A(37) 29.iii.1998


Simon Cozens appealed against the result of Accusation J(37).


The Judges selected was Nick Fortescue, Tim Ricketts and Robbie Aickin, the last of whom defaulted and had Terry Boon sub in for him. First up to declare was Nick Fortescue of Cheltenham:

I uphold the original Judgement.

Next up was Tim Ricketts, also of Cheltenham:

I uphold the judgement because:

473(1) states that "a Puppet may take no actions except as explicitly stated in its Instructions" and "The Instructions of a Puppet may not allow a decision to be made by a human except [if further play would be impossible]". The Puppets Robin Hood, King John and Chris Dickson have entered Suspended Animation, which is an action not stated in any of the Instructions of the three Puppets. Therefore Rule 473(1) has been broken. Since Simon Cozens is responsible for the Puppets having entered Suspended Animation, it is he who is responsible for having broken the Rule.

And finally, contradictorily, came Terry Boon of don't know:

Simon Cozens has not broken Rule(s) 473(1).


  • 382(0) provides that SC, being a player, may choose to enter Suspended Animation at any time.
  • 472(1) provides that, if SC enters Suspended Animation, the Puppets "will be placed in Suspended Animation".
  • 473(1) provides that "A situation may never arise where the Puppet is required to do anything not covered by its Instructions; this rule takes precedence over all other rules covering such situations."

Does "being placed in Suspended Animation" constitute "doing something" for the purposes of 473(1)?

If it does, then the situation in which SC was permitted to enter Suspended Animation was prohibited by 473. (I do not consider "SC entering Suspended Animation" to be a "situation", since it is instantaneous.) 473 takes precedence over 382, so SC was not permitted to enter Suspended Animation.

If it does not, then there is no problem. The Puppets remain in Suspended Animation until a new Master is elected/appointed.

Both sides are arguable, but I judge that it *does* constitute "doing something". Hence SC was not permitted to enter Suspended Animation.

But did he do so?

He presumably notified the Speaker of his wish to enter Suspended Animation. But given that he was not permitted to enter Suspended Animation, did this notification have any effect?

Consider the situation that arises if I were to notify the Speaker that I wished to transfer 100 points to player X. (If I recall correctly, players may not make arbitrary transfers of points, by 202.) Either the transfer takes place, in which case I have broken rule 202, or it does not, in which case I have not. (I may have *attempted* to break 202, but than is not itself against the rules.) I believe that the correct conclusion in that case is for the points *not* to be transferred.

Similarly, I do not think that SC ever entered Suspended Animation, because he could not do so.

Hence he has not broken 473(1).


This judgement raises a general question about Accusations. If a player attempts to do something, or appears to do something, which is not permitted by the rule, can (s)he actually have done it?

In some cases, the answer is clearly "Yes" - for example, if a player discloses information which (s)he is obliged to keep secret, or fails to produce a required report. In other cases, it is less clear - my "transfer 100 points to X" being an example - and I would tend to hold that these actions do *not* happen.

This imposes a restriction on the whole Accusation process. Perhaps SC should have been penalised for trying to enter Suspended Animation when close examination of the rules would suggest it was not permitted, but I don't believe that he can be at the moment.

A solution might be to prohibit attempts to break the rules, but that could get messy.

[ Judgements index | Accusation J(37) | OxNomic ]
Created 3.iv.1998 by Colin Batchelor, OxNomic Recorder