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ACBL Duplicate Decisions
Chapter 3, Law 6-8: Preparation and Progress

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ACBL Duplicate Bridge Laws -
Laws Index & Detailed Laws

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This document is provided courtesy of the
American Contract Bridge League

2990 Airways Blvd. S Memphis TN 38116–3847
S Fax 901–398–7754

A Club Director’s Guide for Ruling at the Table
Duplicate Decisions


Duplicate Decisions (DD) has been reformatted into a book that an ACBL club director can use in place of the official Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. All of the Laws have been written and presented in everyday English to help club directors understand their meanings. In addition to the table of contents, an index which refers to the appropriate Law by topic is available in the back of this book.

DD can be used to make most of the rulings that will come up during a typical club game. The ideal way to use this publication is to tab the most common rulings. Occasionally DD will refer the director to the official Laws book. In those cases, the director will have to do some research before making a ruling.

Every club director needs to become very familiar with the Laws in order to make good rulings. It is helpful to highlight the sections of each Law that are most frequently used in making a ruling pertaining to that Law.  DD is designed to be used in conjunction with The ACBL Club Directors Handbook, which was published in 2003 and developed to assist club directors in running outstanding club games. The handbook contains all of the information previously found in the Appendix to DD plus information that will help club directors make their club games the best games in town.

The new handbook is a source of tips, ACBL regulations, ACBL programs such as the IN (Intermediate-Newcomer) Program and New Player Services, movements, ACBLscore, Alerts, Zero Tolerance, etc.  Directors will benefit from reading the "Ruling the Game" column, which is published monthly in The Bridge Bulletin. It’s a good way to learn more about the Laws and how they should be applied.

ACBL’s web site is also a good source of information that directors will find helpful in running club games. 

Good luck! Let ACBL hear from you whenever you need help.

ACBL Director of Education



6. The Shuffle and Deal

7. Control of Boards and Cards

8. Sequence of Rounds



The Shuffle and Deal

A cut is required if either opponent so requests. The cards must be dealt face down, one card at a time, into four hands. It is suggested (though not required — the intent is to allow for minor (though not required — the intent is to allow for minor variations in dealing style) that the deal be accomplished in a clockwise rotation.  There may not be a redeal because no player has bid (see Law 22). The primary reason for this is that players evaluate their hands differently, so someone else may open. No result may stand if the cards are dealt without a shuffle from a sorted deck or if the deal had previously been played in a different session.

The result cannot stand on a board where the cards were misdealt or a player could have seen the face of a card belonging to another player. The cards must be reshuffled and replayed if this happened before the auction begins and the board has not been played at any other table.


Control of Boards and Cards

If a board is played with the compass points pointing in the wrong direction (e.g., the North player plays the South hand), the result is valid and the board should be scored as it is played. If a board is played pointed 90° from the correct position (e.g., North–South play the East–West hands in a Howell movement), the result should be scored as it is played. This changes the comparison groups but does not invalidate the results. If this occurs on an early board of a set, the Director should permit that board to be completed and then turn the remaining board(s) to the correct position for the remainder of that round.

No player should touch any cards other than his own during or after play except by permission of the Director (Law 7 B.2.). The intent of this Law is to discourage one player from looking at another player’s cards. The Director’s permission, however, may be assumed since this Law could generate more calls than a Director could handle and still run a timely game. A player is entitled, therefore, to give his opponent permission to look at his hand. When there is an objection, the Director may choose to answer the opponent’s questions concerning the hand rather than allow the opponent to "see" the hand.

The Law states that each player shall count his cards before play and each player shall restore his original 13 cards to the board. Before making a call a player must inspect the faces of his cards. When removing and restoring cards, contestants are equally responsible for seeing that they have 13 cards. When a penalty (or punitive adjustment) is made at a table where a person removed an incorrect hand, the Director should ascertain who was at fault and issue a procedural penalty.

Any contestant remaining at a table is primarily responsible for the proper observance of procedure at the table. Note that everyone at the table is responsible, but stationary players are more responsible than others.


Sequence of Rounds

A round ends when the Director calls the change for the next round. For tables still in play, the round continues until the there has been a progression of players. Note that a late play is considered a separate round.  

The last round of a session, and the session itself, ends for each table when play of all boards has been completed and when all scores are entered on proper scoring forms without objection.

Index to Duplicate Laws



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