Many headings present in the 1997 Laws have been removed in
the interest of streamlining their appearance. Where headings remain they do
not limit the application of any law, nor indeed does the omission of a
Established usage has been retained in regard to “may” do
(failure to do it is not wrong), “does” (establishes correct procedure
without suggesting that the violation be penalized), “should” do (failure to
do it is an infraction jeopardizing the infractor’s rights but not often
penalized), “shall” do (a violation will incur a procedural penalty more
often than not), “must” do (the strongest word, a serious matter indeed).
Again “must not” is the strongest prohibition, “shall not” is strong but
“may not” is stronger — just short of “must not.”
Note that this Introduction and the Definitions that follow
form part of the Laws. Finally, unless the context clearly dictates
otherwise, the singular includes the plural and the masculine includes the
feminine, and vice versa.
July 25, 2008
(courtesy of the American Contract Bridge League)
version of the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge will take effect in
September, 2008. Here is what you need to know about the changes.
As a player, you may be asking what impact the changes in
the laws have upon you. The answer is, as usual, very little. This is
because the changes deal with restoring equity when there has been an
irregularity. There have been no changes of the basic rules or laws - e.g.,
scoring is unchanged and the ranks of the denominations are the same. One
overall change in wording is reflective of the original intent of the laws
to "redress damage and not to penalize." To emphasize this intent, the laws
now use the word penalty only in reference to procedural and disciplinary
penalties. In all other cases, the Laws use the word "rectification." There
was a global attempt to reorganize laws or sections of laws to put the
sections of law dealing with a topic in one place. However, the numbering
system remains intact - there are still 93 laws and the general topic of
each is unaltered.
The changes in Laws 1-15 will not be noticed by ACBL
players. Many of the changes are in wording and organization. Of the content
changes, most only codify and clarify current ACBL practices.
While Law 16 has been reorganized and reworded, there is
only one change affecting ACBL procedures and current practice. Under the
revised law, when an opponent has made extraneous or unauthorized
information available (e.g., an unmistakable break in tempo - hesitation),
an ACBL player may announce that he is reserving his right to call the
director later. If an opponent disagrees that unauthorized information might
have been conveyed or made available (i.e., believes there was no break in
tempo), the director should be called immediately.
In Laws 17-21, again most changes, if any, are in wording
In Law 20, however, some current ACBL practices and
procedures have been codified or clarified and should be noted:
• A player may not ask a question (at the appropriate time)
solely for partner's benefit.
• If your partner asks a question at his turn to call or play, you may not
ask a supplementary question until it is your turn.
• Declarer's first turn to play is from dummy except when accepting an
opening lead out of turn.
Law 22 now defines the time between the end of the auction
and the end of the auction period as the clarification period. This is the
time when questions can be asked before the opening lead is made and faced.
In Laws 23 and 24, there are no changes that affect current
application of the laws.
Law 25, Changes of Calls, has been substantially changed by
deleting the current "purposeful correction" option. Under the revised law,
if a call is deemed unintended (inadvertent), it may be changed if done
without pause for thought. This is identical to current law. The new part is
that if the call was not unintended, it stands unless the caller's left-hand
opponent accepts an attempt to substitute another call. Law 16D applies to
the call that was withdrawn: Knowledge of the withdrawn call is unauthorized
for the offender's partner.
Law 26 has no changes that affect current application of the
Under Law 27, which addresses insufficient bids, a player
who makes a natural insufficient bid may still make it sufficient at the
lowest sufficient level without any bidding restriction on partner. Law 27
has been amended such that the director may permit an insufficient bid to be
corrected, without rectification/penalty (i.e., bidding restriction), by
another call that has, in the director's opinion, the same meaning or a more
For example: 2NT - Pass - 2D (over 1NT this is a transfer to hearts), the
2Dbid may be corrected to 3Dwithout a bidding restriction (rectification)
on partner if the 3l bid is also a transfer to hearts.
However, part D of Law 27 allows the director to assign an adjusted score if
without the insufficient bid the outcome (result) may well have been
different and the non-offending side was damaged.
Also, the withdrawn 2Dcall is regarded as unauthorized information, but
this will rarely matter because the legal 3D replacement conveys essentially
the same information One major caution: If you make an insufficient bid and
an opponent brings it to the attention of the table, do not do anything
until the director arrives. If you change your call prior to the director's
arriving, unless the opponent next to call accepts your original
insufficient bid, you will be stuck with that call (the changed, sufficient
one) and the director will apply the correct section of Law 27 - i.e., if
the change requires your partner to pass for the remainder of the auction,
that will be the director's rectification. So wait until the director
arrives and explains your options before correcting the insufficient bid.
Laws 28-39 have no changes that affect current ACBL
application and procedures.
Law 40 has been extensively reworded and reorganized.
However, there is little change to current application and practice. There
are two items of note:
• The law in the ACBL is now explicit in prohibiting pairs, by prior
agreement, to vary their methods dependent upon and following a question
asked, response to a question or an irregularity (e.g., after an
• In the ACBL, a player is permitted to consult his opponent's convention
card at his righthand opponent's turn to call (i.e., after his partner has
called). This is permitted because many times it is necessary to know what
your left-hand opponent's call means to determine whether to Alert your
partner's call or to know what your partner's call means in order to fully
explain its meaning.
In Laws 41-63, there are mostly wording and organizational
changes that cause no change in current application and practice.
It is now specifically stated in Law 54 (with reference to
Law 24), however, that an opening lead by declarer or dummy may not be
Law 64, Procedure after Establishment of a Revoke, has two
• There is a return to the fairly simple one- and two-trick penalty
(rectification) of the 1973 Laws - i.e., generally, if the revoking player
won the trick on which the revoke happened and the offending side won
another subsequent trick, the non-offending side gets two tricks. If the
revoking player does not win the revoke trick and the revoking side wins
some subsequent trick, the non-offending side gets one trick. However, part
C requires the director to restore equity on deals where the non-offending
side would have won more tricks without the revoke, even after taking into
account the additional trick or tricks awarded in accordance with part A of
• When each side has revoked, there is no rectification (penalty) for either
revoke - sort of offsetting infractions. However, the director is required,
under part C, to adjust the result to that result that was most likely had
neither revoke occurred. The revised law 65 now addresses specifically the
matter of drawing attention to the fact that a card has been incorrectly
pointed - i.e., indicating that the player's side had won the trick when, in
fact, they had lost the trick, or vice versa. While declarer may require
that a card incorrectly pointed be corrected at any time, dummy's or either
defender's right to do so expires when a lead is made to the next trick (the
one immediately after the one on which the card was incorrectly pointed). If
done later than that by dummy or a defender, the director may apply Law 16B
if he determines that this extraneous information could have affected
partner's play. Laws 66-71 contain for the most part wording and
organizational changes that lead to more specificity and clarity. However,
in the laws dealing with claims there are some things to note:
• While Law 68 mandates that play cease immediately when a claim is made,
Law 70 gives the director the option of using play after a claim as evidence
of players' probable plays.
• Law 69D2 now addresses defenders' claims.
• A section of Law 70 gives ACBL the authority to determine an order of play
of the remaining cards in a suit when such was not clarified in the
statement of a claim. Presently, for example, directors generally rule that
declarers, in leading trumps from their hand or dummy, lead from the top
down. This will probably be codified by regulation prior to implementation
of the Laws.
Laws 72-91 contain a great many wording and organizational
changes. In addition, many sections of the 1997 laws have been incorporated
into earlier laws in the 2007/8 version. However, none of these introduces
any significant changes or different applications or practices.
Law 92, Right to Appeal, has a slight change. Under the
present law in a pairs contest, an absent pair member is deemed to concur.
In the revised law, both members must actively agree to lodge the appeal. If
not, the appeal is not heard.
Law 93 was modified quite a bit in part C, Further
Possibilities of Appeal. However, ACBL has already approved legislation
about further appeal. That regulation states that a further appeal may be
made only on a point of law to and at the discretion of the ACBL Laws
Commission or, on an allegation of bias of a committee member or members, to
and at the discretion of the ACBL Appeals and Charges Committee. In the
latter case, the appellant is required to present evidence that the bias was
not known at the time of the hearing.