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
CHAPTER V — THE AUCTION
17. Duration of the Auction
19. Doubles and Redoubles
20. Review and Explanation of Calls
21. Call Based on Misinformation
22. Procedure after the Auction Has Ended
23. Damaging Enforced Pass
24. Card Exposed or Led during Auction
(See Law 17)
25. Legal and Illegal Changes of Call
26. Call Withdrawn, Lead Penalties
27. Insufficient Bid
28–32. Call out of Rotation
28. Calls Considered to Be in Rotation
29. Procedure after a Call out of Rotation
30. Pass out of Rotation (Not Accepted)
31. Bid out of Rotation (Not Accepted)
32. Double or Redouble out of Rotation (Not
33. Simultaneous Calls
34. Retention of Right to Call
35–39. Inadmissible Calls
40. Partnership Understandings
CHAPTER V — THE AUCTION
Duration of the Auction
The auction period on a deal begins
for a side when either
partner looks at the face of his cards.
If a player holds a hand from the wrong board
information is the major concern
player begins a board with the wrong hand. Usually the
Director assigns an adjusted score if one player has the hand
from one board and the other three players have the hand
from another board. (See Law 12.)
2. Occasionally the
deal can be saved and a valid result
achieved. This might happen if
the error is discovered during
the auction and the hand involved was not in the bidding and
would not have been in the auction with the proper 13 cards.
3. In most cases it is
too late to substitute the proper hand
and proceed with the auction or play
when the player whose
hand is involved has been in the auction or when more than
one trick has been played following the completion of the
auction. As soon as the problem has been discovered, the
players should take the following steps:
(a) The Director is called.
(b) The Director determines where the incorrect hand came
from and replaces it with the proper hand.
(c) The Director then:
(1) Instructs players with the same hands that they must
repeat any calls they made on the previous auction.
(2) Begins a new auction.
(3) Assigns an adjusted score of average plus to the
non-offenders and average minus to the offenders if any call
substituted by an offender differs in any significant way from
his previous call(s). Otherwise, the Director should allow the
board to be played normally.
4. The Director then deals with
the second board involved
in this situation — the board
where the incorrect hand
originated, if that board has
not yet been played by this
(a) The Director should try to get a valid result on this board
whenever the hand involved was not in the auction on the
(b) Since all players have some unauthorized information
on this hand (they know the player did not have enough
points to be in the auction), the Director should monitor
(c) The Director should award an adjusted score (see Law
12) whenever he feels the unauthorized information
makes it impossible to achieve a valid result.
The auction period ends when all
four players pass, or when, after three consecutive passes in rotation have followed a call, the
opening lead is faced.
Law 21 allows the Director, prior to the opening lead being
faced, to cancel a final pass by the non-offenders in the situation
where there has been misinformation, such as a failure to Alert,
and that pass may have been based on misinformation. The bidding
reverts to the last pass by the non-offending side, and if any call
other than a pass is made, the bidding continues. Otherwise, the
opening lead is faced and the auction is over.
NOTE: Any time a non-offender has
made an opening lead when
there has been misinformation as above, the lead may be
changed without penalty until a card belonging to dummy’s
hand has been faced. When a Director may allow the
withdrawal of a face-down opening lead, see Law 47.
NOTE: The Director may adjust the
score at the conclusion of play
if he deems the misinformation damaged the defenders in
either the bidding or on the opening lead.
Cards faced before the start of the auction.
If, in removing a hand from a board, a card is found faced and is
seen by partner, this is considered "unauthorized information." Since
it has occurred before the start of the auction, Law 16 applies.
If a card is inadvertently faced by a player before the auction has
begun for his side, Law 16 applies.
NOTE: Refer to the section on "Definitions" for terms used in this
Utterances such as "one ... " and "I am about to make a skip
bid ... " do not constitute bids, or even calls. Law 16, Unauthorized
Information, is used to deal with this type of situation.
In no case should the Director ever require that the defender
name a denomination or otherwise complete his "call" — unless it is
obvious what the player intended to bid (e.g.,
"One spuh ... ").
When using bidding boxes, a call is
considered made when a
bid (or a card designating a call) has been held face up, touching
or nearly touching the table, or maintained in such a position as to
indicate that it has been played. If a call is withdrawn from the box
but not "played," treat it as unauthorized information under Law 16.
It is okay to correct a "slip of the fingers" (Law 25A.), but refer
to Law 25 B. if the player wishes to change a call that is not deemed
Doubles and Redoubles
Definition of a legal double: A
player may double only the last
preceding bid. The bid must have been made by an opponent and no
calls other than pass
may have intervened.
Definition of a legal redouble: A
player may redouble only
the last preceding double. The double must have been made by an
opponent and no calls other than
pass may have intervened.
An inadmissible double or redouble
is one not permitted by
NOTE: Doubles and redoubles need not
be in rotation to be
admissible. This distinction may become important, for
example, in the application of Law 32, (Re)Doubles Out of
Proper method of doubling/redoubling
1. A player should not, in doubling or redoubling, state the
number of tricks or the denomination.
2. If a player states either the number of tricks or the
denomination (or both) incorrectly, he is deemed to have
doubled or redoubled the bid as it was made. (Law 16 may
For example, if a player says "I double 4S"
bid was 4H,
he has doubled 4H.
Further, his partner
has received unauthorized information. If partner takes
action based on that information, Law 16, Unauthorized
Information, should be applied.
3. It is improper for partners to communicate through the
manner in which calls or plays are made and through
extraneous remarks or gestures. It is a breach of Law 74 for
players to use different designations for the same call. Simply
saying "double" is proper. Expressions like "I double" and "I
double you" are improper.
Review and Explanation of Calls
Right to review a call, a bid or the auction
1. A player who did not
clearly hear a call has the
right to ask
immediately that it be repeated. If, however, that player does
not immediately ask for the call to be repeated, he must, at
his turn to call, ask for a complete review of the auction and
listen to all of it. He must not simply ask that the single call
2. During the auction
a player is entitled to have all
calls and Alerts restated only if it is his turn to call, and then
only if he is not required (by an earlier application of the
Laws) to pass at that turn.
3. After the final
pass either defender has the
right to ask if it
is his opening lead. Law 47 E. states that a lead out of turn
may be retracted without penalty if the leader was mistakenly
informed by an opponent
that it was his turn to lead.
Procedure for review
1. A request to have calls restated should be responded to only
by an opponent.
2. Declarer or either
defender may, at his first turn
require all previous calls to be restated. Declarer’s play from
either hand, whether or not in turn, is deemed to constitute
his first play and thus terminates his right to a review.
Error in restatement of review
Any player, including dummy or a player required by Law to
pass, may, and should, promptly correct an error in restatement when
a review has been requested.
NOTE: When confronted with a
situation where a
not corrected, the director
should try to have the players
agree on the auction up to the point of the error. He should
allow the bidding to proceed without penalty. He may later
need to award an adjusted score (Law 12) if the failure to
correct the review caused damage.
Explanation of opponents’ calls/plays:
1. During the auction, any player at his own turn to call may
ask for and receive a review of the bidding or an explanation
of an opponent’s call. Also, after a face-down opening lead,
leader’s partner and/or declarer may ask for and receive a
review of the bidding (see Procedure for review" #2 above.)
or an explanation of an opponent’s call. Replies should
be given by the partner of the player who made the call in
2. After the final pass and throughout the play period, declarer
or either defender at his own turn to play may request and
receive such an explanation.
3. Questions may be asked about calls that were made and
about calls that were not made but were available and
4. Declarer may request and receive an explanation of the
defenders’ card play conventions.
5. When explaining the significance of partner’s call or play in
reply to an opponent’s inquiry, a player should disclose all
special information conveyed to him through partnership
agreement or partnership experience, but he need not
disclose inferences drawn from his general bridge knowledge
and experience, Law 75.
If the meaning has not been discussed, "no agreement"
or "undiscussed" is the proper response. Players should not
say such things as "I am taking it to mean ... " In addition,
"standard" or the name of a convention is not a proper
NOTE: If a defender’s questions
impart unauthorized information
to his partner, Law 16, Unauthorized Information, may
apply if, for example, a successful line of defense could
have been suggested.
See Director Tech File
Call Based on Misinformation
Call based on caller’s misunderstanding:
A player has
no recourse if he has made a call on the basis of his own
Call based on misinformation from an opponent:
promptly Alert a conventional call or special understanding, where
such Alert is required by the sponsoring organization, is deemed
misinformation. (See pages 79–80.)
Failure to Alert misinformation may entitle a pair to redress if
the pair is damaged as a direct result of the infraction. A player
who suspects what is going on, but refrains from protecting himself
by not asking questions in the hope that the opponents have a
misunderstanding does not have a firm basis in asking for a score
adjustment and frequently should not be awarded an adjustment.
Failure to Alert/changing a call:
It is improper procedure for players to change calls in failure-to-Alert situations without first summoning the Director.
A player may change a call he may have made as a result of
misinformation (failure to Alert) given to him by an opponent
without penalty, provided that his partner has not subsequently
Consider an auction such as:
NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST
At this point West suddenly remembers that 2H
was a Roman
jump overcall showing hearts and spades. First West should Alert as
soon as he remembers (see Law 75), even though there have been
calls after the Alertable 2H.
Second, the Director should be called
immediately, not only because the Law requires it but also because
the Director might still be able to rectify the situation to permit
The Law permits the Director to cancel up to one call from each
side. By so doing, this particular auction will revert to the point of
the infraction and South may change his call if the new information
gives him a bridge reason to do so. In this situation, it is likely that
he will make a different call and, if he does, West may in turn change
It is worth mentioning that when the auction has progressed
beyond the infraction prior to canceling any calls, the Director
should speak with each non-offender (and possibly offenders) away
from the table to ascertain if they would have made different calls
(or plays) with the correct information.
Note that ANY information from withdrawn calls (Law 16
C.2.) is UNAUTHORIZED for East–West (the offending side) and
AUTHORIZED for North–South.
Procedure after the Auction Has Ended
When a board is passed out:
a board may not be redealt because no player has bid. The hands
are returned to the board without play (see Law 6).
The Director should penalize contestants for improper procedure
when they know better and reshuffle a board without the permission
of the Director.
Damaging Enforced Pass
NOTE: This law will be referred to
frequently in many of the laws
that prescribe penalties for auction-period infractions.
Damaging enforced pass
When the penalty for an irregularity in any of these Laws
requires the offender’s partner to pass at his next turn to call or for
the entire auction period, and when the Director deems that the
offender, at the time of his irregularity, could have known that the
enforced pass(es) would be likely to damage the non-offending side,
the Director will require the auction and play to continue. He will
award an adjusted score in cases where he feels the non-offending
side was damaged by the enforced pass(es).
The Director should understand that it is rare that an enforced
pass will cause a score to be adjusted. Most cases do not meet the
requirement that a player, at the time of the infraction, could have
known that it would be beneficial to require his partner to pass.
In other instances, it is "rub of the green" damage and players are
permitted to be "lucky" sometimes. Two examples may make these
Example 1: A player hears his
partner pass in first chair. Before
his RHO can call, he psychs 1NT. Since few opponents will accept
such a call out of turn, it is fairly certain that his partner will be
silenced. If the opponents are fooled and do not get to the correct
contract, it would appear that the player has just made a successful
psych. However, this must be judged an infraction. It should be
deemed that the player could have known that it would be beneficial
to his side to have partner barred from the auction. The Director
should be prepared to adjust the score.
Example 2: A player opens 1NT in
third seat before anyone else
has called. If the call is not accepted, his partner is required to pass
for the entire auction. When the auction proceeds PASS–PASS to
him, he decides to open 3NT. It turns out that partner has a big hand
and most pairs are getting to slam which does not make due to some
unfortunate card placement. There is hardly any "legal" way that this
player could have known it would be beneficial to silence partner. He
was just "LUCKY" — the Director MUST let this result stand.
For other passes causing damage after an irregularity see
Law 72 B.1.
See Director Tech File
Card Exposed or Led during Auction (See Law 17)
When the Director determines that a player’s actions during
the auction (see Law 17A.) made it possible for his partner to see
one or more of his cards, the Director requires that every such card
be left face up on the table until the auction closes. If the offender
subsequently becomes a defender, declarer may treat each of these
cards as a penalty card (Law 50). In addition:
1. if this card is a single card below the rank of an honor and
not prematurely led, there is no further auction penalty and
this card becomes a minor penalty card. (See Law 50 C.)
2. if the exposed card is an honor, a card prematurely led or
there is more than one exposed card, the offender’s partner
must pass one time when next it is his turn to call. The
card(s) becomes a major penalty card.
NOTE: See Law 23 if the pass damages
the non-offending side.
Legal and Illegal Changes of Call
Until his partner makes a subsequent call, the Director should
permit a player to change an inadvertent call without penalty,
provided he changes or attempts to change the call without pause for
thought. Inadvertency means a slip of the tongue (or with bidding
boxes a slip of the fingers — a mechanical error) has occurred, not
a change of mind. The player does not have to make the change
of call; any indication that the first call was not his intended call
is sufficient. Also, this indication of inadvertency must be made
without pause for thought. It is important to note that the thought
being described is about what to call, not about what to have for
Purposeful change of call
If a player changes his mind and wants to make a different
call, the Director may allow him to do so as long as the next player
(LHO) has not yet made a subsequent call. The penalty in such
a situation is that the offender’s side can get a maximum of 40%
of the matchpoints (i.e.,
they get their score or an average minus,
whichever is WORSE). Remember that information derived from a
withdrawn call is not authorized to the offender. The non-offenders
receive the score obtained at the table unless there is an adjustment
made using Law 16 C.2. Note that if the player elects not to change
his call, the fact that he was considering another call is unauthorized
information to partner. (See Law 16 A.)
If the original call was insufficient, the Director applies Law 27,
If the Director arrives after the offender has already substituted
a call and the Director determines that the first call was NOT
inadvertent, he should give the offender’s LHO the option to accept
the change of call. If the change is accepted, the auction proceeds
without penalty. If it is not accepted, the Director gives the offender
1. Let his first call stand and require his partner to pass when
next is his turn to call OR
2. Change his call to any legal call and let the auction proceed
without penalty. The Director should tell the offenders that
their score on this board will be average minus or the table
result, whichever is worse, and caution the offender’s partner
to avoid making a call that could have been suggested by the
See Director Tech File,
Call Withdrawn, Lead Penalties
Under the Laws a "specified suit" is a suit named either
implicitly or explicitly. For instance, a player makes a Michaels
cuebid, which specifies spades and hearts. His bid says nothing at all
about his holding in the suit he bid.
If the withdrawn call refers to a specific suit,
there is no lead
penalty if the suit is specified at any time in this auction by the same
player. (If LHO bids 2C
Michaels over opener’s 1C
bid and then
changes his call to 1H,
Michaels bid says the player holds
hearts and spades. Since he has bid hearts, no lead penalty would
apply to hearts.)
Note, however, that Laws 16 C. and 72 B.1. apply
when the suit is or was specified. For example, on an auction 1C
(natural) — 1NT –Pass–3NT–3C
(changed to Pass): while there
is no lead penalty, there may have to be an adjustment due to the
UNAUTHORIZED INFORMATION. (Refer to Law 16 C.2.)
If the player who changes his bid has not already specified
or does not later specify in the legal auction a suit that has been
specified, a lead penalty will
apply to that suit. (In the Michaels case
above, if the offender does not later mention (naturally) the spade
suit, a lead penalty will apply to spades if the offenders become
defenders.) The penalty allows declarer to either require or prohibit
offender’s partner from leading the specified suit(s) that fall(s) in this
category at his first turn to lead. If the lead of the specified suit is
prohibited, that prohibition lasts for as long as the offender’s partner
retains the lead.
NOTE: In the Michaels example above,
if LHO changes his bid to
1NT and never bids either hearts or spades, there are two
specified suits. If the offending side becomes the defenders,
the declarer would have the right to impose a lead penalty
in either hearts or spades — the specified suits — on the
offender’s partner the first time he is on lead.
If the withdrawn call shows two suits but only one is specified
(opener bids 1H,
LHO bids a Michaels 2H,
showing spades and
a minor, and changes his call to 1NT), the declarer may require the
lead of a spade or prohibit the lead of a spade, a diamond or a club.
If the withdrawn call does not refer to a specific suit,
may prohibit offender’s partner from leading any one suit at his first
turn to lead, with the prohibition continuing for as long as that player
retains the lead.
NOTE: Declarer may not require the
lead of a specific suit unless
the suit has been specified by the offender.
These are examples of bids which do not specify a suit:
notrump bids, strong artificial opening bids such as all-purpose
cuebids, many non-penalty doubles and redoubles, some artificial
takeouts (such as Fishbein) and most passes.
An insufficient bid is automatically accepted if
LHO calls. The
auction then proceeds as though there had been no irregularity. If
either non-offender points out that the bid is insufficient, that does
not suggest acceptance of the insufficient bid.
NOTE: Especially when bidding boxes
are in use, the Director
needs to ascertain, away from the table, if the call was
due to a mechanical error). Many times
a player may be too embarrassed to relate that fact to
the Director in front of other players. In addition, if the
Director inquires at the table, he may pass unauthorized
The Director must also decide if the insufficient bid may be
conventional, or if a correction to the lowest sufficient bid in the
same denomination may be conventional.
The Director may examine the offending side’s convention card
in making this determination. Example: Opening bidder bids 2NT,
and LHO overcalls 2C.
On examining the convention card the
Director determines that 2C
over 1NT was Landy, showing hearts
and spades. He should treat this overcall as conventional and rule
The Director should then give LHO the option to accept the
insufficient bid after explaining all the options and penalties that
may be applicable. If accepted the auction proceeds normally and
may sound a little strange — but that’s all right.
When the insufficient bid is not accepted,
the Director should
caution the offender that a double or a redouble may not be
substituted for the insufficient bid.
1. If the insufficient
bid is deemed by the Director to be
conventional, it must be
corrected by a legal bid or pass and
the offender’s partner must pass for the remainder of the
auction. (See note below.)
If the insufficient
bid is not conventional and is corrected
by the lowest sufficient bid in the same denomination,
auction proceeds as though no irregularity had occurred.
The Director may assign an adjusted score in a case where
the insufficient bid (corrected by the lowest bid in the same
denomination) gave information to the offenders which
caused the non-offending side to be damaged.
3. If the insufficient
bid is corrected by any other sufficient bid
or a pass, the offender’s
partner must pass for the remainder
of the auction. (See note below.)
NOTE: In #1 and #3 above, Law 23
applies when the enforced pass
damages the non-offenders and the lead penalties of Law
26 apply to any illegally named suit — specified or implied
— not specified at any time in the auction by the offender.
Call out of Rotation
NOTE: The Director should be extra
careful to read the appropriate
Law in making a ruling under these sections.
This is one area where it is vital to understand the distinction
between Laws that use the all-encompassing term "call," which
refers to ANY bid, double, redouble or pass, and Laws that deal with
Calls Considered to Be in Rotation
A call is considered to be in rotation
1. when made by a player before RHO calls if RHO is required
by Law to pass.
2. when made by a player at his turn to call before a penalty
is assessed for an opponent’s call out of turn. In such a case
there is no longer a penalty for the call out of turn, which is
canceled, and the auction proceeds as though there had been
no irregularity. (Law 16 C.2. applies.)
Procedure after a Call out of Rotation
The call out of rotation is automatically canceled
when the when the opponent whose turn it was to call makes a call before a
been assessed. The auction proceeds as though the offending player
had not called at that turn, and no penalty may be assessed.
Director’s Role (See Law 10 C.):
1. It is the Director’s obligation when making a ruling to inform
a player of all of his options.
2. Whenever a Director rules on a pass, bid, legal double or
redouble out of rotation, he should inform LHO of the
penalties that are applicable to the infraction after FIRST
informing him that he has the right to accept the call — in
which case the auction would continue without penalty. If the
LHO does not accept the call, the Director then invokes the
NOTE: If the out-of-rotation call is
denomination(s) specified rather than the denomination
named is the one referred to by Laws 30, 31 and 32.
Pass out of Rotation (Not Accepted)
In general, a player who passes out of turn must pass at his
next turn to call — unless his pass was conventional.
If the Director determines that the pass is conventional, the
penalties are the same as those in Law 31 for a bid out of turn —
partner must pass for the remainder of the auction and Law 26 (lead
penalties) and Law 23 (effects of enforced pass) may apply.
NOTE: A pass is conventional when,
by special agreement, it
promises more than a specified amount of strength, or
when it artificially promises or denies values other than in
the last suit named. Since a forcing pass as an opening call
is not allowed in ACBL tournaments, this situation will
occur infrequently in ACBL events.
Before any player bids: Offender
must pass (once) at his next turn
to call, and Law 72 B.1. may apply if
partner was dealer.
After any player bids:
At RHO’s turn Offender must pass (once) at his next turn
At partner’s turn Offender must pass throughout the
balance of the auction and partner may
not double or redouble at that turn. (Law
72 B.1. may apply.)
At LHO’s turn Treat as a change of call. Apply Law 25.
Bid out of Rotation (Not Accepted)
At RHO’s turn RHO passes — Offender must repeat the
bid out of rotation. When that bid is legal,
there is no penalty.
At RHO’s turn RHO acts — If offender repeats the
partner must pass at his
next turn. If he makes any other legal
call, partner must pass for the balance
of the auction and lead penalties of Law
26 may apply. In both cases Law 23,
Enforced Pass, may also apply.
At partner’s turn or Offender’s partner must pass for
at LHO’s turn if the balance of the auction and lead
offender has not penalties of Law 26 and Law 23,
previously called Enforced Pass, may also apply.
At LHO’s turn if Apply Law 25, Change of Call.
*See Law 29 C.
Double or Redouble out of Rotation (Not Accepted)
(See Law 35 for inadmissible doubles or redoubles accepted.)
If LHO does not accept the double or redouble, then —
At partner’s turn to call Partner must pass for the
balance of the auction and lead
penalties of Law 26 B. may
apply and Law 23 may apply if
the enforced pass damages the
At RHO’s turn to call
If RHO passes, the offender must
repeat the out-of-rotation call — no
At RHO’s turn to call
If RHO bids, the offender may
any legal call, offender’s partner must
pass for the balance of the auction
and lead penalties of Law 26 B. may
apply. (See Law 23 if the enforced pass
damages the non-offenders.)
When two calls are made at approximately the same instant, and
one of the calls was made by the player whose turn it was to call, the
second call shall be treated as subsequent.
If the second call was legal, it stands.
If the second call was out of rotation or insufficient, the call can
be accepted as a legal call by the LHO of the offender.
1. It is accepted automatically if LHO calls.
2. If LHO does not choose to accept it, the call is canceled and the
appropriate Law and/or penalty is invoked.
Retention of Right to Call
After a pass out of rotation has been accepted by a pass,
Director should allow the auction to continue, making certain that
anyone skipped gets a subsequent chance to call.
If a player who is skipped does not get a chance to call, the
Director should cancel all passes commencing with the pass out of
rotation, and revert the bidding to the player who missed his turn. No
penalties are applicable.
NOTE: Law 35 deals with the
situation when four types of
inadmissible calls are accepted. Laws 36 to 39 each specify
the penalty for one of the inadmissible calls when they are not accepted.
Double or redouble
not permitted by
of your own side’s
(Re)Double and all
reverts to (re)doubler
and proceeds as
though no irregularity
occurred. No penalties
Offender must substitute
a legal call and partner
must pass for the balance
of the auction. Lead
penalties of Law 26 and
Law 23 may apply.
Action by player
required to pass.
Call and all subsequent
legal calls stand
without penalty. If
offender had been
required to pass for the
balance of the auction,
offender must pass at
Call is canceled. Both
members of offending
side must pass for the
balance of the auction.
Lead penalties of Law
26 and Law 23 may
Bid of more than seven.
Call and all subsequent
calls are canceled.
substitute a pass.
Bid is canceled. Both
members of offending
side must pass for the
balance of the auction.
Law 23 and lead
penalties of Law 26 may
Call after final
Call and all subsequent
calls are canceled
Any pass by a defender or
any call by a member of
the declaring side is
canceled and there is no
penalty. If a defender bids,
doubles or redoubles, the
lead penalties of Law 26
Director’s Option: This Law allows
the Director to award an
adjusted score if he decides a side has been damaged through its
opponents’ failure to explain the full meaning of a call or play.
Definition: A deliberate and gross
misstatement of honor
strength or suit length.
General Guidelines: A player may
make any call or any
play (including an intentionally misleading one that departs
from commonly accepted or previously announced conventional
practice) without prior announcement, provided it is not based on a
partnership understanding. In other words, a player may make any
bid that will fool partner and his opponents equally. ACBL or other
sponsoring organizations, however, control the use of psychs by
controlling the conventional usages which may impact them.
ACBL regulations address psychs depending on the level of
play as follows:
1. A player may not psych any artificial opening bid (e.g.,
or conventional responses to
artificial opening bids.
2. Psychic controls are not allowed. This includes any
agreement which, if used in conjunction with a psychic call,
makes allowance for that psych.
(supposedly natural) to a weak two-bid over which opener
may not raise to three. Such an agreement would place the
partnership at less of a risk.
3. A partnership is not permitted to use a system which calls
for psyching on virtually every hand of a given type or which
combines frequent psychs with light initial actions.
4. Consult the ACBL General Convention Chart and Mid-Chart
for other prohibitions.
While psychic bids are an integral part of bridge, a player does
not have the right to psych as frequently as he wishes simply because
he enjoys doing so. A series of tops and bottoms so earned by one
pair can unfairly affect the final results of a tournament.
ACBL’s Policy on Psychs: Psychs are
regulated by taking
disciplinary action against a player who disrupts a game with
frequent, random psychs. The ACBL Board of Directors has defined
types of disruptive bidding that make the offenders subject to
penalty. The following
definitions and explanations should prove
helpful to all Directors trying to enforce this regulation.
Excessive Psychic Bidding —
When three or more psychic When three or more psychic initial actions by
members of a partnership have been reported in
any one session and are called to the attention of the Director, the
Director should investigate the possibility that excessive psyching
is taking place. A presumption of inappropriate behavior exists, and
it is up to the players to demonstrate that they were not just horsing
around. It is up to them to show that they happened, this once, to
pick up a string of hands unusually appropriate for psychs.
The continued use of undisciplined psychic bids tends to create
partnership understandings that are implied from partnership
Example: If a player opens 1D
three times in one session with
two or fewer diamonds, partner finds it hard to take any 1D
bid seriously. When the psychic bidder’s partner, because of prior
usages, has a better chance of catching a psych than either opponent,
there is presumptive evidence that an undisclosed partnership
understanding exists, and the result of the board may be adjusted.
Frivolous Psychic Bidding —
Any psychic action inspired by a Any psychic action inspired by a spirit of
malicious mischief or lack of will to win may be interpreted
Unsportsmanlike Psychic Bidding —
Action apparently Action apparently designed to give the opponents an
abnormal opportunity to get a
good score, psychs against pairs or teams in contention,
against inexperienced players and
psychs used merely to create
action at the table are examples of unsportsmanlike psychic bidding.
NOTE TO CLUB MANAGERS: Clubs should
regulate the use
of uncontrolled psychs by saying that the burden of proof will be on
the player, if he makes more than two psychic calls per session, to
prove that he is not using excessive, frivolous or unsportsmanlike
psychic bidding. Disciplinary action (not score adjustments; these
should be made only when the result was affected because the
partner may have allowed for the psych due to previous experience)
should be taken against a player whose bidding does not conform to
Psychs which require no regulation or director attention:
Any call that deliberately and grossly misstates either honor
strength or suit length is by definition a psych.
psychs are disruptive to the game while others involve bridge tactics.
These definitions should help to distinguish a psych that
warrants disciplinary action or, at the least, attention by the Director,
from those that are an integral part of the game.
A tactical bid is a psych that is
made to paint a picture in an
opponent’s mind and partner’s mind that will cause them to play you
for a holding that you do not have, enabling you to succeed at the
contract to which you were inevitably headed.
Example: After partner opens
responder bids 2D
try to ward off a diamond lead on the way to 4S
S Q J x x x
x D x
x x C K
Or, you might cuebid an ace you don’t have on your way to six of
NOTE: Frequent use of tactics
similar to this will develop an
implicit partnership agreement which requires an Alert,
A waiting bid is generally a forcing
bid made by responder to
allow him time to learn more about partner’s opening hand. This
type of call is only rarely a psych, since in most cases the suit length
is not grossly misstated.
Example: Over a 1S
opening, responder bids 2C
SA x x x x
x x x D x
Q. The hand is too good for 2S
and not good enough to force to game. The 2C
bid is a waiting bid.
If opener rebids 2S,
responder can now bid 3S
A deviation was defined by Don
Oakie (Feb., 1978, ACBL
Bridge Bulletin) as a bid in which
the strength of the hand is within a
queen of the agreed or announced strength, and the bid is of a suit of
ample length or of notrump. He also defined a
as a bid of
a suit in which the length of the suit varies by no more than one card
from the agreed or announced length and the hand contains ample
high-card values for the bid in the system being played. If either of
these situations occurs, it is easy to see by repeating the definition
of a psych (a deliberate and gross misstatement of honor strength or
suit length) that a deviation is NOT a PSYCH.
However, frequent deviations may
indicate a serious problem.
Frequent deviations may indicate that the pair has an undisclosed
implied agreement acquired through experience. This situation
should be dealt with firmly.
REGULATION OF CONVENTIONS
NOTE: See Section C for the
Convention Charts ACBL has
established for various levels of tournament competition.
NOTE: In ACBL competition, both members of a partnershipmust use the same system. They must
have two identical
convention cards made out for the use of the opponents.
Both members of a partnership must employ the same
methods. Players must not refer to their own convention
cards or use any other aids to their memory, calculations or
CONVENTION CARD REGULATIONS
1. The Laws allow any player to
refer to an opponent’s
convention card at his own turn to call.
In addition any
player except dummy may refer to an opponent’s convention
card at his own turn to play. No player, however, may refer
to his own convention card at any time during the auction or
NOTE: A player may refer to his own
written defenses to unusual
methods played by his opponents. ACBL has designated
as unusual those methods played under the authority of the
ACBL Mid-Chart and SuperChart.
2. ACBL has established for all sanctioned events:
a. a convention card on which players list their conventions
b. regulations for the use of the card, including the
requirement that both partners use identical methods.
This requirement does not extend to style and judgment.
c. a regulation that both members of a partnership must
have the same point limits for an opening bid of 1NT.
NOTE: One partner could play that he
never opens 1NT holding
a five-card major. Since this is style, the sponsoring
organization has no control over this under the Law.
d. a regulation barring opening one bids which may, by
agreement, be made on fewer than 8 HCP (not applicable
to a psych).
e. a regulation barring conventional responses or rebids
of any kind when an opening natural notrump bid has a
lower limit of fewer than 10 HCP or a range of more than
f. a regulation barring conventional responses or rebids
of any kind when the agreed range of a weak two-bid is
greater than 7 HCP or the suit could contain fewer than
ACBL’s specific Convention Card Regulations:
1. Both members of a partnership must use the same system
They must use identical methods. Style may be different
and, of course, judgment may vary. During a session of play,
a system may not be varied, except with permission from
the Tournament Director. The Director might allow a pair to
change a convention but almost never their basic system.
2. Partnerships are required to have two convention cards
identically and legibly filled out. These cards must be
accessible to the opponents throughout the session.
3. All conventions marked in blue on the convention card
require an Announcement. All conventions marked in red
and all unusual treatments require an Alert.
4. A player is not entitled, during the auction and play periods,
to use anything to aid his memory, calculation or technique.
However, players may consult any written defenses to
methods permitted by the Mid-Chart or Super-Chart.
5. At the beginning of a round or session, a pair may review
their opponents’ convention card and alter their own defenses
against their opponents’ conventional calls and preempts.
Opponents may not vary their system after being informed of
these alterations in defenses.
Director Tech File
Index to Duplicate Laws