|Calling the Director
We all make mistakes, even at the bridge table. When that happens you must call the Director. They will assess the situation and apply the proper remedy according to the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. The Laws have evolved over the years, and the emphasis now is more on restoring equity rather than punishing infractions.
As soon as you discover an error at your table you should call the Director. If you try to correct the mistake or assess a penalty yourself you could jeopardize your rights or may even earn a penalty of your own. Sometimes though you may not know you were damaged until later. You can tell the director then, but it may be more difficult to determine exactly what happened. In any case, the Director is the proper person to deal with all irregularities – that is the Law. Players can help by following the proper procedure.
When the Director is called to your table they will first try to figure out what happened. They will ask someone to describe the situation, and they may need to see cards that have been played and check a pair’s convention card. So it is best to leave cards as they are until the Director arrives. And when the Director asks what the problem is, don’t everybody talk at once! One person should describe the situation. If you disagree with the statement of facts you will get a chance to clarify.
State what happened calmly and quietly and include all pertinent information. For example, “West led out of turn. East had won the previous trick” or “North revoked at trick 7. A heart was led from Dummy; West ruffed and North overruffed instead of playing their last heart. The heart showed up two tricks later”. Additionally, information like “My opponent told me to lead” is important; “No one was doing anything so I thought it was my turn” really is not.
The Director may ask a player to step away from the table, perhaps to consult about partnership agreements without giving unauthorized information to the partner. Players may also ask to talk to the Director away from the table to avoid revealing too much about their hand to the other players.
Once all the facts are in, the Director will make their ruling. If a player has options, the Director will explain all the choices available. Please listen carefully. Sometimes the rules are complicated, and you want to understand all your options before deciding what to do. It is entirely appropriate to choose the option most to your advantage – that’s in the Laws too. But it is not appropriate to consult your partner if the choice of options is yours.
So, play well, have fun, and try not to make mistakes. But if that happens, call the Director!
|Questions About Bids
Our opponents are entitled to know our partnership agreements and understandings. This is why we fill out convention cards and why we alert or announce conventional bids. When an opponent asks about a bid, give them full information.
When and How to Ask: The proper time to ask questions is at your turn to call or at the end of the auction. The proper way to ask is What is your agreement about X? or Please explain. Do not say something like How do you take that bid? because that might be based on information in their own hand.
You may ask about any bids, not just bids that were alerted. If you asked an opponent about their partner’s bid you may ask follow-up questions if you need further information. You may ask about the implications of bids not made, like the differences between a double, a cue bid and a jump raise. But you may not ask for interpretations that may be based on a players own hand.
Be aware that asking about a particular bid during the auction may give your partner information about your hand. This is Unauthorized Information, and may actually restrict partners choice of bids or plays. To avoid this, tournament directors recommend not asking if your choice of action will not change based on the answer you receive. Or you can ask about every alerted call as they occur, or ask for a full review of the auction with explanations to avoid showing interest in a particular bid.
Also, it is a violation of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge to ask a question if your sole purpose is to benefit partner.
How to Answer: When an opponent asks about your partner’s bid, give a full explanation of your agreement: not just the name of the convention but the point count range and distribution implied by the bid. Natural and Undiscussed are acceptable responses also, but even if you haven’t discussed a particular sequence you should tell them what was done in similar situations.
Misinformation: Sometimes you and your partner are not on the same wavelength and give the opponents the wrong explanation of your agreement. The first opportunity to correct partner’s error for the declaring side is after the auction is over but before the opening lead is faced. This is the Clarification Period. At this time Declarer or Dummy must correct any misinformation that was given during the auction, including Alerts and Failures to Alert as well as misinformation about partnership agreements. Declarer and Dummy may look at their convention cards in order to verify that information is correct.
Defenders may not correct misinformation until the hand is over. (Doing so earlier creates Unauthorized Information for partner.) Then defenders may look at their convention card, and must offer the correct information if the previous explanation was wrong. If the opponents feel they were damaged by the misinformation they can call the Director, who will assess the situation and may award an adjusted score.
Misinformation vs. Misbid: Please note there is a difference between misinformation and a misbid. Fortunately for us all, the Laws allow us to make mistakes! If you misbid, you are not required to tell the opponents, or to correct any explanation your partner gave them about your partnership agreements. Partner is as much misled as the opponents. It is only when partner knows what your bid means and opponents don’t that partner or you must reveal that to the opponents.
|Zero Tolerance Policy
ADBC ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY
The American Contract Bridge League adopted its Zero Tolerance Policy in 1998, and the Acadiana Duplicate Bridge Club subscribed to it not long after. Yet Directors continue to see instances of behavior at our club that violates this policy, and to hear complaints about behavior that we don’t witness ourselves. In the past we have tolerated this behavior, but it has reached a level that is making our games unpleasant for all. Therefore, and with the Board’s approval, we will begin enforcing the Zero Tolerance Policy with penalties for those who persist in violating the rules for proper behavior.
To reiterate the basics of Zero Tolerance:
- Be a good opponent: greet your opponents at the beginning of the round. Have two completed convention cards available. Praise their bidding and play.
- Be a good partner: limit your comments on partner's bidding and play to a simple nicely done when they do something particularly difficult, and not even that if it might in any way suggest that the opponents may have made a mistake. Save your discussion of misunderstandings until after the game, or take it away from the table if you fear it may come up again before the end of the game.
- Respect the Director. Call for the Director immediately if there is any irregularity, and explain the problem in an even tone. Accept the Director’s ruling and move on. Any questions can be resolved after the game. The Director can always adjust a score later if they have made an error, but we want to keep the game moving smoothly.
The following are examples of behavior that will not be tolerated:
- Badgering, rudeness, insinuations, intimidation, profanity, threats or violence
- Raised voices and shouting
- Negative comments about opponents’ or partner’s bidding or play
- Gloating over a result
- Unsolicited comments and suggestions regarding opponent or partner bidding and play. Wait for them to ask for it
- Loud and disruptive arguing with a Director’s ruling
The ACBL procedures for implementing this policy at tournaments include announcing Zero Tolerance before each game and reminding players to call the Director whenever behavior is not consistent with these guidelines. The Director assesses each situation and if there was unacceptable behavior they assess an immediate ¼ board penalty to each person in violation regardless of who started it. No warnings are given after the initial announcement; that’s what Zero Tolerance means. If a player violates the policy a second time during the game they are ejected from the game with no refund and no master point awards. In accordance with the Laws of Duplicate Bridge, the Director’s decision is final.
Directors at the ADBC will follow the ACBL procedures as much as possible. All players need to be alert to possible violations of Zero Tolerance and to call the Director when it happens so the policy can be applied equitably. Directors cannot be everywhere at once.
|Partnership Agreement and Explanations of Call
Your opponents are entitled to know all your partnership agreements, just as you are entitled to know theirs. This is one of the reasons you must fill out a convention card before the start of each game. This is also why you alert non-Standard bids and why you must give a full explanation when an opponent asks the meaning of your partner’s bid.
The time to ask for an explanation of an opponent’s bid is when it is your turn to call and before you make your call. The partner of the bidder gives the explanation, and the person who made the bid must not do or say anything. If the partner of the person who asked a question wants a further explanation, they must also wait until it is their turn to call.
The proper form is to ask something like “What is your agreement regarding your partner’s 2 club call?”, not “How do you take that bid?”. How they take that bid may be based on their own hand and they do not need to disclose that.
The explanation should include all relevant information regarding your partnership agreement. Simply stating the name of a convention, like “Cappelletti” is not adequate. You should say something like “Relay to two diamonds, showing an unspecified 6-card suit” or “Shows spades and an unspecified minor, likely 5-5”. You do not need to say anything about inferences you draw from general bridge knowledge or from your own hand. However, if your partner has a tendency to have only a 5-card suit, you should say so even if you have never openly discussed it. If you have no agreement, simply say “No agreement” or “undiscussed” and the discussion should end there. Don’t embroider: “I think we’re playing Cappelletti”. Follow-up questions like “But what do you think it means?” are improper and you should not answer. Meanwhile, partner should be studying their cards and mentally counting backward from 100 in French to avoid making eye contact and giving you any hints.
Sometimes mistakes happen. Partner fails to alert your conventional bid, or alerts a bid you thought was natural. The alert or failure to alert is unauthorized information for you. You must not do or say anything to indicate you disagree, and you must continue to bid as though partner shared your understanding of your bid. Imagine you are playing online and cannot see partner’s alert and explanation. Likewise, your startled reaction is unauthorized information for partner. They must also continue to bid as though your bid meant what they thought it did. Once the auction ends and before the opening lead is faced is the only time you can look at your convention card and find out who was right. If your bid was wrong and partner’s explanation agreed with what is on your convention card, you do not need to say anything. In fact, it’s best if you don’t give the opponents any hint that you are in trouble, lest it helps them savage you during the play. However, if partner’s explanation is wrong you must correct it at your first legal opportunity. If you are declarer or dummy that is as soon as the auction has ended and before play starts, but for defenders that is at the end of play. (To do so earlier would give your partner unauthorized information regarding your hand.) Call the Director, and then tell the opponents they may have been given the wrong information.
A final point: you may not ask a question if your sole purpose is to benefit your partner. Even if you are playing with a novice and you’re pretty sure they do not understand what an opponent’s bid means, it is not your place to ask for them.