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ARCHIVES: THE LAWS OF DUPLICATE BRIDGE Volume 1; Issues 1 - 12 and Volume 2; Issues 1 - 2
Laws of Duplicate Bridge At The Table - Volume 1; Issue 1

“What your hairdresser never told you about ACCEPTING an INSUFFICIENT BID!!”

‘Psst! Did you hear what Hortense did last Wednesday at the club?  She didn’t accept that insufficient 1H bid Gladys made on Board 4.  Poor thing.  She sure should have’

The Players:  S (Sam) = the “dealer”; and, in this case the opening bidder

                      W (Gladys) = overcaller; insufficient bidder, “offender” (don’t you love this ‘official’ title?)

                      N (Hortense) = “offender’s left-hand opponent” (LHO)

                      E (Verity) = “offender’s partner”

Hortense holds: S = x; H = AT742; D = K873; C = 632.  What can she reply to Sam’s opening with 7HCP?

The Bidding: Sam in S = 1NT

                     Gladys in W = 1H (Oops!)

“Director, please”, says Sam; “IH is insufficient.”

Director to Gladys (Note: the Laws ‘suggest’ this dialogue be exchanged away from the table in order to avoid “unauthorized information” being divulged to the other players) “Was your 1H bid inadvertent—a slip of the finger; a mechanical error—or purposeful—you meant that to be your call?”

“The latter, I’m afraid”, replies Gladys.

“Thank you”, says the Director as they rejoin the table.  “Hortense, do you accept or reject the 1H call?”

AHA, dear readers.  This is where the Laws of Bridge meet real life.  You be in Hortense’s position for a moment.  Would you “accept” or “reject” Gladys’ insufficient bid?  How the auction proceeds and the contract you and your partner, (Sam) who opened 1NT, garner hang in your decision.

First, the Laws say:

1) If Hortense (you) accepts—the auction continues with bidding remaining at the one level.  In this case 1S is the only possible bid she could make at the one level (not always the case).  Not an option here holding a singleton.

2) If Hortense rejects…

    a) Gladys can correct to 2H.  OK, should the Director determine both Gladys’ 1H (insufficient) and 2H (correction) are “natural calls” (that is, in no way artificial/conventional), the auction continues at the two level.

    b) Will not work here, but sometimes the offender can correct using a call that has the same or more precise meaning than the insufficient bid.  (Ex: Sam opens 1NT; Gladys passes; Hortense makes a 1D (insufficient) reply in her effort to transfer Sam to hearts.  She may without penalty correct to 2D which has the same meaning.  But whoops!! At the end of play, should the Director determine Gladys and Verity (EW) were “damaged” by Hortense’s call/correction, the Director may adjust the score on that board to that which EW might have achieved should there have been no insufficient call.

    c) However, if Gladys corrects to another denomination (say 2S) or passes, offender’s partner (Verity) MUST PASS for the remainder of the auction.  Poor Verity; guilty by association.  (Not in this situation, but lead penalties could apply at other times when a “call is withdrawn”—legalese for what Gladys did.)

    d) The Director will tell Gladys she may NOT correct with a double (or redouble when applicable) UNLESS it has the same or more precise meaning as the insufficient call.  If this is Gladys’ decision and the Director approves, dear Verity must pass and pass and pass for the remainder of the auction and—yep—lead restrictions may apply.

OK; back to ‘real life’ at the table.  You are Hortense (offender’s—Gladys’—LHO).  What would you do?  Accept 1H or reject and wait for Gladys’ correction?

Here’s one thought sequence:

1. If Sam and Hortense’s Convention Card says they play Transfers, Hortense, who holds 5 hearts, might use a diamond overcall to move Sam into hearts.

2.  If she tells Gladys to correct and Gladys does so by bidding 2H, Hortense must bid 3D to transfer Sam to hearts.

3.  If, however, she tells Gladys she will accept the 1H insufficient call, she can use a 2D overcall to move Sam to hearts.  Ah, perhaps what the hairdresser should tell Hortense to do; but, oh no, Hortense allowed Gladys to correct to 2H!!

4.  This is “off the charts”, but if Hortense tells Gladys she will accept 1H, might she and Sam be sophisticated enough in their partnership bidding that a pass by Hortense is seen by Sam as a transfer to hearts?  A reach, I know.

Your thoughts?

Sidebar:  from the bidding and also the reveal of Hortense’s hand can you determine how many hearts Verity holds?  Sam must have at least how many?  Gladys overcalled (although with an insufficient call), so she must have at least how many?  Card counting anyone?

Laws of Duplicate Bridge At The Table - Volume 1; Issue 2

“That’s it.  Period!!”

There are three different periods associated with a bridge hand.  They are: the auction period, the clarification period, and the play period.  Here’s an exercise.  Knowing more about these three periods might be important at your table.

1) North is the first to take his cards from the slot in the board matching his playing position.  Which period has begun? 

2) East has the opening lead defending against a 4S contract.  She places her lead face down on the table (which is the proper way to execute this lead) and says, “Questions?”  Which period has begun? 

3) South is the opening leader.  By placing her lead face-down on the table, asking “Questions?” and, there being none, “facing” her lead, she has begun which period? 


To 1: Law 17 A. = “The auction period on a deal begins for a side when either partner withdraws his cards from the board”.  By inference the auction period begins for the opponents whenever either player withdraws her cards.

To 2: Law 22 B. = “The auction period ends when, subsequent to the end of the auction…either defender faces an opening lead…The interval between the end of the auction and the end of the auction period is designated the clarification period”.  The “auction” ends 1) Law 22 A. 1. = “when all four players pass” (known as a ‘passed hand’ or 2) Law 22 A. 2. = “one or more players having bid, there are three consecutive passes in rotation subsequent to the last bid”.

To 3: Law 41 C. = “Following the clarification period, the opening lead is faced, the play period begins irrevocably, and dummy’s hand is spread…”

Well, so much for that. Does this really matter to what “legally” happens at your table?  Well, maybe. An “irregularity” is defined as ‘a deviation from correct procedure inclusive of, but not limited to, those which involve an infraction by a player’.  The Laws of Duplicate Bridge exist, in large part, as an effort by the governing body, the American Contract Bridge League, to provide “rectification of situations where non-offenders may otherwise be damaged”. That’s it.  Period!! Was someone damaged? By whom? How can equity be achieved?

The following don’t really fall under the heading of “They Damaged Me and My Partner”, but they do raise irregularity questions and irregularities may lead to ‘Director, please’ calls in certain playing environments.

a) You remove your cards from Board 3.  You correctly count them face down and discover you have only 12 cards.  Who besides you at your table can “legally” call the Director?  Law 9 A. 1. = “Unless prohibited by law, any player may draw attention to an irregularity during the auction period whether or not it is his turn to call.”

b) As Board 3 is being played, West--as defender--plays out of turn.  Who can legally call the Director?  Not the dummy. Law 9 A. 2. = “Unless prohibited by law, declarer or either defender may draw attention to an irregularity that occurs during the play period”.   This comes under the “dummy rights” in Law 42 B. Qualified Rights 3. = “Dummy may draw attention to any irregularity, but only after play of the hand is concluded”.  And under Law 43 Dummy’s Limitations A. 1. (a) says = “Unless attention has been drawn to an irregularity by another player, dummy should not initiate a call for the Director during play.”

c) Al--as dealer and sitting E--opens the bidding with 1S. Sarah in S overcalls 1NT, followed by Charlotte in the W calling 2C, then William in N calling 2D which prompts Sarah to say, “Transfer”.  At this point in the auction, who at the table can ask for a restatement of the auction?  Only Al.          Law 20 B. = “During the auction period, a player is entitled to have all previous calls restated when it is his turn to call…Alerts should be included when responding to the request”.   “All previous calls” and “Alerts should be included” mean Sarah’s ‘Transfer’ alert MUST be included in the restatement.

d) Who can legally respond to Al’s request for a restatement?  Only Sarah or William.  Law 20 D. = “A request to have calls restated shall be responded to only by an opponent”.

That’s it.  Period!!

The Laws of Duplicate Bridge at the Table - Volume 1; Issue 3

“Awgh!! I’m Such a Dummy”

A. Phil sitting N is dummy on Board 4.  Peter is his partner. During play, Al (sitting W) calls for the Director because he believes Peter revoked on a previous trick.  Yes or No?  Phil may give information about this presumed revoke to the Director?

B. Phil is following the play as it occurs.  Al has a habit of displaying his cards to the trick in such a way that Peter sees them, but Phil cannot.  Yes or No?  Phil can ask Al to also show him his cards?

C. Peter leads the Heart Ace from his hand. Phil, seeing T32 on the board, reaches for the 2 as Al plays the 5.  Proper or Improper?

Under Dummy’s Absolute Rights, the answers are:

A. Yes. Law 42 A. 1: “Dummy (Phil) is entitled to give information, in the Director’s presence, as to fact or law”

B. No. Law 42 A. 2. (as expanded in Duplicate Decisions): “The Director (not Phil) should require the player to fully face his cards as he plays them”.

C. Improper.  Law 42 A. 3: “Dummy (Phil) plays the cards of the dummy as declarer’s (Peter’s) agent as directed.”

                       Further Law 45 F: “After Dummy’s (Phil’s) hand is faced, dummy may not touch or indicate any card, except for the purpose of arrangement, without instruction from declarer (Peter).  If he does so, the Director should be summoned forthwith and informed of the action.  Play continues. At the end of the play, the Director shall award an adjusted score (to EW) if he considers dummy suggested a play to declarer and the defenders were damaged by the play suggested.”

Doing well so far, dummy?  Let’s continue…

D.  Phil notices E failed to play a diamond when Peter led that suit from the board, so he questions E, “No diamonds?”  Proper or Improper?

E.  The lead is on the board.  Phil notices Peter is about to play a card from his hand, and says, “Play is on the board”.  Proper or Improper?

F.  Yes or No?  Phil, as dummy, has the qualified right to draw attention to an irregularity anytime during play of the hand?

Under Dummy’s Qualified Rights, the answers are:

D. Improper.  Law 42 B. 1: “Dummy (Phil) may ask declarer (Peter) {but not a defender-EW} when he has failed to follow suit to a trick whether he has a card of the suit led”.

E.  Proper:  Law 42 B. 2: “Dummy may try to prevent any irregularity (such as leading from the wrong hand) by declarer”.

                   Further, under Dummy’s Limitations Law 43 A. 1. (c): “Dummy must not participate in the play, nor may he communicate anything about the play to declarer.” Translation: Phil MAY NOT say, “Play is on the board” as a communication UNLESS he sees Peter is about to/almost going to play from the wrong hand.  To do so is an irregularity: dummy is “participating in the play”.

                   And, Law 45 B. “Declarer plays a card from dummy by naming the card, AFTER WHICH dummy picks up the card and faces it on the table”.

                 And again, Law 45 D: “If dummy places in the played position a card that DECLARER DID NOT NAME, the card MUST BE WTIHDRAWN if attention is drawn to it before each side has played to the next trick, and a defender may withdraw and return to his hand a card played after the error but not before attention is drawn to it.  KEY POINT FOR DEFENDERS: if dummy plays a card declarer did not designate, call attention to it if so doing is to your advantage.  Declarer must withdraw it.  And you can withdraw your play if neither you nor your partner has played to the next trick.

F. No.  Law 42 B. 3: Dummy may draw attention to any irregularity, but ONLY AFTER PLAY OF THE HAND IS CONCULDED.

OK; let me move this Dummy can/Dummy can’t thing along faster with some quick bites:

1. Phil should not call the Director during play of the hand UNLESS another player draws attention to an irregularity.

2. Phil can become declarer and Peter can become dummy “AFTER a faced opening lead out of turn FOLLOWED BY declarer (Peter) spreading his hand”. Law 54 A.

3. Phil can touch the dummy’s cards at anytime so as to keep them in proper arrangement which Law 41 D. says “…is sorted in suits, the cards in order of rank with lowest ranking cards towards declarer, and in columns pointing lengthwise towards declarer.  Trumps are placed to the dummy’s right…”

Finally reader, who after all this information is NO dummy at all, get this one right and you go to the head of the class:

4. Phil and Peter took trick 3 with a Heart Ace from Peter’s hand.  Peter leads the Heart King from his hand to begin trick 4.  Phil then notices Peter has turned his card to the quitted trick three in the wrong direction.  Can he tell Peter to correct the error?

    Law 65 B. 3…”Dummy or either defender may draw attention to a card pointed incorrectly, but for these players the right expires when a lead is made to the following trick.

  Nope.  Sorry, Phil.  Dummy must stay silent here. 

The Laws of Duplicate Bridge at the Table - Volume 1; Issue 4

“The Preliminaries”

Laws 1 through 5 are written under the heading “Preliminaries”.  They do deal with some rather mundane items like a pack of cards, rank of suits and assignment of seats.  However, they reveal some rather interesting tidbits.  Let’s see if you find anything that interests you.

Law 1: The Pack—Rank of Cards and Suits

Yep, you’ve got this—1) 52 cards consisting of 13 cards in each of four suits; 2) suits rank downward from spades to clubs; and 3) cards rank downward from ace to 2.  But a humorous story follows about the rank of suits.

The manager of a club thought it would be fun for their Valentine’s Day session to exchange the rank a bit: hearts, appropriately for the Day, would rank superior to spades.  Thus 1 heart was “stronger” than 1 spade.  Can you guess how busy their Director was that session answering insufficient bid calls?  Can’t imagine why the club never repeated that idea on successive Valentines.

This Law doesn’t mention it, but later ones address it:  the face cards are “honors” or “majors”, and the 9 through 2 are “minors” or “spot” cards.  The 10 (often written as T) is considered an “honorette” {my word} and serves as a demarcation card in various instances—such as in a ‘restricted’ lead, a subject for future articles.

Law 2: The Duplicate Boards

Simple also: one board containing one pack representing one deal times a certain number of boards comprises a “session” or “section” of duplicate bridge.

In an Open section how many boards must be played for Masterpoints to be awarded?  18. How many boards do some clubs enjoy playing during a section?  24 or 27.  Yep.  You read that correctly.

The Boards are numbered with compass and vulnerability designations marked.  In every 16 boards each compass direction will be the dealer 4 times.  Vulerability within those 16 boards will be: neither side – 4 times; NS = 4 times; EW = 4 times; both sides = 4 times.

Law 3: Arrangement of Tables

Easy:  4 players per table that are numbered sequentially as determined by the Director who also designates which seat is north.

Law 4: Partnerships

Four players per table = two partnerships (NS versus EW).  Partnerships in pair or team events are retained throughout that session.  Depending on the type of movement employed (Howell, as an example) NS may become EW as one round ends and the pair changes tables; however, that partnership never changes its members (except in substitutions authorized by the Director).

That last phrase is important.  Mary begins play as Sarah’s partner, but after six rounds in a nine-round section, Mary feels ill and must leave.  Must Sarah cease playing?  Yes, if no partner is available as a substitute.  A non-playing director may become that substitute or, in the event another non-playing person is present—known as a “kibitzer” or “spectator” (often larger clubs have those who drop by to simply “visit” rather than play)—the Director can ask that person to become the substitute.  No substitute being quickly found, Mary and Sarah’s boards in rounds 7 – 9 are scored as Not Played.

Law 5: Assignment of Seats

Guess who determines initially who sits where at the start of a session?  Anyone answer the Director?  Correct.

Joe and Carrie buy their entry for the Monday afternoon session at their club, and the Director instructs them to sit at table 3 EW.  They have been assigned their initial compass directions plus starting table, but they have not been told who sits E and who sits W.  They determine that.

The movement that day is a 7-table Straight Mitchell of 7 three-board rounds. NS will remain stationary throughout; EW will move up one table and the boards will go down one table after each round. Joe begins the session sitting E at table 7.  For round 2 the movement table mat instructs Joe and Carrie to move to table 1 and sit EW.  Joe assumes W.  Proper or improper?

Improper.  Law 5 states, “Having once selected a compass direction, a player may change it within a session only upon instruction or with permission of the Director.”  “Upon instruction” includes, for example, when the table mat instructs a player to move from table 2, where he was sitting E during round 1, to table 4 and sit W for round 2.  Joe began as E; in a Straight Mitchell the table mat will not instruct him to change.  He remains E all session.

The Director holds responsibility for clearly announcing movement instructions.  Each player bears responsibility “for moving when and as directed and for occupying the correct seat after each change” (Law 5. B.).

Now, you know “The Preliminaries”—The Laws of Duplicate Bridge: Laws 1 through 5.

Laws of Duplicate Bridge At The Table - Volume 1; Issue 5

“What A Revoking Development This Is"—Part 1

Ah, the Revoke.  Every player has been there, either on the “I-did-it” side or the “it-was-done-to-me” side.  The Laws are very complete on this subject, even divided into those that address revoking on tricks 1 through 11 and those that address revoking on trick 12.  I'll divide this discussion into three parts/issues on what the Rules Commission of 2008 felt required simplification of previous, complex laws. You decide if success was achieved.

The first Law to visit is 44C Requirement to Follow Suit: “In playing to a trick, each player must follow suit if possible.  This obligation takes precedence over all other requirements of these Laws”.

Really!  That’s pretty serious.  The player’s obligation to play a heart, if holding one, when a heart is led supersedes any and all requirements in Laws 1 through 93 (the total in the Law Book).  No wonder so much emphasis is given to not following suit when one could—a revoke.

Next to Law 61: Failure to Follow Suit—Inquiries Concerning A Revoke:  Uh oh; the Revoke Police will show up at your table; I just know it.

The first four words of Law 61A are “Failure to follow suit…” The last three are “…constitutes a revoke.” In other words, a revoke is simply failure to observe Law 44C.  But how does one know a possible revoke by another player has occurred?

Law 61B says, “Inquire”.  So…

1) Sol, sitting N, is declarer and leads the heart 9 to trick 5.  E, his LHO, plays a diamond.  Can Sol ask Lefty if he has a heart?

2) Alex, Sol’s partner in S and dummy on this hand, observes that Sol played a low spade from his hand on trick 7 when Sol’s RHO led a diamond.  Can Alex ask Sol if he has a diamond?

3) Sol leads the club ace from his hand to trick 9 which E ruffs (trumps) with a spade.  Can Alex, Sol’s dummy-partner, ask E if he has a club?

4) On trick 11, Sol, having taken trick 10 from dummy, leads the heart King from the board.  W follows suit, Sol sloughs a club and E sloughs a diamond.  a) Can W ask Sol if he has a heart?  b) Can W ask his partner if he has a heart?

Law 61B gives these answers:  1) Yes; declarer may ask a defender (Sol may ask LHO or RHO);    2) Yes; dummy may ask declarer (Alex may ask Sol);  3) No; dummy may not ask a defender (dummy must not enter into play of the hand); 4a) Yes; defenders may ask declarer (E or W may ask Sol);   4b) Yes; defenders can ask one another (E may ask W and vice versa).

So, not only does it pay to “inquire” should you think a revoke might have occurred, the Laws are clear on who may do the inquiring and to whom.

Next issue:  “What a Revoking Development This is—Part 2: Stephanie’s Hidden Heart”

The Laws of Duplicate Bridge at the Table - Volume 1; Issue 6


“What A Revoking Development This Is—Part 2: Stephanie’s Hidden Heart”

1. Helen, declarer sitting N, leads a low heart on trick 4.  2. Stephanie in E plays the diamond 6. Stephanie has a heart in her hand; it is hidden behind another diamond.  Happens to all of us.  She has revoked, but has not yet noticed her error.  Play continues: 3. Helen calls for the heart king from dummy; 4. W follows with heart 3.  Stephanie rearranges her cards and notices the hidden heart and announces, “Oh dear; I do have a heart!”  This is a point of great interest when it comes to ‘what a revoking development this is’: at what point does a revoke become “established”? How do the Laws handle “non-established” and “established” revokes?

Law 63A1 says “when the offender (our poor Stephanie) or her partner leads or plays to the following trick {trick 5 in this situation} a revoke is established”.  Well, then; simple enough.  Neither Stephanie nor her partner has played to trick 5, so we look to the revoke not-established laws to see what Stephanie must now do.

Here we are:  Law 62B: Correcting a Revoke:  “To correct a revoke, the offender withdraws the card he {or she} played {Stephanie’s diamond 6} and substitutes a legal card {the hidden heart}.”  Alright then; Stephanie complies.

62B1 says, “A card so withdrawn becomes a major penalty card.”  And Law 50 relates to penalty cards, subjects for future issues.  For now, a summary of what Law 50 means for Stephanie’s revoke: 1) she must place the diamond 6 (card of the revoke) face up on the table immediately before her; 2) she must play the diamond 6 at her first opportunity to do so (following suit, sloughing, or on lead); and 3) should her partner gain the lead while the diamond 6 remains on the table (as a major penalty card), her partner may not lead until a) declarer either requires her partner to lead diamonds or prohibits her partner from leading diamonds for as long as her partner holds the lead.  Declarer’s choosing either of these options results in the diamond 6 no longer being deemed a major penalty card, and Stephanie puts it back into her hand.

OR b) declarer neither requires nor prohibits the lead of diamonds; therefore the diamond 6 remains on the table as a major penalty card subject to 3) above whenever her partner is on lead.  Stephanie must still play the hidden heart (the legal card) on this trick.

62C1 permits Helen to withdraw and replace in dummy the 3. heart king if she chooses.  If she does, W may withdraw her 4. heart 3 AND, you guessed it, it becomes a major penalty card.

So, what should Helen, the decision-maker do?  Can you unravel the two choices?  1) Should she decide NOT to withdraw 3. dummy’s heart king after Stephanie corrects her revoke by  2. playing the legal, heart card, play continues.  West is not permitted to withdraw her 4. heart 3 (because Helen did not withdraw dummy’s heart king) and Stephanie has the diamond 6 as a major penalty card which she is required to play at her first legal opportunity to do so.

OR 2) Helen withdraws 3. dummy’s heart king after Stephanie’s correction and selects 3. another of dummy’s hearts instead, after which W may also withdraw her 4. heart 3 if desired and substitute another heart.  Doing so will result in W having the heart 3 as a major penalty card.

Now the kicker: can you think of a situation in which Helen would definitely withdraw 3. dummy’s heart king?

That’s right: if the card Stephanie used to correct her revoke (the hidden heart) was the heart ace, Helen would most assuredly withdraw dummy’s heart king.  The revoke laws, you see, are like all the other laws—they are written to protect the rights of or rectification to the “non-offenders”…declarer, Helen, and her partner in this scenario.

Next issue: “What a Revoking Development This Is—Part 3: Stephanie’s Revoke Gets Established” PLUS “What Happens When a Revoke Occurs on Trick 12?”

The Laws of Duplicate Bridge at the Table - Volume 1; Issue 7


“What a Revoking Development This Is—Part 3: Stephanie’s Revoke Gets Established”


“What Happens After a Revoke on Trick 12?”

Remember Trick 4 from Issue 6:  Helen, declarer in N, led a low heart; Stephanie in E revoked by playing the diamond 6 when the heart she held was hidden behind a diamond; Helen called for the heart king from dummy and W followed with a low heart.  Here is where Stephanie noticed her revoke and called attention to it.  So far her revoke is NOT “established” and in Issue 6 pertaining Laws were elaborated upon.

Now, let’s change the scenario.  Trick 4 is ‘quitted’ (cards of four players turned face down) and Stephanie has not yet noticed her revoke.  The lead to trick 5 is in dummy, so Helen calls for the heart queen.  W (Stephanie’s partner) plays.  GONG!!  Established revoke time!

Law63A: Revoke Becomes Established:

1. when the offender (Stephanie) or her partner (W) leads or plays to the following trick

2. when the offender or her partner names or otherwise designates a card to be played to the following trick (as if declarer is now the offender by revoking on a trick won in dummy and then calling for a card from dummy to begin the following trick)

3) when a member of the offending side makes or agrees to a claim or concession of tricks.

W “established” Stephanie’s revoke under 1. above—W played to trick 5 (the following trick).

Now Law63B rules: “Once a revoke is established, it may no longer be corrected…”

Follows Law64A: “When a revoke is established:

1. and the trick (Trick 4 here) on which the revoke occurred was won by the offending player (Stephanie), at the end of play that trick is transferred to the non-offending side (Helen and S) TOGETHER WITH ONE of any subsequent tricks (Tricks 5 – 13) won by the offending side (Stephanie and W).  Total possible penalty = 2 tricks.

2. and the trick on which the revoke occurred was NOT won by the offending player, then, if the offending side won any subsequent trick, after play ends ONE trick is transferred to the non-offending side.  Total possible penalty = 1 trick.

OK: did Stephanie win trick 4?  No.  Remember, Helen won it with the heart King from dummy.  Then 2. above applies. Helen would receive no more than ONE subsequent trick won by Stephanie and W.

Is that it?  Nope.  Law64B1: if the offending side (Stephanie and W) did not win either the revoke trick or any subsequent trick, there is NO RECTIFICATION.  W..H..A..T!!!  Total possible penalty – 0 tricks??!!  That’s right.  Revoke, establish it, neither win the revoke trick nor any subsequent trick, and it stands to reason the offending side has nothing from the point of the revoke onward to transfer to the non-offending side.

Now, a special situation: Law62D1: Revoke on Trick 12

“Even if established, it must be corrected if discovered before all four hands have been returned to the board.”  Simple enough.

Finally, a good story/example to finish our three issues on Revokes that is not so simple: Law62D2. The text would confuse you, so hopefully a sample hand will help:

1. N holds club Q and spade 5 and, as declarer, leads the Q to trick 12 in a notrump contract.

2. E has the club 6, but revokes by playing heart K.  He declares the revoke, withdraws the heart K which becomes a major penalty card and substitutes the legal card—the club 6.

3. N calls for dummy to play the club 8, leaving the club 9 as the last card on the board.

4. W has the heart Ace and spade Ace.  WHICH DOES HE WANT TOSS?  

Of course, the heart Ace, because he knows via East’s revoke that partner has the heart K.  He also knows N will take trick 12 with the club Q from his hand and, should N lead a heart to trick 13, his partner will take it. Should the lead be a spade, he will take it.

The Director on this hand must require W to play the spade Ace on trick 12.  Should N only have a heart to lead to trick 13, so be it; W’s Ace wins it.  But only if that suit (THE SUIT OF THE REVOKE) is led.  E’s revoke must not allow his side the possibility of taking either a heart trick or a spade trick on trick 13.  N’s spade 5 will, very rightly, take that trick.  Law62D2 exists to address this situation.


So, may your revoking developments be few and, when they appear, may you be somewhat familiar with your options as you invoke, “Director, please!”

The Laws of Duplicate Bridge at the Table - Volume 1; Issue 8

“I Seem to be Out of Rotation, Don’t I?”—Part 1

You’re having one of those days.  You know, when your body is in one place and your mind is in another.  But it’s bridge day at the Club, so off you go for the 1:00 session.

It’s Round 1; you sit West at Table 1; your partner is Margaret.  The opposition in North is Sly and in South is Silly.  Board 3; EW Vulnerable.  Silly is dealer.

You remove your cards from the board; see garbage for points and extract the Pass card from your bidding box, laying it on the table.  Then, reality kicks in.  Silly, the dealer in South, has yet to bid. It is NOT your turn to bid.  You have bid out of rotation. “Diiiirrrectorrrrr, please.”

Your mindless state has allowed you to wander into the world of “Calls Out Of Rotation (a COOR)”.  It’s a confusing world that the Laws of Duplicate Bridge divide into ‘Pass Out of Rotation’ (a POOR) in Law 30; ‘Bid Out of Rotation’ (a BOOR) in Law 31; and ‘Double or Redouble Out of Rotation’ (a DROOR)’ in Law 32.

Law 30 (re: a POOR) seems to cover your opening “Pass” when it was Silly’s turn to call, doesn’t it?  Actually, Law 29B under Procedure After Calls Out of Rotation (re: a COOR) stands first in line: “…a call out of rotation (YOUR PASS) is canceled and the auction reverts to the player (SILLY) whose turn it was to call.” Seems innocent enough, huh?

Now, Law 30: “When a player (YOU) has passed out of rotation (a POOR), the call (YOUR PASS) is canceled…the following provisions apply…”

Law 30A. Before Any Player (SILLY, MARGARET or SLY) Has Bid: “the offender (THAT WOULD BE YOU IN OUR DRAMA) must pass when next it is his/her (YOUR) turn to call…”  OK, your POOR is canceled; you put the green PASS card back in your bidding box, take another gulp of coffee, and it’s SILLY’s turn (STILL) to bid.  He opens 1NT and YOU are “FORCED” to pass for only this first round of bidding (that’s what “when next” in this Law means).  Good thing; your garbage-hand is really stinking now.

Law30B. After Any Player Has Bid:

     1. “When a pass out of rotation (a POOR) is made at offender’s (YOUR) RHO’s (SILLY’s) turn to call after any player has bid, offender must pass when next it is his turn to call.”  So let’s change the scene a bit to create the situation where this provision applies:  a) your partner, MARGARET (in East) is now the dealer and opens 1S; b) before your RHO (SILLY in South) bids; c) YOU (in West) plop down the Pass card (thus another POOR).  As in A. above, your pass is canceled, the auction reverts to SILLY, and after he bids YOU are “FORCED” to pass for only this first round of bidding (“when next”).  Might MARGARET be annoyed that you were not able to respond to her spade opening?  Nah; she would have killed you had you bid with your lousy hand.

    2. “When, after any player (SILLY, MARGARET or SLY) has bid, the offender (YOU) passes out of rotation (a POOR) at his/her partner’s (MARGARET’S) turn to call,

         a. the offender (YOU) must pass WHENEVER it is his (YOUR) turn to call.  Uh oh!  You are “forced” to pass for the remainder of the auction.  So, again, let’s change the auction a tad.  SLY in North deals and opens 1D (thereby becoming the first player to bid); MARGARET, your partner in East, is next in rotation to bid. BEFORE she bids and AFTER SLY’s bid, YOU (oh mindless one) employ the pass card (a POOR). “Diiiirrrectttorrrr!”  Ruling: your pass is canceled, the auction reverts to MARGARET, and you are forced to pass for the remainder of the auction.  Wincing in pain, MARGARET bids 2NT!!  She has a very strong hand but knows you cannot offer any other response than Pass.  Suppose you and MARGARET play “systems on” after 1NT or 2NT openings and, though YOUR hand is garbage, you do hold AT9764 of spades.  You know MARGARET has at least two spades via her NT opening and with “systems on” in a normal auction you would transfer her to spades with a 3H bid.  So sorry; your POOR’s forced pass forbids that.  Better think of buying MARGARET dinner after the game.


       b. “offender’s (YOUR) partner (MARGARET) MAY make any sufficient bid or may pass, BUT he/she MAY NOT double or redouble AT THAT TURN.  In the scenario above, let’s assume SLY in North deals and opens 4S. Your partner, MARAGRET, holds AQT9 of spades with high honors in hearts and clubs.  She contemplates doubling 4S.  Before she bids, YOU pass creating a POOR.  Ruling: your pass is canceled, the auction reverts to MARGARET, YOU must pass for the remainder of the auction AND MARGARET may not double SLY’s 4S.  Better make that a good bottle of wine with your dinner.

   3.  This Law is so tricky and requires such unusual circumstances before application, that it will be mentioned but not commented on.  “After any player has bid, a pass out of rotation (POOR) at offender’s LHO’s turn to call {creating such a situation is the tricky/unusual circumstance} is treated as a change of call and Law 25 applies.”

C. When Pass is Artificial: “When a pass out of rotation (a POOR) is artificial or is a pass of an artificial call (a POORAC???), Law 31 Bid Out of Rotation (a BOOR), not Law 30 Pass Out of Rotation (a POOR), applies.

Well, this seems like the perfect place to stop.  We’ll see how to BOOR in the next issue.  ‘Til then, may you never create a POOR and may all your bidding be RICH (Rotating in the Correct Hand).

The Laws of Duplicate Bridge at the Table - Volume 1; Issue 9

“I Seem to be Out of Rotation, Don’t I?”—Part 2

Sarah, your partner in West, deals and bids 1S.  It’s Paul’s turn in North (your RHO) to bid.  Before he can submit his bid you extract and lay on the table the 2S card.  You have created a Bid Out of Rotation (a BOOR).

Law 31: When a player has bid out of rotation….the call is cancelled….the following provisions apply:

A. At RHO’s (Paul’s) turn to call:

    1. if RHO passes, the offender must repeat the bid out of rotation; no further rectification applies.

OK, 1) Sarah bids 1S; 2) you create a BOOR by bidding 2S before Paul can bid.  3) Your 2S bid is cancelled and 4) the bidding reverts to Paul.  Thusly, 5a) if Paul passes, then 5b) you must repeat your 2S bid and 5c) the auction continues.

    2. if RHO bids or doubles or redoubles, the offender may make any legal call.  When this call

        a. repeats the denomination of the BOOR, the offender’s partner must pass WHEN NEXT (meaning only during this round of bidding) his/her turn to call.

Let’s see, 1) Sarah bids 1S; 2) you BOOR with a 2S bid; 3) your bid is cancelled; 4) the auction reverts to Paul who 5a) bids 2H. If 5b) you bid 2S or any other level of Spades (repeating the denomination named in your BOOR), 5c) Margaret must pass at her next turn to call and 5d) the auction continues.

       b. does not repeat the denomination of the BOOR….1) lead restrictions (of Law 26) may apply AND 2) offender’s partner must pass WHENEVER it is his/her turn to call.

This is getting nasty.  1) Sarah bids 1S; 2) you BOOR with a 2S bid; 3) your bid is cancelled; 4) the auction reverts to Paul who 5a) bids 2H.  If 5b) you do not bid some level of Spades, say you           bid 3 Diamonds, and 5c) your partnership becomes the defenders, then 5d) declarer may exercise lead restrictions (requiring or prohibiting your partner from leading Spades—the suit of your BOOR that you chose not to repeat at this turn to bid and assuming you never bid Spades in this auction) AND 5e) Sarah must remain silent for the remainder of the auction.  Ooooo, Sarah may not be a happy “non-bidder”!!

One more BOORish scenario:

1) On the next Board, Paul in North is the dealer. He opens 1NT.

2) It’s Sarah’s, your partner in East, turn to bid.

3) You BOOR with a 3S overcall; Sarah looks a bit bewildered at your bid out of rotation.  WHY? 

Here’s why:

Law31B.  When offender (you) has bid at his partner’s (Sarah’s) turn to call, if the offender has not previously called (you haven’t), offender’s partner (Sarah) must pass WHENEVER it is his/her turn to call AND lead restrictions may apply (should you and Sarah become defenders).

Note:  Basically (not completely) this Law applies when the offender BOORs at his/her LHO to call.

Next issue: Part 3 - What in the name of Duplicate Bridge is a DROOR and how is it adjudicated?


“I Seem to be Out of Rotation, Don’t I?”—Part 3

What on earth is a DROOR (a Double or Redouble Out Of Rotation) and how is it adjudicated?  I know you pondered this over your morning coffee!!  NOT!!!  So, we finish our three-part series on Calls Out Of Rotation with a brief DROOR discussion (or should that be a “DRIER” discussion?).  Well, first the “dry” part—the Laws—then some examples to spice things up a bit.

Law 32: A double or redouble out of rotation may be accepted at the option of the opponent next in rotation. Example: N doubles out of rotation an opponent’s 3H bid; E accepts; auction continues with E bidding any legal bid that supersedes 3H.

Law 32 (cont.)…If a call out of rotation is not accepted, it is canceled and lead restrictions may apply. The restrictions are in Law 26B: “Declarer may prohibit offender’s partner from leading any one suit at his first turn to lead, including the opening lead, such prohibition to continue for as long as offender’s partner retains the lead.” 

Example: N doubles out of rotation an opponent’s 3H bid; E rejects; the DOOR is canceled, auction reverts back to N bidding any legal bid that supersedes 3H.  Should NS become defenders and E becomes declarer, E may prohibit S (offender’s partner) from leading Hearts (or any other suit) whenever S first obtains the lead and for as long as she retains the lead.

Law 32A:”made when it was offender’s partner’s turn to call, the offender’s partner must pass whenever it is his turn to call.”  Example: N=3H; it’s E’s turn to call, but W--holding Heart AQJT8--excitedly Doubles Out Of Rotation (a DOOR at his partner’s turn to call).  Rectification: E is barred from bidding for the remainder of the auction.

Law 32B: “made when it was the offender’s RHO turn to call, then:

1. If RHO passes, offender must repeat his out-of-rotation double or redouble and there is no rectification…Example: N=2NT; E=P; it’s S’s turn to bid (W’s RHO), but W jumps ahead of S’s bid and doubles.  S passes; W must repeat his double with no further rectification.

2. If RHO bids…the offender may in turn make any legal call, but offender’s partner must pass whenever it is his turn to call.” Example: same bidding sequence as above, except S bids 3NT; W may bid any legal bid, but E is silenced for the remainder of the auction.

COOR (Call Out Of Rotation), POOR (Pass Out Of Rotation), BOOR (Bid Out Of Rotation),      DROOR (Double or Redouble Out Of Rotation)—WHEW!!  What an alphabet soup!!  All can be simply avoided by staying IN (operative word) rotation.


What is your first reaction when you read this bidding sequence?  South opens 1C; West overcalls 2H; North responds 1S!!

Rightly, it should be “Director, please!”  North has made an insufficient bid.  No one at the table should move any bidding cards. East should not bid. Everyone wants to properly correct this irregularity; each partnership seeks to protect its rights…the very reason the ninety-two Laws of Duplicate Bridge exist.

Director asks the person who summoned her to explain the situation.  Then, turning to North with an air of easing any embarrassment, Director says, “I bet you just didn’t see that 2H bid by West, did you?  Was your 1S overcall simply a slip of the fingers—an accident—and you meant to pull out 2S or was it intended as your definite bid?”  “Intended”, comes the reply.

“OK then”, continues Director. “East, you are next in rotation to bid.  You can either accept or reject North’s 1S bid.  If you accept and if you were to bid, you will be able to do so at the one level in NT, a lower level than if you ask North to make the bid sufficient—which would be at least at the two level.  Do you accept the 1S bid or do you want it made sufficient?”  “I want it made sufficient”, replies East.

Director to North (the offender); “Should you make your bid sufficient by substituting a bid in spades, the suit of your overcall, bidding will continue with no further rectification. If, however, you make it sufficient with a Pass, a Double or any legal bid of a suit other than spades or any manner of NT, your partner-- should your partnership become the defenders and should he gain the lead—will have lead restrictions.  How do you wish to make your bid sufficient?”

North makes an interesting decision: by withdrawing the insufficient 1S bid and substituting a sufficient 3C bid, the suit partner bid—but not spades.  East bids 3NT followed by three passes.  North/South are defenders.  East is Declarer.  South, North’s (the offender’s) partner, has the opening lead.

Director to Declarer (East), “South is under lead restrictions on his first turn to lead, which is the opening lead, and the restriction continues for as long as he retains that lead.  You may either require the lead of a spade, the withdrawn suit, or you may prohibit the lead of a spade.”

By choosing a different suit through which to correct the insufficient bid, the defense gave control of at least the opening lead to the Declarer.

East is trying to make a 3NT contract and knows North has power in spades.  East does not want South to lead to that power and therefore prohibits the lead of a spade.  South may lead a club, the suit he bid and the suit North corrected to.  If North wins that trick she may lead a spade.  However, if South wins the trick, Declarer can once again prohibit South from leading of a spade.  All is not lost for the defenders in their attempt to defeat the contract, but there is that momentary hiccup for them on the opening lead and maybe beyond.  For a moment though, Declarer has control over the defense.




Any director of a duplicate bridge session, whether at a local club or at a national tournament, will say, “When in doubt, call me; I am your friend”.  Correct, if only partly so,  What makes a director a player’s friend is that which imparts powers to the director—some implicit and others implied.  And those are The Laws of Duplicate Bridge.  There are currently ninety-two of them.  There are three promulgating bodies who oversee these Laws; The Laws Commission of the ACBL, the Drafting Committee and The Laws Committee of the World Bridge Federation.

Currently ACBL-sanctioned events are governed by the Laws as revised in 2007, which became effective September 8, 2008.  Come this September the ninety-three Laws of Duplicate Bridge 2017 will govern play.  These have been adopted and published by the World Bridge Federation after a five-year-long review by the Laws Committee of the existing Laws coupled with thorough examination/discussion of many, many submissions of possible alterations.

In general, the attitude of the code has been trending toward being kinder and gentler, with an overarching desire toward rectification rather than punishment.  Can a director find in the Laws a way to create equity when an irregularity occurs rather than be bound by them to enforce some level of penalty?  If so, the director’s persona as “friend” rather than “prosecutor” is further enhanced.

Here’s the official language on this point: “The Laws are designed to define correct procedure and to provide adequate remedy for when something goes wrong.  They are designed not to punish irregularities but rather to rectify situations where non-offenders may otherwise be damaged”.

For those interested, information on the 2017 Laws can be found at  Suggestion: either using their Word Files or their PDF Files open (and then print if you like) “2017 Laws of Duplicate Bridge—with highlights”.  The differences between the 2007 and the 2017 codes are highlighted in yellow.  Additional changes since the beginning of January 2017 are highlighted in green. 

Further, the Bridge Bulletin will publish articles each month highlighting the significant code changes.  The July issue on page 36 reviews changes to Law 6 “The Shuffle and Deal”, Law 7 “Control of Board and Cards”, Law 9A “Drawing Attention to an Irregularity” and Law 12C “Awarding an Adjusted Score”.

Too much information? Fully understand.  Simply remember, the Laws position the director to be your friend.  “Director, please” summons the protector of your rights.  Don’t forfeit them.


As the Lead Turns

The contract is 4S in the N.  E has the opening lead and is pondering her options.  W, not in the moment, faces his “illegal” opening lead.  S, the presumed dummy, does not expose any cards.  WHOOPS!!  An opening-lead-out-of-turn irregularity has occurred and W is the offender.                Director, please!!

Director to Declarer (N) reciting Law 54: “You have three options—two accept West’s lead and one rejects it.

Accepts are:

1. You accept; you become dummy; partner (S) becomes declarer; play continues.

2. You accept; you remain declarer; you may see dummy before you play; you play to that illegal lead from your hand; play continues.


You reject; W’s lead out of turn is retracted and becomes a Major penalty card; a legal opening lead is then made by E; dummy is exposed; play continues.

a. Law 50D applies to W’s Major penalty card:

    1) W must play this card at her first legal opportunity to do so (following suit, trumping, sloughing, ruffing or leading)

    2) Should E gain the lead and for as long as he retains the lead AND W still has that Major penalty card,

        a) E may not lead until declarer (N) announces

             …’I require you (E) just once to lead the suit of the penalty card’.  If so announced W puts the card back in her hand.             OR

             …’I prohibit you just once from leading the suit of the penalty card.’  If so announced W puts the card back in her hand.       OR

             …’I neither require you to nor prohibit you from leading any suit.’  If so announced W still has the Major penalty card.  So long as it remains, whenever E has the lead declarer again announces a lead requirement, a lead prohibition or neither.”  Thus speaks the Director.

A diagram may help:

Contract: 4S N

Vul: NS                                                       N (Declarer)

                                                     1. Can accept W’s lead out of turn and become dummy

                                                     3. Can accept W’s lead out of turn, can see the dummy, can

                                                        remain declarer and play second card to trick one from his hand.

                                                     4. Can reject W’s lead out of turn.

   W (offender)                                                                                          E (Legal opening leader)

   Faces a lead out of turn                                                                         6. Should Declarer choose 4,

   5. Should Declarer choose 4, illegal lead                                               is put under lead restrictions.

           becomes a Major penalty card.

                                                               S (Presumed Dummy)

                                                                  2. Should Declarer choose 1,

                                                                       becomes Declarer.


The Laws of Duplicate Bridge at the Table; Volume 1; Issue 12

“Rectifying an Uncorrectable Revoke”

It’s a simple 4H in the N contract.  West is leading to Trick 5, after N won tricks 1 and 2, but lost tricks 3 and 4 to W.

Trick 5 play goes:

1) W = leads the Ace of spades;

2) N (Declarer) = ruffs with 7 of hearts;           

3) E = over-ruffs with 9 of hearts (winning the trick);

4) S (Dummy) = 2 of spades called for by Declarer.

Is there a problem, you ask?  Here it is: E holds a spade. A revoke occurred with the Heart ruff.  At this point, it could be “corrected”.  BUT – East leads a small club to Trick 6.  This “establishes” the revoke; it is now an “uncorrectable revoke”.

Trick 6 play goes:

1) E = leads C4;

2) S = N calls for C8;

3) W = wins trick with C Ace;

4) N = C6.

Tricks 7 – 13 are won by N, but they are down 1 by losing tricks 1, 2, 5 and 6.  Or are they? 

It goes like this says Law 64: Procedure after Establishment of a Revoke

         1.  E’s Trick 5 revoke, that won that trick, was discovered on Trick 13 when a small spade was played to N’s S Queen lead.

2.  E’s lead to Trick 6 rendered the revoke “established”—no longer correctible.

3.  Law 64 A 1: “and the trick on which the revoke occurred (Trick 5) was won by the offending player (yes, won by E, the offender), at the end of play the trick on which the revoke occurred     (Trick 5) is transferred to the non-offending side (N/S) together with one of any subsequent tricks (Trick 6) won by the offending side (either by E, the offender, or by W, offender’s partner).”

Soooo, Tricks 5 and 6 are transferred to N/S and instead of their being off 1, they are 4H+1, losing only Tricks 3 and 4.