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What should you do when an opponent asks partner what your bid means; and partner is either lost for words, or produces an explanation that does not describe what you hold?

One thing you must not do is to reveal that there is a problem with a gasp, frown, or comment. Difficult though it may be, you must try to maintain a poker face.

Another thing you must not do is to take advantage of partner's explanation.

Law 75A: Mistake Causing Unauthorized Explanation

Irrespective of whether or not an explanation is a correct statement of partnership agreement, a player, having heard his partner's explanation, knows that his own call has been misinterpreted. This knowledge is Unauthorised Information and the player must carefully avoid taking any advantage from it; otherwise the Director shall award an adjusted score.

Try to continue the auction as if you had not heard what partner has said. There are three possible scenarios:

Partner has given the correct explanation, you have forgotten your agreements

In this case there is no infraction of Law – you have inadvertently made a psychic bid. Do your best to continue the auction as if you had not been reminded (a suggestion that you remembered all by yourself will not receive much sympathy).

You must not explain your error during the auction; and need not do so when the auction is
complete, though as declarer/dummy you may do so (a Tournament Director will assume Mistaken Explanation unless you can clearly demonstrate, by reference to your Convention Card, that the explanation is correct)

Partner has given the wrong explanation of your methods

A Mistaken Explanation is an infraction of Law; if opponents are damaged the score will be adjusted. At the end of the auction, if you become declarer or dummy, you must correct the wrong explanation before the opening lead is made (note that a defender should never correct a misexplanation until the hand has been played out).

If partner realises he has made a mistake he should correct his error immediately, even during the auction.

You do not know whether partner's explanation is correct or not.

Do your best to soldier on as if no explanation had been asked or offered. At the end of the auction, if you become declarer or dummy, you may clarify the situation for opponents.


  1. An alert of a natural bid, or failure to alert a conventional one is a misexplanation. Make no comment. Assume partner has made a mistake in alerting or forgotten to alert when he should have done and continue the auction.
  2. If you are on the receiving end you do not automatically receive an adjusted score. You must demonstrate that you have been damaged by the misexplanation.