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I Didn't Know That !

I Didn't Know That

This page will offer helpful hints to the new, and not-so-new players to current rules and procedures that will help improve your play of duplicate bridge.




With thanks to the Kamloops Duplicate Bridge Club;


“Some people play bridge strictly for fun, some strictly for the competitive aspect and the rest for various combinations of the two. Regardless of where you fit in this range, our Bridge Club would like you to enjoy playing at our Club. Our games are sanctioned by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) and we must therefore abide by the rules established by them. In additional to the ACBL rules, there are good practices which we want everyone to follow so that we all can enjoy the games.

With this in mind, we would like all players to be mindful of the following rules and practices.



The Director’s responsibilities include handling all law and rule infractions as well as running a smooth and pleasant game. Players should never feel frightened or embarrassed to call for the Director nor should they attempt to make their own rulings.  When there is an irregularity, e.g. bid out of turn, lead from the wrong hand, insufficient bid etc., call the Director.

As a matter of courtesy, tell the other players at your table that you’d like to call the Director, then raise your hand and say “Director please”. Once the Director has been called, play must stop and the cards left as they are. Once the Director arrives at the table, the person who has called him/her should explain the issue. The Director will ensure that each player gets an opportunity to explain their side of the issue and they should be allowed to do so without interruption by the others.

Remember that the Director is your friend but that does not mean that he or she will always rule in your favour. If you don’t like the ruling, or thing it is incorrect, tell the Director that you’d like to discuss it more after the game.



The start of the game is a busy time for the Director as he/she tries to determine the number of tables there will be and the kind of movement to use. You can help by arriving at least 10 minutes prior to the official start time and by sitting down at your table.

Please wait for the Director to give the OK before starting the first hand as he/she may need to move players from one table to another.  Also, don’t move from one table to the next until the Director calls the round.  If you move beforehand, he/she may be under the mistaken impression that you are still playing hands in the previous round.

Be a good host or guest at the table and when the opponents arrive, stop any conversation with your partner and great them in a friendly manner.

People are people and there will be times when someone does misbehave at the Club. When this happens, it is very important that the Director be advised, if not immediately, certainly at the end of the game.  Our Club has adopted a Zero Tolerance Policy. It’s up to all of us to ensure that it is applied.

Our Club has also adopted a Fragrance Free Policy and in consideration of others who may have allergic reactions, we ask that you not use scented products such as perfumes, colognes, hairspray or aftershave when at the Club.

The North player is responsible for the proper observance of all procedures and for maintaining proper conditions of play at the table.  For example, North is responsible for turning the boards and South, East or West should not touch the boards without North’s permission. Nobody should reach under the top board to get their hand from the next board.

Each partnership should have at least one completed convention card.  If the partnership has two convention cards, they must be identical. The card(s) should be placed on the table accessible to your opponent.  As you may not refer to your own card during the bidding or of a hand, it should be facing away from you.



The cards should not be taken out of a board until at least one of the opponents is at the table.  When you have removed your cards from the board, count them before looking at them.

If you make a bid (ex. 2 spades), the opponent whose turn is next to bid may ask your partner what your bid meant. Your partner must answer. You may not.  If your partner doesn’t know or isn’t sure, he/she shouldn’t speculate as doing so will give you information about your partner’s thinking. He/she should simply say that he/she doesn’t know what it means.

Do not touch the bidding box until you have decided what bid to make.  Moving your hand back and forth between possible bids gives your partner information which he/she is not entitled. For example, after you have placed your hand on the pass card, you may not then make a bid in a suit or no-trump as this passes unauthorized information to your partner.  Decide what bid you want to make, take it out of the bidding box, look at it to make sure you’ve pulled the one you intended and then place it on the table.

Never make remarks, gestures, or facial expressions during the bidding that show you do not understand your partner’s last bid, you don’t like it or that your own bid is based on indecision.  Your partner is not entitled to this information and it may mislead the opponents.

When you make an insufficient bid, it is not your right to simply make it sufficient.  The left-hand opponent has options which will be explained by the Director.

Never pick up your bid cards before the auction has ended. If you pick up your cards before your partner’s last bid, it appears that you are telling your partner to pass.

Alert all bids that require an alert.  When an explanation is asked for, do not simply respond with the name of the convention, but rather explain what the bid shows (or asks).  Not everyone knows all your conventions not does everyone play them the same way.

You may only ask for an explanation of a bid when it is your turn to bid or just prior to your play to the opening trick.  To ask for an explanation for the purpose of making sure that your partner understands, is unethical.

As Declarer or Dummy, if your partner has failed to alert an alertable bid, it is your obligation to inform the opponents after the auction ends, and before the opening lead is made.  As Declarer or Dummy, if your partner alerts a bid that was not alertable or provides an explanation of a bid which is not per your convention card, it is your obligation to inform the opponents after the auction ends and before the opening lead is made.  As Defender, if you make either of these mistakes, it is your obligation to inform the opponents after the play of the hand is completed.  When any of these situations occur, if your opponents are not advanced players, you should add to your explanation “If you feel you were damaged, you should call the Director”.



When you are on opening lead, detach a card from your hand and place it face down on the table.  This prevents any irregularities such as leading out of turn and allows your partner to ask any question about the auction and alerts without influencing your lead.

To save time, make your opening lead before writing down the contract.

If Declarer attempts to play a card from the incorrect hand, either Defender or the Dummy may point this out.

A lead from the wrong hand can be accepted by either Defender.

Only play your card when it is your turn and not before.  Do not detach a card from your hand until it is your turn to play.  Do not touch a card until you have decided which one to play. Do not pull up a card, push it back and then pull up another card. All of these manoeuvres provide unauthorized information to your partner. It shows that you are uncertain as to which card to play and, if you’ve followed suit, shows that you have more than one card in that suit.

To prevent a possible revoke, when a Defender fails to follow suit, Defender’s partner may immediately inquire “No spades?” for example. Similarly, attempting to avoid an irregularity, Dummy may inquire when Declarer fails to follow suit.

Once all the cards played to any trick have been turned face down on the table, you cannot ask to see what cards were played to the trick.  You may, however ask for confirmation as to which hand won the trick to ensure a lead is made from the correct hand.

When a player places a card the wrong way down on a completed trick, their partner may advise them of the mistake, provided they do so immediately.

Dummy may only remove and play a card when directed to do so by Declarer. Dummy must not reach towards a card in anticipation of which card will be called for by Declarer.  Likewise, when Declarer calls for a card, Dummy must never make a remark, gesture, facial expression or hesitation questioning that call.

Once a claim has been made, play of the hand may not continue.  If the claim is invalid or uncertain, call the Director.  If there is trump outstanding and Declarer makes no mention of pulling trump, call the Director.

When the final card has been played and scoring is taking place, do not fold up your cards until all players have agreed on total tricks taken.

North is responsible for entering the score on the traveller but must have it checked by an opponent before continuing on to the next board.

Discussion of hands can often be overheard by players at other tables and is a major contributor to slow play.  When North shows you the traveller, it’s for you to check the score, not an invitation to discuss results.  Wait until after the game is over for the post-mortems.

Bridge is a timed event. The ACBL has suggested that boards be bid and played in an average of 7 minutes. While our Club tries to be flexible to accommodate new players, slow play is a major concern. Please try not to keep other tables waiting to change rounds.”

This is the last article in the series.


Penalties for Things You Do at the Bridge Table




A. Director’s Authority

The Director, in addition to implementing the rectifications in these Laws, may also assess procedural penalties for any offence that unduly delays or obstructs the game, inconveniences other contestants, violates correct procedure or requires the award of an adjusted score at another table.


B. Offences Subject to Procedural Penalty

The following are examples of offences subject to procedural penalty (but the offences are not limited to these):

  1. arrival of a contestant after the specific starting time
  2. unduly slow play by a contestant
  3. discussion of the bidding, play or result of a board which may be overheard at another table
  4. unauthorized comparison of scores with another player
  5. touching or handling of cards belonging to another player (see Law 7)
  6. placing one or more cards in an incorrect pocket of the board
  7. errors in procedure (such as failure to count cards in one’s hand, playing the wrong board etc.) that requires an adjusted score for any contestant
  8. failure to comply promptly with tournament regulations or with instructions of the director


Should Play Continue?




At a recent Tournament, a colleague of mine was playing when midgame, Dummy got up and left to go to the washroom. My friend, who was left of Declarer, was asked to play Dummy’s hand. When my friend declined, her partner consented to play Dummy’s cards.


At the end of the play, my friend approached the Director to determine what if any ruling should be made to cover this situation as it happens in my friend’s home Club also.


The Director indicated that if Dummy vacates his/her position during play, Dummy relinquishes any rights he/she might have for that particular hand. The correct thing to do would be to suspend play until Dummy returns.


A question for our Club………. As our members age, trips to the washroom have and will increase.  In the past, we have had smoke breaks, why not “technical breaks” to accommodate our small bladder problems and to prevent delayed games because we are waiting for dummy to return to the table.


? How about it Directors?


When Can Dummy Legally Speak




Directors are often asked “Can Dummy tell the Declarer that (s)he has a card pointed in the wrong direction?”  Before a 1987 revision, Dummy had the absolute right to draw attention to any other player’s incorrectly pointed card.


As the Law now stands, Dummy may try to prevent any irregularity by Declarer, with some restrictions.  An irregularity is “A deviation from the correct [procedures as set forth by the Laws”.  The arrangement of winning/losing tricks is described in Law 65B. “If the player’s side has won the trick, the card is pointed lengthwise toward partner” and, “If the opponents have won the trick, the card is pointed lengthwise towards the opponents”.


If Dummy speaks up at the time Declarer is placing his/her card incorrectly, this is seen as Dummy trying to prevent an irregularity.  If Dummy speaks up later, then Dummy is violating Law 43A: 1 (B) & (C). These Laws prohibit Dummy from calling attention to any irregularity and taking part in or communicating about the play.


If Dummy notices Declarer placing the card in the wrong position, Dummy must speak up immediately, or wait until the play is over.


Another common instance where Dummy must speak immediately or not at all, happens when Dummy sees or hears that the Declarer is about to lead from the wrong hand. Dummy may try to prevent this from happening by speaking up before the lead is made or remain silent until after the play is over.


It is good to remember, that Dummy is only Dummy during the play. After that, Dummy has the right to bring any irregularity (such as a revoke) to the attention of the Declarer and Opponents.