Google BridgeHands

 HOME  Encyclopedia  Newsletter  Laws  Products  Services  Reviews  Tournaments  Blog  Training  Practice   HELP
 You are at:


ACBL Duplicate Decisions
Chapter 7, Law 72-76: Proprieties

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80
81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93

ACBL Duplicate Bridge Laws -
Laws Index & Detailed Laws

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80
81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93


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



72–76. Proprieties

72. General Principles

73. Communication

74. Conduct and Etiquette

75. Partnership Agreements

76. Spectators




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 opponents.


General Principles

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 offending side.

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 them.

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 action.



Proper Communication Between Partners

1. During the auction and play, communication between partners should be effected only by means of the calls and plays themselves.

2. Calls and plays should be made without special emphasis, mannerism or infl ection, and without undue hesitation or haste.

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 gestures, 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 from 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 could have known that such action could work to his advantage.

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.

See Director Tech File


Conduct and Etiquette

Proper Attitude

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.


Partnership Agreements

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 opponents are:

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 opponents.

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 Director.

1. If the side that has given the mistaken explanation becomes the declaring side, 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 alternate information.

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 suits.

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 awarded.

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 agreement.

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 mistaken explanation 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 unauthorized 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 maximum values.

See Director Tech File



NOTE: Refer to Law 11 for more information on kibitzers.

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 play.

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



HOME  Encyclopedia  Newsletter  Laws  Products  Services  Reviews  Tournaments  Blog  Training Practice Links HELP
Contacts: Sales  Support  Reviews  Q&A    Disclaimer    Privacy    © 2005 BridgeHands   Updated 01/22/11