Bridge Rules, Ethics and Etiquette - Weekly Update

Wednesday, 04 May 2022 by Brian Paxton


As we resume face to face bridge, the WCBU committee has commissioned Michael Alexander to provide brief summaries of bridge rules, ethics and etiquette that might have been forgotten during the Covid bridge hiatus; a new item will be added each Sunday.

If you have any query on the rules please email Michael [email protected] - if he doesn't know the answer, he will find it!

A. Directors powers (don’t get on his wrong side)

1. he may adjust the score

2. she may issue a procedural penalty (normally a warning at first)
3. he may issue a disciplinary penalty eg for rude behaviour

4. a normal fine is 10% of the board going to 25%

5. he may suspend for the rest of the session and further action may follow

B. When is a card played

1. if it is POSSIBLE for the card to be seen not whether it has been seen

2. a card face up near the table must be played
3. a card in dummy must be played if declarer has named it

4. a card in dummy must be played if deliberately touched unless for adjustment

5. a face down opening lead is not played until it is faced; however, it may only be replaced if there has been an irregularity

C. Incomplete call of a card from dummy

declarer should clearly state both rank and suit unless his intention is incontrovertible otherwise

2. if declarer calls high it means highest, in fourth seat he may be deemed to have called for the lowest winning card
3. if he directs dummy to win it is the lowest winning card

4. if declarer designates rank but not suit he is deemed to continue with the suit just won

5. if she designates suit but not rank, she is deemed to play the lowest card

6. if he says play anything either defender without conferring may designate the card

 D. Exposed card during the auction

1. a card is deemed exposed if it is POSSIBLE to be seen, not whether partner has seen it

2. the card remains on the table until the auction ends
3. if the offender become declarer, it becomes a penalty card

4. if it is an honour card or, if prematurely led, then the partner must pass for one round

5. the same applies to a defender but if exposure by declarer no penalty

E Change of call

1 a slip of the tongue or the wrong bid made may be changed as long as partner has not bid.

2 once noticed the bidder must immediately change or attempt to change his bid

3 left hand opponent (lho) may then recall her bid

4 if, though, it was a change of mind, then the call may be changed as long as lho has not called

5 in this case lho may accept or condone or refuse now lho and then the OFFENDER  can let the first call stand and his PARTNER is silenced for 1 round or substitute it with another call but then the maximum the offender can get is 40%

F Asking questions:

1 player may ask the meaning of a call when it is his turn to bid

2 or before selecting the opening lead if she is on lead

3 or after partner has led face down

4 or before the opening lead is face down if he is declarer

5 or at his turn to play if declarer or defender.

G. Alerting

1 all conventional and artificial bids must be alerted e.g. 2C transfers a bid with less than 3 cards
2 any call with an unexpected partnership meaning
3 any call that opponents may not understand e.g. canapé bid, pre-emptive raises
4 over a double, alert if it is NOT for penalties
5 if you know the call is alertable but can’t remember the meaning ALERT but do not say “I take it to mean”. If in doubt call the director who may ask you to leave the table

H. Hesitations

The most common form of unauthorised information is the pause that suggests doubt. The director may be helped by the following:

1 if the player hesitates and passes, it suggest he would welcome a bid or a x by partner
2 if he hesitates and doubles, he would not be unhappy if partner removed the x
3 after a suit is agreed and a hesitation and a bid of no trumps, he would not be unhappy if partner went back to the trump suit

The director should listen to all FOUR players before deciding if unauthorised information has been passed. You may ask for him to be recalled at the end of the hand.

I. Claims and Concessions

1 all play ceases
2 do not reveal your cards
3 the claimant must IMMEDIATELY state his line
4 the claimant may not ask his opponents to play or accept their invitation to play on     
5 a contested claim is for the director alone giving the benefit of doubt to the non-claimant and only on the basis of the cards at the time of claim

J. Communicating Unauthorised Information

There are 5 actions that may convey Unauthorised Information:

1. remark or question by partner
2.  partner's answer to a question
3. special emphasis or tone of voice
4. a gesture, movement or mannerism
5. an unmistakable hesitation or undue haste

K. Leads out of Turn:

When a player leads out of turn, the next player can condone or accept. Here are the 5 actions which the director should convey:
1. you may accept, partner is dummy and play the hand as normal
2. you may accept the lead and let partner play (no conferring)
3. you may make the lead a major penalty card, partner may lead what she likes with the penalty card played at the first opportunity
4. you may require the correct leader to lead the suit played and the incorrect lead picked up and then they can play any card
5. you may forbid the correct leader from playing that suit for as long as he retains the lead, the lead out of turn is picked up
Obviously this does not apply when playing on BBO which does not allow leads out of turn.

L. Dummy's Rights:

Dummy is NOT allowed to do ten things:

1 ask a defender about a possible revoke
2 try to prevent an irregularity on the part of a DEFENDER
3 draw attention before the hand is over to any irregularity
4 point out how many tricks have been won or lost
5 suggest a director be called
6 take any part in the play except to play cards as directed by declarer
7 look at declarers cards
8 look at any of defenders cards or ask any questions
9 leave her seat to watch declarer play
10 look at opponents convention card during the play of a hand.

Here are the 5 that dummy CAN DO

1 keep track of the tricks for his own information
2 try to prevent declarer from committing an irregularity, BUT not after he has played the card
3 try to prevent declarer from establishing a revoke eg saying having no clubs
4 call the director if any of the other 3 players draw attention to an irregularity
5 give information as to a fact of law when the director is present but never to ask questions