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 VI — THE PLAY
41. Commencement of Play
42. Dummy’s Rights
43. Dummy’s Limitations
44. Sequence and Procedure of Play
45. Card Played
46. Incomplete or Erroneous Call of Card from Dummy
47. Retraction of Card Played
48. Exposure of Declarer’s Cards
49. Exposure of a Defender’s Cards
50. Disposition of a Penalty Card
51. Two or More Penalty Cards
52. Failure to Lead or Play a Penalty Card
53. Lead out of Turn Accepted
54. Faced Opening Lead out of Turn
55. Declarer’s Lead out of Turn
56. Defender’s Lead out of Turn
57. Premature Lead or Play by Defender
58. Simultaneous Leads or Plays
59. Inability to Lead or Play as Required
60. Play after an Illegal Play
61. Failure to Follow Suit: Inquiries Concerning a Revoke
62. Correction of a Revoke
63. Establishment of a Revoke
64. Procedure after Establishment of a Revoke
65. Arrangement of Tricks
66. Inspection of Tricks
67. Defective Trick
68. Claim or Concession of Tricks
69. Acquiescence in Claim or Concession
70. Contested Claims
71. Concession Canceled
CHAPTER VI — THE PLAY
Commencement of Play
The facing of the opening lead concludes the auction.
Opening leads must be made face down per ACBL regulations.
After an irregularity, the face-down opening lead may be
withdrawn and returned to defender’s hand upon the instruction of
the Director (usually when there has been misinformation).
The opening leader may ask for a review or an explanation
of an opponent’s call prior to his opening lead. Declarer has the
same rights until his first play to trick one (from either his hand or
dummy). Leader’s partner has the same rights until he plays to trick
one. He may ask after the opening lead has been made and again
before he plays to trick one.
The defenders (subject to Law 16, Unauthorized Information)
and declarer retain the right to request explanations (see Law 20 F.)
throughout the play period, each at his own turn to play.
After it is too late to have a complete review of the auction,
either defender or declarer is entitled to be informed as to what
the contract is and whether, but not by whom, it was doubled or
NOTE: When the dummy is not properly
arranged, a violation of
Law 41 D. has occurred. See the discussion under Law 14.
Dummy has the following ABSOLUTE RIGHTS:
1. Dummy may give information, in the Director’s presence, as
to fact or law.
2. Dummy may keep count of tricks won and lost. In order to
exercise this right, dummy has the right to follow the play
as it occurs. If a player turns his cards in such a fashion that
dummy cannot see them, the Director should require the
player to fully face his cards as he plays them.
3. Dummy plays the cards of the dummy as declarer’s agent as
directed. Dummy may not inform declarer that he has a trick
turned incorrectly unless he does so immediately.
NOTE: There is no automatic penalty
for an infraction of this
nature. The Director should consider an adjustment
whenever dummy’s action may have aided declarer’s play.
Dummy has the following QUALIFIED RIGHTS:
1. Dummy may ask declarer (but not a defender) whether he
has a card of the suit led when he has failed to follow suit to
2. Dummy may try to prevent any irregularity by declarer. (He
may, for example, warn declarer against leading from the
3. Dummy may draw attention to any irregularity, but only after
play is concluded.
Dummy has the following general limitations
and is subject to
penalty under Law 90 for any violations.
1. Unless attention has been drawn to an irregularity, dummy
should not initiate a call for the Director during play.
2. Dummy may not call attention to an irregularity during play.
3. Dummy must not participate in the play or make any
comment or ask any question concerning the bidding or play.
There is no automatic penalty unless dummy has given up his
1. Exchanging hands with declarer.
2. Leaving his seat to watch declarer’s play.
3. On his own initiative, looking at the face of a card in a
These three specific penalties are:
1. Declarer may not enforce any penalty for the offense
if dummy is the first to draw attention to a defender’s
2. Either defender may choose the hand from which the declarer
shall lead if dummy warns declarer that he has led from the
3. Declarer must substitute a correct card if his play is illegal,
and the penalty provisions of Law 64 apply when dummy
is the first to ask declarer if a play from declarer’s hand
constitutes a revoke.
NOTE: The Director should refer to
part B.3. of this Law for
the instruction and authority to adjust a score so that a
player committing an irregularity does not profit from the
See Director Tech File
Sequence and Procedure of Play
See the official Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge.
NOTE: This is perhaps the most
frequent judgment ruling the
Director is called upon to make. It is one of the most
difficult rulings for players to accept. It usually costs the
offender a trick or two and it makes a difference whether
the card being judged is declarer’s or a defender’s.
The differences between the definitions of a defender’s played
card and declarer’s played card must be kept in mind. Since exposure
of one of declarer’s cards can help only the opponents, the Director
should exercise more leniency in allowing retraction of a card of
uncertain status when it is from declarer’s hand. If its exposure has
prompted any reaction by a defender which may have aided declarer,
the Director must take this into consideration (see Law 47 F.). In
close calls, the Director should rule in favor of the side that did not
create the problem.
Declarer’s card is played when it is
held face up, touching or
nearly touching the table, or maintained in such a position as to
indicate that it has been played.
It is irrelevant whether either or
both of the defenders see the card.
If the card is held in a manner
to indicate declarer has determined to play it, the card is played.
A defender’s card is played when it
is held in a position where
it could be possible for his partner to see its face. The Director
should endeavor to reconstruct the action as closely as possible. If he
is convinced that a card could have been seen by defender’s partner,
he should rule it a played card (an important point to remember is
that if both opponents saw the card it is very likely that partner could
have seen it).
It does not
matter whether the defender’s partner
actually saw the card. The question is could he have seen the face
of the card had he been looking directly at it.
As in all judgment
rulings, the Director’s decision is subject to review.
A player may correct the call of a card
if it is inadvertent
a slip of the tongue) and if there was no pause
for thought in
indicating a desire to change the card called. An opponent, however,
may change a legal play made in turn prior to the correction.
(See next page for ACBL Laws Commission interpretation of
declarer’s change of play from dummy’s hand.)
Example: It frequently occurs
that declarer leads and his play
from dummy is intended to be conditional on the play of LHO.
He then prematurely calls a card from dummy and, observing that
LHO’s card makes his choice unpalatable, endeavors to change
it. The change must not be
allowed regardless of the tempo, for
his first designation was not
inadvertent. Declarer leads a club,
intending to ruff in dummy. As he says "ruff," he notices that LHO
has ruffed with a trump higher than any in dummy. Regardless of
how quickly he says "pitch a diamond," such a change may not be
allowed, because "ruff " was not inadvertent.
When dummy plays a wrong card, a card not named by
declarer, the trick must be
corrected if attention is drawn to the error
before both sides have played to the next trick.
An opponent, however, may change a legal play made in turn
prior to the correction.
A fifth faced card contributed to a trick becomes a penalty
card (if played by a defender)
subject to Law 50 unless the Director deems that it was led. Law 53, Lead out of Turn Accepted; Law 55,
Declarer’s Lead out of Turn, or Law 56, Defender’s Lead out of Turn,
No player should turn his own card face down until all four
players have played to the trick.
(See Law 66 for inspection of quitted tricks or cards.)
Dummy should not touch or indicate any card
purpose of arrangement) without instructions from declarer after
dummy’s hand is faced. If he does, the Director should be called
to the table immediately to determine if dummy’s act did in fact
constitute a suggestion to declarer. If the Director judges that it did,
he allows play to continue, reserving his right to assign an adjusted
score if the defenders were damaged by the suggestion.
LAWS COMMISSION INTERPRETATION
OF Law 45 C. 4.(b)
There are two general cases:
1. The card played by dummy was NOT the one declarer called.
In this case Law 45 D. applies. There is no problem with this
interpretation as there is a clearly defined time beyond which
a correction is not permitted — after each side has played to
the next trick.
2. The card played was the one declarer called, but declarer
claims that the play was not intended (i.e.,
play). The Law reads, "A player may, without penalty, change
an inadvertent designation if he does so without pause for
a. While it may be difficult to identify an inadvertent action,
it is sometimes easier to define what it is not. It is not a
slip of the mind.
The opening bidder now thinks for a while, considering whether
to make a slam try. He finally places the green card on the table. This
is clearly a slip of the mind — NOT INADVERTENT — declarer
did not pull the wrong (unintended) bidding card.
An example of a change of mind is:
Declarer leads toward the A–Q in dummy, intending to finesse.
He calls "Queen" without looking to see the card that LHO has
played. He wants to change to the ace. No matter how fast (without
pause for thought) the change is made — NOT INADVERTENT.
b. In determining "inadvertent" the burden of proof (of
inadvertency) is on the declarer. The standard of proof is
c. In judging "without pause for thought," if declarer has
made a play after making an inadvertent designation
from dummy, a "pause for thought" has occurred — no
change in designation is to be permitted.
If declarer’s RHO has played and there is any reasonable
possibility that information gained from RHO’s play could
suggest that declarer’s play from dummy was a mistake, a "pause
for thought" has occurred — no change in designation is to be
In determining that there was no "pause for thought," the
director may judge so, even though there has been a pause between
the inadvertency and the indication by the player committing the
inadvertent action. There should be no pause, however, between the
awareness of the inadvertent action and drawing attention to it.
The bottom line is that there is to be a strong presumption that
the card called is the card that was intended to be called.
Director Tech File,
Incomplete or Erroneous Call of Card from Dummy
Proper designation of dummy’s card:
When calling a card to
be played from dummy’s hand, declarer should clearly state both the
suit and rank of the desired card.
In cases of incomplete or erroneous calls by declarer of dummy’s
cards to be played, the following restrictions apply,
declarer’s different intention is incontrovertible.
If declarer calls "high"
or words of like import, he is deemed to
have called the highest card of the suit indicated (or, if dummy is last
to play the trick, the lowest winning card).
NOTE: As fourth hand to play,
declarer may be deemed to have
called for the lowest winning card.
has the ace and queen of a suit led by dummy’s LHO,
"high" may be deemed to be the queen. There are times
when declarer means to play the ace in order to overtake
the queen with the king in his hand. Hence, use of the
words "may be deemed."
If declarer calls
or words of like import, he is deemed to
have called the lowest card of the suit indicated.
If declarer names a suit but not
a rank, he is deemed to have
called the lowest card of the suit indicated. (Note: declarer’s intent
is important. When declarer is running diamonds from dummy and
says "play a diamond," the Director may decide declarer meant to
play a high diamond.)
If declarer names a rank but not
a suit, he is deemed to have
played a suit in which dummy won the preceding trick, provided the
dummy contains a card of the named rank in the suit. In all other
cases he must play a card of that rank if legally possible. If there is
more than one card in dummy which can be played, declarer may
select the suit.
If declarer indicates a play
without naming either a suit or
(as by saying "play anything" or words of like import), (as by saying "play
anything" or words of like import), either defender may decide which card is
to be played (without
consultation). Note: declarer’s intent is important. The Director must
keep in mind the phrase "except when declarer’s different intention
Special Bridge Jargon: Much bridge
jargon and many
gestures have become an integral part of the game, and Directors are
cautioned to recognize their validity. Expressions such as "ruff it,"
"hit it," or "cut it," for example, all refer to playing a trump to the
lead of another suit. "Hook it" designates a finesse. Similarly, hands
or fingers pointing or swinging upwards mean play high, while
"duck" designates a low card. This list could be quite long, but these
examples should suffice.
Retraction of Card Played
A played card may legally be retracted:
To comply with a penalty. If, for example, West leads
before declarer exercises his options on East’s major
penalty card, declarer could select an option that would
require the retraction of the lead (the initial lead would
then become a major penalty card).
To correct an illegal play. For example, if a player discovers
his revoke in time, he must correct it, thus avoiding the
revoke penalty. If he is a defender, the withdrawn card
becomes a major penalty card.
To change an inadvertent designation. See Law 45C.4.(b)
Following an opponent’s change of play
1. If declarer changes his played card, from either his hand
or dummy, after defender’s correction of a revoke, and the
offender’s partner also changes his play, the withdrawn cards
of both defenders are major penalty cards, Law 50.
2. When LHO plays before declarer’s inadvertent play is
withdrawn, both declarer and LHO may withdraw their cards
without penalty. (See Law 45.) If defender’s withdrawn card
gives declarer substantial information, the Director may
assign an adjusted score.
Because of misinformation
1. 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.
2. A card played may be retracted if played because of a
mistaken explanation of an opponent’s conventional play
or call and before a corrected explanation — but only if no
card was subsequently played to that trick. When it is too
late for a player to retract such a card, the Director awards an
adjusted score if he decides there has been damage because
the opponent failed to properly explain the meaning of a call
3. A face-down opening lead out of turn may be withdrawn
after an irregularity, but only upon instruction by the
Unauthorized Information from a Card Withdrawn by a
When a player’s infraction results in a non-offender legally
withdrawing a card, the non-offending side is entitled to redress
in cases where the knowledge from the withdrawn card aids the
offending side. If declarer is the offender, information gained by the
defenders from their withdrawn plays is legal and authorized. (See
Law 16 C.2.)
Exposure of Declarer’s Cards
Declarer is not subject to penalty for exposing a card,
no card of declarer’s hand or dummy’s hand ever becomes a penalty
card. Declarer is not required to play any card dropped accidentally.
When declarer faces his cards
after an opening lead out of turn has been faced,
accepted the lead and there is no penalty. Play continues with
dummy as declarer.
after a lead out of turn but before it has been faced,
cards are treated as exposed during the auction because the
auction is not completed until the lead is faced. (See Law 17 E.)
intentionally at any time other than immediately after an
opening lead out of turn, he may be
deemed to have made a
claim or concession of tricks and Law 68 applies.
NOTE: When declarer intentionally
plays a card, it cannot be
changed (even if the wrong card was pulled) unless
provided for in Law 47. Changes of mind are not permitted.
Exposure of a Defender’s Cards
A card prematurely exposed, but not led, becomes a penalty
card when a defender holds it so that it is possible for the defender’s
partner to see it or when it is named as being in the defender’s hand
or when it is played by the defender before he is legally entitled do
so. However, per the footnote to Law 68, when a defender makes a
statement about the trick currently in progress (such as saying "it
does not matter what you play" to a declarer who is pondering),
cards exposed or revealed by a defender do not become penalty
cards. Law 16, Unauthorized Information, however, may apply.
NOTE EXCEPTION: When an external
influence is a dominant factor in the exposure of the card(s), the Director should
designate the card(s) as not being penalty cards, but
should consider applying Law 12, Director’s Discretionary
Powers, or Law 16, Unauthorized Information.
Example: South spills coffee in
East’s lap. In endeavoring to
escape, East exposes one or more cards. No penalty should be given,
although Law 16 will surely be applicable, and maybe Law 12. The
Director may assign an adjusted score if no rectification can be made
that will permit normal play of the board.
NOTE: The Director must exercise
discretion in making his
decision in such cases. Carelessness should not exempt
an offender from penalty. When there is no likelihood of
intent to expose the card(s), however, the Director should
seek to be lenient if indeed there has been any external
influence created by the opponents that has affected the
Disposition of a Penalty Card
Definition of a Penalty Card: A
card prematurely exposed (but
not led — if prematurely led, see
Law 57) by a defender is a penalty
card unless the Director designates otherwise.
Designating a Card as a Penalty Card
When the players have agreed among themselves that a card is
a penalty card, the Director, when subsequently called to the table,
should generally agree unless he feels that someone’s rights were
jeopardized by the failure to call him when the card was first exposed.
Example: The defenders may not
be aware of the lead penalties
to which the offender’s partner is subject because the Director wasn’t
called in a timely fashion to explain the Law. (See Law 11.)
The Director’s Role:
1. The Director has the right to cancel a ruling agreed upon by
the players and carried out before the Director was called to
2. The Director, when called about an exposed card, should
explain all rights and penalties involved with the exposed
3. The Director should remain at the table if possible until the
penalty card is disposed of. If the Director needs to leave
(rare), he should caution the partner of the player with a
major penalty card that, should he obtain the lead while
his partner’s card is still exposed, he must not lead before
declarer has exercised his options.
minor penalty card
is a single card 9 or lower and exposed is a single card 9 or lower and
exposed by accident (as in playing two cards to a trick or dropping one
accidentally). It is not an
"accident," however, if a player
accidentally plays a club instead of a spade.
The following facts are true about a minor penalty card:
1. It must be left face up on the table.
2. It does not have to be played at its first legal opportunity.
3. It must be played before any other card, 9 or lower, of the
same suit is played.
4. It is permissible to lead or play a card, 10 or above, in the
same suit before playing the minor penalty card.
5. The offender’s partner is not subject to lead penalties, but
Law 16 A., Unauthorized Information, may apply.
A major penalty card
is a single card, 10 or above, exposed is a single card, 10 or above,
exposed accidentally, or any card exposed through deliberate play (as in
leading out of turn or correcting a revoke), or two or more penalty
cards (note that the same defender cannot have two minor penalty
cards) belonging to one defender.
The following facts are true about a major penalty card:
1. It must be left face up on the table immediately in front of
the player to whom it belongs until it is played or until an
alternative option has been exercised.
2. It must be played at the first legal opportunity (leading,
following suit, discarding, ruffing).
NOTE: Declarer has no options when
the player with the major
penalty card is on lead.
3. The obligation to follow suit or to comply with a lead or play
penalty takes precedence over the obligation to play a penalty
4. When a player has a major penalty card, his partner
lead to a new trick until declarer
states which, if any, of his
three options he is selecting.
a. He may require the lead of the suit of the penalty card,
just once, and all penalty cards in the suit are returned to
the player’s hand.
b. He may prohibit the lead of the suit of the penalty card
for as long as the partner retains the lead, and all penalty
cards in the suit are returned to the player’s hand.
c. Declarer may choose to allow the offender’s partner to
lead any suit, in which case the penalty card(s) stays on
the table and the partner leads anything. The Director
should make sure that the opening leader understands
that the penalty card will be played at his partner’s first
legal opportunity, including the current trick if the suit of
the penalty card is led. If the partner again has the lead,
even at the very next trick, while the same penalty card is
on the table, declarer may still exercise option a, b or c.
5. Except for the fact that the offender must play the penalty
card, other information arising from exposing the card is
unauthorized to the offender’s partner. An example is that the
partner may not use the knowledge to help place other cards
unless he has that knowledge from the auction or the play up
to that point.
NOTE: When cards are returned to a
defender’s hand after being
major penalty cards, there are no further restrictions on
the offender unless he still has penalty cards in another
suit. However, information arising from seeing the card(s)
is unauthorized information to the offender’s partner until
such information becomes available from legal sources,
such as the play of the cards.
See Director Tech File
Two or More Penalty Cards
1. If a defender has two or more penalty cards that can legally
be played to the current trick, the declarer may designate
which card shall be played.
2. If a defender has two or more penalty cards in one suit when
it is his partner’s turn to lead, declarer may:
the lead of that suit. Defender’s cards are no
longer penalty cards. He may pick them up and make any
the lead of that suit. Defender’s cards are no
longer penalty cards. He may pick them up and make any
the lead of any suit, in which case the cards
3. If a defender has penalty cards in more than one suit when it
is his partner’s turn to lead, declarer may:
the lead of one of the suits in which there is
penalty card. Defender’s cards in that suit are no longer
penalty cards. He may pick them up and make any legal
play subject to the restrictions on any remaining cards.
the lead of one or more of the suits.
cards in that suit (those suits) are no longer penalty cards.
He may pick them up and make any legal play subject to
the restrictions on any remaining cards.
Failure to Lead or Play a Penalty Card
When a defender fails to lead or play a penalty card
as directed as directed by Law 50, he may not, on his own initiative,
withdraw any other
card he played.
When a defender plays a card from his hand
rather than his rather than his major penalty card:
1. Declarer may accept the play.*
2. Declarer must accept the play if he has subsequently played
from his own hand or dummy.*
3. Declarer may require the defender to substitute the penalty
card for the card illegally played or led. Every card illegally
led or played by the defender in the course of committing the
irregularity becomes a
*The unplayed penalty card remains a penalty card if the card
played from defender’s hand is accepted by (1) or (2).
Lead out of Turn Accepted
Any Lead Faced out of Turn May Be Treated as a Correct Lead
1. If declarer or either defender, as the case may be, accepts
it by making a statement to that effect. If no acceptance is
made, the Director will require that the lead be made from
the correct hand.
NOTE: See Law 50 D.2. for declarer’s
options if the proper lead is
to be made by the partner of the player who led out of turn.
2. If the player next in rotation plays to the irregular lead.
NOTE: If a card is played by a
player whose turn it was to lead,
even if made subsequent to an opponent’s (not partner’s)
lead out of turn, it may be treated as the correct lead if the
player was leading on his own rather than following to the
card led out of turn. In this case, the Director should not
treat this as a play to the opponent’s lead. The opponent
would pick up his card without penalty. If the player is a
defender, however, Law 16 C.2. applies. Thus, if declarer
leads from his hand after LHO has led out of turn, LHO
picks up his lead, but RHO is not allowed to use the
knowledge that his partner has that card.
Faced Opening Lead out of Turn
The Director’s ruling should begin with this statement to
"You have five options. They are:
1. "You may accept the lead from the wrong hand and see dummy
before playing in proper sequence from your own hand.
2. "You may accept the lead and become the dummy." Note that if
one or more cards are exposed in spreading his hand to become
dummy the lead is accepted and declarer becomes dummy.
3. "You may require the lead — one time only from the proper
opening leader — of the suit that was improperly led, and the
penalty card is returned to the offender’s hand.
4. "You may prohibit the lead — from the proper leader for as long
as he holds the lead — of the suit that was improperly led, and
the penalty card is returned to the offender’s hand.
5. "You may leave the improperly led card on the table to remain a
penalty card. The opening leader can lead as he chooses. If the
correct opening leader retains or regains the lead, however, and
his partner still has the penalty card, you will, each time before
the defender leads, have the choice of exercising option 3, option
4 or option 5."
When declarer does not accept the opening lead out of turn,
card becomes a penalty card. (See Law 50.)
NOTE: A player may withdraw a lead
out of turn if the leader was
mistakenly informed by an opponent that it was his turn to
lead. (See Law 47 E.)
Declarer’s Lead out of Turn
The Laws state that either opponent may accept or require
retraction of a lead out of turn by declarer. (Note: if the lead out of
turn was due to misinformation from an opponent, see Law 47 E.)
The Laws do not state specifically how this should be handled.
Occasionally someone will point out declarer’s lead from the
wrong hand. That is merely calling attention to the irregularity. Both
defenders still have all their rights.
The proper method of extending the defenders their rights is
1. The Director should advise the defenders that either of them
may accept or reject the lead. They are not allowed to consult
and the first to speak will speak for the partnership.
2. The Director should explain that if a defender chooses to
reject the lead, declarer must lead from the correct hand but
is not required to lead the same suit.
The card incorrectly
led will be restored to its proper hand with no further penalty
and declarer will make any legal play from the correct hand.
3. If no one has yet spoken up, the Director should say, "If
neither of you cares to accept the lead, declarer will be
required to lead from the proper hand," pause for a moment,
and then so direct the declarer. If a defender requests a little
more time to ponder his decision, the Director should honor
NOTE: If simultaneous acceptance and
rejection occur, the
Director should give preference to the wishes of the
defender next to play after the irregular lead.
In cases where a player adopts a line of play that could
have been based on information gained from his own
infraction, the Director should warn the players that an
adjusted score might be awarded.
See Director Tech File
Defender’s Lead out of Turn
Declarer’s Options when a Defender Leads out of Turn:
1. Declarer may choose to accept the lead out of turn. (See
2. Declarer may require the defender to retract his lead out of
turn. The card illegally led becomes a major penalty card.
(See Law 50.)
See Director Tech File
Premature Lead or Play by Defender
Declarer’s Options: When a defender
leads to the next trick
before his partner has played to the current trick or plays out of turn
before his partner has played, the card so led or played becomes a
major penalty card.
Declarer has three options:
1. He may require offender’s partner to play the highest card he
holds of the suit led.
2. He may require offender’s partner to play the lowest card he
holds of the suit led.
3. He may prohibit offender’s partner from playing a card of a
different specified suit.
NOTE: When offender’s partner is
unable to comply with the
choice made by declarer, he may play any legal card.
When a defender plays before his partner,
there is no penalty:
1. If declarer has played from both hands.
2. If dummy has played a card on his own initiative or illegally
suggested that it be played.
NOTE: A singleton in dummy or one of
a group of cards in the
same suit which are equal in rank is not considered to be
Simultaneous Leads or Plays
A lead or play made simultaneously with another player’s legal
lead or play is deemed to be subsequent to it.
If both defenders
lead at the same time, for example, and one was the proper leader,
the lead from the defender who was not the proper leader should be
treated as a penalty card using Law 50 as a guideline.
If a Player Leads or Plays More than One Card
1. When only one card
is visible, that card is played
other card(s) is returned to the player’s hand without penalty.
2. When more than one
card is visible, the player
card he proposes to play. Each of the other cards becomes a
penalty card subject to Law 50 if the player was a defender. If
a single remaining card is lower than a 10, it becomes a minor
penalty card — the offender is entitled to know this prior to
selecting the card to be played.
If the simultaneous
play remains undiscovered
until both until both sides have played to the next trick, the Director
without exposing the extra cards, return them to the player’s
hand. Those cards may constitute a revoke if the player could
have played one to an earlier trick rather than not follow suit.
(See Law 67.)
NOTE: After a player withdraws a
visible card, an opponent who
subsequently played to that card has the right to withdraw
his card and substitute another without penalty. The
Director may award an adjusted score if the withdrawn
card gives information to the offending side that benefits
them in the play. (See Law 16 C.)
Inability to Lead or Play as Required
A player is allowed to play any otherwise legal card if he is
unable to comply with a penalty because:
1. he holds no card in the required suit.*
2. he has only cards of a suit he is prohibited from leading.
3. he is obliged to follow suit.
*If a defender has a major penalty card but doesn’t have a card
in the suit declarer has required, the defender must play the penalty
Play after an Illegal Play
Play of Card after an Irregularity:
If a non-offender plays a
card following an irregularity and before a penalty has been assessed
either for his RHO’s lead or play out of turn or his RHO’s premature lead or
1. the right to penalize the offense is forfeited.
2. the illegal play is treated as though it were in turn.
NOTE: When it was the non-offender’s
proper turn to lead, See
Law 53 C. His play can stand and the offender’s card, if
not legal, would be returned to the offender’s hand without
penalty (however, Law 16 C.2. applies). For example, if the
offender played the
and the proper leader, his LHO, led
before a penalty was assessed, the
returned without penalty to the offender’s hand.
3. any previous obligation to play a penalty card or to comply
with a lead or play penalty remains at future turns for the
When a Defender Plays a Card after Declarer Has Been
Required to Retract a lead out of
turn from his own hand or
dummy but before declarer has led from the correct hand, defender’s
card becomes a penalty card. (See Law 50.)
When a Member of the Offending Side Plays
irregularity and before a penalty has been assessed, it does not affect
the rights of the opponents. That play may also be subject to penalty.
Failure to Follow Suit: Inquiries Concerning a Revoke
Definition of a Revoke: A revoke is
the play of the card of
another suit by a player who is able to either follow suit or comply
with a lead penalty.
NOTE: See Law 59, when a player is
unable to comply.
Right to Inquire about a Possible Revoke
1. Dummy may ask declarer.
2. Declarer may ask the defenders.
3. Defenders may ask one another (in ACBL-sanctioned events)
4. DUMMY MAY NOT QUESTION THE DEFENDERS. If he
does so he is in violation of Law 43A.1.(c), which prohibits
dummy from participating in or communicating anything
about the play to the declarer.
Correction of a Revoke
A player must correct his revoke if
he becomes aware of it
before the revoke becomes established.
A revoke is corrected when the
offender withdraws the card he
played in revoking and substitutes a legal card.
1. If the withdrawn card was from defender’s unfaced hand, it
becomes a major penalty card. (See Law 50.)
2. If the withdrawn card belonged to declarer or dummy, it is replaced
Subsequent Cards Played after a Revoke May Be Withdrawn
1. by a member of the
non-offending side without
provided the card was played before attention was drawn to
2. by the partner of
the player who revoked
if his RHO if his RHO withdraws a card played after the revoke. This
card becomes a major penalty card if the player is a defender.
A Revoke on the 12TH TRICK
1. The revoke must be
corrected if it is discovered
four hands have been returned to the board.
2. If a defender revokes on the 12th trick before his partner
has played, and if offender’s partner has cards in two suits,
offender’s partner may not choose the play that could
possibly have been suggested by seeing the revoke card.
NOTE: When a defender legally
retracts a played card after
declarer’s infraction and change of play, the defenders
are entitled to redress under Law 16 C.2. when declarer
benefits from the knowledge of the withdrawn card.
Declarer is not entitled to protection in this situation when
the defenders profit from this knowledge.
Establishment of a Revoke
A Revoke Becomes Established when the Offender or His
1. leads or plays to the following trick.
2. names or designates a card to be played to the following trick.
3. makes or acquiesces in a claim or concession of tricks.
A revoke, once established, may not be corrected
as played, unless it occurred on the 12th trick and was discovered
before the hands were returned to the board. (See Law 64 for the
Director’s responsibility to restore equity.)
Procedure after Establishment of a Revoke
DECISION TREE FOR REVOKE PENALTY
How many tricks were taken by the offending side beginning
with the trick on which the revoke occurred to the end of play?
Zero - No Penalty
One - Penalty is one trick
Two or more -
Did the offending player win the trick of the revoke?
Yes - Penalty is two tricks
No - Did the offending player win a trick with a card he could legally have
played on the trick of the revoke?
No - Penalty is one trick
Yes - Penalty is two tricks
NOTE: When declarer wins a trick in
the dummy and revokes in
his hand, he is deemed not to have won the revoking trick.
If he later wins a trick in his hand with a card he "could
legally have played" on the revoke trick, the penalty is two
tricks. "Could legally have played" is intended to include
a card that would not rationally have been played had the
revoke not occurred, as in playing a king under the ace.
THE REVOKE LAW
The revoke penalty differentiates between cases where the
player committing the revoke wins the trick and where his
partner wins it.
Two tricks are transferred to the non-offending side
1. if the revoking player won the revoke trick and his side won
any subsequent trick, or
2. if the revoking player didn’t win the revoke trick but won a
subsequent trick with a card he could legally have played to
the revoke trick and his side won at least two tricks from the
revoke trick to the conclusion of play.
There is no penalty for a revoke:
1. when the offenders do not win any tricks from the revoke
2. when the revoke is the second one is the same suit by the
same player. The penalty still applies to the first revoke.
3. when the revoke involves a card belonging to dummy.
4. when the revoke involves defender’s failure to play a penalty
5. when one of the non-offenders has made a call on a
6. when, in the case of the last board of the set, attention is
drawn to the revoke after the round has ended.
NOTE: Law 8 B. tells us that in
general a round ends when the
Director gives the signal for the start of the following
round. If a table has not completed play, the round ends for
it when there has been a progression of players. For Swiss
teams and KOs, the round is deemed to have ended when
comparison of scores with teammates could have begun.
7. when the revoke occurred on the 12th trick. A revoke on the
12th trick must be corrected if discovered before all four
hands have been returned to the board.
NOTE: In all of the above cases, the
Director retains the right to
award an adjusted score. See the following discussion of
Law 64 C.
The Director Is Responsible for Equity
Law 64 C. provides that the offending side will not benefit
and the non-offending side will not be damaged by a revoke. This
Law gives the Director the right to restore equity in those revoke
situations where the penalty does not restore equity and those that
are not subject to penalty (such as a revoke in dummy).
How Law 64 C. Works —
If a result is inequitable to the non- If a result is inequitable to the
non- offenders and there is no penalty or the penalty exacted is not
equitable, the Director should adjust the score. He should restore the
likely result had the infraction not been committed (equity).
When the result is in doubt, the non-offenders are entitled to
the most favorable result likely had the revoke not occurred. The
Director should strain to award a real score. In assigning an artificial
score, however, the Director must be aware of the limits of the
result had the revoke not occurred. The Director must ensure that
the non-offenders receive equity, not a reward.
Any doubt in the
determination of a likely result, however, should be resolved in
favor of the non-offenders.
Arrangement of Tricks
The Law establishes that:
1. all players must keep their cards in order of play and must point
their cards in the proper direction after each trick.
2. if a player complains that another player is not complying with
1., the Director should point out that this is improper procedure
and that the failure to comply may result in the player being
unable to claim ownership of a doubtful trick or to establish
whether or not a revoke has occurred.
3. at completion of play, the quitted tricks should not be disturbed
until the number of tricks won by each side is agreed upon.
See Director Tech File
Inspection of Tricks
Current Trick: So long as his side
has not played to the next
trick, declarer or either defender may, until he has turned his own
card face down on the table, require that all cards just played to the
trick be faced for his inspection.
NOTE: It is improper to request this
inspection unless it is desired
for the player’s own information. It should not be done if
the purpose is to call partner’s attention to a play.
Own Trick: a player may look at his
own card and only his card
after the trick has been turned until a card is led to the next trick.
This exception is made so that a player can determine who is on
lead, make sure there has been no revoke, etc.
Quitted Tricks: Until play ceases,
quitted tricks may not be
inspected except at the Director’s specific instruction.
After Play: The played and unplayed
cards may be inspected
to settle a claim of a revoke or the number of tricks won or lost. If
a player mixes his cards in such a manner that the Director can no
longer ascertain the facts, the Director shall rule in favor of the other
Definition: A defective trick
is a trick to which a player has is a trick to which a player has omitted
playing a card or has played too many cards.
A defective trick must be corrected if attention is drawn to
the irregularity before a player on each side has played to the
1. If a player has
failed to play a card, he must
supply a card
he can legally play to the trick.
2. If a player has
played too many cards,
a. Law 45 states that a fifth card contributed to a trick by
a defender becomes a penalty card (Law 50), unless the
Director deems that it was led (Law 53 or Law 56).
b. See Law 58 for the ruling on simultaneous plays or leads.
If attention is drawn to a defective trick after a player on
each side has played to the following trick
or when the Director or when the Director later determines that there was a
defective trick from the fact that
one player has too few or too many cards, and a corresponding
improper number of played cards on the table before him, the
Director establishes which trick was defective.
To rectify the number of cards, the Director should proceed as
Too many cards in
offender’s hand (a three-card trick):
a. Player faces a card of the suit led to the defective trick
and places it among the played cards. This card does not
affect the ownership of the defective trick, and there is no
b. If the offender has no card of the suit led to add to the
defective trick, he chooses any card to place among his
cards. The Law requires that this irregularity be penalized
as though the offender revoked on the defective trick. The
offender is subject to a one-trick penalty if his side won
the defective trick or a subsequent trick.
2. Too few cards in
offender’s hand (a five-card trick):
a. Director inspects the cards played to the defective trick
and requires the player to restore to his hand any extra
card(s) which has been played to the defective trick but
has not been faced. If unable to determine which card
was faced, the highest of the cards that could legally have
been played is left in the quitted tricks. A restored card is
deemed to have continuously belonged to the offender’s
hand, and a failure to have played it to an earlier trick
may constitute a revoke.
b. If two or more cards were faced on the defective trick, the
restored card(s) is a major penalty card (defender only).
NOTE: If attention is drawn to a
defective trick in time to correct
it by having a player withdraw an extra card, the card must
have been visible to be declared a penalty card. A card
stuck behind another and withdrawn without the defender’s
partner either seeing its face or without the card being held
in a position where defender’s partner could have seen its
face would not be a penalty card.
Claim or Concession of Tricks
NOTE: For a statement or action to
constitute a claim or
concession of tricks under these laws, it must refer to tricks
other than the one currently in progress.
A Contestant Makes a Claim Whenever:
1. he announces that he will win a specific number of the
2. he suggests that play may be curtailed.
3. he intentionally faces his hand.
A Contestant Makes a Concession When:
1. he announces he will lose a specific number of tricks.
2. he abandons his hand.
NOTE: Following a claim or a concession, play ceases.
Director must void any play that occurred after the claim
or concession but before he arrived at the table. No
concession has taken place if the partner of a defender
immediately objects to the concession attempt by his
partner. The Director should be called to the table because
Law 16, Unauthorized Information, and Law 57 A.,
Premature Play, may apply.
See Director Tech File
Acquiescence in Claim or Concession
Acquiescence — Acquiescence occurs
when a contestant assents
to an opponent’s claim or concession and raises no objection before
his side makes a call on a subsequent board or before the round
ends, whichever is first. The board is scored as though the tricks
claimed or conceded had been won or lost in play.
A player may withdraw an acquiescience
within the time
period set by the sponsoring organization for score corrections,
but only if he has acquiesced in the loss of a trick that was actually
won or that could not, in the Director’s judgment, be lost by any
normal play of the remaining cards. ("Normal" includes play that
would be careless or inferior for the class of player involved, but not
irrational.) This time period is 30 minutes after the official scores are
posted, unless otherwise specified. Under such circumstances, the
board is rescored with such a trick awarded to the acquiescing side.
The Director’s Goal in adjudicating
the result of a board on
which a claim has been contested
is to restore equity
— to determine
the result which would most probably have been obtained had there
been no claim. However, with that guideline in mind, the Director
shall resolve any doubtful points against the claimer.
Play ceases following a claim or a concession and the Director
must decide who wins the remaining tricks.
When the Director comes to the table,
he should first cancel
any plays made following the claim (Law 68) and then follow this
1. Ask the table what the contract is.
2. Ask the claimer to repeat the clarification statement he
made at the time of the claim or allow the claimer to make a
statement if he has not yet done so, cautioning him that you
will give less weight to statements made after the objection.
a. If the claimer, in a suit contract, makes no mention of
the trumps in his claim, the Director should question
him about any outstanding trumps before the opponents’
hands are faced.
b. When claimer says he was aware of any outstanding
trump, the burden of proof is on him. The Director
should review the statement and the play and then
decide if it is at all likely the claimer was unaware of an
3. Require all hands to be faced.
4. Allow the opponents to state their objections to the claim.
5. In making his decision, the Director shall not accept from
claimer any successful line of play not mentioned in claimer’s
original clarification statement if there is an alternative
"normal" line of play that would be less successful.
6. In making his decision, the Director shall not accept from
claimer any unstated line of play that depends upon finding
a specific card in a specific hand unless an opponent had
previously failed to follow to the suit of that card or would
subsequently fail to follow to that suit on any "normal" line
of play. The Director, however, may accept an unstated line of
play that would have been irrational for declarer not to adopt.
Save for that exception, the claimer should lose in all "finesse
or drop" situations.
NOTE: There can be no pat solution
to rulings on claims. A degree
of bridge judgment is required since the intent of the Laws
is to resolve each individual case as equitably as possible to
both sides. These judgment situations may be appealed. In
situations where a committee is not available, it is advisable
to seek opinions from other directors or knowledgeable
players. Occasionally, a point will be missed by even the
most experienced Director.
When a claim is made and there is an outstanding trump,
Director should award a trick(s) to the opponents only when all the
following circumstances are present:
1. claimer did not mention the trump(s) in his statement, and
2. there was a chance that the claimer did not realize a trump
remained in an opponent’s hand, and
3. there is a normal line of play (which may be either careless or
inferior for the class of player involved, but not irrational) that
would allow the claimer to lose a trick to that trump.
Here are a few situations to help you understand how to deal
with claims and concessions:
Spades are trump, the lead is in dummy and declarer claims with
no explanation. If, after questioning declarer, the Director feels there
is a possibility that declarer was unaware of the outstanding trump,
a trick should be awarded to the defense because if declarer has
forgotten about the trump, he may choose to ruff the
S2 and West could overruff.
Example 2: On the deal from
Example 1, spades are trump, but
the lead is in declarer’s hand. Declarer claims with no explanation.
The Director should allow declarer to win all of the remaining
trumps. It is presumed that trumps are played from the top down.
Example 3: On the deal from
Example 1, the East and West
hands are reversed and the lead is in dummy. The claim would be
allowed because it would be irrational for declarer to underruff if
East ruffed the C2
with the S3.
Declarer is on lead and claims seven club tricks. It would be
irrational to play any club but the ace. Since the East hand will fail
to follow suit, declarer would be allowed to take the finesse and win
all seven tricks.
Declarer’s claim of five spade tricks would not be allowed
because he might carelessly lead first to the
But, if the East–
West hands were reversed, the claim would be allowed. No matter
whether or not dummy or declarer cashed an honor first, the suit
could be played for no losers.
A concession may be canceled by the Director
in these situations:
1. If a trick has been conceded that has already been won.*
2. If declarer concedes defeat of a contract he has already
made, or the defenders concede fulfillment of a contract they
have already defeated.*
3. If a trick is conceded that cannot be lost by any reasonable
line of play AND attention is drawn to it before the
conceding side makes a call on a subsequent board or before
the round ends, whichever comes first. (See Law 8.)
If a defender concedes one or more tricks and his partner objects
at once, no concession has occurred. (See Law 68 and then Law 16.)
NOTE: Many clubs which hold games
only once a week establish
a time limit of the start of the next week’s meeting of
that session as the end of the correction period for score
corrections. This gives the players a full week to check
for errors in the score, but it is too long a time to apply to
canceling concessions because memories have had time to
*For a concession to be canceled under these circumstances,
the error must be reported to the Director within the established
correction period. A standard correction period for this type of
correction is 30 minutes after the scores have been completed and
posted for inspection.
Index to Duplicate Laws