Newswink 29 – NATwA Abolishes 3 2/3 – 3 1/3 Score, by Joe Sachs

From: (Josef Sachs)
Subject: NATwA abolishes 3 2/3 – 3 1/3 score
Date: 01 Aug 1995 02:04:21 -0400
Message-ID: <>

A NATwA Congress was held on Saturday, July 29 [1995]. I expect Rick to eventually provide details of the discussions and decisions that took place, but I wanted to make note of one particular decision and mention some points that were not made at the Congress.

A change was made in the rule concerning the 1-point transfer after a pot-out. The previous rule awarded the transfer to the color that played the potting-out shot (this according to a combination of historically-based convention and a ruling made during the 1994 Pairs).

The new rule awards the transfer to the pair which has more match points (for clarity’s sake, these are sometimes called “game points”, or, with the advent of the “tiddly” nomenclature, simply “points”) prior to the transfer.

The new rule changes the outcome in the following cases: (notes: [1] choice of colors in these examples is arbitrary [2] B/R denotes “blue or red, but not both”)

  1. B pots-out B-G-R-Y simultaneouslyor-

    B pots-out B/R-G/Y simultaneously, and the two remaining colors also pot-out simultaneously

    Old: 4 1/2 – 2 1/2
    New: 3 1/2 – 3 1/2

    (I see this being implied; it is not explicit in the rule.)

  2. B pots-out B/R-G-Y simultaneously.Old: 3 1/3 – 3 2/3
    New: 1 1/3 – 5 2/3
  3. B pots-out B/R-G/Y simultaneously, and the other G/Y pots-out next.Old: 4 – 3
    New: 2 – 5 (Note: in this case, third place is in effect worth 3 points!)
  4. B pots-out G, and then R and B pot-out.Old: 4 – 3
    New: 2 – 5

(I’ll elide the obvious alternative versions of this case, where Y pots-out before one or both of B and R; I simply chose as an illustration the case most favorable to B.)

It can be seen in example (2) that one of the “Holy Grails” of winks, the 3 2/3 – 3 1/3, is now abolished. Example (3) provides a new way to pot yourself out and still lose. And in the prior way to do so, you now get 1 1/3 points instead of 3 1/3.

It is true that the first three examples are all extraordinarily unlikely. However, the fourth example is totally plausible (in fact, it came up in last year’s Pairs). I’m admittedly in the minority, but I maintain that the player who actually performs the potting-out *deserves* the point transfer. I also find the outcome in example (3) to be particularly perverse. And, of course, I regret the abolishment of the 3 2/3 – 3 1/3.

In closing, I’ll note that while the change was proposed for the purpose of bringing the NATwA rule into accord with ETwA’s, the latter is not, in fact, clear on the issue:

[Rule 10 (a)]

“In a game in which Rule 8 has come into operation, the first colour to be potted out scores 4 points, the second to do so scores 2 points, the third one point and the remaining colour does not score. Partners’ points are added together and one point is transferred from the losing partnership to the winning partnership.”

It would be better for the rule to be explicit. Likewise for the (I believe) common understanding that all colors potted-out in the same shot tie for the corresponding positions.