| New Alert Procedures and Convention Charts
A new Alert Procedure came into effect on 2021 January 1. We follow this procedure in our in-person and online games, including announcing 1NT opening ranges and transfers.
New Convention Charts came into effect on 2018 November 22. Our open games use the open chart; our limited games use the basic chart.
Many of you have asked for help understanding the new alert procedure. I’ll try. Here’s a quick informal summary of principles and significant changes in the new alert procedure, but you’ll have to refer to the ACBL documents for complete and precise details.
Almost every sentence of the alert procedure has some words and phrases with initial capital letters, which are precisely defined on pp. 1–2 of the alert procedure or pp. 3–5 of the convention charts. You’ll be lost if you don’t look up the definitions!
“The objective of an Alert is to indicate to the opponents that the meaning of a call is unexpected. In an ideal world we would just Alert ‘what the opponents don’t know.’ In the real world, we don’t know what the opponents know, so we must use a set of rules instead.”
“Alerts must be made verbally by saying the word ‘Alert’ and visually by … showing the ‘Alert’ card in the bidding box. When a call has been Alerted, an opponent, at their turn to call may ask about its meaning. The preferred form of the question is a simple ‘Please Explain.’”
It is your responsibility to be sure both opponents know you have alerted. “I did alert, but I guess they didn’t hear me” doesn’t cut the mustard.
- for a non-forcing minor-suit opening, announce “could be two,” “could be one,” or “could be zero” as appropriate
- for a 1NT response, announce “forcing” or “semi-forcing” and/or “could have four spades” as appropriate
- announce the range of a 1NT opening (yes, every time, even if it’s 15–17)
- for a “transfer” that shows one specific suit, announce the suit shown, e.g.:
- if 1NT–(P)–2♥ shows spades, announce “spades”
- if 1NT–(2♥)–X shows spades, announce “spades”
- if 1NT–(P)–2♠ shows clubs, announce “clubs”
- if 1NT–(P)–2♠ asks opener to bid 3♣, but responder could have diamonds rather than clubs, alert (do not announce “clubs”)
- alert natural calls if they
- sound forcing but aren’t
- alert a below-game new-suit response to an opening preempt by a non-passed hand if it isn’t forcing
- sound non-forcing but are forcing
- sound strong but are weak
- alert a weak jump shift by responder if there’s no competition
- sound weak but are strong
- sound like they deny a longer suit but don’t
- (no alert if a major-suit response to a 1♣ opening could bypass diamonds)
- alert most artificial calls, but
- do not alert Stayman or puppet Stayman if it’s the cheapest call, e.g.:
- 2NT–3♣ Stayman or puppet Stayman: don’t alert
- 1NT–3♣ puppet Stayman: alert
- opener’s reply to puppet Stayman: alert
- do not alert an artificial forcing 2NT response to a weak two bid
- do not alert an unusual notrump overcall that’s a jump or made by a passed hand
- do not alert most cuebids
- a “cuebid” is defined as a bid in a suit shown by an opponent
- do alert a cuebid that sounds like Michaels but is something else
- (a bid showing first or second-round control is now known as a “control bid” and requires a delayed alert—see below)
- do not alert any 2♦ response to a strong artificial forcing 2♣ opening
- do not alert 4NT asking for aces or keycards
- do not alert 4♣ asking for aces in a notrump auction
- do not alert most doubles and redoubles
- do alert or announce a stolen-bid or shadow double
- if 1NT–(2♣)–X is Stayman, alert
- if 1NT–(2♥)–X shows spades, announce “spades”
- do alert an artificial double of a notrump opening
- do alert a lead-directing double that requests a lead other than the suit doubled
- no longer alertable: support doubles, snapdragon doubles, Rosenkranz doubles
- delayed alerts
- wait until the final pass to alert
- control bids
- a “control bid” is defined as showing first or second round control of a suit
- a “control bid” was formerly known as a “cuebid,” but a “cuebid” is now defined as a bid in a suit shown by the opponents
- any alertable bids of 3NT or higher starting at opener’s second turn
- do not delay
- alerting passes, doubles, and redoubles
- announcements (e.g., 1NT–2♣; 2♦–4♥ delayed Texas transfer: immediately announce “spades”)
- at the end of the auction
- both defenders alert their partners’ bids whose alerts were delayed—explain only if asked
- the declaring side explains—without being asked—any alertable bids whose alerts were delayed (including control bids, keycard replies and continuations, “serious 3NT,” “non-serious 3NT,” “pick a slam”)
- Precision (or any system including a one-level opening bid that is forcing or is not natural)
- two systems (does not apply to a variable 1NT range)
- artificial preempts below 3NT (the only such bid allowed on the open chart is an unusual 2NT opening)
- leading low from a doubleton no longer requires a pre-alert
- “If you are not sure whether to Alert a call, err on the side of Alerting it. You should Alert a call that requires (or may require) an Alert even if you do not remember its meaning. However, do not Alert any call that this document says not to Alert.”
- alerts, announcements, explanations, and silence all give “information” to your opponents about your agreements
- all such information from your partner (right or wrong, expected or unexpected) is “unauthorized” to you
- if your partner gives your opponents misinformation
- do not say anything or show any reaction immediately
- continue to bid, alert, and play as though your partner had given correct information
- if your side declares, call the director as soon as the auction ends
- if your side defends, call the director as soon as the play ends
- if you misbid and your partner “wakes you up” by giving your opponents correct information
- do not say anything or show any reaction
- continue to bid and play as though your bid was consistent with your agreement and your partner explained it the way you had meant it
- do correctly inform the opponents about your partner’s actions in light of your reawakened memory of your agreement
- if you give your opponents misinformation, call the director as soon as you realize your mistake
(The online self-alert system is different. Alert/announce your own bids. Feel free to over-alert. Do not delay any alerts. Never alert/announce partner’s bids.)
| Pace of Play
Much as we’d all like to go at our own pace, the nature of duplicate bridge requires that everyone maintain the same pace.
For most games, the clock is set to 15 minutes for two-board rounds of 21 minutes for three-board rounds. Normally you should finish a round before the clock reaches zero, leaving a little time to relax, chat, snack, etc., between rounds. (The clock shows the round number in smaller digits and the minutes remaining in the round in larger digits.)
You may not start a board with three minutes or less remaining on the clock without permission from the director.
You will be allowed one late play (please don’t overuse this privilege). If you don’t play a late play, your score will be “No Play” (in effect, the same percentage you earned on the boards that you did play). If you already have a late play and lose another board, your score will be “No Play.” If you lose a third board, your score will be “Average Minus” (at most 40%).
Everyone can see the clock. Everyone is responsible for keeping up. If you fall behind (even if it’s “not your fault”), then you’re responsible for catching up. Please postpone conversations, postmortems, traveler review, snacking, etc., and make your mistakes faster until you’ve caught up.
See also “Slow Play” in the ACBL Active Ethics policy.
It’s easy to correct a scoring error before you or your opponents leave the table. It’s fairly easy to correct an error before you or your opponents go home. It’s hard to correct a scoring error after you or your opponents go home (we have to contact the other pair and then replace the printed and online results), but we’ll still do it up to game time the next week—we want to get it right!
You have five opportunities to spot a scoring error before you go home:
- before East or West accepts the score (to correct at this point, push CANCEL)
- in the “traveler” display (your score is marked with “→”; to correct at this point, push CANCEL, then SCORES, then CORRECt*)
- in the round score summary, which you can display up to the end of the round by pushing SCORES (to correct at this point, push CORRECt*)
- in the end-of-session score summary available on your Bridgemate (In the end-of-session display, push RANK, then SCORE SUMMARY, then N/S or E/W. If the Bridgemate is already logged out, log in any Bridgemate as your last table—it should go straight to the end-of-session display. To correct at this point, see the director.)
- in a printed score summary available from the director
*(If the CORRECt button isn’t available, call the director.)
The most common error seems to be entering a wrong declarer. Be sure to check the declarer. (If the director has chosen to ask for the opening lead, a Bridgemate automatically detects a wrong declarer by verifying that the card led is on declarer’s left.)
At our club, Bridgemates display scores as “+” for NS and “–” for EW. (At some other clubs and tournaments, Bridgemates display “+” or “–” from declarer’s point of view.)
If we cancel a game due to weather, we will put a notice on our home page at least two hours before game time.
Often we do not
cancel when bad weather is likely. Please make your own informed decision about whether it is safe for you to travel to and from the game. The latest National Weather Service forecast for Wellesley may help: text forecast
, hourly graphical forecast
Our cancellation decision is independent of the local schools.
All of our games are stratified. This gives you an opportunity to play against players of all levels—from newcomers to the best in New England—while simultaneously competing for masterpoints with players whose experience is comparable to yours.
Suppose your masterpoints (averaged with your partner’s) put you in the lowest ⅓ of the field (the C stratum). Your result is ranked against the other C pairs. The top 40% of the C pairs receive the same masterpoint awards they would have received if they’d played in a separate “flight” (a concurrent masterpoint-limited game).
However, in a stratified game, your result is also ranked in the B stratum (the lower ⅔) and in the A stratum (the whole field). If you do especially well, you’ll earn a larger masterpoint award from your ranking in B or A. If you earn masterpoints in two or three strata, you’re credited with the highest award. (If you play in a masterpoint-limited flight, you cannot earn masterpoints from a higher flight, no matter how well you do.)
When selling entries, the director uses an estimate of the strata limits to divide the strata as evenly as possible among sections and directions. The final stratification is “at the director’s discression” and may vary from the estimate based on the actual distribution of masterpoint holdings.
There are two exceptions to our usual stratification by average at the director’s discression:
- In North American Pairs (NAP) qualifying games (about half our games in June, July, and August), everyone’s required to use upper limits of 2500 for B and 500 for C (non-life-masters only), and stratification is by the higher of the pair’s masterpoints.
- In Sectional Tournament at Clubs (STaCs) games (two weeks a year), all participating clubs are required to use the strata specified by the director in charge. (STaC stratification is by average.)