Dear Bridgette

Bridgette Answers Your Etiquette Questions

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Dear Bridgette,

What should I do if my partner forgets to alert an alertable bid?

Thanks for your question. Your partner has given incorrect information about your bid. This can take several forms. You mentioned a failure to alert, but it could also be an incorrect alert or an incorrect explanation of your partnership understanding about your bid. When any of these happen you must correct that incorrect information but only at the proper time. The “proper time” is what can cause a problem. The simple rule of thumb is you may not let your partner know about the problem while they are still a part of the hand. So:

  1. If you are the declaring side you should call the director at the end of the auction and before the opening lead is faced.  The director will have you correct the problem and take any further action that is needed.
  2. If you are the defending side you must wait until the end of the play of the hand and then call the director.

On the other hand, if you are the one who gave the incorrect you should call the director as soon as you realize it.

In all of these situations it is important to call the director before making the correction.  There may be more to the situation than just telling the opponents about the correction.

Bridgette

Submit Your Questions


Dear Bridgette

The bidding went:
P, P, 1C, P, 1H, P, 2C, P, 2D
2D was alerted as new minor forcing. Is this an updated version of NMF?
Thank you,
Granny

Dear Granny,

Thanks for your question. Everything I read about New Minor Forcing shows it being used over a NoTrump rebid by the opener. I have never seen or heard of your auction described as NMF.

Always remember that saying “New Minor Forcing” is not the right way to describe any bid.  NMF in most forms should be described as “Artificial, Forcing for one round” (or perhaps “to game”)

Bridgette


Dear Brigette:

If someone plays the wrong card, must we call the director, or can we just leave the card out for the next time the suit is played? Wondering

Dear Wondering:

Sorry, not an option. You must call the director as soon as an incorrect card is played. Reasons: Is it a major or minor penalty card? And further, did the violator’s partner get a signal from that card? The director will help you sort through the alternatives.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette

Is it correct that a player is not allowed to look at their convention card during the bidding? If correct, what should one do if an opponent does that?

Curious

Dear Curious:

Yes, it is correct that you may not consult your convention card during the bidding. Your opponents have every right to consult your card. If someone looks at their own convention card during the auction (or play) you should call the director.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

An opponent picked up and sorted his cards, immediately placed them face down on the table and passed quickly. During the subsequent bidding, he continually passed without ever picking up his cards or looking at them. We all got the message that he had “no points.” Is this behavior ethical?

Rankled

Dear Rankled:

No, it is not. It is also a violation of the rules. Call the director. During the bidding, you may communicate with your partner only through legal bids. No comments, semaphore signals, whistles, or other actions are allowed.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

About half-way through the play of a hand, Dummy, a very good player, said to partner (as partner was coming off the board and back to hand), “I was wondering when you were going to get to your hand to start trumping those club losers.” What should one do in this case?

Upset

Dear Upset:
My answer is often the same: Call the director. Dummy is not allowed to comment, except to avoid an infraction, such as failing to follow suit.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

Is there a policy about discussing politics at the bridge table? I know everyone has a position, but I would like for IBC to be my Switzerland!

Hopeful

Dear Hopeful:

There is no official policy about political (or religious) comments at the bridge table but, with today’s increased polarization, there is no upside to them. They can be disruptive to a positive harmonious environment, so everyone is asked not to make such comments. In addition, if the discussion moves towards argument that could be a violation of the “Zero Tolerance” policy.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

When I’m the declarer, I find it uncomfortable when some opponents put a card on the table before I’ve made a lead or called for a card from the dummy – they seem to be predicting what I will do. Is this permitted? I find this offensive – like they are playing poker – gambling what I’ll do next.

Uncomfortable

Dear Uncomfortable:

The Laws of Bridge specify that “After the lead each other player in turn plays a card.” A player who detaches a card from their hand when it is not their turn has committed an infraction. If it annoys you, you should ask them not to do that. If they persist you should call your best bridge friend, the director. It’s usually not a serious infraction, but to continue is a Zero Tolerance infraction and the director will either warn them or give them a penalty. If your opponents do this when it is their partner’s turn to play it becomes more serious since it could suggest a play to their partner. Call the director, who will evaluate the situation and may award an adjusted score if there is damage. All this is based on the card being face down. If the card is face up where their partner could see it then definitely call the director. Again, the director will evaluate the situation and award an adjusted score if there is damage.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

What is the penalty for a renege at the ladies’ bridge club?

Curious

Dear Curious:

Bridge Laws talk about revokes, nothing about reneges. But they are really the same things. Revoke (from German) and renege (from French) are the same thing at the ladies’ bridge club, as at all other bridge tables: when a player does not follow suit when they can. For example, declarer leads a spade, and you have a spade but play a heart.

In the old days, when many of us first learned bridge, a revoke was an Aha! moment. We thought Gotcha! But that has changed. Over the years the penalty has been decreased until now we simply talk about an adjustment.

There are two types of revokes, ones that are “established” and others that are not.
A. If you discover the revoke before either member of your side plays to the next trick, then the revoke is not established. You look in your hand, find a spade, and say “Oops! I have a spade.”

1. First, as always: call the director.

2. You will be directed to correct the revoke by substituting a card of the correct suit, and the card withdrawn becomes a penalty card, which must be played at the first legal opportunity. If your partner gets on lead while you have a penalty card, declarer has some options (which is another reason you called the director).

B. If your revoke is discovered after someone from your side has played to the next trick it becomes established. The trick stands as played, and someone at the table should call the director.

1. If the player who revoked won the revoke trick, that trick is transferred to the other side. Plus, if your revoking side wins any trick after the revoke trick, one more trick is transferred to the other side,

2. If the player who revoked didn’t win the revoke trick, but their side wins the revoke trick or a later trick then one trick is transferred to the other side. Under older Laws if you won an additional trick after the revoke trick with a card you could have played to the revoke trick, that trick is also transferred to the other side, but the latest laws have removed transferring that extra trick.

3. And, in addition to the foregoing, if the revoke costs the other side more tricks than the adjustments listed above would restore, the director will transfer more tricks as necessary to restore equity.

C. Note that if your side did not win the revoke trick or any subsequent tricks, no adjustment is assessed.

D. A revoke on trick 12 must be corrected, without rectification, if discovered before all four hands are returned to the board.
Always call the director. If you fail to call the director when a revoke is discovered you may forfeit any right to an adjustment.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

After the declarer claimed, he refused to show is hand, and got angry. Do I need to call the director?

Abashed

Dear Abashed: Yes, you need to be unabashed and call the director. After a claim, the declarer must show his or her hand, and state a line of play. If there is a dispute, the director will sort it all out. In addition, getting angry is not something we welcome at the bridge table.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

I recently played against a newer pair. They told me another member told them a few tables ago that they were not good enough to play in this club. What can I do?

Embarrassed

Dear Embarrassed: The ACBL’s Play Nice campaign says “Be nice.” It seems clear that someone was not. Also, treating newer players badly is a sure way to inhibit club growth. If you can find out who the offending person/pair was, tell the director or club manager. And, of course, go out of your way to be nice to newcomers.

 Bridgette 


Dear Bridgette,

At my table, a man was angry at his spouse. After play was done, he took her hand out of the board and looked at it. A: Can he do this? Then they moved on the next table – the last round. As soon as possible he left, banging the door and bothering others. B. Should I have done something?

Wondering

Dear Wondering,

A. No, he may not. Law 7 b3, reads in part: No player shall touch any cards other than his own during or after play except by permission of an opponent or the Director.

B. Yes, even though the offending player has left, you should tell the director. Management keeps a file of incidents, so the repeat offenders may be identified and counseled.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette,

Some players, as dummy, “close the gap” when the last card in a suit is played. i.e. the hand is tabled with spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds laid out “dummy style” but, when the last club is played, the dummy moves the diamonds over to fill the gap left by the club suit. Is that allowed?

Wondering

Dear Wondering,

No, not allowed.

The dummy’s responsibility is to play the cards at the direction of the declarer. They must not rearrange the suits.

If a suit becomes a bit messed up they can straighten the suit, but they must not move suits around.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette,

My partner and I defended a 1NT contract and the opponents finished down 1. Declarer apologized to her partner and her partner said, “Don’t worry about it. It was their board.” I think she was saying we failed to bid our hands appropriately. Am I right?

Not Happy

Dear Bridgette,

Pet peeve: Wow, down 3, vulnerable! Then they say: “Yes but we weren’t doubled…and they can probably make their 4 Hearts.”

Peeved

Dear Not Happy and Peeved,

It is not appropriate to comment about opponents’ bidding or play as if they were not at the table, especially if the comments are critical. If, in addition to the rudeness, the tone or manner of speaking is offensive, call the director. If you think it falls short of “director-call worthy” then report it to the director after the game and write to “Dear Bridget.” The director will use his/her discretion to follow up and you may see your letter here!

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette:

At a game recently, my partner and I (EW) sat down at a NS table and greeted the opponents. The NS pair continued to discuss the previous hand for a couple of minutes, then went on to the current hand, without any recognition or greeting. I do not think that merited a director call, but what should I have done?

Curious

Dear Curious:

It may not have warranted a director call, but you should inform the club manager. I see two problems:

1. Failing to welcome opponents, even ignoring them, fails in our duty to be a welcoming club.

2. It is a serious ethical violation to ask for or give information about a board in play, even after both parties have played it. Please call the director when this happens.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette: 

At a game recently, my partner and I (EW) sat down at a NS table and greeted the opponents. The NS pair continued to discuss the previous hand for a couple of minutes, then went on to the current hand, without any recognition or greeting. I do not think that merited a director call, but what should I have done? 

Curious 

Dear Curious:

It may not have warranted a director call, but you should inform the club manager. I see two problems:

1. Failing to welcome opponents, even ignoring them, fails in our duty to be a welcoming club.

2. It is a serious ethical violation to ask for or give information about a board in play, even after both parties have played it. Please call the director when this happens.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette, 

My partner and I defended a 1NT contract and the opponents finished down 1. Declarer apologized to her partner and her partner said, “Don’t worry about it. It was their board.” I think she was saying we failed to bid our hands appropriately. Am I right?

Not Happy 

Dear Not Happy,

It is not appropriate to comment about opponents’ bidding or play as if they were not at the table, especially if the comments are critical.  If, in addition to the rudeness, the tone or manner of speaking is offensive, call the director.  The director will use his/her discretion to follow up and you may see your letter here! 

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette, 

Following the play of a board where opponents made 6 hearts, one said to the other “Any other lead and I go down.” They weren’t talking to us — and it may have been true — but it didn’t feel good. Was there anything wrong with the comment?

Stung 

Dear Stung,

They may not have been critiquing your lead but commenting only on their luck; however, the comment was insensitive and should only be made privately.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette,

 
What happens if I disagree with the number of tricks taken after the cards have been played?
 
First, no one should scoop up their cards before there is an agreement about the number of tricks taken.

Second, call the director immediately. He/she will probably have you play the tricks one by one to get the correct count. In no case should there be an argument that’s why you should call the director.


Dear Bridgette,

Should I count my cards before looking at my hand?

Yes! Everyone at the table should count their cards face down. Once there is agreement that all players have 13 cards, then you can review your hand. 

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette,

What can dummy do?

Dummy basically does nothing with this exception. When the declarer shows out of a suit, Dummy can ask partner, for example, “no clubs, partner?”

Also, Dummy cannot reach for or hover over a card before declarer calls for it. This is important because once declarer calls for a card that card must be played. No matter how much you want to help partner play the hand, it’s best that you keep your hands in your lap until partner calls for a card.

Bridgette


Dear Bridgette

What’s unauthorized information?

Any extraneous information from partner that might suggest a call or play is unauthorized. This includes remarks, questions, replies to questions, unexpected alerts or failures to alert, unmistakable hesitation, unwonted speed, special emphasis, tone, gesture, movement or mannerism. 


Dear Bridgette,

Why can’t I reach for the bidding box before I decide what I’m going to bid?

If you reach for the bidding box and put fingers on a bid but then you pass, you may be giving your partner unauthorized information. She may interpret your action as a willingness to bid but you just don’t have quite enough points. Your partner might take that information and use it to determine her next bid. It’s best to decide your bid before you reach for the box. 


Dear Bridgette,

Can I really ask the opponents to explain a bid?

Yes, but with a few guidelines. The person making the bid cannot provide its explanation. The player that did not make the bid is the one who answers the question “What does her bid mean?” The opponents can only ask for the explanation of a bid when it is their turn to bid. 


Dear Bridgette,

What happens if I answer a question about my partner’s bid incorrectly?

Just continue play. Your partner is not allowed to correct your misinformation because it would be giving you unauthorized information.


Dear Bridgette,

When playing North/South do my partner and I have any responsibilities? 

You are the hosts of the table. Welcome your opponents. Make sure you will be playing the correct boards and that they are positioned in the right direction. 


Dear Bridgette,

What should I do if an opponent is distracting me?

Call the director. As a matter of courtesy a player should refrain from:

  • paying a lack of attention to the game
  • making gratuitous comments during the auction and play
  • detaching a card before it is his turn to play
  • prolonging play unnecessarily (as in playing on although he knows that all the tricks are surely his) for the purpose of disconcerting an opponent
  • summoning and addressing the Director in a manner discourteous to him or to other contestants.

Here are some examples of behaviors that violates the rules: 

  • indicating approval or disapproval of a call or play
  • indicating the expectation or intention of winning or losing a trick that has not been completed
  • commenting or acting during the auction or play so as to call attention to a significant occurrence, or to the number of tricks still required for success
  • looking intently at any other player during the auction and play
  • looking at another player’s hand for the purpose of seeing his cards
  • showing an obvious lack of further interest in a deal (as by folding one’s cards)
  • varying the normal tempo of bidding or play for the purpose of disconcerting an opponent
  • leaving the table needlessly before the round is called.

Dear Bridgette,

What do you do if you or your partner describes her partner’s bid incorrectly?

When the partnership agreement is different from the explanation given, the explanation is an infraction of Law. When this infraction results in damage to the non-offending side, the Director shall award an adjusted score.

If a player becomes aware of his own mistake, he must summon the Director before the opening lead is faced (or during the play, if discovered later), and then provide a correction. The player is also permitted to call the Director before the auction ends, but he is under no obligation to do so (see Law 20F4).

The player’s partner must do nothing to correct the mistaken explanation while the auction continues and if he subsequently becomes a defender, he must call the Director and correct the explanation only after play ends. If the player’s partner is to be declarer or dummy, he must, after the final pass, call the Director and then provide a correction.

 

Dear Bridgette © 2023 Indianapolis Bridge Center