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Important Notices
The annual competitions will run from Sep 1st thru June 30th.
  Strong club or artificial 2-level opening

Did ye know?

That there are guidelines to determine what sort of hand qualifies for a strong club or artificial 2-level opening (2C or Benji 2C/2D). It must satisfy ONE of the following criteria:

  • Minimum of 16 high card points
  • Minimum of 13 high card points PROVIDING there are at least 10 cards in the two longest suits

A hand containing a single 8 card suit headed by the AKQJ, with no values in outside suits, is NOT considered to be Strong and MUST not be announced as such.

As a partnership agreement you may open such hands with a 2-level opening e.g. the older-style Strong Twos i.e. you must open the hand with the suit known (bid) - you cannot hide such a suit in a Benji-style catch-all of 2♣ .  Further you must be very clear in explaining that the hand may not necessarily be Strong (and similar wording should appear on a convention card). (Otherwise, a more appropriate opening bid would be a 4-level bid in the 8-card suit).
Revised Sept 2022
  Passing the boards on

Did ye know?

That failure to move the boards at the end of a round can be very disruptive.

If your table is still playing the cards after the director calls "move", dummy should be ready to move the completed boards to the next table, but only on demand.

If the next table is still in play, there is no point interrupting them to pass the boards.

If you are waiting to start at a table and the boards are not already there, a POLITE request to dummy on the next table for the completed board(s) should be sufficient.

Try and avoid just reaching across the table in play and retrieving the boards, or shouting at the table in play, thus disturbing their concentration.

  Making a claim

Did ye know?

That play should stop immediately once a declarer makes a claim.

If one or both of the defenders then dispute the claim (or the claim is invalid), then the director should be called who will then act as arbiter.

There is NO option to continue the play (for either side).  CHANGE From Sep 2021, players may agree to continue playing, PROVIDING both sides agree BUT NOTE if declarer now changes his mind about playing the hand (because he may now have been alerted to the fact that there is an outstanding trump), the defending side lose their rights to an automatic trick or adjustment.  Best advice, do NOT play on and call the Director to adjudicate.

Any points of contention in the claim (such as failure to state the drawing of outstanding trumps in the defender's hands) will be settled against declarer if there is a logical (but not irrational) line of play that allows the defence to win one or more tricks.

  Using the stop card

Did ye know?

The Stop card dictates that the next person to bid SHOULD wait 10 seconds before bidding?

Have you ever looked at the reverse of the Stop card? Take it out of the bidding box and read it - it should state exactly this.

The Stop card should be used when the bidder intends to skip one or more levels in the bidding scheme and should be placed in the middle of the table prior to making his/her bid. It is used to notify both partner and the opposition.

After 10 seconds the Stop card should then be removed. The next person to bid SHOULD NOT bid until the Stop card has been removed.

This helps to avoid the unauthorised passing of information between partners by a longer than normal pause.

  Asking questions

Did ye know?

That you should not ask about a bid by an opponent during the auction unless your subsequent bid is dependent upon its meaning.

More importantly, if your subsequent bid is pass then you must be very careful to not pass unauthorised information to your partner (for example that you hold cards in a particular suit) e.g. an enquiry about an opposition 2C response to 1NT which is explained as Stayman, to which you then pass, strongly suggests that you have a club suit, regardless of whether this is intentional or not.

For this reason you should always ascertain the main points about the opposition bidding system BEFORE you start play, such as opening 1NT strength and 1C openings.

The best time to ask questions about opposition bidding is at the end of the auction when it is your turn to lead, or when partner has selected his/her lead, or if you are declarer, once the defenders have completed asking their questions.

Never ask questions just for the sake of it and don't badger an opponent into giving an answer, simply because you don't like the first response !


Did ye know?

Following the introduction of announcements, the rules on alerting should be easier to understand. Essentially this means any bid which is

  • not announceable
  • is artificial (does not promise the suit that is bid) AND is below 3NT should be alerted
  • has unexpected meaning AND is below 3NT should be alerted
  • is artificial AND is above 3NT AND occurs on the first round of bidding

Examples include 1C opening showing 16+ points, 2C overcall to 1NT as a conventional bid e.g. Landy, and 4C response to 1H/1S opening intended as a Splinter bid, etc.

Over 1NT, 2C Stayman and 2D/2H transfer bids are announced. A 2NT opening bid is no longer announced PROVIDING it shows a very strong balanced hand, but 3C Stayman and 3D/3H transfer bids are announced.  Any other responses to 2NT which do not show the suit that is bid are alertable.

Sputnik (negative) doubles are no longer alertable since the introduction of announcements. All doubles of a suit during the auction below 3NT are assumed to be takeout - you only need to alert penalty doubles. Conversely, any double of a NT bid is assumed to penalties - so any double which is then for take-out needs to be alerted e.g. (1c)-pass-(1nt)-x is played by most players as take-out of 1c and thus needs to be alerted.

What about 1H-Dbl-2D where 2D shows a weak hand ? This also needs alerting on the basis that whilst it is a natural bid it shows something that the opponents would not be expecting i.e. a non-forcing bid. Similarly 1H-Pass-3H where 3H is pre-emptive raise is alertable on the basis that opponents would not be expecting it.

1S opening showing 5 card suit, a weak jump overcall or a double of an artificial bid for lead direction purposes, are NOT alertable, as they are "expected" meanings for these bids. Always read the convention card for your opponents or ask about their basic system before playing a round or match.

  Calling the director

Did ye know?

That you should call the director whenever something goes amiss at the bridge table. However this doesn't mean when your partner takes the wrong view in a slam contract !!

The director should be called whenever:
  • a bid is made out of sequence
  • a bid is not sufficient
  • a bid is made that is not appropriate e.g. after partner's hesitation
  • a card is led from the wrong hand
  • a card accidentally appears when it shouldn't
  • somebody revokes during the play of the hand

Even if you think you know the rules, or the scenario appears the same as the previous time - call a director . You may be damaging your rights to total compensation if it was found that you should have called the director to rule in the first instance.

Whilst most club nights will involve a playing director, it is the director who knows the rules or at least will know how to use the rules to seek maximum benefit to the non-offending side.

The most often abused situations are claims by declarer which are disputed and insufficient bids where one side tells the other what to do. Both situations should be arbited by a director to ensure that the full range of options are explained to the non-offending side.

Finally the director is there to ensure proper behaviour at all times. If an argument ensues or someone's behaviour is offensive, call for the director rather than get involved and upset your game for the remainder of the evening.

  Process for alerting the opposition
1. Simple situation which most of us should get right - we recognized partner has made an artificial bid (conventional, non-natural, etc) and we alert immediately.  Note it is the partner of the person making the bid who alerts the opposition.  

More details on what needs to be alerted can be found by following this link.

2. A slightly more complex situation is where partner has made a bid, which is clearly artificial, but we either don't know its meaning or we have forgotten!  Been there :) We must alert it to satisfy the rules and "alert the opposition".  When asked about its meaning
a); Either we have grabbed sufficient time to recall its meaning
b); Failing that, we simply state "it's clearly artificial" or "i have forgotten but I know its artificial".
Note: partner is not allowed to take advantage of this explanation (of uncertainty).  He/she must continue bidding as if partner has alerted and provided a correct explanation.  Failure to do so, can be brought to the director's attention later in the auction or at the end of the hand and the director MAY rule an adjusted score on the basis of "unauthorised information (the uncertain explanation) influencing the subsequent bidding".  (In the rare case where the opposition really need to know the meaning of the bid in order to determine what call they intend to make, the person who should have been alerted can be asked to leave the table, so that the person making the bid can explain it to the opposition - without his partner hearing the explanation - which he is not entitled to know until the board has been completed).

3. The most complex situation occurs when partner has made a bid, which either you are not certain about its meaning or it takes a while for it to register that it is an alertable bid.  Meanwhile your right-hand opponent (RHO) has bid - pass or actual bid it matters not.  Eventually BEFORE YOU BID you are convinced the bid now needs to be alerted - YOU MUST NOW alert the bid.  RHO now has the right to withdraw his bid and change his call based on the information that you have now provided - either indirectly by the mere fact that you have alerted or following an inquiry by RHO about the meaning of your partner's bid - there is no penalty concerning the original bid made, except that it is unauthorized information (UI) to the non-offending side i.e. they cannot make any subsequent bid which is influenced by the knowledge of the bid that was withdrawn.  Clearly if RHO passes or makes the same call there is no UI.

4. Finally, the last situation is where partner fails to alert a bid at any stage during the auction - although it is fairly unlikely that partner will wake up 2 rounds later and admit to failure to alert a bid in the earlier rounds.  To handle this eventuality, the person who actually made the bid, can alert the opposition to this state of affairs PROVIDING THAT THEY ARE NOT THE DEFENDING SIDE.  What this means, is that the defence have every right to know that a bid was alertable BEFORE they lead to the contract, but the declaring side need not be informed of a failure to alert by the defending side, not because the laws are one-sided, but because one partner of the defending side must NOT alert (wake up) his partner to the fact that he made a call, which he might not have understood/identified correctly.  At this stage the non-offending side cannot change any of their calls - clearly the auction has finished - but they may "reserve their rights" - a process where the director is called and this statement is announced.  Nobody needs to reveal anything further since it may impact the play of the hand - in fact if it was the defender's error, it is highly likely that attention is only drawn to it during the play of the hand - fair enough but play will continue and declarer (not dummy) can then ask the director to come and adjudicate.  What the director will then do is listen to both sides, first of all the offending side (one which failed to alert) for the correct explanation of the alertable bid, and then the non-offending side for their argument (explanation) as to what they would have done had they been informed of the meaning of the bid (by the alert).  The director will then determine if any "damage has occurred" to the non-offending side i.e. whether their explanation is valid and that indeed 70% of people faced with a similar explanation would go on and make a similar call (this is so that a fatuous call of director with a fictional explanation of some subsequent bidding does not win out against weaker/dozier opponents who merely forgot their system/bids).  An adjusted or corrected score may then be awared as a result of the director's intervention.

The moral of the story is always alert a bid when you believe it should be alerted, even if you cannot provide an explanation !