There are far fewer significant changes to the laws in the replacement of the 2007 lawbook with the new 2017 lawbook. Most of the changes are just tidying up things and rewording where the old laws were ambiguous. The EBU have given an excellent commentary on their website but I suspect that some directors would welcome a précis of those changes which are most likely to affect holiday bridge or club bridge. In my judgement here are the changes that you are most likely to be concerned with. Please note this is NOT meant to be a comprehensive overview of the law changes.
Law 7A instructs that a board shall be left in the centre of the table facing the right way. In holiday bridge my view is that if it causes inconvenience I would not object it being moved to a corner of the table but it MUST be pointing the right way, otherwise it is all too likely that the cards will be put back in the wrong holes.
Law 9 Dummy’s rights during the play are listed. Dummy may try to prevent an irregularity (Law 9c) but if it has already occurred dummy must wait till the end of the hand (Law 9d). Thus dummy can prevent declarer leading from his hand if the lead is in dummy, but only if he sees it quickly enough to stop it happening. He should not intervene once it has happens.
Law 15 now deals with the correct procedure if a pair start bidding the wrong board. The option for the director of sitting down the right pair and letting them bid (only cancelling the board for them if their action deviates from the action of the wrong pair) no longer exists.
Law 23 is new and deals with the concept of a comparable call. It is not a law that you will directly refer to but a law that you will be referred to by other laws, eg. law 27 (Insufficient bid) or 30 (Pass out of rotation) or 31 (Bid out of rotation). For example:
South opens 1NT and North bids 2H (a transfer) before West has a chance to call. East does not accept the bid so law 31 applies. West decides to bid 2D. North/South are not playing transfers if there is intervention but North is allowed to bid 2S without penalty under 31A2a. The point is that 2H (transfer) showed spades, and now 2S shows spades. 2S is a comparable call. If you like, there is no unauthorised information left from the original call that the substituted call has not made available.
Law 25 has not changed in meaning but the phrase ‘without pause for thought) has been removed. The phrase ‘without pause for thought’ caused considerable confusion. This just clarifies the position and deals with mechanical error, NOT change of mind. If you have pulled the wrong card from the bidding box you can change it until partner has called WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE DIRECTOR.
Law 66D clarifies the situation if there is a claim of a revoke which is disputed. If one side has mixed its cards the director automatically rules in favour of the other side.
Law 68D deals with a problem that has existed for years. The old law said (rightly) that following a claim play ceases. The practice of ‘playing them out’ was not allowed. There was good reason behind this because often if declarer claims and he has (for example) forgotten there is a trump out the fact that a defender queries the claim alerts declarer to this. The lawmakers prefer that the director now adjudicates as in law 70 but bend to the inevitable in that if ALL FOUR players agree to the board being played out it can be, but then no player can subsequently ask for a director ruling. However if you believe that an experienced pair have effectively bamboozled (or bullied) a less inexperienced pair to play them out you should intervene if the inexperienced pair have lost out.
Andrew Kambites 2017
(used with the author's permission, granted 25th July 2017)