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Laws of Contract Rubber Bridge
Part 6 - Law 41-71: The Play

 
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This document is provided courtesy of the
American Contract Bridge League

2990 Airways Blvd. S Memphis TN 381163847
9013325586
S Fax 9013987754
 

THE PLAY

CORRECT PROCEDURE

LAW 41
OPENING LEAD, REVIEW, QUESTIONS

After the auction closes* declarer's LHO makes the opening lead. After the opening lead, dummy spreads his hand in front of him on the table, face up, sorted into suits, the cards in order of rank in columns pointing lengthwise towards declarer, with trumps, if any, to dummy's right. Declarer plays both his hand and that of dummy.
Declarer, before making any play, or either defender at his first turn to play, may require a restatement of the auction in its entirety.
After it is too late to have previous calls restated, declarer or either defender is entitled to be informed what the contract is and whether, but not by whom, it was doubled or redoubled.
Either defender may require an explanation of the partnership understanding relating to any call made by an opponent (see Proprieties 4), but only at that defender's own turn to play. Declarer may at any tune require an explanation of the partnership understanding relating to any call or play made by a defender.

 


* After the final pass, either defender has the right to ask if it is his opening lead.


 

LAW 42
DUMMY'S RIGHTS

 

Dummy is entitled to give information as to fact or law, but may not initiate the discussion; and provided he has not forfeited his rights (see Law 43) he may also
(a) ask declarer (but not a defender), when he has failed to follow suit, whether he has a card of the suit led.
(b) try to prevent any irregularity* by declarer.
(c) draw attention to any irregularity, but only after play is concluded.
 

* He may, for example, warn declarer against leading from the wrong hand.

 

LAW 43
DUMMY'S LIMITATIONS

Dummy may not participate in the play (except to play the cards of dummy's hand as directed by declarer), or make any comment on the bidding, play, or score of the current deal; and if he does so, Law 16 may apply. During play, dummy may not call attention to an irregularity once it has occurred.
Dummy forfeits the rights provided in (a), (b) and (c) of Law 42 if he exchanges hands with declarer, leaves his seat to watch declarer play, or, on his own initiative, looks at the face of a card in either defender's hand; and if, thereafter,
(a) he is the first to draw attention to a defender's irregularity, declarer may not enforce any penalty for the offense.
(b) he warns declarer not to lead from the wrong hand, (penalty) either defender may choose the hand from which declarer shall lead.
(c) he is the first to ask declarer if a play from declarer's hand constitutes a revoke, declarer must substitute a correct card if his play was a revoke, and (penalty) unless Law 64(d) applies, one trick is transferred to the defending side.

 

LAW 44
SEQUENCE AND PROCEDURE OF PLAY

The player who leads to a trick may play any card in his hand.* After the lead, each other player in turn plays a card, and the four cards so played constitute a trick.
In playing to a trick, each player must follow suit if possible. This obligation takes precedence over all other requirements of these Laws. If unable to follow suit, a player may play any card.*
A trick containing a trump is won by the player who has contributed to it the highest trump. A trick that does not contain a trump is won by the player who has contributed to it the highest card of the suit led. The player who has won the trick leads to the next trick.
 

* Unless he is subject to restriction after an irregularity committed by his side.

 

LAW 45
CARD PLAYED

Each player except dummy should play a card by detaching it from his hand and placing it, face up, on the table where other players can easily reach and see it. Dummy, if instructed by declarer to do so, may play from his hand a card named or designated by declarer. *
A card must be played
(a) if it is a defender's card held so that it is possible for his partner to see its face.
(b) if it is a card from declarer's hand that declarer holds face up, touching or nearly touching the table, or maintains in such a position as to indicate that it has been played.
(c) if it is a card in dummy deliberately touched by declarer except for the purpose of arranging dummy's cards or of reaching a card above or below the card or cards touched.
(d) if the player who holds the card names or otherwise designates it as the card he proposes to play. A player may, without penalty, change an inadvertent designation if he does so without pause for thought; but if an opponent has, in turn, played a card that was legal before the change of designation, that opponent may, without penalty, withdraw any card so played and substitute another.
(e) if it is a penalty card, subject to Law 50.
A card played may not be withdrawn except as provided in Law 47.
 

* If dummy places in played position a card declarer did not name, the card must be withdrawn if attention is drawn to it before each side has played to the next trick, and a defender may withdraw (without penalty) a card played after the error but before attention was drawn to it (see Law 47).

 

LAW 46
PARTIAL DESIGNATION OF A CARD TO BE PLAYED FROM DUMMY'S HAND

When declarer instructs dummy to play a card from dummy's hand, as permitted by Law 45, but names only a suit or only the rank of a card, or the equivalent, without fully specifying the card to he played, declarer must complete his partial designation. Dummy must not play a card before declarer has completed Isis partial designation.

 

LAW 47
RETRACTION OF A CARD PLAYED

(Club Law 47)

A card once played may be withdrawn only
(a) to comply with a penalty, or to correct an illegal play, or to correct the simultaneous play of two or more cards (see Law 58); if a defender's card that has been exposed is withdrawn under this subsection, it becomes a penalty card (see Law 50); or
(b) after a change of designation as permitted by Law 45(d), or
(c) after an opponent's change of play, to substitute a card for one played *, or
(d) to correct a play* after misinformation by an opponent. 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.
 

* The offending side must not base any subsequent plays on information gained from such a withdrawn play.
 

PENALTY CARD

LAW 48
EXPOSURE OF DECLARER'S CARDS

Declarer is not subject to penalty for exposing a card, and no card of declarer's or dummy's 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, Law 54 applies. When declarer faces his cards at any other time, he may be deemed to have made a claim or concession of tricks, in which case Law 68 applies.
 

LAW 49
EXPOSURE OF A DEFENDER'S CARDS

Whenever a defender faces a card on the table, holds a card so that it is possible for his partner to see its face, or names a card as being in his hand, before he is entitled to do so in the normal course of play or application of the law, (penalty) each such card becomes a penalty card (Law 50).*
 

* Exposure of a card or cards by a defender who is making a claim or concession of tricks is subject to Law 70.

 

LAW 50
DISPOSITION OF A PENALTY CARD

A defender's card is a penalty card when prematurely exposed. It must be left face up on the table until it is played or until an alternate penalty has been selected.
A single card below the rank of an honor and exposed inadvertently (as in playing two cards to a trick, or in dropping a card accidentally) becomes a minor penalty card. Any penalty card of honor rank, or any card exposed through deliberate play (as in leading out of turn, or in revoking and then correcting) becomes a major penalty card; when one defender has two or more penalty cards, all such cards become major penalty cards.
When a defender has a minor penalty card, he may not play any other card of the same suit below the rank of an honor until he has first played the penalty card. (However, he is entitled to play an honor card instead of the minor penalty card.) There is no further penalty, but the offender's partner must not base any subsequent play on information gained through seeing the penalty card.
When a defender has a major penalty card, such card must be played at the first legal opportunity, whether in leading, following suit, discarding or trumping. If a defender has two or more penalty cards that can legally be played, declarer may designate which is to be played. The obligation to follow suit or to comply with a lead or play penalty takes precedence over the obligation to play a penalty card, but the penalty card must still be left face up on the table and played at the next legal opportunity.
When a defender has the lead while his partner has a major penalty card, declarer may choose to impose a lead penalty at this point: he may require that defender to lead the suit of the penalty card or may prohibit that defender from leading that suit (a prohibition continues for as long as he retains the lead). If declarer does impose a lead penalty, the penalty card is picked up at once. If declarer does not, the defender may lead any card; but the penalty card remains a penalty card. The defender may not lead until declarer has indicated his choice.
 

LAW 51
TWO OR MORE PENALTY CARDS

When a defender has two or more penalty cards in one suit, and declarer requires or prohibits the lead of that suit, the defender may pick up every penalty card in that suit and may make any legal play to the trick.
When a defender has penalty cards in more than one suit, declarer may prohibit the defender's partner from leading every such suit or require him to lead one such suit, but the defender may then pick up every penalty card in every suit required or prohibited by declarer and may make any legal play to the trick.

 

LAW 52
FAILURE TO LEAD OR PLAY A PENALTY CARD

When a defender is required by Law 50 to play a penalty card but instead plays another card, he must leave the illegally played card face up on the table and
(a) declarer may accept the defender's lead or play, and must do so if he has thereafter played from his or dummy's hand, but the unplayed penalty card remains a penalty card; or
(b) declarer may require the defender to substitute the penalty card for the card illegally played, in which case the illegally played card becomes a major penalty card.

 

LEAD OUT OF TURN

LAW 53
LEAD OUT OF TURN ACCEPTED

Any lead out of turn may be treated by an opponent as a correct lead. It becomes a correct lead if an opponent accepts it by making a statement to that effect, or if that opponent next to play plays a card to the irregular lead.*
However, the player whose turn it was to lead - unless he Is the offender's partner - may make his proper lead subsequent to the infraction without his card being treated as played to the irregular lead. The proper lead stands, and all cards played in error to this trick may be withdrawn without penalty.
 

* When such a play is made by a defender who is not next to play after the irregular lead, Law 57 applies.

 

LAW 54
OPENING LEAD OUT OF TURN

When a defender makes the opening lead out of turn,
(a) declarer may accept the irregular lead as provided in Law 53. Dummy's hand is spread in accordance with Law 41, and the second card to the trick is played from declarer's hand; but if declarer first plays to the trick from dummy's hand, dummy's card may not be withdrawn except to correct a revoke.
(b) declarer must accept the irregular lead if he could have seen any of dummy's cards (except cards exposed during the auction, subject to Law 23). He is deemed to have accepted the irregular lead if he begins to spread his hand as though he were dummy and in so doing exposes one or more cards; declarer must spread his entire hand, and dummy becomes declarer. *
(c) declarer may accept the irregular lead by spreading his hand and becoming dummy; his partner becomes the declarer.
(d) declarer may require the defender to retract his irregular lead (except as provided in (b) above), and then Law 56 applies.
 

* If cards are so exposed from both declarer's and dummy's hands, the player who was regularly to become declarer remains declarer.
 

LAW 55
DECLARER'S LEAD OUT OF TURN

(Club Law 55)

 

When declarer leads out of turn from his or dummy's hand,
(a) either defender may accept that lead as provided in Law 53.
(b) either defender may require declarer to retract that lead. Then,

(i) 

if it was a defender's turn to lead, declarer restores the card led in error to his or dummy's hand, without penalty.

(ii) 

if declarer has led from the wrong hand when it was his turn to lead from his or dummy's hand, he withdraws the card led in error; he must lead a card from the correct hand.

(iii) 

if declarer adopts a line of play that could have been based on information obtained through his infraction, the offenders should redress the damage in accordance with Proprieties 1.

 

LAW 56
DEFENDER'S LEAD OUT OF TURN

When a defender leads out of turn,
(a) declarer may accept that lead as provided in Law 53.
(b) declarer may require the defender to retract that lead; the card illegally led becomes a major penalty card (see Law 50 - note that lead penalties are provided).

 

IRREGULAR LEADS AND PLAYS

LAW 57
PREMATURE LEAD OR PLAY BY A DEFENDER

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, (penalty) declarer may
(a) require offender's partner to play his highest card of the suit led; or
(b) require offender's partner to play his lowest card of the suit led; or
(c) prohibit offender's partner from playing any card of one different suit specified by declarer.
Declarer must select one of these options, and if the offender's partner cannot comply with the penalty selected he may play any card, as provided in Law 59.
When, as a result of the application of the penalty, the offender's partner wins the current trick, he leads to the next trick, and any card led or played out of turn by the other defender becomes a major penalty card (Law 50).
A defender is not subject to penalty for playing before his partner if declarer has played from both hands; but a singleton or one of two or more equal cards in dummy is not considered automatically played unless dummy has played the card.
 

LAW 58
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 a defender leads or plays two or more cards simultaneously, and if only one such card is visible, he must play that card; if more than one card is exposed, he must designate the card he proposes to play and each other card exposed becomes a penalty card (Law 50).
If declarer leads or plays two or more cards simultaneously from either hand, he must designate the card he proposes to play and must restore any other card to the correct hand. If declarer withdraws a visible card and a defender has already played to that card, such defender may, without penalty, withdraw his card and substitute another (see footnote to Law 47).
If the error remains undiscovered until both sides have played to the next trick, Law 67 applies.
 

LAW 59
INABILITY TO LEAD OR PLAY AS REQUIRED

A player may play any otherwise legal card If he is unable to lead or play as required to comply with a penalty, whether because he holds no card of the required suit, or because he has only cards of a suit he is prohibited from leading, or because he is obliged to follow suit.

 

LAW 60
PLAY AFTER AN ILLEGAL PLAY

A play by a member of the non-offending side after his RHO has played out of turn, and before a penalty has been imposed, forfeits the right to penalize the offense. The illegal play is treated as though it were in turn (but Law 53 applies to the player whose turn it was). If the offending side had a previous obligation to play a penalty card or to comply with a lead or play penalty, the obligation remains at future turns.
When a defender plays after declarer has been required to retract his lead out of turn from either hand, but before declarer has led from the correct hand, the defender's card becomes a penalty card (Law 50).
A play by a member of the offending side before a penalty has been imposed does not affect the rights of the opponents and may itself be subject to penalty.

 

THE REVOKE

LAW 61
FAILURE TO FOLLOW SUIT - INQUIRIES CONCERNING A REVOKE

Failure to follow suit in accordance with Law 44, or failure to lead or play, when able, a card or suit required by law or specified by an opponent in accordance with a penalty, constitutes a revoke. Any player may ask a player who has failed to follow suit whether he has a card of the suit led, and may demand that an opponent correct his revoke, except that dummy* may ask of declarer, but not of a defender. (A claim of revoke does not warrant inspection of quitted tricks, except as permitted in Law 66.)
 

* Unless he has forfeited his rights, as specified by Law 43.
 

LAW 62
CORRECTION OF A REVOKE

A player must correct his revoke if he becomes aware of it before it becomes established (see Law 63). To correct a revoke, the offender withdraws the card he played in revoking and follows suit with any card. A card so withdrawn becomes a major penalty card (Law 50) if it was played from a defender's unfaced hand. The card may be replaced without penalty if it was played from declarer's or dummy's hand* or if it was a defender's faced card. Each member of the non-offending side may, without penalty, withdraw any card he may have played after the revoke but before attention was drawn to it (see footnote to Law 47). After a non-offender so withdraws a card, the hand of the offending side next in rotation may withdraw a played card, which becomes a major penalty card if played from a defender's hand.
On the 12th trick, a revoke, even if established, must be corrected if discovered before the cards have been mixed together. If the revoke was committed by a defender before his partner has played to the 12th trick, and if offender's partner holds cards of more than one suit, (penalty) declarer may then require the offender's partner to play to that trick either of the two cards he could legally have played.
 

* Subject to Law 43. A claim of revoke does not warrant inspection of quitted tricks except as permitted in Law 67.
 

LAW 63
ESTABLISHMENT OF A REVOKE

A revoke becomes established when the offender or his partner leads or plays (whether legally or illegally) to the following trick, or names or otherwise designates a card to be so played, or makes a claim or concession of tricks orally or by facing his hand. The revoke may then no longer be corrected (except for a revoke on the 12th trick - see Law 62), and the trick on which the revoke occurred stands as played.
 

LAW 64
PROCEDURE AFTER ESTABLISHMENT OF A REVOKE

(Club Law 64)

When a revoke has become established,
(a) if the offending player* won the trick on which the revoke occurred, (penalty) that trick and one of any subsequent tricks won by the offending side are transferred** to the non-offending side (if no subsequent trick was won by the offending side, only the revoke trick is transferred).
(b) if the offender's partner won the trick on which the revoke occurred, (penalty) that trick is transferred** to the non-offending side and if the offending player himself won a subsequent trick with a card that could legally have been played to the revoke trick one additional trick (but no more) is transferred** to the non-offending side.
(c) if the non-offending side won the trick on which the revoke occurred, and if the offending side won any trick after the revoke, (penalty)

(i) 

the first such trick is transferred** to the non-offending side, and

(ii) 

if the offending side won two or more tricks after the revoke, any of which was won by the offending player with a card he could legally have played to the revoke trick, an additional trick is transferred** to the non-offending side.

(d) there is no trick penalty for the established revoke if

(i) 

the offending side did not win either the trick on which the revoke occurred or any subsequent trick; or if

(ii) 

the revoke was a subsequent revoke in the same suit by the same player; or if

(iii) 

the revoke was made in failing to play any card faced on, or belonging to a hand faced on, the table, including a card from dummy's hand; or if

(iv) 

attention was first drawn to the revoke after all players had abandoned their hands and permitted the cards to be mixed together; or if

(v) 

the revoke was on the 12th trick (see Law 62).

N.B. When any established revoke, including one not subject to penalty, causes damage to the non-offending side insufficiently compensated by the law, the offending side should, under Proprieties 1, transfer additional tricks so as to restore equity.
 

* If declarer revokes but wins the trick on which the revoke occurred in dummy, subsection (b) applies.
** For the scoring of transferred tricks, see Law 77.

 

TRICKS

LAW 65
COLLECTION AND ARRANGEMENT OF TRICKS

The cards constituting each completed trick are collected by a member of the side that won the trick and are then turned face down on the table. Each trick shall be identifiable as such, and all tricks taken by a side shall be arranged in sequence in front of declarer or of one defender, as the case may be, in such manner that each side can determine the number of tricks it has won and the order in which they were taken.
 

LAW 66
INSPECTION OF TRICKS

Declarer or either defender may, until a member of his side has led or played to the following trick, inspect a trick and inquire what card each player has played to it. Thereafter, until play ceases, quitted tricks may be inspected only to account for a missing or surplus card. After play ceases, the tricks and unplayed cards may be inspected to settle an allegation of a revoke, of honors, or of the number of tricks won or lost. If, after an allegation has been made, a player on one side makes verification of the allegation impossible, as by mixing the cards or merging the tricks, the issue must be decided in favor of the other side.
 

LAW 67
TRICK EITHER APPROPRIATED IN ERROR OR DEFECTIVE

A trick appropriated by the wrong side must, upon demand, be restored to the side that has in fact won it*.
A trick containing more or fewer than four cards is defective. When one player is found, during play, to have fewer or more cards than all the other players, the previous tricks should be forthwith examined, face down; if a defective trick is discovered, the player with a correspondingly incorrect number of cards is held responsible. The defective trick is inspected face up and
(a) until the responsible player has played to a subsequent trick, the defective trick is rectified as follows:

(i) 

if the offender has failed to play a card to the defective trick, he adds to that trick a card he can legally play.

(ii) 

if the offender has played more than one card to the defective trick, he withdraws all but one card, leaving a card he can legally play.

(iii) 

the non-offending side may, without penalty, withdraw any cards played after the irregularity and before attention was drawn to it (see footnote to Law 47); but the offending side may not withdraw cards that constitute legal plays, and any cards they withdraw may become penalty cards (Law 50).

(b) after the responsible player has played to a subsequent trick, the ownership of the defective trick cannot be changed and

(i) 

if the offender has failed to play a card to the defective trick, he forthwith faces and adds a card to that trick, if possible one he could legally have played to it.

(ii) 

if the offender has played more than one card to the defective trick, he withdraws all but one card, leaving the highest card he could legally have played to that trick. A withdrawn card may become a penalty card (Law 50); such a card is deemed to have belonged continuously to the offender's hand and failure to have played it to an earlier trick may constitute a revoke.

 
* If calls have been made on a subsequent deal, see Law 78.

 

CLAIMS AND CONCESSIONS

LAW 68
DECLARER'S CLAIM OR CONCESSION OF TRICKS

Declarer makes a claim or a concession whenever he announces that he will win or lose one or more of the remaining tricks, or suggests that play be curtailed, or faces his hand. Declarer should not make a claim or concession if there is any doubt as to the number of tricks to be won or lost.
 

LAW 69
PROCEDURE FOLLOWING DECLARER'S CLAIM OR CONCESSION

(Club Law 69)

When declarer has made a claim or concession, play is temporarily suspended and declarer must place and leave his hand face up on the table and forthwith make a comprehensive statement as to his proposed plan of play, including the order in which he will play the remaining cards.
Declarer's claim or concession is allowed, and the deal is scored accordingly, if both defenders agree to it. The claim or concession must be allowed if either defender has permitted any of his remaining cards to be mixed with another player's cards; otherwise, if either defender disputes declarer's claim or concession, it is not allowed. Then, play continues.
When his claim or concession is not allowed, declarer must play on, leaving his hand face up on the table. At any time, either defender may face his hand for inspection by his partner, and declarer may not impose a penalty for any irregularity committed by a defender whose hand is so faced.
The objective of subsequent play is to achieve a result as equitable as possible to both sides, but any doubtful point must be resolved in favor of the defenders. Declarer may not make any play inconsistent with the statement he may have made at the time of his claim or concession. And if he failed to make an appropriate statement at that time, his choice of plays is restricted thereby:
(a) if declarer made no relevant statement, he may not finesse* in any suit unless an opponent failed to follow in that suit before the claim or concession, or would subsequently fail to follow in that suit on any conceivable sequence of plays.
(b) if declarer may have been unaware, at the time of his claim or concession, that a trump remained in a defender's hand, either defender may require him to draw or not to draw the outstanding trump.
(c) if declarer did not, in his statement, mention an unusual plan of play, he may adopt only a routine line of play.
If declarer attempts to make a play prohibited under this law, either defender may accept the play or, provided neither defender has subsequently played, require declarer to withdraw the card so played and substitute another that conforms to his obligations.
 

* For these purposes, a finesse is a play the success of which depends on finding one defender rather than the other with or without a particular card,
 

LAW 70
DEFENDER'S CLAIM OR CONCESSION OF TRICKS

(Club Law 70)

A defender makes a concession when he agrees to declarer's claim, or when he announces that he will lose one or more of the remaining tricks.
A defender makes a claim when he announces that he will win one or more of the remaining tricks, or when he shows any or all of his cards for this purpose. If
(a) the claim pertains only to an uncompleted trick currently in progress, play proceeds normally; cards exposed or otherwise revealed by the defender in making his claim do not become penalty cards, but Law 16, Unauthorized Information, may apply to a claimer's partner.
(b) the claim pertains to subsequent tricks, play is temporarily suspended; the claimer must place and leave his hand face up on the table and make a comprehensive statement as to his proposed plan of defense. The claim is allowed and the deal scored accordingly if declarer agrees to it. If declarer disputes the claim, the defenders must play on with the claimer's hand face up on the table. Those cards do not become penalty cards. However, declarer may prohibit claimer's partner from making any play that could be suggested to him by seeing the faced cards.
 

LAW 71
CONCESSION WITHDRAWN

A concession may be withdrawn
(a) if a player concedes a trick his side has, in fact, won; or if declarer concedes defeat of a contract he has already fulfilled; or if a defender concedes fulfillment of a contract his side has already defeated. (If the score has been entered, see Law 78.)
(b) if a trick that has been conceded cannot be lost by any probable sequence of play of the remaining cards, and if attention is drawn to the fact before the cards have been mixed together.
(c) if a defender concedes one or more tricks and his partner immediately objects, but Law 16 may apply.

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