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 IX — TOURNAMENT SPONSORSHIP
Definition of the Sponsoring Organization
The club management, the proprietor, the Board of Directors
of the club, or an individual delegated the responsibility of setting
policy for the club and running the duplicate games.
Authority of the Sponsoring Organization
The sponsoring organization may establish regulations for the
conduct of duplicate games in its own club. These regulations may
not contravene the Laws of
Duplicate Contract Bridge or ACBL
regulations for sanctioned club games.
NOTE: For events such as Sectional
Tournaments at Clubs or
ACBL-wide events, ACBL tournament regulations with
respect to the following must be enforced:
1. A club may allow or bar specific conventions (Law 40 D.),
but it may not bar psychic bids (Law 75 B.).
2. A club need elect not to require the use of the "Alert"
procedure or the "Skip Bid" warning.
3. A club must require the use of the "face down" opening
lead. ACBL Board of Directors has ruled that "face down"
opening leads are mandatory in all ACBL-sanctioned events.
4. A well-managed club will post supplementary play
regulations and ask any occasional players or guests to read
them before they start to play.
5. These regulations will have the force of Law. A Director may
not be overruled by a committee on his or her enforcement
6. If an appeals committee is to be permitted, the club
management should make suitable arrangements for the
committee to hear the appeal.
CHAPTER X — TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR
Duties and Powers
1. He is the official representative of the sponsoring
organization and the ACBL.
2. He is responsible for the technical management of the
game and is bound by these Laws and by supplementary
regulations announced by the sponsoring organization.
Director’s Duties and Powers Normally Include:
1. appointing assistants, as required, to perform certain duties.
2. accepting and listing entries.
3. establishing suitable conditions of play and announcing them
to the contestants.
4. maintaining the discipline necessary to insure the orderly
progress of the game.
NOTE: The Director should never
tolerate improper behavior in his
game. He should not allow his authority to run the game
to be challenged, or he will lose control of his game. Since
he has absolute authority during the game, such challenges
may be dealt with politely but very firmly. Laws 90 and
91 outline the Director’s powers to penalize or suspend a
player during the course of the game.
5. administering and interpreting these Laws; advising the
players of their rights and responsibilities thereunder.
6. rectifying any error or irregularity of which he becomes
aware in any manner, within the correction period established
in accordance with Law 79.
7. assessing penalties when applicable.
8. waiving penalties for cause, at his discretion, upon the
request of the non-offending side when there are special
Example: A player opens the
bidding out of turn, thinking
he is dealer because the opponent accidentally shifted the empty
duplicate board on the table, or a defender drops a card on the table
because of a serious physical disability.
9. adjusting disputes, and referring disputed matters to the
appropriate committee when required.
10. collecting scores and tabulating results.
11. reporting results to the sponsoring organization for official
12. retaining ultimate responsibility for the correct performance
of any duties performed by his assistants.
Rectification of Errors of Procedure
Director’s Role: The Laws give the
Director the duty of
rectifying errors of procedure and maintaining the progress of the
game by awarding adjusted scores as permitted by the Laws and by
awarding late plays.
Director’s Error/Incorrect Ruling or Incorrect Penalty:
Director gives an incorrect ruling or assesses an incorrect penalty,
if possible he should rectify the error in such a way that the board
can be scored normally. If this is not possible, he should award an
artificial adjusted score, with both sides being considered as non-offenders.
1. Only one late play should be assigned to any one pair per
2. If a pair is unable, through fault of their own, to complete
another board after the Director has assigned them a late
play, the Director will award the offending pair an average
minus and their opponents an average plus.
3. The Director should not allow a late play if any of the
players at the table have already seen their cards on the deal.
He should either allow the hand to be bid and played to its
conclusion, or cancel the board for both sides if playing it
will unduly inconvenience the other contestants or unduly
delay the progress of the game.
4. If the Director can determine that only one side was
responsible for slow play, he awards the offenders an average
minus and their opponents an average plus for the unplayed
board. Both sides receive average if the Director is not able
to determine blame.
5. If a pair has been assigned a late play and is unable to
complete the last round and the late play in reasonable time,
the Director may award an artificial adjusted score. This is an
average plus for pairs that were in no way at fault for the late
play and an average minus for pairs that were responsible.
6. It is proper to bar late plays if the sponsor so desires or if
time does not permit. The Director assigns artificial adjusted
scores (Law 12) on any board that cannot be played in the
time limit established for the round.
Notification of the Right to Appeal
When the Director makes a judgment ruling on a point of
fact (damage after a hesitation; unauthorized information passed
during the auction) or exercises his discretionary power (as when
he assigns an adjusted score under Law 12), it is open to question
and/or appeal. He should advise the players involved of their right to
appeal. (See Appeals, Law 92.)
If the Director reads his ruling directly from the Laws book,
any request for a committee is useless because the committee can
give no redress. The Director should read Law 93 B.3. out of the
Laws book to inform the players that an appeal would be a waste of
everyone’s time. Be sure you, the Director, have read and are aware
of Laws 92 and 93 in the Laws, too!
Appeals at the Club Level
The National Laws Commission has stated that a club may
establish an appeals committee but is not obligated to do so. ACBL
suggests that a club either have a standing appeals committee or
appoint one when necessary. In this way, the Director is not the court
of last resort.
The Role of an Appeals Committee
1. The appeals committee allows players an opportunity to
obtain a hearing in cases where they do not agree with the
2. The appeals committee may not overrule the Director on
a point of Law or regulation or on the application of a
3. The appeals committee may remove a procedural penalty.
Committees, therefore, deal in matters of bridge judgment
and should consist of the most experienced players available.
A committee is generally recruited out of the game in which the
problem occurs. It should consist of either three or five members
so that a majority decision may be reached more easily. The
committee should not include any member of the club directorial
or management staff. No member of the committee should be
personally involved with any of the individuals concerned.
Remember that a club is not required to honor requests for
Suggested Procedure for a Club-Level Committee
1. Survey the game and see if you have enough people for a
satisfactory committee. Playing experience, bridge judgment,
and the ability to analyze all aspects of a question are what
is needed. The committee members chosen should have the
respect of all concerned.
2. Decide whether or not to hold a committee. If not, talk to the
people involved and explain your decision. If yes, ask the
prospective committee members if they would be willing to
help out with a problem and serve on a committee after the
game. Some will say yes, some no. If they can’t make it, it is
no fault of yours. You did the best you could. If a committee
can be formed, notify both pairs (teams) involved so that
they can remain afterwards and argue their side. All parties
involved, including the committee members, should be
reminded of the meeting during the last round.
3. As soon as the committee members are finished with play,
call the committee to the meeting area. This may mean
that you will have to let the scores sit until you are finished
with the committee. So be it! You should appoint one of the
members chairman. If the chairman is inexperienced, give
him a copy of this article to read so that he will know the
4. Meet with the committee with both sides present. The
meeting should proceed in the following manner:
a. As a preliminary, the Director should introduce everyone
present and specify which pair is appealing.
b. The chairman should now take over the hearing. He
should first assure all concerned that everyone will get
a chance to speak — that it would be appreciated if no
one interrupted the narratives (including committee
members!!). The chairman should ascertain that there are
no objections to any of the committee members by asking
each side individually. If any of the parties object to any
committee member, the reason for the objection should
be heard and the committee should decide whether or not
to excuse the member objected to.
c. The Director should speak first in the following manner:
On ____________________I was called to the table by
__________________ to consider a situation
____________________________________________ The following facts were
related to me
The following (Laws, regulations, procedures, common practices) pertain in
I ruled ____________________________________________________________________________
d. The chairman and then the committee members should
ask any questions they may have of the Director.
e. The chairman should inquire of the appealing parties if
they have anything to add to the Director’s statements. He
should also ascertain why they think the ruling should be
f. The other side should now be heard. If they have nothing
to add, the chairman may ask for any other statements
from kibitzers, additional testimony from the Director,
from the appealing parties, etc.
g. When there is no more testimony to be heard and the
chairman and his committee members have completed
their questioning, the chairman should excuse all parties
from the deliberations (including the Director, unless he
has been requested to remain). The Director should be
available to assist and advise the committee (on points of
Law and/or regulation only — not judgment) during its
deliberations but should not participate unless requested.
The committee should now deliberate and reach a
decision concerning the situation. The decision should be
commensurate with the instructions from Chapter IX of
the ACBL Handbook (Powers and Duties of an Appeals
Committee follows this section).
h. When a decision has been reached, all parties, including
the Director, should again appear before the committee
to hear the result. If the Director cannot be present, he
should make sure the chairman has agreed to transmit
the result to the Director so that any score change can be
5. After the decision has been rendered,
allow no more
discussion about the situation!! The
time for discussion and
dispute was in the prior period,
Not Now!!! The committee
members should not be subjected to any form of harangue
or abuse by dissatisfied players. If this begins, the committee
chairman or the Director should
Immediately stop the
conversations and warn the players that this is a serious
breach of conduct which is simply not allowed. Express to
them that it could lead to disciplinary penalties (matchpoints
taken from their score in the current game) or barring from
6. Make any scoring adjustments deemed necessary by the
POWERS AND DUTIES OF
AN APPEALS COMMITTEE
(This is an excerpt from the ACBL Handbook of Rules andRegulations — Chapter IX)
Powers and Duties
The convened appeals committee is considered to have been
delegated all judiciary powers and duties of the Tournament
Committee, save for any that may have been specifically withheld
by ACBL regulations. It must adjudicate every case that is brought
before it but may dismiss an appeal as being frivolous and assess
a penalty against the player(s) filing such a charge or appeal. The
Chief Director must inform the committee that its rights and powers
include, but are not limited to, the following:
a. Uphold the Director’s ruling.
b. Cancel the Director’s ruling and make any adjustment the
committee believes will constitute an equitable solution.
The adjustment may be:
1. Assignment of an Adjusted Total Point Score —
The committee may attempt to estimate what final contract
would have been played had the infraction in question not
occurred and to calculate the probable result that would have
been achieved. It may then order the board scored as though
that result was actually attained at the table.
2. Award of an Adjusted Score —
The committee may adjust the matchpoint score received by
either side or both sides.
3. Cancel Results —
The committee may cancel the result on the board in question
and award an average, average plus or average minus score to
either or both sides.
NOTE: Please note that, while the
scores need not balance, except
for rare instances, such as the Director having made an
error in Law, the total matchpoints should not exceed top
on a board.
4. Award Overall Percentages Scores —
The committee may award one or both sides their overall
percentage score in the session on the board in question (in
effect not permitting the board to affect the disputants’ scores
one way or another).
5. Assess Matchpoint Penalties —
The committee may assess a matchpoint penalty against the
offenders without granting any compensation to the nonoffending
Barring of Players by Club Management
A players may not be barred for these reasons:
1. Religious or political affiliation, race, creed, sexual orientation,
physical handicap or national origin.
2. Solely because of his proficiency at bridge.
A player may be barred for these reasons (except as detailed
1. An open club may bar a player for improper conduct, including
cases of unethical practices.
2. A partnership may be excluded as a pair (but each may be
permitted to play with other partners) if they are obnoxious or
Notifying a Player Who Has Been Barred
The player is privately notified by the club management and is
told the specific reason for his exclusion. In no other field of club
operation is the use of tact and judgment so necessary as when
notifying a player he is no longer welcome to play in an open game.
It is not necessary that the player be brought before a committee or
be granted a public hearing of any kind.
When a player is barred from participation in an open club,
the club manager must immediately report the action to ACBL
Headquarters. The report must include the name and player number
of the barred player and the reason for barring.
Rulings on Agreed Facts
This Law describes the mental process that should take place
when the Director is called to a table and all players agree as to what
NOTE: If the Law gives the Director
a choice between awarding a
specified penalty or an adjusted score, he should attempt to
restore equity by awarding a specific bridge result, resolving
any doubtful point in favor of the non-offending side. The
Director restores equity by analyzing the deal, checking the
other results on the board and determining what the normal
result would have been on the board if the infraction had
not occurred. He then awards that result to both pairs. If the
Director is unable to determine what would have occurred
on the board had the infraction not occurred, he awards an
artificial adjusted score — average plus to the non-offenders
and average minus to the offenders.
When no penalty is prescribed by the Laws for the
infraction: The Director will award
an adjusted score if there is a
reasonable possibility the non-offenders were damaged, notifying the
offenders of their right to appeal in cases where an irregularity has
occurred for which no penalty is prescribed by Law.
Rulings on Disputed Facts
1. If the Director is satisfied that he has ascertained the facts, he
should rule according to Law 84.
2. If the Director is unable to determine the facts to his
satisfaction, he must make a ruling that will permit play to
continue and notify the players of their right to appeal.
NOTE: The Director is expected to
use his judgment in certain
cases where there is a dispute about what a player said.
Example: When three people at a
table agree they heard an
utterance different from what the player claims to have said, it seems
prudent for the Director to decide that the threesome heard what
they thought they heard. This includes the situation where dummy
pulls the same card both defenders thought they heard declarer call.
If declarer claims he called for a different card, the Director is faced
with a three to one situation — the dummy by his action has agreed
with the defenders.
In two to one situations where one player claims not to have
been paying attention, the rule is not so clear. If the two players who
agree are partners, the Director should tend to accept the version of
the person who actually made the questioned statement. If a member
from each partnership agrees that the person making the statement
erred in what he thought he said, however, the Director should tend
to accept the version of the two persons.
NOTE: There are times when the facts
themselves can help the
Director to arrive at an equitable solution.
Example: North opens 1NT (16 to
18) and South bids (?) NT.
After the hand is over and declarer wins nine tricks, South’s claim
that he bid 3NT is disputed. If he holds, say, 12 points, this is strong
evidence to support his claim. Conversely, a holding of 8 HCP and
a balanced hand would put South’s statement in doubt, and the
Director would rule that the final bid was only 2NT.
In Team Play
Average Score at IMPs: At IMPs when
a Director chooses to
award an artificial adjusted score of average plus or average minus,
that score is plus 3 IMPs or minus 3 IMPs respectively.
Non-balancing Adjustments: In
Knockouts, when a Director
assigns non-balancing adjusted scores, each side’s IMP score on the
board is calculated separately. The average of the two IMP scores
is then assigned to both sides. In Swiss, when a Director assigns
non-balancing adjusted scores, each side’s result is based upon the
comparison of its side’s assigned or artificial score.
Example: A team may lose by 10
IMPs while its opponent wins
by only 5 IMPs.
Substitute Board: The Director may
not allow one board to
be redealt per Law 6 when the final result of a match without that
board could be known to the contestants. The Director may award
an adjusted score for an irregularity on a board discovered after
comparison of scores. For one fouled board with neither team
responsible, the Director will score the match with one fewer result.
See Director Tech File
Definition: A board is described as
fouled when a card (or cards)
or a complete hand (or hands) is placed in the wrong pocket of the
duplicate board during the course of the game.
Director’s Role in a Pair Game:
There are three basic steps the Director must follow in scoring a
1. He must determine at exactly what point in the game the
reversal (foul) occurred. He does this by consulting the
players, examining the scores, or both.
2. The Director divides the scores into two groups: one group
before the foul and one group after.
3. The Director matchpoints each group by itself. A group of
seven would be matchpointed on a 6 top; a group of three on
a 2 top, etc. The Director then adds a half a matchpoint to
each score for each time the board was played by the other
NOTE: In tournament play there is a
different formula for fouled
boards. If you use ACBLscore, you will be using the
tournament (the more correct) formula.
Director’s Role in Team Play:
The North–South teams’ matchpoint score will be
matchpointed within its own group as well as the East–West
score, and the percentage matchpoint result of each pair is
calculated. Let us add these two percentage numbers together
and call it "X". If "X" is less than 80%, the team loses the
board. If "X" is greater than 120%, the team wins the board.
In all other cases, the board is declared a tie.
The match is scored on the basis of the non-fouled boards
played by both of the teams involved. If only one side is at
fault, award the non-offending team 3 IMPs for each fouled
a. In the last segment of the match —
The match is scored on the basis of the non-fouled
boards played by both teams.
b. In other than the last segment of the match —
That segment is scored on the basis of the non-fouled
boards played by both teams and the next segment is
increased by the number of fouled boards.
Award of Indemnity Points
(See discussion of Law 12.)
When the Director deems that an artificial adjusted score must
be assigned, he awards
Average Plus — if a player in a pair
or individual event is
required to take an adjusted score through no fault or choice of
his own, the score will be average plus. An average plus equals a
minimum of 60% of the matchpoints available to the non-offender(s)
on that board or the percentage of matchpoints earned on boards
actually played during the session, if that percentage was greater
than 60%. In competition scored by IMPs, an average plus equals 3
NOTE: The minimum number of
matchpoints that can be awarded
as an average plus on a 12 top is 7.2. If the score of a pair
is more than 60% on the balance of the boards (excluding
the adjusted board), they should be awarded a matchpoint
score on the adjusted board equivalent to that percentage.
Example: A pair earns 190 points
on 25 boards (12 is top; 300
is a perfect score). Their matchpoint score on the adjusted board
should be 7.6 (190 divided by 25 equals 7.6).
Remember that rounding off to the nearest half-point can create
a tie; that is, 60% of 12 is 7.2, not 7.0, and remember that a margin
of .01 (1/100 of a point) is sufficient for a difference in rank.
Average Minus — if a pair is at
fault. An average minus is no
more than 40% of the matchpoints available to the offender(s) on
NOTE: The indemnity points need not
Example: If the travelers were
placed in the wrong boards,
both pairs would receive average plus and the Director should
consider giving a procedural penalty (Law 90) of 1/4 board to the
pair who placed the slips in the wrong boards. If the North player
inadvertently pulls the traveler from the second board to enter the
score from the first board, he would be at fault and his side would
receive an average minus on the second board if the Director deems
they were unable to play the board. The non-offenders (the East–West pair) would receive an average plus.
Penalties in Individual Events
1. In cases where the Director is empowered to award an
adjusted score, he shall do so equally against both members
of the offending side, even though only one of them may be
responsible for the violation.
2. In the awarding of an adjusted score for a procedural penalty,
the Director will not assess the penalty on offender’s partner
if, in the Director’s opinion, he is in no way responsible for
The Director, in addition to enforcing the penalty provisions
of the Laws, may also assess penalties for any offense that unduly
delays or obstructs the game, inconveniences other contestants,
violates correct procedure, or requires an adjusted score to be
awarded at another table. The Director should use considerable
restraint in the application or assessment of procedural penalties
when only his own inconvenience is involved. When the fairness of
the contest and the enjoyment of the other contestants is involved,
this Law should be applied.
Offenses subject to penalty include, but are not limited to, the
2. Undue slow play.
3. Discussion of the bidding, play or result of a board, which
may be overheard at another table.
4. Unauthorized comparison of scores with another contestant
during a session.
5. Touching or handling cards belonging to another player (See
6. Placing one or more cards in an incorrect pocket of the
7. Any error in procedure (failure to count cards, playing the
8. Any flagrant breach of the proprieties (Laws 72–76).
Penalties Under This Law
A penalty assessed by the Director under this Law may be
overruled by a committee. The Director has true disciplinary powers
under Law 81 (his general authority to run the game) and under
Law 91 (his authority to maintain order and discipline to suspend
a player). The penalties he assesses under those powers may not be
Penalize or Suspend
This law empowers the Director to assess disciplinary penalties
in points, or to suspend a contestant for the current session or any
part thereof. The Director’s
decision under this clause is final.
NOTE: Removing a player for the
balance of the game is
an extreme measure. In addition to the effect on the
contestant, severe problems of a technical nature may
result from this action. The director should not, however,
shirk his responsibility when it is clear that a contestant
should be expelled, as in cases of intoxication.
To maintain control, the appearance of disciplinary measures
will often effect a better end result than expulsion. The Director
could remove rather than expel a player from the game for attacking
his authority. Example: when the Director temporarily removes
the offender, visible to surrounding contestants, with a subsequent
return to competition, the appearance and total effect is better for the
other players and the offender.
When a Director does use his disciplinary powers, he should
normally report the matter to the club appeals committee, club
management and/or the Unit President for consideration of further
Index to Duplicate Laws