Law book rulings are made by immediately applying
The Laws Of Duplicate Bridge 2007. It is a good idea to take the laws to the table and to read
briefly the appropriate ruling to the players. The two exceptions are for the lead out of turn
and the revoke, both of which are worth memorising. Your ruling enables the players to continue
the game after making the correct adjustments for the error made initially.
Ethical rulings are entirely different and require a different
approach. They are in the main based on the fact that the only proper means of communication between
partners is by means of calls and plays of cards. Any other passage of information, by hesitation
(a call or play out of normal tempo),
a remark, alerting when not needed or failing to alert, or anything else is considered
“unauthorised”. A pair may feel they are “damaged” by the passage of unauthorised information or
the giving of misinformation. The director simply establishes whether the complaint is founded,
and instructs them to play out the hand and call him back if they are still unhappy.
(It may be important to make a few notes.) He will adjust the score if the complaint is founded and
if there has been damage. For example, if 3NT would have been bid and made without the unauthorised
or wrong information but it was not bid or went down he will probably give the pair the score of
3 NT made. The “offender” should be asked if he wishes to appeal against the ruling.
Adjusting the score
An artificial adjusted score, an average, average plus, or average
minus, is given when the board cannot be played, perhaps through an error made by one of the
competitors. An average minus (40%) may be given to a pair directly at fault, and average plus (60%)
to the pair who are in no way at fault, and an average (50%) to a pair who may be only partly at
fault. An average minus may be lowered to the mean score of the pair if they have scored less than
40% on the previous boards, similarly an average plus may be increased. The 2 scores do not need to
A changed score, or in the jargon, an assigned adjusted score, is
when you change the score of a pair damaged by an infringement to the better score that they were
likely to make without the infringement.
As director you cannot give a changed or artificial score in the wrong circumstances. Also the
“offender” is offered the right to appeal against the ruling. The appeal is considered after the
There is such a thing as a weighted adjusted score, applied when
you think that two or more real scores were possible. Inform the players that it is your intention
to give such a score and after play ask a director who knows how to do this to help.
See Law 12 – Director’s discretionary powers.
Left hand opponent (LHO) may accept the bid as legal and the bidding goes on from
the level of the insufficient bid. But the LHO must know the other alternatives.
He can refuse the bid and then the offender must substitute a sufficient bid (he cannot double or
redouble). If the bid is the next sufficient bid in the same denomination and is not conventional
(nor was the illegal bid) there is no penalty. If he bids another denomination or a higher bid or
passes, his partner is silenced throughout the auction. In special circumstances he can replace a
conventional bid with another bid that has the same or a more precise meaning. Essentially he is not
changing the sense of the insufficient bid.
There may also be lead penalties. If the suit is not repeated declarer can require or forbid that
suit when partner first leads until he loses the lead. If the call had been NT, declarer can
choose a suit and forbid it when offender’s partner first has the lead until he loses the lead.
If the director judges that the non-offending side has been damaged by unauthorised information
then he can change the score.
The laws used above include 26 and 27.
Calls out of turn
Please note that a call includes a pass, a bid and a (re)double for which different rules exist!
The principle of LHO being able to accept it providing he knows the alternatives still applies.
A pass out of turn is not accepted: If no one has bid before he
must pass when at his next turn. If there has been a previous bid it depends on whose turn it had
been.If it had been LHO’s turn the pass is regarded as a change of call (see page 8). If it was
offender’s partner’s turn, the offender must pass throughout and his partner must not double or
redouble at that turn. If it was RHO’s turn, the offender must pass at his next turn.
A bid out of turn is not accepted:Whose turn was it? LHO’s
turn–treat it as a change of call. Offender’s partner’s turn–offender may make any call but his
partner must pass throughout. RHO’s turn–if RHO passes offender must repeat his bid; if RHO bids
or doubles offender can make any legal call. If that call is a change of denomination his partner
must pass throughout. If he repeats the denomination the offender’s partner must pass at his next
turn. If the offender becomes a defender lead penalties as above can apply.
A (re)double out of turn is not accepted: LHO’s turn – treat it as
a change of call. Offender’s
partner’s turn – offender can make any legal call but his partner has to pass throughout. RHO’s
turn–if RHO passes offender must repeat his (re)double (no further penalty), if RHO bids offender
can make any call but his partner passes throughout. Lead penalties can apply.
Look at Laws 25-32.
An opening lead out of turn
The director must offer declarer 5 choices in understandable English or offer a card to read with
the following alternatives:
1] he can accept the lead and become dummy
2] he can accept the lead and the partner becomes dummy (partner’s cards are faced although dummy
will play last)
3] he can refuse the lead and it reverts to LHO. The illegal card played becomes a major penalty
4] he can refuse the lead and demand that LHO leads the same suit. The illegal card is taken up in
5] he can refuse the lead and forbid the lead of that suit from LHO for as long as he retains the
lead. The illegal card is taken up in hand.
If either of the last 2 options is chosen and the offender regains the lead he must have a good
bridge reason for switching to that initial suit.
If the lead out of turn is during play the first 2 options become one, namely you may accept the
lead if you wish. The last 3 options apply.
The laws are 54, 56, 50D and 16C2.
Has the revoke been established? Yes if the offending side has
played to the next trick. If not the revoke must be corrected and the illegal card is a major
If the revoke has been establishedit cannot be corrected and you
should ask these questions:
Did the offender win the revoke trick? If the answer is yes then
there is a 2 trick penalty providing the offending side won a subsequent trick.
If the answer is no and no subsequent tricks were won there is no penalty. If the answer is no and
that trick or a subsequent trick was won, there is only a 1 trick penalty. If the penalty is insufficient (e.g offender ruffed wrongly and then cashed a long suit) then
the director should restore equity. If the revoke occurs on trick 12 it cannot be established and must be corrected. The director
should look at Law 62D2 at the table.>br>
If dummy asks a defender have you revoked or intimates as much this is illegal and is unauthorised
information and help to declarer. The director should be called and he may give an adjusted score.
Note that declarer can ask a defender, dummy can ask declarer and a defender can ask his partner
whether a revoke has occurred. But dummy cannot ask a defender.
Changes of call
First it has to be decided whether it was a mechanical error with the bidding box or a mental error.
If a mechanical error it can be changed without penalty provided that partner has not bid. If he
has bid it is too late to change it. If LHO has bid the error can still be corrected and LHO’s call
can be changed if he wishes.
If it is a mental slip and not a mechanical error, and LHO has called then it is too late to change
it. If LHO has not called LHO can condone or accept a changed call and there are no penalties. If
he does not condone the change the offender can ask that his original call stands and offender’s
partner must pass at his next turn. If offender makes any other legal bid his side is playing for
a maximum of 40%. There are lead penalties for partner. The non-offending side get the score
achieved at the table.
Nearly all penalty cards are “major”. The only minor penalty card is a single card below an honour,
that has been dropped or inadvertently played, e.g. 2 cards are played at the same time. If a
player has a minor penalty card he cannot play another card of the same suit below the rank of
honour (but can play an honour) until he has first played the penalty card. Partner has no lead
penalty but there may be unauthorised information.
A major penalty card is left exposed on the table and must be played at the first legal opportunity
whether in leading, following suit, discarding or trumping. If he has 2 such cards declarer may
decide which of the 2 he is to play. When a player has a penalty card and his partner is on lead,
declarer can require the suit or forbid the suit to be led as long as he retains the lead. If
declarer so instructs defender’s partner the defender with the penalty card can put it back in
There are many other nuances in Laws 50-52.
Misbid or wrong explanation (misinformation)
A bid is made and alerted. The explanation is incorrect and the opponents are damaged. This is
illegal because the opponents are entitled to know the system being played and they have been
misinformed. Also partner of the offender should base his
subsequent actions as though the explanation had been correct.
A bid is made and alerted. The explanation is a correct description of their methods but the bidder
does not have his bid. There is no redress. The partners involved have a declared agreement and the
bidder has decided to psyche his bid or has simplymisbid. The
opponents may well have been misled by the bid but there is no redress.
If it is uncertain whether it is misinformation or a misbid then the director should check the
convention cards. If they have none or the area is inadequately described he should assume
Incidentally a failure to alert or announce is also regarded as misinformation.