COMMUNICATION, CONDUCT and ETIQUETTE at Duplicate Bridge
Bridge players should enjoy an informal and relaxed atmosphere in which the game of bridge is played, but
they must also ensure this atmosphere does not become too relaxed nor lose sight of the proper conduct
and etiquette required at the bridge table as per the Laws of Duplicate Bridge.
Duplicate bridge tournaments should be played in strict accordance with the Laws. A player must not
infringe a law intentionally, even if willing to accept the prescribed rectification, nor attempt to conceal an
infraction, e.g. by mixing their cards prematurely.
The Director should be summoned to the table when attention is drawn to an irregularity. No player should
take any action until the Director has explained all matters in regard to rectification of the irregularity.
A player should maintain a courteous attitude at all times and should carefully avoid any remark or action
that might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player or might interfere with the enjoyment of
The gravest possible offence is for a partnership to exchange information through prearranged
methods of communication other than those sanctioned by the Laws of Duplicate Bridge.
1. Arrival at the Table
Players should announce their basic system, unusual opening bids and any non-standard carding methods,
to their opponents before the bidding begins on that round.
A player should wait until the opponents are present at the table before taking their cards from the board.
After taking their cards from the pocket of the board corresponding to their compass position, every player
should first count their cards face down to be sure they have exactly thirteen cards. Players should then sort their hands into suit order and keep their hands fanned at all times.
2. Bidding Etiquette
Non-forcing opening bids of one of a minor with fewer than 4 cards, opening bids of 1NT, and transfer bids
in a red suit over 1NT and 2NT bids that show hearts and spades respectively, should be announced by their
partner in the appropriate manner (i.e. two or three cards, 12 to 14 or 15 to 17, ‘hearts’ or ‘spades’).
Opening bids of 2C and 2D that always show strong game going hands, opening bids of 2NT that show
balanced hands in a specific range and response bids of 2C and 3C that are Stayman enquiries for four card
majors to 1NT and 2NT bids respectively should not be alerted.
Communication between partners during the auction and play shall be effected only by means of calls/plays, which should be made without undue emphasis, mannerism or inflection, and without undue hesitation or haste, although in certain circumstances a pause may be mandatory, e.g. after a skip-bid (see below).
Before reaching for and detaching a bidding card in their bidding box, a player should have made up their mind of their intended call.
Before a player makes a skip bid, especially on the first round of bidding and in a competitive auction, the Stop card should be placed on the tab;e and stay there for about ten seconds after the bid is made. The next player may not call until it is removed and should wait about ten seconds before calling.
All conventional bids made by a player should be ‘alerted’ by their partner, by placing the ‘Alert’ card on or
near the conventional bid and in full view for their opponents. Calls above 3NT should only be alerted on
the first round of bidding, i.e. the opening bid and the next three calls.
A player should not voluntarily give an explanation (or correction of an explanation) of a conventional call
but only when requested by an opponent at their turn to call.
Before the opening lead is made, the declaring side only must correct any erroneous information given or omitted to their opponents.
Players may only enquire about their opponents’ bidding and play when the opening lead is made ‘face
down’ and when it is their turn to make a call or play. The proper way to ask about a bid or play is to say
‘please explain’ to the partner of the bidder.
A player should not ask for the explanation of a bid that has not been alerted.
Also, if not intending to make a call, a player should wait until the opening lead is made to ask for any explanation. A player must give a full explanation of their agreed system and methods based on their knowledge and bridge experience.
A player is entitled to think, but an unmistakable hesitation followed by a call, including Pass, may be
deemed unauthorized information and their partner must carefully avoid taking any advantage from the
unauthorized information. In such a situation, if the player makes a bid after a hesitation, this may give
their partner more options.
If holding a weak hand, unless a ‘STOP’ card has been placed on the table by an opponent, it is most
unethical for a player to pause and then ‘Pass’, in order to prevent further bidding from their partner.
A player must not show an obvious lack of further interest in the auction and/or play - as by folding one’s cards.
3. Player Etiquette
Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining proper
conditions of play, including the boards, at the table.
When a board is in play, it is placed near the centre of the table in the correct compass position, where it
shall remain until play is completed.
The bidding cards should remain on the table until the opening lead is made and all questions regarding the
bidding have been explained.
All conventional calls not alerted by the declaring side, including those above 3NT, must be alerted before the opening lead is made ‘face up’. Declarer may ask the defending side for an explanation of any of their calls even if not ‘alerted’ during the bidding.
A player may only ask for a full review of the bidding from their opponents before playing to the first trick.
After the first trick, a player may only enquire as to the final contract and whether if doubled or redoubled
but not by whom.
It is traditional and polite, for declarer to thank partner after dummy has spread their cards on the table.
Declarer may rearrange one or more of dummy’s cards by saying ‘just arranging’. Otherwise a card in
dummy that is named by declarer or intentionally touched by declarer is deemed to have been played.
No player shall touch any cards other than his own (but declarer may play dummy’s cards in accordance
with the Law) during or after play, except by permission of an opponent or the Director.
It is desirable (though not always required) for players to maintain a steady tempo and unvarying manner.
As a matter of courtesy a player should refrain from paying insufficient attention to the game, detaching a
card before it is his turn to play or by prolonging play unnecessarily - as in playing on, although he knows
that all the tricks are surely his.
A player should not look intently at any other player during the auction and play, or at another player’s
hand as for the purpose of seeing his cards or of observing the place from which he draws a card (but it is
appropriate to act on information acquired by unintentionally seeing an opponent’s card).
A player may not attempt to mislead an opponent by means of remark or gesture, by the haste or hesitancy of a call or play e.g. as in hesitating before playing a singleton in a suit, the manner in which a call or play is made or by any purposeful deviation from correct procedure.
A player may appropriately attempt to deceive an opponent through a call or play, so long as the deception
is not protected by concealed partnership understanding or experience.
If a player has failed to follow suit to a trick, a defender may ask declarer and one another (at the risk of
creating unauthorised information), declarer may ask a defender but dummy may only ask declarer ‘e.g. no
spades, partner?’ The player who did not follow suit must not announce their failure in doing so.
Slow play puts pressure on everybody. Bridge is a timed event. Try not to take more time than the players
around you for each round. The CBAI allocates the times allowed to play and score all the boards in a round (includes time to move for the next round). The times allowed will vary depending on the number of boards in a round. If you are following a constantly slow pair, you should report the slow play to the director. If you are
delayed in moving to a table for the start of a round due to play from a previous round being in progress,
inform the Director accordingly, who will investigate the matter and take any appropriate action. If you fall
behind, always accept the Director’s decision to average a board or to play it at the end of the competition.
If the play of a board(s) at a table has exceeded the time allowed, the Director’s decision, e.g., to curtail
play on a board (an average score may be awarded), to request a speedy conclusion of play on a board or
to instruct that a board be played at the end of a session, must be accepted by all the players at the table.
A player may submit any relevant mitigating circumstances to the Director.
4. Conclusion of Play
After play is finished, and the score for the board is agreed, each player should shuffle their original
thirteen cards before returning them to the pocket of their compass position. Thereafter no hand shall be
removed from the board unless a member of each side, or the Director, is present.
After finishing play on a board, discussions (Post Mortem) by players should be in a low voice and kept to a
minimum (i.e. to only enquire of partner’s or opponents’ strength and distribution) as other players may
still be in play and need to concentrate.
Partnerships should avoid detailed discussion of a board until the session is ended, as their discussion may
be overheard at a nearby table.
A player should avoid any comment on the opponents’ bidding or play, unless required to give information
to the Director following any infraction that may have occurred.
Players should not leave the table needlessly before the next round is called by the Director.
Always thank your partner for the game on conclusion of the event.