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Tips for TDs
  Insufficient Bid

Occasionally a player makes a bid that is not “higher” than the previous bid. E.g:

N          E          S          W

P          1♠        1          ?
In a social environment, it’s tempting for West to just tell South to take it back and correct it. South could miss the chance to get a “cheap” 1  bid by accepting the call. If the bid is changed to a pass without a ruling by the director, North could have an unfair advantage knowing what partner might have bid. Best call the director.

The technical term for South’s 1  is “insufficient bid”. As soon as this is noticed the director should be called. It’s best not to discuss the situation while waiting. In this case, if South didn’t notice East had opened, saying so would tell North that South has an opening hand. If South thought East had opened 1§, then saying so would tell North that the insufficient bid was a simple overcall, and could be much weaker. If, as is usually the case, South simply picked the wrong card out of the bidding box, the bid would be a simple overcall with better minimum values. Best if none of this is discussed.

Law 25 allows a player to correct an inadvertent bid. Sometimes the player reaches for the bidding box, half pulls out one bid, and then says “No, not that one”, drops it back and pulls out the one really wanted. This is OK providing it’s a mechanical error and there is not pause for thought. The law is quite generous. An inadvertent call can be corrected any time up to partner making a bid, or the auction finishing.

Otherwise, the director should apply Law 27 of the International Laws of Bridge 2007.

The first thing this law says is that South’s left hand opponent, West, may accept the call. If West has called, i.e. bid or passed or doubled, the insufficient bid is deemed accepted. If it’s accepted, then West may make any bid from 1  upwards. In other words, the auction “restarts” at 1 .

If West does not accept the insufficient bid, then South may make any legal bid, or may pass. South is not normally permitted to double or redouble. If South makes a legal bid, the director then has to be sure that the new, legal bid means the same thing to North as the insufficient bid did. If South changes the bid to Pass or 2  or anything else, the “leakage” of information is considered unacceptable, and, although the new call will stand, North may not do anything but pass for the rest of the auction. The director must be sure that this incident doesn’t result in North knowing more about his partner’s hand through the correction.

Again, in a club where the bridge is for pleasure, the director knows the players and knows that they play simple systems, this is really all that’s necessary. A director who is also playing wants to avoid delay if it’s reasonable to do so.

In a formal, high-level competition, the director may ask South to leave the table to ask him some questions out of earshot. He will want to know what the insufficient bidder thought the situation was when the bid was made, i.e. was it an opening bid or an overcall etc. The director also needs to know whether the insufficient bid and the new bid have pretty much the same meaning, or if they have different meanings. If the players are using a complicated system this can be difficult to judge. There’s more guidance in the “White Book”. The EBU Laws and Ethics committee had a bit of a workshop on it recently. Their notes are available on the EBU web site as part of the minutes of a Laws and Ethics Committee meeting.

Nicky Bainbridge

Insufficient Bid
  Web Mitchells
Web Mitchells

Web Mitchells are used when the no of tables in play goes above thirteen and the field wants to play the same boards in a simple movement rather than split into two sections playing Howell movements.

The advantage of Web Mitchells is that:

  • The players move in a simple “East / West up” movement.
  • There are plenty of sitting North / South pairs.

Web Mitchells need:

  • Two sets of boards for an even number of tables or
  • Three sets of boards for an odd number of tables

Where there is an even number of tables the TD can imagine the field split into two halves, for example, if there are eighteen tables, imagine them split into two halves of nine.

  1. Tables 1-9 will use one set of the boards. Table 1 starts with the first set of boards (typically 1 and 2 of 26 boards). Table 2 starts with the second set (3&4) and so on down to Table 9 (with 17&18). Table 9 also has a “feed in” stack of the rest of the boards in the first set (20-26). It must be made clear to Table 9 North that he/she does not accept any boards from the other set into the feed in pile. At the first move tables 1-9 will pass their board sets down one table in the usual way. Table 1’s opening set must find their way to the bottom of the feed in set at Table 9. The good news is that there’s no hurry. A non-playing TD can walk the boards when the room settles down.
  2. Tables 10-18 will use the other set of boards. For the first round Table 18 starts with 25&26. Table 17 starts with 1&2, Table 16 with 3&4 etc.  A feed in pile at table 18 contains the remaining boards (in reverse order). In this second half of the field. The boards move “down” one table in this half of the field. BUT they arrive at the table in reverse order. The boards on Table 10 do not go to table 9, but are moved to the bottom of the feed in pile at table 18. Again, there’s no rush.

Where there is an odd number of tables

  1. The first thirteen are given their own set of boards and they are circulated within that group of tables.
  2. The remainder of tables will be an even number and they play the board in two groups as described above. If there are only two, or even four, they may be able to share a single set of boards. If there are more of them, a third set is required.

Briefing the players

  1. Make sure tables at the meeting point of groups understand they have to stick to the colour of board they start with, or to put it another way, they don’t accept boards or pass boards across the “divide”.
  2. The North’s in the “reverse board order” groups may need to have that pointed out to them, although usually they just accept what the table card or the scorer says.
  3. It’s worth warning the whole field that there may be more than one result for each board right from the start because there is more than one set of boards in circulation.