This document is provided
courtesy of the
American Contract Bridge League
2990 Airways Blvd.
Memphis TN 38116–3847
A Club Director’s Guide for Ruling at the Table
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
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER VII — PROPRIETIES
72. General Principles
74. Conduct and Etiquette
75. Partnership Agreements
CHAPTER VII — PROPRIETIES
In previous Laws the Proprieties were, to a great degree, pious
advice. In the 1987 Code, these principles of conduct and ethics
were incorporated into the Laws. In the 1997 Code, further changes
have increased the emphasis on the fact that these are Laws. The
Director is authorized by Law 12 to award an assigned adjusted
score when the Laws do not provide an indemnity to the non-offending
side for the particular violation of Law committed by the
1. Duplicate bridge tournaments should be played in strict
accordance with the Laws. A more casual, sporting attitude
may be tolerated in a club duplicate game.
2. A player must not knowingly accept either the score for a
trick that his side did not win or the concession of a trick that
his opponents could not lose.
3. A player may not, on his own initiative, waive a penalty
for an opponent’s infraction, even if he feels he hasn’t been
damaged. He has the right to ask the Director to do so.
4. It is appropriate to select the action most advantageous to
your side when the Laws provide the innocent side with an
option after an opponent’s irregularity.
5. After the offending side has paid the prescribed penalty for
an inadvertent infraction, it is appropriate for them to make
any call or play (subject to Laws 16 C.2. and 72 B.) that is
advantageous to their side, though it may appear that they
are profiting from their own infraction. Information arising
from withdrawn actions of either side is unauthorized to the
6. Penalizing irregularities and redressing damage rest solely
with the Director and the Laws, not the players. Players
should accept everything the Laws give them, and they
should not overlook infractions or refuse to take advantage of
7. Law 72 B.1. is referred to many times throughout this Code.
This Law requires the Director to award an adjusted score for
any irregularity whenever he deems that the offender could
have known that the irregularity would be likely to damage
the non-offending side. One example is in an auction where
you have no values and partner has competed to the four level
and is thinking (perhaps of doubling). Before he calls, you
blurt out "Pass." Partner now may not double according to
Law 30 B.2. Since it was likely that you could have known
it would be damaging to the non-offenders for your partner
not to be able to double, however, the Director should assign
an adjusted score if double was a logical alternative call for
partner and the contract would be fulfilled.
8. A player must not infringe a law intentionally. It is a serious
breach of propriety, even if there is a prescribed penalty that
one is willing to pay. The offense may be even more serious
when no penalty is prescribed.
9. There is no obligation to draw attention to an inadvertent
infraction of law committed by one’s own side. However,
a player must not attempt to conceal such an infraction by
committing a second revoke, concealing a card involved in a
revoke, mixing the cards prematurely, or any similar type of
Proper Communication Between Partners
1. During the auction and play, communication between
partners should be effected only by means of the calls and
2. Calls and plays should be made without special emphasis,
mannerism or infl ection, and without undue hesitation or
NOTE: The ACBL has authorized the
use of the skip bid warning.
A player should either use the warning all the time or never
use it. Nonetheless, when a player skips one or more levels
of bidding, the next player should pause about 10 seconds
even if the warning was not given and appear to be thinking
about his next call.
Inappropriate Communication Between Partners
Partners shall not communicate through the manner
in which in which calls or plays are made, through extraneous remarks or
or through questions asked or not asked of the opponents, through
Alerts and explanations given or not given to them. To do so is an
infraction of the Laws.
The gravest possible offense against the Proprieties
is for a
partnership to exchange information through prearranged methods
of communication other than those sanctioned by these Laws. A
guilty partnership risks expulsion from the sponsoring organization.
When a player has available to him improper information
his partner’s remark, question, explanation, gesture, mannerism,
special emphasis, inflection, haste or hesitation, he should carefully
avoid taking any advantage that might accrue to his side.
Variations in tempo, manner or the like
may violate the
Proprieties when the player could know at the time of his action that
the variation could work to his benefit. Inadvertently varying the
tempo or manner in which a call or play is made does not in itself
constitute a violation of the Proprieties, but inferences from such
a variation may properly be drawn only by an opponent, and at his
own risk. It is grossly improper to attempt to mislead an opponent by
means of a remark or gesture, through the haste or hesitancy of a call
or play (such as a hesitation with a singleton), or by the manner in
which the call or play is made.
It is desirable, though not always required, for players to
maintain a steady tempo and an unvarying manner.
Any player may properly attempt to deceive an opponent
through a call or play, so long as the deception is not protected by
concealed partnership understanding or experience. It is entirely
proper to avoid giving information to the opponents by making all
calls and plays in unvarying tempo and manner.
When a violation of the Proprieties as described in this Law
results in damage to an innocent, the Director should:
1. award an adjusted score (Law 12) if an innocent player has
drawn a false inference from an action for which there is no
demonstrable bridge reason and the opponent
known that such action could work to
2. award an adjusted score (Law 16) if a player has chosen
from among logical alternative actions one that could
demonstrably have been suggested by his partner’s tempo,
manner or remark.
Director Tech File
Conduct and Etiquette
1. A player should maintain a courteous attitude at all times
toward his partner and his opponents.
2. A player should carefully avoid any remark or action that
might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player,
or might interfere with the enjoyment of the game.
3. Every player should follow uniform and correct procedures
in calling and playing.
As a matter of courtesy, a player should refrain from:
1. paying insufficient attention to the game.
2. making gratuitous comments during the auction and play.
3. detaching a card before it is his turn to play.
4. prolonging play unnecessarily (as in playing on although
he knows all of the tricks are surely his) for the purpose of
disconcerting an opponent.
5. summoning or addressing the Director in a manner
discourteous to him or to other contestants.
The Following Are Considered Violations of Procedure
1. Using different designations for the same call.
2. Indicating approval or disapproval of a call or play.
3. Indicating the expectation or intention of winning or losing a
trick that has not been completed.
4. Commenting or acting during the auction or play so as to
call attention to a significant occurrence, or to the number of
tricks still required for success.
5. Looking intently at any other player during the auction and
play, or at another player’s hand in order to see his cards or
to observe the place from which he draws a card (but it is
appropriate to act on information acquired by inadvertently
seeing an opponent’s card). (See Law 73 D.2. when a player
may have shown his cards intentionally.)
6. Showing an obvious lack of further interest in a deal (as in
folding one’s cards).
7. Varying the normal tempo of bidding or play for the purpose
of disconcerting an opponent.
8. Leaving the table needlessly before the round is called.
NOTE: Law 75 is a very exacting Law
in dealing with partnership
understandings and should be used in conjunction with Law
40, Partnership Understandings.
Special Partnership Agreements,
whether explicit (from firm
discussion) or implicit (arising from experience without specific
discussion), must be fully and freely available to the opponents.
The methods by which this information is made available to the
1. through the Alert procedure.
2. by announcing special agreements at the outset of a round or
session to the opponents.
3. by reviewing the opponents’ convention card.
A pair may then alter their defenses against the opponents’
conventional calls and preemptive bids. This must be announced
to their opponents. The opponents may not vary their system after
being informed of these alterations in defense.
A Player May Violate an Announced Partnership Agreement
1. A player may do this as long as his partner is unaware of the
violation. Repeated variations from partnership agreements
create implicit agreements which must be disclosed to the
2. No player has the obligation to disclose to the opponents that
he has violated an announced partnership agreement.
3. If the opponents are subsequently damaged, as through
drawing a false inference from such violation, they are not
entitled to redress.
Example: On the convention card
it is stated that the partnership
always holds two of the top three honors when they open a weak
two-bid. A player opens with Q–J–x–x–x–x and his partner happens
to hold the ace. When declarer plays the weak two-bidder for
the ace, expecting it to be in front of dummy’s king and it isn’t,
declarer becomes upset. The weak two-bidder violated a partnership
agreement without partner’s knowledge. This does not constitute an
infraction. However, after the second time this happens in a two or
three-session time frame, a new, implicit, agreement has come about
and the opponents must be so informed.
When explaining the significance of partner’s call or play
in response to an opponent’s inquiry,
a player should disclose
special information that he has from both partnership agreement and
partnership experience. He need not, however, disclose inferences
drawn from his general knowledge and experience. For example, if
a player can tell that his partner has violated an agreement by the
actual cards he sees (his hand, dummy’s hand and cards played in
quitted tricks), he need not disclose this
When Correcting Errors in Explanation
A Player Recognizes His Own Error:
If a player subsequently
realizes his own explanation was erroneous or incomplete, he must
immediately call the Director. The Director will apply either Law
21, Call Based on Misinformation, or Law 40, Director’s Option to
Award an Adjusted Score in Partnership Misunderstandings.
A Player Recognizes His Partner’s Error:
It is improper for
a player whose partner has given a mistaken explanation to correct
the error immediately or to indicate in any manner that a mistake
has been made. He must not take any advantage of the unauthorized
information so obtained or leave the table to consult with the
1. If the side that has given the mistaken explanation becomes
the player MUST
call the Director after
the final pass in the auction and before the opening lead is
faced. He must inform the Director and his opponents that
in his opinion there has been a mistaken explanation. The
Director may allow the last bidder on the non-offending side
to withdraw his pass if he deems it probable that the pass was
based on the misinformation. If the player withdraws his pass
and substitutes another call, the bidding can then proceed
from that point. If the last passer on the non-offending side
does not change his call, the bidding as it occurred stands.
The play now proceeds.
NOTE: When the Director arrives at
the table before play has been
completed, he should speak separately with each non-offender
away from the table to ascertain what different
action, if any, would have been taken with the correct or
2. If the side that gave the misinformation in the bidding
becomes the defending side,
at the conclusion of the play,
the partner of the player who gave the mistaken explanation
MUST call the Director and inform
the Director and his
opponents that in his opinion his partner gave a mistaken
explanation. This is
the one case in the Laws where the
offending side must own up to its own infraction.
NOTE: In both cases above, the
Director can award an adjusted
score if he deems that the non-offending side was damaged
by receiving the misinformation.
When the Partnership Misunderstanding Results in Giving
Misinformation to the Opponents
Two examples may clarify responsibilities of the players (and
the Director) after a misleading explanation has been given to the
opponents. In both examples following, North has opened 1NT and
South, who holds a weak hand with long diamonds, has bid 2D,
intending to sign off. North explains, however, in answer to West’s
inquiry, that South’s bid is strong and artificial, asking for major
Example 1 —
MISTAKEN EXPLANATION: A player makes
a bid in agreement with the partnership understanding, but partner
misinforms the opponents of the meaning of the bid.
The actual partnership agreement is that 2D
is a natural signoff.
The mistake was in North’s explanation. This explanation is
an infraction of Law since East–West are entitled to an accurate
description of the North–South agreement. When this infraction
results in damage to East–West, an adjusted score should be
If North subsequently becomes aware of his mistake, he must
immediately notify the Director. South must do nothing to correct
the mistaken explanation
while the auction continues. After the
final pass, South, if he is to be declarer or dummy, should call the
Director and must give the opponents a correct explanation. If South
becomes a defender, he should call the Director when play is over
and give a correct explanation.
Example 2 — MISTAKEN BID: A
player makes a bid that is
not the partnership agreement but the opponents are informed of the
The partnership agreement is as explained — 2D
is strong and
artificial; the mistake was in South’s bid. Here there is no infraction
of law, since East–West did receive an accurate description of
the North–South agreement. They have no claim to an accurate
description of the North–South hands.
Regardless of damage, the Director shall allow the result to
stand. The Director, however, is to presume a
rather than a mistaken bid
in the absence of clear evidence to the
contrary. South must not correct North’s explanation (or notify the
Director) immediately, and he has no responsibility to do so later.
In both examples, South, having heard North’s explanation,
knows that his own 2D
bid has been misinterpreted. This knowledge
is unauthorized information.
Consequently South must be careful
not to base further actions on this information (if he does, the
Director shall award an adjusted score).
For instance, if North rebids 2NT, South has the
information that this bid merely
denies a four-card holding in either
major. South’s responsibility, however, is to bid as though North
had made a strong game try opposite a weak response, showing
Director Tech File
NOTE: Refer to Law 11 for more information on
Proper Conduct during Bidding and Play:
1. A spectator must not display any reaction to the bidding or play while a
board is in progress. He should not look at the hand of more than one player
without permission from the Director.
2. A spectator must not in any way disturb a player.
3. A spectator must refrain from mannerisms or remarks of any kind
(including conversation with a player).
4. A spectator should be seated.
5. A spectator may not touch any player, player’s chair or table.
The Director’s Role: The Director is
completely within his right to impose necessary restrictions on spectators
in order to guarantee reasonable playing conditions for the contestants.
Any kibitzer may be barred
for cause by the Director.
Example: The Director may limit the
number of spectators at a given table and eliminate standing spectators or
spectators moving from one table to another. Only in extreme cases should
the Director clear the room completely of kibitzers. Such an action would be
warranted if the room is already too crowded with players to accommodate
spectators. At certain stages of a knockout team event, it is within the
Director’s province to forbid kibitzers from watching specific areas of
The Players’ Role: The players are expected to
extend all reasonable privileges to spectators. A player may not bar all
spectators from his table. He does have the right, however, to object
to the presence of a specific spectator and may
have one such spectator barred without assigning cause.
The Role of a Club Manager: Club officials
are urged to extend all reasonable privileges to spectators and to
understand that kibitzing is a part of the game.
Index to Duplicate Laws