RECENT CHANGES TO THE LAWS: EFFECTIVE AUGUST 2017
The laws are updated every 10 years, and effective from August 2017 many of the 93 laws have been slightly amended with just a few of these being more significant. Club TDs are advised to read the relevant law, when such an occasion necessitates, and not to rely solely on memory from previously. Some of these laws with minor changes: LAWS 6B, 7A, 11A, 12, 15, 24, 25A, 42, 45C4b, 45D2, 53, 57, 62, 75, 86.
The more important changes include:
LAWS 68-71: Claims & concessions. I suggest that the TD always be called.
LAWS 61-64: revoke laws. A few changes especially regarding number of tricks transferred and anyone, except dummy, can ask anyone "having none partner?", dummy can only ask declarer. Dummy and defenders are warned that asking could establish UI.
LAW 23: Comparable call. This is a significant amendment and will require care in the interpretation by the TD. It will cover many situations:
- Insufficient bid: call out of rotation, pass or bid out of rotation, and Law 32 double/redouble out of turn and also law 26 lead restrictions. The TD will also have to be aware of any Unauthorised Information. Only on rare occasions should the "offender" be taken from the table by the TD.
- Insufficient bid, Law 27: firstly can be accepted 27A. Otherwise 27B "by the lowest sufficient bid which specifies the same denomination(s) as the withdrawn call or by a comparable call". E.g.
1NT - (3♥) - 2♥ ..... can now be replaced by 3♠.
- Pass out of turn Law30B1 a) offender's partner may make any legal call at his turn - but there may be UI. b) offender may make any legal call at his turn and i) if such a call is a comparable call then no further rectification ii) otherwise partner must pass at his turn to call and there may be lead penalties (Law26). With partner as dealer you pass (out of turn - not accepted), now partner opens 1♥ , (P) now you can bid say 2♥, 3♥or 4♥ but 1♠ is now not acceptable since not all hands that respond 1♠ would have passed originally. Note law 23C!
- Bid out of turn Law 31: If RHO bids then can make any legal call if comparable & no further rectification; otherwise partner must pass at his next turn and lead restrictions/UI may apply. At partner's or LHO's turn, i) offender's partner may make any legal call at his next turn (but may be UI) and offender may make any legal call if comparable no further rectification otherwise offender's partner must pass at his turn and lead restrictions/UI may apply
- Law 32 double/redouble out of turn similar to above.
- Lead restrictions Law 26 (to be read in conjunction with other laws above). When an offending player's call is withdrawn and i) replaced by comparable call no lead restrictions; ii) not replaced by comparable call, if he becomes a defender, declarer may at the offender's partner's first turn to lead (which may be opening lead) prohibit partner from leading any (one) suit which has not been specified in the legal auction by the offender. Such prohibition continues for as long as the offender's partner retains the lead.
LAW 50E: Information from a penalty card:
- Information derived from a penalty card and the requirements for playing that penalty card are authorized for all players for as long as the penalty card remains on the table.
- Information derived from a penalty card that has been returned to hand [as per Law 50D2(a)] is unauthorized for the partner of the player who had the penalty card (see Law 16C), but authorized for declarer.
- Once a penalty card has been played, information derived from the circumstances under which it was created is unauthorized for the partner of the player who had the card. (For a penalty card which has not yet been played, see E1 above.)
- If following the application of E1 the Director judges at the end of play that without the assistance gained through the exposed card the outcome of the board could well have been different, and in consequence the non-offending side is damaged (see Law 12B1), he shall award an adjusted score. In his adjustment he should seek to recover as nearly as possible the probable outcome of the board without the effect of the penalty card(s).
Any club affiliated to the EBU must adhere to the guidelines given in the "Blue Book" and since level 3 has now been discontinued SBC plays at level 4.
A few significant changes which must be adhered to include:
- You should alert 'a non-forcing new suit response, to a non-forcing suit opening at any level, below game, unless responder has previously passed, bids over a natural NT overcall, or makes a double jump'. This now includes situations such as non-forcing change of suit responses to opening pre-empts.
- Most importantly, there is a new, simpler and wider definition of a "strong' hand (for the purpose of regulating agreements) and a new approach to disclosing strong opening bids. The old "ER25' regulation no longer applies and instead, to be considered a "Strong' opening bid or overcall, the minimum allowed by agreement is:
(a) any hand of at least 16 HCP; or
(b) any hand of at least 12 HCP with at least five controls.
An Ace is counted as two controls and a King one. There are 12 controls in any one deal. So any hand that conforms to this may be opened with a strong, artificial bid like a Benjamin 2♣, or 2♦ (equally a Multi 2♦ if weak as before with max 12HCP and if strong min 16HCP). Benji weak twos remain OK. So there is now greater freedom to open a wider range of hands as "strong' (though this should not be taken as a recommendation to open all hands within the limits as strong bids!) but greater responsibility to ensure that your opponents are properly informed about your style.
Any hand described as "strong 8 playing tricks" MUST be exactly that e.g.
♠KQJT98764; ♥7; ♦6; ♣84, could previously be accepted as 8 playing tricks but now does not comply with the two definitions of strong ie a) and b) above. So some hands previously opened as strong may now not comply with this new ruling and so must be opened either at the one level or a pre-empt.
You are not, for example, permitted to open with a Benji 2♣ (or any other artificial strong opening bid) on the following hand:-
♠AKQJxxxx; ♥Axx; ♦x; ♣x Eight playing tricks, 14 HCP and five controls, is OK to open a strong 2 spades but if this hand does not have heart Ace then it no longer qualifies.
I will recommend that TDs exercise some level of discretion in the ruling but once the new rules become more fully understood then tighter rulings might prevail. Clearly for a playing TD it will not be easy to ask the TD for a ruling until such time as he/she has played the board.
- Announcing or alerting
Artificial strong opening bids should not be announced. They should be alerted without further comment. If your opponents then ask for an explanation it is not sufficient to say something along the lines of "strong' or "Benji". Both of these concepts are imprecise and uninformative. Instead you should give a full disclosure of the possible holdings.