Castle Morpeth Bridge Club
Registered Charity No. 1203651
Laws, Etiquette & Procedure





This list is prepared mainly for the benefit of new members, particularly those who are relatively unaccustomed to playing in a club affiliated to the English Bridge Union. Whilst most existing members will already be aware of the majority of these points, we hope that the list will provide a useful reminder. More experienced players are asked to be tolerant of those who are still learning their way around the intricacies of duplicate bridge and to provide gentle help and guidance where necessary.


General procedure and keeping to time


These points help to make sure that play continues at a reasonable speed and that there are no mechanical errors, e.g. cards getting mixed up between hands.


         Always count your cards before looking at them. If you donít have 13 cards, call the tournament director (TD).

         Leave the board in play on the table, pointing in the right direction, until the hand is finished. This makes it much more difficult to put the hands back in the wrong slots afterwards!

         When youíre on lead, make your lead before putting your bidding cards away or writing the contract on your score card. Similarly, when youíre dummy, put your hand down first, then put away the bidding cards and write down the contract.

         Try not to take too long over calls or when playing a card.  If you have not begun bidding the last board when the move is called, do not play it but call the TD. North should try to keep an eye on the time and warn the others if time is running out.

         It is discourteous and unfair to keep your opponents and those following waiting. Where possible, players should leave the table (e.g. to make coffee) only when dummy, rather than between rounds.

         Unless dummy has left the table, declarer should never touch dummyís cards, even to rearrange them. This avoids arguments about whether a card has been played or not.

         As declarer, if you can clearly see that all the remaining tricks are yours, claim them rather than play on. You must specify clearly your line of play, including a statement about drawing any remaining trumps.

         At the end of a board, make sure that all players are agreed on the result before putting the cards away. North should be careful to fill in the traveller fully and accurately, and East should check. It is best not to remove more than one traveller from the boards at any one time, and North should always make sure that all travellers have been returned to the correct boards at the end of the round.

         Donít spend time talking about a hand until you have finished all the boards in that round. And if you do want to discuss a hand at the table, do it very quietly (otherwise people who havenít yet played it might hear you).

         It is Northís responsibility to make sure that boards are passed on to the correct table (or relay as appropriate) at the end of each round.

         When playing a Howell movement, both pairs should check the Howell card at the beginning of each round to make sure that they are playing at the correct table, against the correct pair, and using the correct boards.


Bidding and play


These points help to make sure that everyone bids and plays as fairly as possible. Using bidding boxes at least stops us from using our tone of voice to indicate whether our partner should bid on or pass - but itís still all too easy to pick up inferences, known as Ďunauthorised informationí, either from an unguarded comment, from a facial expression, or even from the speed at which someone bids or plays. You are perfectly entitled to try to take advantage of this if your opponents do it, but NOT when itís your partner Ė and, of course, you should try to avoid doing anything yourself which might give away any information of this sort.


  • If you play anything more complicated than a fairly basic ACOL system, both players should have an identically completed convention card giving details of the basic system that they play, along with the meaning of all artificial calls, and their system of leads, signals, and discards. This should be left on the table throughout the bidding and play, so that your opponents can consult it at any time.
  • Donít touch the Ďbidí cards in the bidding box and then take out a card from the other section, or vice versa. In fact, try not to touch the box at all until you are sure of your bid.
  • Use the ĎSTOPí card when making a jump bid (including opening bids): take it out, leave it on the table for a few seconds, then put it away. The next player shouldnít bid whilst the ĎSTOPí card is still on the table. This automatically creates a short pause for thought, avoiding the inference that a player who passes quickly has nothing to think about.
  • At CMBC we follow the EBU rules on Announcing and Alerting Ė see separate sheet.
  • During the bidding, you can only ask an opponent for an explanation of a bid made by their side when itís your turn to call. And you must ask the partner of the player who made the bid, not the player who made it.
  • Donít ask questions about the bidding while it is continuing, unless you need to know the answer in order to decide what your next call should be (because if you then pass, your partner might draw an inference about your strength, or your interest in the suit bid). Otherwise, wait until the auction is finished.
  • The opening lead should always be made face down with the enquiry ĎAny questions, partner?í Once it has been made it canít be changed, but it shouldnít be turned over until partner has asked anything he/she wants to know. For this reason, all 4 players should leave the bidding cards on the table until any questions have been asked and the opening lead has been faced.
  • If there has been a misunderstanding during the bidding by declarer or dummy, this should be explained to the opponents before play starts. If the defenders think they have been damaged, they should call the TD. However, defenders mustnít say anything about misunderstandings in their own bidding until the play of the hand has finished, when they should call the TD.
  • If there is any hesitation in the bidding or the play, the partner of the player who hesitated must be very careful not to draw any inference from this and must bid/play as he/she would have done if there had been no hesitation. This is particularly the case if a player hesitates during the bidding and then passes.
  • Donít say anything about the hand while the auction is in progress, or during the play Ė unless asked for an explanation of a call, or lead/signalling/discard system, by an opponent.

Calling the director


Finally, do call the director at any time if thereís a problem during the bidding or the play Ė he or she is there to help, so donít try to sort things out yourselves. The director has been trained to help you when something goes wrong and will use the guidance set out by the English Bridge Union to make sure that any problems are dealt with fairly and consistently. Please call the TD immediately if you spot an error on a traveller.