is normal and awards the tricks to the defenders.
In another example, declarer shows the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 and three other Clubs. He makes no statement and a defender calls the director. Since the claimer makes no statement, director requires one and claimer says "I'll run the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 and the rest are good regardless how they're split. Director requires that the cards be faced and asks for any objections. A defender says that if claimer instead leads from the bottom of his suit, the defender will win and claimer can't get in his hand for the rest of the Clubs. Director concludes that this alternate line of play is irrational and awards the tricks to claimer.
Notice that if you make an adequate statement of your play, you will avoid all this conjecture. The statement need not be precisely trick-by-trick, but adequate to infer your intentions. Draw trump would mean from the top; run the Clubs would mean from the top; Clubs and Hearts are good would mean you intend to play the Clubs and then the Hearts; cross ruff would mean ruffing from the bottom up and so forth. Please don't throw tricks away by failing to make an adequate statement of play.