| Is it a Major or a Minor Penalty Card - What is the Difference
This exchange took place in a recent game.
Defender to declarer's left was on lead and tabled a small club when the eight of diamonds dropped from hand landing face up on the table. all players at the table agreed that the diamond eight was a penalty card. Director was NOT called.
Subsequently, declarer called for a diamond honor from the dummy, RHO played low, declarer played low, and offender played a higher diamond honor,not the exposed penalty card, winning the trick.
Declarer felt the LHO was required to play the penalty card. Director was called at this point. Director deemed the exposed diamond eight was a minor penalty card, not a major penalty card.
A Major Penalty Card is any card exposed through deliberate play, i.e.leading out of turn, correcting a revoke. Two or more exposed cards are all deemed to be MAJOR penalty cards. A major penalty card must be played at the first legal opportunity, i.e. leading, following suit, ruffing or discarding.
- If an offender with a major penalty card is on lead, the penalty card must be led.
- If offender's partner is on lead, declarer has the option to require or forbid leading of the indicated suit.
- If either of these options is chosen by the declarer, the penalty card/s is returned to hand.
- If neither of the options is chosen by the declarer, offender's partner may lead any suit, including the penalty suit, but the penalty card remains on the table.
A Minor Penalty Card is any single card below the rank of an honor (9 or lower) exposed unintentionally. A defender on lead with a minor penalty card in NOT required to play the penalty card or even the suit of the penalty card.
If the offender chooses to lead the suit of the penalty card, they have the option to
- Play an honor card (10 or higher) from hand instead of the exposed penalty card.
- Otherwise, offender MUST play the exposed penalty card before playing any card of that suit below the rank of an honor.
If the suit of the penalty card is lead by another player, the defender with the minor penalty card must follow suit but may choose to:
- Play an honor card (10 or higher) from hand instead of the exposed penalty card (penalty card remains on the table)
- Otherwise offender MUST play the exposed penalty card before playing any card from had below the rank of honor.
The offender's partner when on lead and a minor penalty card is on the table, is not under any lead restrictions.
After hearing the director's explanation, declarer stated "Had I known about the minor penalty card I never would have lead a diamond. This could have cost declarer a trick.
The message here is, protect your partnership. Immediately call the director when ANY irregularity occurs. An explanation by the director on the disposition of the minor penalty card could have avoided this problem.
Many players like to claim once they feel they have all the rest of the tricks. Claims can be made by declarer, or either defender.
Dummy may not make any statement.
Line of Play: When a claim is made, the person making the claim must state the line of play. Simply laying down your hand and saying “I have all the rest of the tricks” is not sufficient. If there is a trump out, be clear that you plan to draw trump etc.
Once a claim is made, the hand is over. It cannot be played out. If the declarer claims, and does not state a line of play, or states a line of play where either defender thinks they can get a trick, the claim may be contested by:
Calling the Director immediately.
Most contested claims occur when the declarer fails to state that he/she will draw trump and there is a trump outstanding.
The director will first ask if the declarer stated a line of play, and if so, what that line of play is. If the declarer did not state a line of play, they cannot now make one up. The director will than ask to have all remaining cards laid out. The director then hears the opponents’ objections.
Let the Director have time to study the hand and make an evaluation.
The director may question the declarer or either defender.
Only the person addressed should answer the Director!
The director will determine if it is possible for a defender to take a trick (or more) based on the line of play stated by the declarer.
If the declarer did not state a line of play, and if there is a possible way for defenders to take one or more tricks in a normal line of play, the director will award those tricks to the defenders.
Do not claim without stating a line of play
Concessions: A concession of tricks shall stand, unless a player has conceded a trick that cannot be lost by any normal line of play.
Acquiescence in Claim or Concession: Acquiescence occurs when a contestant(s) assents to an opponent’s claim or concession, and makes no objection to it before his side makes a call on a subsequent board.
A contestant may withdraw their acquiescence to a claim or concession within the correction period established by law 79. Usually, this is 30 minutes after the scores have been made available for inspection.
George Van Amburg
| Alerts, Announcements,Disclosures and Explanations
Bridge is not a game of secret messages. Your opponents are entitled to know the meaning of all calls made by you and your partner. You have a responsibility to disclose any special agreements and to provide FULL explanations when inquiries are made by your opponents. Failure to alert or provide a proper and complete explanation may result in action by the Director to restore equity if damage to the non-offending side has occurred.
Announcements are required in four instances:
1. State the range after all opening 1 NT bids – Say “15 to 17”
2. After a transfer bid – Say “transfer”
3. After a forcing 1 NT bid – Say “forcing”
4. After an opening 1 club or diamond that may be less than 3 – Say “may be short”
Alerts are generally required when a bid has a meaning outside its normally expected meaning. For example, you bid 1 heart and partner responds 3 hearts showing 0 – 6 high card points and 4 card support (Bergen). When partner bids 3 hearts, you must say “alert” to inform your opponents that this bid means something other than the normally expected limit raise hand.
Following are some guidelines to follow in implementing the concepts described above.
- Review your convention card. Items marked in blue require an announcement. Items marked in red require an alert. In each case, the partner of the person making the bid makes the announcement or states “alert” and removes the alert card from the bidding box.
- Opponents do not need to ask the “right” question in response to an alert or announcement. In response to ANY request for information, you are required to provide a complete explanation. Stating the name of a convention is NOT sufficient. For example, describing partner’s opening bid of 2 spades as a weak 2 bid is insufficient. It should be explained as showing a 6 card suit and 5 – 11 high card points. Opponents are also entitled to ask additional questions regarding your explanation.
- During the auction, your opponents have the right to ask for an explanation of your prior bids. They are entitled to ask about any call actually made, any relevant alternative calls that were not made and inferences from the choice of action that are partnership understandings. The partner of the person making the call in question is obligated to provide a complete explanation
- Regarding the above two bullets, you may ask these questions ONLY when it is your turn to bid.
- After the final pass and throughout play, either defender may request an explanation of the opposing auction. At his turn to play from his hand or dummy, declarer may request an explanation of a defender’s call or card-play understandings.
- If partner fails to alert or announce during the auction or provides a mistaken explanation, you may not make ANY indication during the auction. In other words, maintain a poker face and say nothing.
- When the auction is over and before the opening lead, the declaring side must reveal to the defenders any errors of explanation or failures to alert or announce.
- Defenders must reveal any errors of explanation or failures to alert or announce, but NOT until the board has been played.
- Once an irregularity has been identified, the Director should be called..
| Bidding Box Issues
Bidding Box Issues
It is important that we all give consideration to our bid, and determine what our bid will be before we touch the bidding box to make our bid. Playing around with the cards can give unauthorized information to our partner. Our opponents are entitled to ask for protection when it appears that bidder has removed a bid card or a pass card, and then replaced it with another bid, or in some other way passed around information. In some instances an adjustment may be made to the score.
A call (bid, pass, double or redouble) is considered made when a bidding card is removed from the box and held touching or nearly touching the table, or maintained in such a position to indicate that the call has been made. In this case, the bid will stand, unless there is a mechanical error. Simply removing the card from the box does not mean that the bid has been made.
Occasionally a player will place a card on the table, usually from the same pocket, i.e. 1 heart instead of 1 spade, and not realize the error immediately. In this case where a mechanical error has occurred, the bid may be corrected unless partner has bid.
Always call the Director in the case
When this occurs and left hand opponent has already bid, the left hand opponent is entitled to change his/her bid without penalty and the bidding resumes normally.
The relief applies only to mechanical errors. It is not permissible to change your mind or intention and ask to change your bid. Replacing a pass card with the bid of a suit is not a mechanical error, but putting out a stop card instead of a pass card may be.
As always, it is wise to take a second look at the card which you remove from the bidding box to be certain that it is the card you intend to play.
Helen Van Amburg
| When to Call the Director
Call the Director When . . .
Calling the director is NOT putting someone on report. It’s a process that’s been developed over the years to ensure everyone enjoys the game and that the game is played consistently across the country. So, please call the director whenever someone is interfering with your enjoyment of the game or whenever an irregularity occurs, no matter how simple or insignificant. And do so with a “Director, please” call.
Example: You should call the Director anytime a claim is made and disputed. When that occurs, it's not correct to say "let's play it out."
When else should we call the director? Of course, call the director for the usual suspects: lead out of turn, revoke, bid out of turn, insufficient bid, etc. But there are also the "not so usual" ones for which you should call the director:
• A card dropped from the hand and exposed to another player. Is it a major penalty card or a minor penalty card or neither? What difference does it make?
• A Call made after a long, out-of-tempo pause for thinking. The rule presumes that many times such an out-of-tempo call provides unauthorized information to one's partner.
• A Call made in error by your displaying an erroneous selection from the bidding box. This mechanical error may be corrected depending upon when you realize what you've done. You should call the director and explain the situation AWAY from the table such that your explanation is not overheard and does not provide unauthorized information to your partner.
• A Call is made that should be Alerted, but is not. It may have affected the bidding. It may have affected the play. Opponents may have been harmed.
There is another set of reasons to call the director. These fall in the category of "Zero Tolerance" by the ACBL. They do not allow players to exhibit rude or inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately, this behavior will usually not be exposed unless someone calls the director. We request that YOU call the director when you encounter such behavior. Please. Examples include:
• Partners being critical at the table of one another's bidding or play.
• Partners discussing the previous hands at length, discussing what might have been or giving lessons. This should occur following the game session.
• Gloating by opponents: "Thanks for that lead." "That was a gift." "You should have made that contract."
• Intimidation by the opponents, which might include a surly attitude, a snide comment, an aggressive claim.
Please remember that you are requested to call the director by the ACBL and by the club whenever any of these or similar instances occur. We're counting on you to do so.
(Thanks to Mike Sears of the Petoskey Bridge Club for allowing us to reprint this article on calling the Director)