Reproduced with the kind permission of Liz McGowan and SBNews - October 2018
Bidding Box Etiquette
"The Danger Hand is the one nearest the Bidding Box. "
This article examines the mechanics of using the Bidding Box.
1. Do Not Fiddle. It is not easy for a human being to sit absolutely still while thinking. But you should not reduce tension by playing with the Bidding Box - it may be possible to see which call you are considering and that is Unauthorized Information which will put partner under ethical pressure. DO NOT TOUCH the Bidding Box until you have decided which call to make.
2. Do Not Call Out of Turn. Even touching a bidding card before your tum to call may put partner under pressure. BE PATIENT.
3. Do Not Remove the Stop and Alert Cards. They belong in the Box. If you keep them there they will not get lost!
1. Make the Call you Intended to Make. If you pull the wrong bidding card, or some cards get stuck together, or you are just dozy and pull out 2♥ when you meant to bid 1♥ - you should change your call. It does not matter how your mechanical error is drawn to your attention - perhaps partner alerts, or an opponent asks a question, or you simply look down and see your call is not the one you intended - change it, provided you notice your error before partner has called.
(This does NOT mean that you can re-think and decide that another call would be better. It does mean that you are not stuck with a call that you did not intend to make).
If Left Hand Opponent has already called that call is cancelled and can be changed to any legal call without any penalty. Once partner bids you are stuck and must try to muddle through.
2. Alert promptly and clearly. It is your responsibility to ensure that opponents have seen your Alert Card. If you flick it with a casual finger, or lift it half-way out of the box then drop it, an opponent may not notice and can legitimately claim damage. Good practice is to remove the Alert Card from the Box and place it in the middle of the table, on the board for all to see. As an opponent you should acknowledge that you have seen it before it is returned to the Box.
3. Respect the Stop Card. Before making a jump bid place the Stop Card on the table. Make your bid, wait 10 seconds, then remove the Stop Card. As LHO you should not touch the Bidding Box till the Stop Card is removed. If it is removed prematurely you should still take 10 seconds whether you have something to think about or not.
The Stop Card was brought in to help with possible hesitation situations after a pre-emptive bid. The idea is to give LHO time to think without making it obvious whether or not there is a problem. It is important not to bid quickly, or to look bored while pausing, or to take much longer than the recommended 10 seconds - again, failing to follow proper procedure can give partner ethical problems. It is a bit of a blunt sword, in that a 1NT - Pass - 3NT auction is unlikely to give a problem. You may use some discretion!
The SBU Bidding Box Regulations, along with many other fascinating documents, can be found on the website: www.sbu.org.uk
Under ADMIN select Laws and Ethics from the drop-down menu