Let us have a look at a hand which went to appeal. It is a matchpoint game, and everyone is vulnerable. You hold:
Pass from partner, pass on your right, you pass. Your left hand opponent – let's just call him LHO in future, and his partner RHO, ok? – opens 2 playing SAYC. Partner bids 3, RHO bids 3, what do you do? Well, with partner unable to open it is difficult to see what you can do. 4 is unlikely to make, and could easily be doubled, and 3 is probably making. I would pass fast, and hope declarer misguesses the Q to give me a few matchpoints.
However, the lady who held this hand had other ideas, and she doubled. Two overtricks were made, and she called the Director. The opening 2 bid was on:
Her complaint was that in SAYC a 2 opening shows a weak hand, and that this hand held 14 HCP plus distribution. Thus she felt she had been damaged since she had based her double on the fact that 2 showed a weak hand, and she would not have doubled if she had known it could be strong. The Director ruled the result stood, and the Appeals Committee agreed unanimously.
Now you may think this ruling is the easiest one you have ever seen, but it does raise a few interesting points. First is that commonsense applies: do players really expect opponents to open fourth in hand with a very weak hand? Surely it is clear that a “Weak Two” fourth in hand is not going to be as weak?
Second is that even if misinformed you will not automatically get redress. She does not have a double at all, with no defensive tricks whatever, so any damage was caused by this and not by the misinformation.
Finally, this appeal is totally without merit. Different organisations have different ways of dealing with meritless appeals, for example Appeal Without Merit Warnings in the ACBL, Procedural Penalties in Australia, and losing money deposits in Great Britain. OKBridge is no exception, and if someone appeals too much without merit they will be labelled a “vexatious appellant” – what a wonderful name! – and eventually suspension may follow. Sometimes players appeal because they are inexperienced and do not understand why they have been ruled against: this could have happened here, for example. In England players get someone to talk to for advice on whether to appeal – maybe in time it might be possible to arrange something similar for OKBridge.
Please remember to write to me with your problems. I am afraid I will not guarantee to answer each query personally, but I shall look at everything sent, and will write about some subjects submitted this way.