Acadiana Duplicate Bridge Club
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4950 West Congress St.

Lafayette, LA  70508


From The Directors
Calling the Director
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!

Partnership Agreement and Explanations of Call
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.