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Ethical Procedure

DUPLICATE BRIDGE – ETHICAL PROCEDURE

This leaflet has been designed, primarily, to assist those players, new to duplicate bridge, who may not be totally familiar with the ethical aspects of the game. It is also hoped that more experienced players may benefit by way of revision. No effort, however, has been made to cover every situation. This is merely a guide.

CONVENTION CARDS: Each pair should provide a convention card, clearly describing their basic methods (Acol / Strong Club, strength of NT, signals and discards etc.).

ANNOUNCING & ALERTING: click here for a link to EBU's website.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT: The meaning of some bids in common situations are announced (including some that previously required an alert). These are, along with a guideline of how they should be announced:-

  • Natural 1NT openings bids weak or strong
  • Red suit transfers after an opening 1NT
  • Opening 2 bids
  • Precision 2 Clubs

THE ALERT: The purpose of alerting is to draw your opponents’ attention to any call by your partner that may have a special meaning, for example:-

  • The bid is not natural.
  • It is natural, but you have an agreement by which it is forcing or non-forcing in a way that your opponents are unlikely to expect.
  • A player makes a conventional pass, double or redouble up to 3NT.
  • An artificial suit bid above 3NT in the first round of the auction (i.e. each player's first opportunity to call)
  • Any double of a natural suit bid that is not for takeout
  • Any double of an artificial suit bid that is not showing the suit bid
  • Any double of a natural NT bid that is not for penalties (e.g. (1S) - Pass - (1NT) - X should be alerted if it is a takeout double of 1S)

In all cases, it is the partner of the bidder who alerts, and it is his or her DUTY to do so.

Do not alert:-

  • Any call over 3NT after the first round of the auction (although, if you make an unexpected lead-directing double/pass above 3NT then these should be alerted).
  • A takeout double of a natural suit bid
  • Penalty doubles of natural NT bids

THE STOP PROCEDURE: Whenever a player makes a bid that skips a level, he or she should precede the bid by placing the STOP Card before the bid. Having seen the stop card, followed by the bid, on the right, a player should wait for a period of approximately TEN SECONDS before making a bid. It is most improper to make a bid immediately as it tells partner that the decision was not difficult.

THE DIRECTOR: The director is there to resolve any problems caused by an irregularity. Any time that a player feels that an irregularity has, or may have, occurred, he or she SHOULD call for the director. This should not be construed as an offensive action.

PSYCHES: A psyche is a perfectly legitimate ploy. The onus is on the partner of the psycher to prove that no allowance has been made for the possibility of the psyche.  All psyches should be recorded in Farnborough's psyche book, please call the Director at the end of the hand to get this documented.  This is important, as it may help the Director assess any player’s propensity to psyching in any future rulings. It is not an offence to psyche, but if someone psyches habitually then their partners may become familiar with this behaviour.

THE OPENING LEAD: The opening lead should, initially, be placed face downwards, in case partner has any questions about the auction. Note that partner cannot ask questions about the auction until your lead is made, as his or her questions could affect the choice of lead. All bidding cards should remain on the table until the opening lead is made.

FURTHER NOTES

The following notes are technical and are for those who have an interest in such matters.

UNAUTHORISED INFORMATION: “Players are authorised to base their actions on information from legal calls or plays, and from mannerisms of opponents. To base action on other, extraneous, information may be an infraction of law”. Examples of unauthorised information

appear below.

ALERT / ANNOUNCEMENT: Remember the alert or announcement is purely for the benefit of the opposing side. If your partner alerts / announces a bid that does not agree with what you believe to be your system it is clear that you are having a misunderstanding. After such a misunderstanding you must continue to bid as if partner has not alerted / announced. The alert / announcement has conveyed information to you, but it is unauthorised. Similarly, if partner has failed to alert / announce a conventional bid or gives an incorrect explanation, no effort to rectify the situation, or to take this into account should be made unless your side ends up declaring the contract in which case you should explain the situation to your opponents at the end of the auction.

THE STOP PROCEDURE: The stop procedure is there to protect the side that has been preempted. For instance, if your RHO makes a jump bid and then you make your bid after a ten second pause, then nobody can tell if you have been thinking or just waiting. In such cases partner is under no ethical strain. Without the mandatory pause, there would be many instances of you having to think and this being obvious to everyone, thereby putting pressure on partner only to make a bid that is clear-cut.

A player is entitled to call as soon as the stop card is removed – so the player making the stop bid should not remove the stop card prematurely in significant situations.

ASKING QUESTIONS: Do not ask questions about the bidding unless you are thinking of bidding. If merely curious, wait until the end of the auction and then ask. If you are not on lead, you will have to wait until partner has led (face down).

HESITATIONS IN PLAY: It should go without saying that hesitating during the play of a hand in order to mislead an opponent is highly unethical. However, these things have been known. In cases where a player has been misled by a change of tempo (etc.), the score could be adjusted merely on the suspicion that the offending player could have known that his or her actions could be misleading.

RESERVING RIGHTS: Players should reserve their rights when it is possible that an irregularity (or suspected irregularity) may have caused damage. It is not an insult to one’s integrity to have the opponents reserve their rights against you. Even if the director rules that the score should be adjusted in their favour, there is no implicit assumption of unethical play. For example, if Ian Botham’s appeal for LBW is turned down, he is not automatically have thought to have been unfair. It is more that the umpire (or director in our case) is in a better position to judge.

TOLERANCE: Remember that bridge is played for enjoyment. If you are playing against people who are clearly not acquainted with the correct procedures, be tolerant of them (whilst pointing out what is expected of them, in a polite manner). After all, it is highly unethical to ruffle an opponent.