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The Director's Corner
The Director's Corner Tips and Topics for all Bridge Players

May 1, 2020.     Hesitations?  Everyone is entitled to think about their calls. However, undue hesitations may convey unauthorized information to the partner regarding the size or shape of the violator's hand. Even if unintentional, the Director should be called (before the next hand is started).  This occurs more often in a competitive bidding situation.

Example: North opens 1H. East overcalls 1S. South bids 2H. West bids 2S. North bids 3H. East pauses....noticeably, then passes. South passes. West bids 3S. After the hand, North calls the Director. Everyone agrees there was a noticeable pause. West made 3S.  North makes 3H at half of the tables, and is down 1 at the other tables who played 3H.

West’s hand was:


H J873

D K754

C J9.

He noted that he bid 3S because he knew his partner was short in Hearts.  This is irrelevant!  East's hesitation had to be due to his desire to bid 3S. The Director's decision was to score the hand as 3H NS. Since there were some who made 3H, and some who went down 1, the Director assigned a weighted score. The Moral of this story is to decide what level you will compete to before your turn to call.

As an addendum, the law of total tricks may be a helpful guide to contract level taking vulnerability into consideration. In this case, East knew of an 8 card fit, was short in opponent's suit, and should be able to make a 2 level contract or go down 1 undoubled opposite a likely 140 minus for opponents 3H contract.




April 1: Mistaken Explanation vs Mistaken Call.

We all occasionally forget our partnership agreements. Some of us play with multiple partners and use different convention cards. The opponents are entitled to know what the partnership agreements are. For example, after opponent bids 1NT, the agreements for defensive bidding may be Cappelletti, Natural, Hello, DONT, Meckwell, etc.


Assume you are South, East opens 1NT. You are holding 7 Diamonds, and bid 2D. Partner alerts your bid as showing the majors. West passes. Partner bids 2H. East passes. You realize that you and partner had not discussed this bid, but indeed he gave a correct explanation of your agreement. Your call was a MISTAKEN CALL. You now bid 3D.

1. West asks North what the 3D bid means and N now feels it was a natural D suit.
2. East now calls the Director. 
3. Away from the table, he states that if he knew that 2D was natural, he would have bid 2H as he had 5 hearts ( adequate points and distribution to interfere).
4. Director allows the auction to 'back up' to allow for the 2H call.

After North's response that 3D is natural. West, North, and East pass. After the play, East now notices that he would only have been down 1 non vul at 2H, and that 3 D making 4 for 130, was a poorer result. Now the director is called to evaluate whether E/W were injured by the mistaken call. The Director may award an adjusted score.

Example of MISTAKEN EXPLANATION.                                                                                                                                          

East opens 1NT. You have  6 Diamonds  and bid 2C. Partner alerts and when asked, he states Clubs and a higher suit (DONT),. Your partnership agreement is Hello, where the bid actually shows Diamonds or a major/minor distributional hand. LHO bids 2S,  all pass.

1. As defender you do not call director, nor correct the MISTAKEN EXPLANATION until the hand is complete. Director will then be called to review for possible injury.

2. Assume after your 2C bid West bids 2N, partner bids 3C, opener passes and you bid 3D. All pass. Now after lead is face down, you notify opponents of partner's MISTAKEN EXPLANATION.

Opponents have opportunity to call director if they feel they have been injured.





March 2020

Per ACBL Rules, the following is an example of an Illegal Bid, regardless of partnership agreement.

 Opening 1NT with any of the following:  

A singleton lower than a Queen. 

A void.

A point range greater than 5 HCPs (Example: 12-18 pts)

2 suits combined having 10 cards, with more than 1 singleton.

 There is no “automatic” penalty.  However, the Director may assess a penalty  if the  non-offenders are injured by an illegal bid and may adjust the score if appropriate.

 Remember, if something like this occurs: “Director, please!"       



February 2020


1. While the dummy CAN revoke (example: a hidden card), there is no "automatic" revoke penalty. However, if the opponents are harmed by the revoke, the Director can adjust the score for equity.
2. If declarer or defenders commit an established revoke, there is an automatic 1 trick penalty if revoking player wins the trick. An additional trick is awarded to non offending side if further tricks are won by the offending side (including dummy).
3. After an established revoke, if the offending side wins a trick including the revoke trick, a 1 trick penalty is awarded to the non offending side.

4. If Director feels that the injury exceeds the above 1 or 2 trick penalties, s/he can adjust the score for equity.


January 29, 2020

Bridge is a game!  It is for everyone’s enjoyment. Players at our games are our friends, our neighbors!
Occasionally, a player in a moment of passion may make a critical comment to a partner or an opponent. 
This is unacceptable at any of our games!  If this occurs, please notify your director.

The ACBL has implemented a zero tolerance attitude toward this behavior.  A player at an ACBL game will be warned
and if not corrected, the Unit will be notified which may result in penalties for the player.                                                                      




January 4, 2002. 

Unauthorized information. 

Facial gestures can provide unauthorized information during the bidding or play. 
This is unethical, and will create a procedural penalty by the Director.

Emotions sometimes are hard to control, both positive and negative.
A grimace, frown or other non verbal signs of displeasure not only are often unethical,
but are rude to partner who is on your side!


December 3, 2019

Claims are encouraged by the ACBL and at SCG Bridge Club duplicate games.

There are problems which often come up during the claim. 
The most common is an outstanding trump. 
Also frequently seen is an offside or greater rank card with the ability to capture a trick.
To avoid the above, it is strongly recommended that declarer upon claiming states his order of play,  exposing his hand.
This is not done frequently enough.
The ACBL Rules committee provides direction of play by declarer which favors the defense. The play ends with the claim.
Regarding an outstanding trump:
A. The order of play of the non-trump suit should be THE WORST POSSIBLE for Declarer ( claimer).
B. Declarer MAY NEVER ATTEMPT TO DRAW ANY TRUMPS of which he was likely unaware, if doing so would be to his advantage.
C. It is NOT considered normal for declarer to take a safety check with a high trump, nor to play trump to put pressure on a defender.
D. Declarer would not be forced to play the remainder of his trumps to his disadvantage if both opponents have shown out of trumps.
E. When ruffing, declarer is PRESUMED TO RUFF AS LOW AS POSSIBLE.

The above rules are used by the Director to make his ruling after the claim.


November 1, 2019 

All ACBL club directors have studied and passed a test on the Laws of Bridge.  But Directors are human and sometimes forget and/or make a mistake.  If a player thinks there has been a ruling error by the Director, the player may request the Director reconsider or request a consultation when play is over.  

Directors want to get it right and should have no problem making sure a ruling is correct.  If there is a Director ruling error, scores will be adjusted to correct an error in a call or interpretation.

If you would like to become more familiar with the 93 “Laws of Bridge,” see the link below which shows the changes made in 2017.



October 1, 2019

Quiz:  Which of the following allow a 1 No Trump opening bid?  (See answers below.)
Hint! A NT opening  bid (1NT, 2NT, or 3NT) may include no more than 1 singleton and the singleton must be a major honor: A, K or Q. There may be NO void. The hand may not have two suits of 5 cards. The range of points may not exceed 5. All 1 No Trump  bids should be “announced.” Note:  For duplicate, the no trump range must be stated on the convention card.

Hand 1. (Announced 15-17 hcp.)
S – KQxxx
H – Ajxxx
C – Kx
C – J

 Hand 2.  (Announced 15-18 hcp.)
S – Kxx
H – Q
D – Axx
C - AKQxxx

 Hand 3 . (Announced 15-17 hcp.)
S – AQxxx
H – KJxx
D – Kx
C - Ax                  

 Hand 4. (Announced as 10-15 hcp.)
S -  Axxxx
H – KJxx
D – Kx
C - Ax.

Hand 1:  No. The singleton is not an A or K or Q. And, there are two suits of 5 cards.
Hand 2: Yes.
Hand 3: Yes
Hand 4.  No. The point range may not exceed 5.

IMPORTANT:  If your opponents open any NT that does not follow these rules, call “DIRECTOR, PLEASE.” Your Director will then give the ruling for the violation.


September 14

PSYCH bids

 A psych bid is a bid which intentionally misstates the point count or suit length, of which the partner of the bidder has no more knowledge than the opponents. ( no unauthorized information..U.I.)

1. ACBL does  not prohibit psych bids, exceptions being psyching a artificial overcall, ( such as Michael's etc), frivolous psychs ( used to ensure better results for opponents as in team game), Psyching control bids.

2. 3 Psych bids per session are considered frequent. The director attempts to insure that the bids are not an implicit partnership agreement. If so, a penalty can then be assessed for U.I.

3. Self reporting is expected.

So, if a pair makes an apparent psych bid, notify director who will take note to ensure the legality and consider implicit agreements.

Finally, a tactical bid is not a psych.

An example would be opening a Flannery bid with 10 points, or with 4 hearts and 4 spades.

September 9, 2019

Help Your Partner

When your partner does not follow suit whether you are a defender or the dummy, ALWAYS ask if void in suit “no hearts partner?”
A penalty card for defender is better than a revoke penalty, and a timely recovery for declarer is better than a revoke penalty.

1 trick or 2 trick penalty?

The ACBL ruling is if the offender wins the trick there is a 1 trick penalty. If the pair wins any additional tricks, there is another trick penalty for a total of 2 tricks awarded to the non offending pair.

Points of confusion.

The offender may be either defender, but also he/she may be the declarer OR the Dummy. So the dummy as the offender ( even though he/she is not playing the hand
)must win the trick to have the 1 trick penalty assessed.

Is the penalty sufficient for the infraction? Occasionally, the revoke results in the ability of the non offending pair to take the tricks they would have taken had the infraction not taken place.
An example of this would be if the offending player did not follow to a trump lead, and later trump a running suit of the opponent.
For these cases, the director will award the appropriate number of tricks (to include the penalty trick {s}).

A revoke is considered established after either the offender or his partner plays to the next trick. Prior to that, he/she can withdraw the incorrect card, and follow suit legally.
The withdrawn card becomes a major penalty card for the offender if on defense.

There is no revoke at trick 12.

August 26, 2019

1. A revoke can be corrected BEFORE the offending player or partner plays to the next trick.
The incorrect card becomes a major penalty card.

2. Once a revoke is established, if the offending player wins the trick or the dummy wins the trick,
a 1 trick penalty is awarded to the non offending pair.

After there is a revoke, if the offending SIDE wins another trick(s) an additional 
one trick penalty is assessed, so a 2 trick penalty

3. Keep in mind one cannot revoke at trick 12.

August 13, 2019

3 cards left to play.

West leads a small spade.

Declarer (North) claims, exposes his hand showing all trumps stating they are all good.

Deuce, 8, and 10.

West asks how is he going to play them?

He states 10, 8, 2.

West has the 9 of trumps and calls the Director.

Problem 1.

The director should be called if either defender contests the claim.

Problem 2.

Once the claim is made, the play is over. It is not the responsibility of the defenders to question declarer regarding his claim, it is the Directors responsibility.

Problem 3.

The declarer should be specific in his line of play; in this case ruffing with a small trump, then playing the trumps from the top.

Problem 4

After the above claim was made, and contested;

Director rules that if there was any logical line of play which allowed West to win a trick with his outstanding trump, a

trick would be awarded to the defense.

Importantly, no assumption of illogical play is ever made.

CALL Director Please.

July 26, 2019

Scent and Smoking Policy

SCGBC has by necessity adopted a scent free and non smoking policy.

Men and women are advised that cologne and perfume  are not to be used.

Smoking between rounds and during sit out rounds are not allowed. Directors are to advise that if this no smoking policy is violated, the violator will be given a single warning. A repeat episode will incur a ban from the club.

Please, members and guests; there are several players with significant respiratory issues which are worsened by inhalation of smoke, and by volitalized chemicals such as perfumes etc.

This policy is supported by the club officers, and club manager.

June 27, 2019

You hold

S KJ98

H xx


C AQxx

RHO opens 1N

You X showing a like hand ( penalty)

Partner bids 2H you announce transfer per agreement and bid 2S.

Partner bids 3H and makes a comment, " I should have transferred to hearts". You pass and RHO calls the director


1 through 7, Clubs, diamonds, hearts and Spades, pass, double. redouble and alert are the only communications allowed.

You have to respond as if the comment did not occur. Ethically you have to bid 3S, and even 4 S if partner bids 4H.

Partner has described a game force with Spades and hearts 5+5+.

The director adjusted the score to 4S down 3. Procedural penalty.

June 4, 2019


In bridge parlance, any time you speak or pull a card from your bidding box, you are going to be making a call. Even in an informal game, your vocabulary is limited to fifteen words:

  • Pass
  • Double
  • Redouble
  • One – Seven
  • Club
  • Diamond
  • Heart
  • Spade
  • Notrump

The ACBL, however, has added several words that alert opponents to unusual bidding

Alert — A warning to the opponents that the last call by your partner has been assigned a conventional message.

Announcement — A word or phrase that directly describes the meaning of partner’s call. This is part of the Alert process and is used in four cases: to describe partner’s range when opening 1NT (such as 15-17 or 16-18 high-card points); when the partnership uses a transfer bid following an notrump opening; when the partnership uses a forcing 1NT response; when an opening bid in a minor suit could be short (fewer than three cards).

May 13, 2019

Have you ever heard of “Double Dummy?” 

This is a bridge term meaning that all hands are visible, like in a newspaper or books, to explain how to bid or play hands. (This is not good at the bridge table.)

Contract bridge depends on description of hands by bidding and play. Partnership agreements regarding bids and leads convey information to both partner and opponents. That is the intent and purpose of alerts and descriptions on convention cards.

If a player makes a bid out of turn, that gives unauthorized information to the partner of the offender.  When it is your turn to bid, and partner opens out of turn, he is describing his holding by his bid. This certainly will affect your plan and disrupt opponent’s responses.

If your partner leads out of turn, the lead gives information as to his holding in the suit that he has led. Again, opponents are injured. If partner drops a card on the table, plays the wrong card, then corrects it to avoid a revoke, again he is providing information regarding his hand.

IF ANY of these occur, call and raise your hand: DIRECTOR, PLEASE.

April 29, 2019

Declarer makes a claim. “I have the rest of the tricks”


  1. Is it allowed, and encouraged to Claim by ACBL?
  2. Was the claim done correctly?
  3. You look in your hand, and see a trump! What do you do?


  1. It is allowed, and to increase the pace of the game, encouraged.
  2. No!  ACBL states that an exposed hand (claim) is to be followed by an explanation of play, in order for the defense to concede or contest the claim. If this does not occur, and you feel your team has a trick or more coming, DIRECTOR, PLEASE. The play ceases with the claim! The director will decide if the claim is valid, and if not award an adjusted score.
  3. DIRECTOR, PLEASE. If trumps are not mentioned in the claim, the director evaluates the holdings, and determines if a trick could be won by a normal line of play. ACBL does not allow an expectation of foolish play. They define “normal” for level of expertise of declarer.

April 22, 2019
Who/ what is a Director?

All are volunteers. All have taken the time to study, and take and pass an extensive Director Exam developed by the ACBL.

The ACBL Rule Book, is tackled, game and movement set up are learned, and a significant amount of time is spent learning how to deal with the Computer, ACBL Score program and reporting to ACBL. Other additional efforts involve collecting monies, seating, stratification etc. Fortunately, we have other kind volunteers that regularly assist in these efforts.

Following our games, and computer reporting, everything has to be put away. The Director is the last to leave. The club allows for a minimal stipend to recognize these efforts, certainly not arising to any minimal wage guarantee.

Directors are bridge enthusiasts, and in addition to the enjoyment of playing, volunteer to ensure equity and fair play for all.


April 15, 2019

ACBL STANCE all levels of play.

Stop cards, and “skip bid” warnings were abandoned. However, it is expected a 10 second pause occurs after
such bids. Should the Director be called, he will refresh this understanding, and at end of play determine
Injury to the non-offending pair. For our games, this is rare.

More commonly, an extended pause then pass, could communicate unauthorized information. However, every player is entitled to consider their bids, and play. After the pause, and rebid by offender’s partner… “DIRECTOR, PLEASE”…The director will determine by consensus whether there was an extended pause, and determine if the rebid was reasonable if there had been no pause. At the end of the play, if there is some question, declarer may or may not award an adjusted score.


April 8, 2019

"What if Declarer leads out of turn, or from the wrong hand?

Answer: The lead can be accepted by either defender. If they disagree, priority goes to the defender who is next to play.


  March 29, 2019

ACBL rule: Do not take your cards out of the board unless 1 opponent is at the table.


March 25, 2019

Ethics and Tempo

  1. Congratulate opponents for fine play at conclusion of a board. Congratulate partner preferably at end of play, at least after opponents depart. We actually had a player give a “thumbs up” after his partner chose a killing lead!!
  2. Partner makes a real beyond the pale Stinker bid or play. DO NOT GRIMACE, FROWN, SCREAM, CURSE, CHASTISE…(get the picture?). As Marty Bergen voiced in his book: Points, Schmoints: Chapter 3: Rules of being a good partner; point 5:” Remember you and your partner are on the same side” and point 7: If you feel the urge to be nasty, sarcastic, critical or loud---excuse yourself and take a walk.
  3. Be poker faced, no gestures, facial or spoken clues that may convey unauthorized information.
  4. Do not surf the bidding box, and then pull a pass card out.

March 18, 2019

Dealing Machine

SCG Bridge Club has a “Dealing Machine” which is used to produce ‘Duplicate Hands’.  This makes it an enjoyable competitive experience where pairs play the same hands, and against the same opponents, as much as possible. It is CRITICAL, that every player counts their cards before EACH hand is exposed.  Occasionally, the Dealing machine will misdeal. Rarely, a card may ‘ fall’ to the floor between rounds.  These events “foul” the boards creating different hands requiring adjustments. Everyone can count to 13! Help the Director.

 Often during pauses, players inspect partner’s hand for improvement of their understandings and play. It is CRITICAL that only 1 hand is removed from the board at a time, and replaced in its position after inspection. Avoid a nightmare of switching EW with NS. Help the director.

 Never face a lead. Place the lead face down, and ask if there are any questions partner has.  Avoid a penalty. Help the director.


March 11, 2019

The Director is called for “Bids Out of Turn” often!

 #1. North is dealer and is thinking of his bid. But,South lays down a bid (out of turn).
“DIRECTOR, PLEASE” is called by both opponents.

 #2. North is dealer and passes. East bids 1 Club.

Simultaneously, South bids 1C (she/he wasn’t paying attention, was she/he?)

The Director will now explain the various options.  They are different in the two cases above.  Don’t make your own ruling!
When you, as Declarer, call a card from Dummy, BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY.

If opponent leads a King, and you have the Ace and a deuce in dummy, if you say “play” then you have been deemed to play the deuce, even though you meant to play the Ace. 

No one will need to call the Director if as Declarer you simply say the Suit and Rank. Examples of proper approach are “Heart King” or “Spade Deuce.”


March 4, 2019


These rules are important and enforced at all levels of Contract Bridge (Duplicate, Social, Chicago, etc).

They are standard and apply to all levels of duplicate bridge, in all countries, from professional experts to beginning novice players. Because of the wide skill levels there are rules which are strict, and some are confusing.

Fortunately, there are directors who can adjudicate infractions to promote a equitable solution. Consistency is a good thing. We are fortunate to have many available experienced directors for problem solutions. As you may have experienced, directors sometimes make mistakes. Away from the table, after the game, if you have a question or feel there was an error in the ruling, convey your concerns to the director. If you still disagree, the declarer has several avenues to pursue including asking other directors regarding his ruling. There is a 30 minute appeal time to convey your disagreement with the director for resolution. Please do not “director shop” on your own.

Things to remember: ACBL allows for pulling wrong cards from the bid box ‘mechanical error’ but not for cognitive lapses…”senior moment” or inattentiveness.. ”didn’t see his bid”

There are ACBL rules to deal with all of the errors in bidding or play. DIRECTOR, PLEASE!

Last updated : May 1, 2020 09:06 MST