These notes were first produced in 1999 by Suzanne Donoghue and have been revised and reprinted several times since. They are to be used as a reminder of the basic rules of bridge, etiquette and code of conduct.
Bridge is a recognised sport and, like every sport, there are rules to be followed with all players expected to learn and follow the rules.
Note: There may be some duplication and overlapping with other notes on this site.
Code of Conduct
Greet other players with a smile.
Volunteer to outline your system and forewarn other players of your gadgets.
Congratulate good play by the opponents.
Bid and play within the basic time limit.
Claim when you can, stating a line of play.
Accept a ruling by the Director cheerfully without arguing. If you disagree, appeal later.
Practise active ethics - when asked for an explanation, give full and precise details of your partnership’s agreements, both explicit and implied.
Always have a clear, correctly filled out system card on the table.
Avoid any remarks, mannerisms etc. which may disturb opponents or partner.
Always call the Director immediately any irregularity occurs.
Do not have lengthy post-mortems.
Restrain yourself from laying down the law after an irregularity. Always summon the Director instead.
Breaches of this code wall cost offenders 1/3 of a top (double if both members of a partnership are at fault).
Constant breaching of the code will result in suspension and a report to the Committee, which may take further action in accordance with the Club’s Constitution.
Players are expected to arrive at least 15 minutes before the advertised time of play to assist with setting up of tables, shuffling of boards and obtaining seating positions.
Each round, 6 to 7 minutes is allowed per board. When it comes to playing the last board, if every other table appears to be nearly finished and you have yet to start, do not start the board. Write “average” on the score sheet and your pair numbers. This will ensure everyone moves along at the same time.
The question of a timing clock has been raised, but its use is not proposed at this time.
Remember, not everything is etched in stone. If the Director has been called away during a game, extra time may be needed, similarly for a table that has called the Director. Allowances will be made for this by the Director.
The board in play is to stay in the centre of the table until play is completed. It is not to be moved to the side table or a corner of the table. After the bidding is completed and the first lead is made the board is to cover the bidding pad and cannot be lifted at any time during the game.
After the lead has been made and dummy spread, it is too late to review the auction. Declarer or defenders may, at their turn to play, be informed of the contract and whether it was doubled or redoubled, but not by whom or who bid what.
Each player should count their cards, face down, before inspecting their cards. Each player must ensure they return 13 cards to the board, in the correct slot, upon its completion.
Each player must keep possession of his/her own cards and not allow them to be mixed with another player’s cards.
Convention is for the dummy hand to be placed on the table with the led suit on the left, trump suit on the right.
No player may touch another player’s card other than their own, except declarer, who may play dummy's cards when dummy has to leave the table.
No player shall remove any cards from the board after it has been played without the permission of the Director.
North/South are responsible for the boards, ensuring they are playing the assigned boards and designated opposition, and moving them after the round is complete. East/West are not to touch the boards.
North/South are responsible for marking the bidding slip with dealer and vulnerability, where applicable.
North/South are responsible for scoring – filling out the results slip/entering results in the Bridgemate.
East/West are responsible for checking:
1. The correct contract is recorded;
2. Number of tricks is correct;
3. Lead card is correct;
4. The score is on the correct side;
5. The vulnerability is correct;
6. The score is correct.
If you disagree on the number of tricks, do not argue, call the Director immediately.
If North/South discovers a discrepancy in a previous score, the scorer should take the score sheet to the Director for direction as to what to do. No one but the Director may correct the scores.
If a player wishes to leave the table before the end of the round they may do so with the permission of the three remaining players.
During the auction and play any player may refer to opponent’s convention card at their own turn to call or play but not any other time.
A player is not entitled during the auction or during play to use any memory aids for calculation or technique. However, the Director may use their own discretion in the case of beginners.
Alerts are compulsory - you cannot ask the opponents not to alert – the requirement to alert applies even though the convention or other agreement may be listed on the system card.
Calls are alerted during the auction by the partner of the player who made the alertable bid - they shall audibly say “Alert!” and circle the call on the bidding pad.
All conventional calls (other than self alerting calls) must be alerted. Note that an opening 1C or 1D bid that may hold fewer than 3 cards in the suit is conventional. Note also that any call showing two suits is conventional, even where one of the suits is named.
A natural call must be alerted if it is forcing or non-forcing in a way the opponents might not expect.
Your policy should be to alert any call by partner (other than a self alerting call) that the opponents could reasonably misunderstand.
There are 4 types of self alerting calls:
3. Cue bids of opponents suit;
4. All calls at the four level or higher.
These calls carry their own alert and should not be alerted during the auction but may need to be alerted at the end of the auction. You can ask about opponents alerted (or self alerted) calls at your next turn to bid but if you don't ask at that time, any subsequent questions you ask must be about the entire auction.
If you become declarer or dummy after the bidding is completed you should offer to give a full explanation to your opponents of your auction if it contained any alerted or self alerting bids.
The proper method of enquiry is "please explain your agreement" or "what is the meaning of this auction", or something similar, not questions like, "does that show a diamond suit"?
Answers such as "standard", "natural", "weak", "strong", and "intermediate" are not acceptable explanations.
Alerting procedures relating to opening bids of 1C and 1NT apply. After these openings, an announcement rather than an alert will be made by opener's partner. After a 1C opening the announcement will be the minimum length in clubs promised (or, if it is a strong club opening, the minimum strength). In the case of 1NT the announcement will be the strength range. e.g. “15-17 points”.
The Club plays in accordance with the ABF System Regulations. Opening of a weak 2 bid should contain a good six card suit (at least 2 honours) and total a minimum of 15 - add high card points and cards in two longest suits and it should total at least 15. Opening weak 3 bids should contain a seven card suit and total a minimum of 15. These bids should be announced.
A separate News Page is published on the BVBC website. However, some requirements are repeated here.
A player must be courteous at all times. Speaking harshly to your partner or opposition is not tolerated.
A player should not make any remark or action that might cause embarrassment or annoyance to another player or might interfere with the enjoyment of the game.
All players should follow uniform and correct procedures in calling and playing.
A player should refrain from detaching a card before it is their turn to play.
A player should refrain from playing insufficient attention to the game.
A player should not unnecessarily prolong play by playing on when they can be reasonably sure that the remaining tricks are all theirs.
A player should not summon the Director in a discourteous manner to him/her or other players.
It is a good idea after summoning the Director to keep your hand in the air so the Director can see who called them.
If you have accidentally made a wrong bid, show no indication of this to anyone by word of mouth or gesture.
A player must not use different designations for the same call.
A player must not indicate approval or disapproval of a call or play.
A player must refrain from commenting or acting during the auction or play so as to call attention to a significant occurrence or the number of tricks still required for success.
A player must refrain from looking intently at any other player during the auction and play, or at another player’s hand for the purpose of seeing their cards or of observing the place from which they draw a card.
A player must refrain from showing an obvious lack of further interest in a deal with a view to discouraging partner from bidding on. e.g. folding up ones cards, throwing down the pen etc.
Do not say anything at the bridge table that will pass on extra information to your partner i.e. “I hope you understand this" or "Maybe I should have bid more or bid something else".
Communication between partners during the auction and play should be effected only by the means of the calls and plays themselves - no hesitation, emphasis, mannerism, inflection or haste.
The gravest possible offence against propriety is for a partnership to exchange information through prearranged methods of communication other than those sanctioned by the law. The penalty is expulsion.
When a player has available to them unauthorised information from partner’s remark, question, explanation, gesture, mannerism, special emphasis , inflection, haste or hesitation, that player must carefully avoid taking any advantage that might accrue.
It is grossly improper to attempt to mislead an opponent by means of a remark or gesture, through haste or hesitancy of a call or play e.g. hesitating before playing a singleton, or by the manner in which the call or play is made.
1. Dummy is entitled to give information, in the Director’s presence, as to fact or law;
2. Dummy may keep count of tricks won and lost;
3. Dummy plays the cards as directed by declarer;
4. Dummy may ask declarer (but not a defender) when they have failed to follow suit to a trick or whether they have a card of the suit led;
5. Dummy may try to prevent any irregularity by declarer;
6. Dummy may draw attention to an irregularity only after the play of the hand is concluded;
7. Unless attention has been drawn to an irregularity by another player, dummy cannot initiate a call for the Director during play;
8. Dummy may not call attention to an irregularity during play;
9. Dummy must not participate in the play or communicate anything about the play to the declarer.
Director will immediately penalise dummy for the following:
1. Exchanging hands - dummy may not exchange cards with declarer;
2. Leave seat to watch declarer;
3. Look at a defender’s hand - dummy may not, on their own initiative, look at the face of a card in either defender’s hand.
After dummy's hand is faced, dummy may not touch or indicate any card without instruction from declarer. If they do so, the Director should be called immediately.
If dummy has to leave the table, declarer must play dummy's cards either into the board or in front of the dummy’s hand to save stretching to the other end of the table. Opponents are not to play the cards for declarer.
All players must have a systems card on the table during the game, correctly filled out with all information on it.
If all players pass a hand in, it must be marked on the score sheet "passed in", with pair numbers recorded (or recorded as such on the Bridgemate). All players must shuffle their own hands before returning them to the board - this is done so the next players do not see a sorted hand which they may deduce was passed in. Do not call the Director and ask if it can be shuffled.
When you are sitting out, do not write “sit-out” on the score sheet. If you are the first pair sitting out, write your names and pair number on the score sheet and nothing else. (Where Bridgemates are used, this information should be input). When sitting out after the first round you should not touch the score sheets.
The opening lead is faced down. Before it is faced the leader’s partner and declarer may review the auction or request an explanation of an opponent’s calling.
After the lead is faced and the dummy hand is laid on the table the bidding pad is covered by the board and board is not to be lifted off until the end of the round.
Any player may look at their own quitted card, say for the purpose of preventing a revoke or establishing who has the lead.
A card is taken to have been played in any of the following cases:
1. Any card detached from a defender’s hand that could be seen by their partner. The fact that declarer has seen the card is not relevant and is not the deciding factor;
2. Any card played by the declarer which is face up, touching or nearly touching the table or maintained in such a position as to indicate it has been played;
3. Any card which declarer physically detaches from dummy or is played at declarer’s verbal request.
So long as their side has not led or played to the next trick, declarer or either defender may, until they have turned their own card face down on the table, require that all cards just played to the trick be faced upwards. You cannot turn your card down and then face it up and ask to look at the other players’ cards.
Before moving for the next round North/South should remove the last used bidding slip to a new one. Do not leave it on the bidding board for the next players to see.
When you are dummy keep your hands in your lap and do not touch cards until nominated by declarer. If you feel declarer has called for the wrong card e.g. Ace Spades when the 9 Spades will win the trick, do not hesitate, moan, point, sigh or do anything similar - do not hesitate to play the card nominated by your partner.
If it is an agreement between partners, dummy may tell partner what hand they are in e.g. "table partner", "your hand partner" to stop them playing from the wrong hand.
Be aware of hesitations. This can carry penalties.
Once a claim has been made, the claimer must, at the same time, explain their line of play. No one may ask for a hand be played out. If you have any reason to disagree with the claim, call the Director immediately.
A defender or declarer may call attention to an irregularity during the auction or during play. If a player has an option after an irregularity he/she must make his/her selection without consulting partner.
The right to penalise an irregularity may be forfeited if either member of the non offending side takes any action before summoning the Director.
Players are authorised to base their calls on information from legal calls and plays or from mannerisms of opponents.
A player may make any call or play (including an intentionally misleading call or a call or play that departs from commonly accepted or previously announced use of a convention) without prior announcement, provided such a call or play is not based on a partnership understanding.
Declarer should state suit and rank of the desired suit to be played from dummy:
· “High” means highest card;
· “Low” means lowest card;
· “Win the trick” means lowest winning card.
If declarer declares suit but not rank, it means play the lowest card of the suit indicated.
If declarer designates rank but not suit, it means continue playing same suit in which dummy won preceding trick.
“Play anything” means either defender may designate the play from dummy.
The Director must be called for all irregularities, no matter how minor, irresepective that you know what the Director will rule, even if you are unsure about what has occurred at the table.
The Director is the only person who has the right to make a decision after an irregularity has been made. Anyone who decides not to call the Director and makes their own decision and the Director learns of this, will have their score adjusted.
The Director has the power to enforce the rules of duplicate bridge and impose penalties for:
· Unduly slow play;
· Discussion of the bidding, play or result of a board that may be overheard at another table;
· Unauthorised comparison of scores with another player;
· Touching or handling cards belonging to another player;
· Placing one or more cards in an incorrect slot;
· Failure to count cards;
· Playing the wrong boards.
The Director has the power under certain circumstances to award an artificial score or an assigned score.
It is the Director’s duty to maintain order and discipline during games, and in performing this duty the Director is empowered to assess disciplinary penalties in points or suspend a player from a current game or part thereof. The Director may adjust the score if the Director decides a side has been damaged through its opponent's failure to explain the full meaning of a c