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ACBL Tech File
General Conditions of Contest


This document is provided courtesy of the
American Contract Bridge League

2990 Airways Blvd. S Memphis TN 381163847
S Fax 9013987754

     NOTE: to view the latest revision of the handbook,
download the latest version of ACBLScore

     Rev.(12/03)                                        CCGEN.033 (PAGE 1) 



     -  ACBL events are conducted in accordance with the current version of

        the "Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge" as promulgated in the

        Western Hemisphere by the ACBL.


     -  Conditions of Contest for an event may not be changed at any level

        of play during the course of that event.


     -  Lack of knowledge does not constitute cause for exemption.


     -  These conditions apply to all events, and should be posted. There

        are General Conditions for specific event types that apply and there

        may be additional specific conditions for specific events. In cases

        where there is disagreement between these conditions and more

        specific ones, the more specific conditions will take precedence.


     -  Sponsoring organizations may, with ACBL approval only, amend these

        conditions for a specific event. Such amendments should appear in

        all printed tournament schedules and be posted prior to the start of



     -  The final decision on any item in these conditions shall be made by

        the Director in Charge. Furthermore, any issue not specifically

        covered will be resolved by the Director in Charge.



     1. ACBL events are open to any bridge player unless otherwise

        restricted or the player is under discipline that prohibits


      a. Foreign Players (those who reside outside the geographical

         boundaries of the ACBL and who are not citizens of an ACBL

         country) who are not members of ACBL are not permitted to play in

         any North American Bridge Championship events.

      b. In flighted events at any level, foreign players who have

         represented their country in International competition shall be

         permitted to play only in Flight A. They may however apply for

         relief for cause from this requirement. 

          a. Players with bridge experience from non-ACBL venues (such as

             but not limited to play in other countries) must check with

             the DIC to insure that they are placed in the proper category

             and/or seeded correctly.


     2. Unless prior arrangement has been made with the DIC, upon entry

        into an event a player is expected to complete that event.

      a. Any pair may withdraw between sessions of a multi-session pair

         event if it has the permission of the DIC, who may allow the

         withdrawal if there is no irreparable damage done to the seeding

         or the movement.  Any entry fees already paid shall be kept by

         the sponsoring organization.  Such contestants are allowed to

         play only in side games (no gold points) until the completion of

         the event from which they withdrew.



                                                        CCGEN.033 (PAGE 2) 



      b. A five or six person team may enter a KO event at a tournament

         with one or two of its members not having the intent to complete

         the event (as long as there are at least four members continuing)

         with the following restrictions:


          In a seeded knockout, the players intending to withdraw must not

          appreciably affect the seeding or strength of the team.  In a

          random draw, the players intending to withdraw must not

          appreciably affect the strength of the team.


     3. Informal or casual dress is usually acceptable and appropriate.

        Conformity to generally acceptable standards of decency and

        cleanliness is expected. Tournament Directors may, subject to

        consultation with the DIC, refuse to sell an entry to a person or

        persons inappropriately dressed or not conforming to the above

        standards. Subject to consultation with the DIC, Tournament

        Directors may remove from the tournament area anyone who is

        inappropriately dressed.



         Wagering on the results of an ACBL-sanctioned event is

         specifically prohibited. Any member found guilty of any form of

         such betting in a game or tournament is liable to severe

         disciplinary action.



     1. While it is recognized that bridge, especially tournament bridge,

        is a very competitive endeavor, all players are expected to

        maintain proper decorum throughout. The ACBL Board of Directors

        and Management are committed to improving player behavior at all

        times. The ACBL "Zero Tolerance Policy" outlines what is expected

        of all players during ACBL sanctioned tournaments as well as in

        the playing area before and after each session.


     2. The ultimate purpose of this Zero-Tolerance policy toward improper

        behavior is to create a much more pleasant atmosphere at our

        tournaments. We are attempting to eradicate unacceptable behavior

        in order to make the game of bridge more enjoyable for all. Below

        are some examples of commendable behavior, which will

        significantly contribute to the improved atmosphere:

         - Being a good 'host' or 'guest' at the table.

         - Greeting others in a friendly manner.

         - Praising the bidding and/or play of the opponents.


         In the following list are some examples of behavior which will not

         be tolerated:

         - Badgering, rudeness, insinuations, intimidation, profanity,

           threats, or violence.

         - Negative comments concerning opponents' or partner's play or


         - Constant and gratuitous lessons and analyses at the table.

         - Loud and disruptive arguing with a director's ruling.



                                                        CCGEN.033 (PAGE 3) 



     If a player at the table behaves in an unacceptable manner, the

     director should be called immediately. Annoying behavior, embarrassing

     remarks, or any other conduct that might interfere with the enjoyment

     of the game is specifically prohibited by Law. The tournament director

     has the authority to assess disciplinary penalties.


     If it is established that there was unacceptable behavior, an

     immediate quarter board disciplinary penalty (3 IMP or 1 VP in team

     games) may be assigned to all offenders. This may involve any one or

     all four players at the table irrespective of who initiated the

     unacceptable behavior.




        Any margin of difference in score between contestants breaks a tie

        for qualification purposes.  A margin of difference in score of a

        least 0.01 breaks a tie for purposes of rank and masterpoints.

        NOTE: This applies to all forms of scoring, including IMPs, even

        if a ruling awards fractions of an IMP.


     2. A player may play and earn masterpoints in as many sessions of

        bridge as possible while not entered in a concurrent or

        over-lapping event, except that players on teams with more than

        four members or teams with byes may play in concurrent one-session

        events only (for this purpose Side Game Series (Continuous Pairs)

        are considered one session events, but no access to gold points

        for that session).

         b.  A player who is on a team that has received a bye is considered

             entered in that event when that event begins.

         c.  Morning and evening knockout events are not considered

             overlapping or conflicting events regardless of times



     3. ACBL events at NABCs are non-smoking. 


     4. Except for health related equipment or by permission of the DIC,

        cell phones, pagers, and all similar communications equipment may

        not be operated or operable in the playing area during a session

        of play at NABCs.  Violations of this policy may be penalized

        without warning.  Minimum penalties of one-quarter board for

        matchpointed events and three IMPs or one Victory Point for other

        events will be assessed if a player's cell phone or pager is

        audible or if a cell phone is being used in the playing area.

        Sponsoring organizations of other ACBL sanctioned events are

        strongly encouraged to adopt this policy.


     5. Players are expected to play each hand to win at all times. No

        dumping is permitted even if such dumping may be in the

        contestant's best long-term interest.


     6. The percentage of the boards a player must play to receive

        masterpoints varies with the type of contest. Consult the general

        conditions for that type event and the specific event conditions,

        if any.


                                                        CCGEN.033 (PAGE 4) 



        A pair may not elect to have no agreement when it comes to

        carding.  There have been pairs that say they just play random

        leads or that they lead the card closest to their thumb.  They

        must decide on a carding agreement and mark their convention cards

        accordingly. Of course, some leeway needs to be given to fill-in

        pairs or very last minute partnerships.


     8. The refusal of a player, pair or team in an ACBL sanctioned

        Sectional, Regional, NABC, Grand National or North American Pair

        event to play against another player, pair or team duly entered in

        the event shall require the disqualification of the player, pair

        or team refusing to play from further participation in the event

        and the forfeiture of any masterpoints earned by the player, pair

        or team in the event. Such refusal shall constitute conduct

        unbecoming a member of the ACBL and shall be referred to the

        disciplinary body having jurisdiction for appropriate disciplinary




        Face-down opening leads are required at all ACBL sanctioned





        No player has the right to bar all kibitzers from his table, but

        each player has the right to bar one individual (excluding

        tournament officials, the recorder or his designee(s), or

        officially approved members of the press) from kibitzing play at

        his table during a session without assigning cause.  (A traveling

        player may bar only one individual during a session without

        assigning cause). Any kibitzer may be barred for cause by the

        Tournament Director.



        A kibitzing team member must sit at least two tables away from

        each table of his/her team's match and may not kibitz at any table

        playing duplicated boards also being played by his/her team.



     1. While Alerts are generally noted in red on the convention card and

        Announcements in blue, refer to the ACBL Alert Chart and/or

        procedure for complete information.   


      1. All players have an obligation to disclose  their agreements

         according to the procedures established by ACBL. When asked, a

         full explanation of the agreement must be provided. Stating the

         common or popular name of the convention is not sufficient. The

         opponents need not ask exactly the "right" question. Any request

         for information should be the trigger. Opponents need only

         indicate the desire for information -- all relevant disclosures

         should be given automatically. The proper way to ask for

         information is "Please Explain".



                                                        CCGEN.033 (PAGE 5) 



      2. A player who remembers that a call requires an Alert but cannot

         remember the meaning must still Alert.

      3. Players who, by experience or expertise, recognize that their

         opponents have neglected to Alert a special agreement will be

         expected to protect themselves.

      4. When an Alert is given, ASK!, do not ASSUME.

      5. Adjustments for violations are not automatic. There must have

         been damage, and an adjustment will be made only when the Alert

         violation was a direct cause of the damage. Note also that an

         opponent who actually knows or suspects what is happening, even

         though not properly informed, may not be entitled to redress if

         he or she chooses to proceed without clarifying the situation.

      6. At the conclusion of the auction, if declarer or dummy is aware

         that partner has given misinformation to the opponents, he or she

         is required by law to correct the misinformation before the

         opening lead is made. Failure to do so may result in a procedural

         penalty as well as a score adjustment.


          A defender must announce the misinformation to his opponents at

          the conclusion of the play of the hand and the director should be




     1. The ACBL General Convention Chart will govern bidding and playing

        methods unless the Sponsoring Organization has announced or

        published that the MidChart and/or SuperChart will be permitted.


     2. A partnership is responsible for knowing when their methods apply

        in probable (to be expected) auctions. A pair may be entitled to

        redress if their opponents did not originally have a clear

        understanding of when and how to use a convention that was



     3. Players should review their own convention cards before the start

        of the session to make sure that they are current on the

        agreements with this particular partner. In cases of

        misinformation vs. misbids, it is the responsibility of the

        bidding side to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a misbid was

        made rather than misinformation given. The convention card and

        previous auctions are the most obvious ways to resolve any

        disagreements concerning misbid vs misinformation.


     4. Official ACBL convention cards or convention cards which are

        similar must be used at all ACBL sectional or higher-rated events.

        Generally, the color red on the convention card indicates that the

        agreement must be Alerted but the Alert pamphlet is the final

        authority in cases of disputes on the Alertability of any

        conventional call. Similarly, the color blue on the convention

        card indicates a call requiring an "Announcement." 



                                                        CCGEN.033 (PAGE 6) 



     5. Each member of a partnership MUST have a completely filled out

        convention card available for the opponents.

      A. Both cards of a partnership must be identical and include the

         first and last names of each member of the partnership.


      B. If a Director determines that neither player has a substantially

         completed card, the partnership may only play Class A Conventions

         the ACBL Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC) and may only use

         standard carding.  This restriction may only be lifted at the

         beginning of a subsequent round after Convention Cards have been

         properly prepared and approved by the Director.  Further, the

         partnership will receive a 1/6 Board Match Point Penalty for each

         Board played, commencing with the next round and continuing until

         the restriction is lifted.  In IMP team games penalties shall be

         at the discretion of the Director.


      C. If the Director determines the partnership has at least one

         substantially completed Convention Card but has not fully

         complied with ACBL regulations, then the director may give

         warnings or, if the deficiency is not corrected in a timely

         manner given the circumstances, assign such penalties as he deems

         to be appropriate under the circumstances.



     1. Players are normally allowed 7.5 minutes to bid and play each

        bridge hand.


     2. When a pair has fallen behind it is incumbent on them to make up

        the time lost as quickly as possible whether at fault or not. All

        players are expected to make a concerted effort to catch up when

        they have fallen behind, regardless of the reason for their





        In Individual, Pair and B-A-M Team events, penalties for fouling a

        board will automatically apply any time the offense causes the

        board to be scored as a fouled board.


         A full board penalty for a foul during duplication will apply to

         all contestants assigned to the table at which the board was

         "made" unless the director determines that there are mitigating

         circumstances.  A full board penalty for a foul during play will

         be imposed on the pairs responsible.


     2. Slow play, especially habitual slow play, is subject to penalty.



        No comparison of scores or discussion of results is permitted

        during the course of a session.  Violation of this regulation

        carries an automatic penalty of one full board of the session in




                                                        CCGEN.033 (PAGE 7) 



     1. Substitutes are subject to the discretion of the Director in

        Charge or his designee and may not appreciably strengthen the

        partnership or team.


     2. For qualifying events, a qualified pair which fails to seat both

        members of the partnership ten minutes after the announced

        starting time of a final session or the first final session in

        events of more than one will be replaced by the highest available

        alternate qualifier.



     1. The appeal period of or for a Director's ruling expires one half

        hour after the completion of a session or the starting time of the

        next session, whichever is earlier.


     2. The correction period varies by type of event. See the General and

        Specific Conditions for the event.

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