Director’s Notes

Q. If the first hand is passed in, what should happen?
A. Law 22 is quite clear that there shall not be a redeal. Many players cannot understand this and get quite annoyed. But the reason is that many hands will be opened with as little as 6 points, as players of weak 2 openers, multi diamond or club, tartan two, and 1NT openers as low as 9 pts know. Just because you don’t open doesn’t mean someone else won’t.


Q. “Psyche” – are you allowed to do that?
You certainly are – it is an integral part of bridge. Of course your partner must be totally unaware of what you are up to, and you are only obliged to disclose what your partnership understanding is.
It is not improper for a player to violate an announced partnership agreement, so long as his partner is unaware of the violation and no player has the obligation to disclose to the opponents that he has violated an announced agreement. If the opponents are subsequently damaged they are not entitled to redress. After all, the purpose of the psyche is damage the opponents, the risk being that it can damage your side instead!
Since psyches are becoming more common there are some points to remember should you experience them or start to use them.
a. No more than 2 should be permitted per session, or it becomes persistent psyching which can in turn become a partnership understanding.
b. Should your opposition psyche, call the director at the end of the hand and point it out. Only s/he knows whether this is the 3rd one of the session.
c. At club level it is considered be “unsporting ” to psyche a player of considerably less experience than yourself.
d. The Welsh Bridge Union prohibits the psyching of conventional opening forcing bids (e.g. forcing strong 2 bids).

Q. My partner, dealer, hesitates for some time and then passes – am I allowed to bid?
A. Certainly! But you must be prepared to justify your bid. It would be totally unethical for you to open on a marginal hand in this case. Hesitations throughout the auction and play constitute unauthorised information. An opponent may say to you “hesitation noted.” Careful – you’re being watched! DO NOT feel compelled to bid just because your partner hesitated

Q. My partner gives a mistaken explanation of my bid. What should I do?
A. Nothing – not yet anyway. Why not? Because if you, in all good faith, call the director and say what has happened you have just alerted your partner to the misunderstanding. This is the same logic that makes it illegal for you to remind your partner to alert when s/he has forgotten to do so. That’s right – if partner forgets, no looking daggers across the table, or waiving little circles in the air. POKER FACE – please.
Example – You open the strong NT which you have agreed to play but your partner tells the opposition you are playing the weak. S/he is sitting there with a nice 10 pts ready to pass. If you remind your partner to alert or call the director, your partner now realises the mistake and puts you to 3NT saving a bottom board. So what should you do? You call the director at the end of the auction if you wind up as declarer, and at the end of play if you are the defender. Why the difference? It’s all to do with illegally alerting your partner. If you are defenders you must not do anything to alert your partner to the fact that something is amiss till the hand is over, since s/he will realise at once that your hand is not as assumed. If you are declarer or dummy it does not matter, since one person plays both hands. If you cannot remember what to do, call the director and ask to speak to him/her away from the table, although this step itself will constitute unauthorised information.

Q. Aren’t the laws sometimes unfair ?
A. Yes – the revoke laws can sometimes overpenalise a side but 12B2 states “The director may not award an adjusted score on the grounds that the penalty provided in these laws is either unduly severe or advantageous to either side”.

Dummys Rights
These are quite limited, and basically all you can do if keep track of the tricks, try to prevent declarer from committing an irregularity and inquire after possible revokes. There are a couple of interesting points here –
You may not point out that declarer has led from the wrong hand, but you may try to prevent it from happening. In other words be alert here and try to stop it happening before the event. If this sounds odd, remember that dummy may not draw attention to an irregularity during play, but may try to prevent it. If declarer has already played from the wrong hand, then the irregularity has already occurred – it is too late to say anything. Dummy is Declarer’s agent.
If Declarer calls for a card to be played from dummy then that card is played. It is NOT dummys` job to say “the lead is in your hand”. If dummy can stop Declarer making the mistake before the action then OK. Otherwise play the card as asked.
Dummy can check that Declarer has not revoked, and defenders can also check on one another.
Another point is that dummy is not allowed to call the director unless attention has been drawn to an irregularity by another player. If I find dummy has called me, I will always ask who drew attention to the irregularity, and if it was dummy, expect a stern warning, and a Procedural Penalty if they become a repeat offender.

Contested claims (70)
This is the biggie. If you remember nothing else from this page, remember the following. An opponent claims the remaining tricks, but you disagree because you think you can take one or more. What most players will do now is utter what I describe as the four craziest words in bridge – “Play it out please”. Crazy because what you have just said to the claimer is “I believe I can take a trick”. Claimer will then quickly work out what it might be, e.g. a remaining trump, and promptly take it off you. Those four crazy words will usually cost you a trick. O.K. That’s what you don’t do. What do you do? You call the director – radical idea!!! The important thing is that once a claim is made, play ceases. If there has been any play after the claim, it will be declared void. There are a number of very important points here.
a. If the claimer did not state the intended line of play at the time of the claim, it is too late now. Claimers will usually now waffle on about what they couldda/woulda/shouldda done. Tough. It’s too late.
b. All cards will be faced on the table. Remember, play ceased once the the claim was made. A ruling will be made as equitably as possible but “…any doubtful points shall be resolved against the claimer” (70A).
d. When there is an outstanding trump, if a trick could be lost by any “normal” line of play, then it must be awarded to the opponent.The key to the whole page and a half covering this law is the following –

“The director shall not accept from claimer any successful line of play not embraced in the original clarification statement if there is an alternative line of play that would be less successful.(70D)”

Confused? What this is saying is that it does not matter how many ways claimer could have avoided losing a trick, if there is one normal line of play by which a trick could have been lost, then that’s what will be awarded.
The law goes further and states that “normal” includes play that could be careless for the class of player, but not irrational. In other words if an opponent claims the last 3 tricks with the K 7 2 of trumps and you have the trump Q and two other irrelevant cards, then you will not be awarded a trick, since it would be irrational for claimer to have played anything other than the K first.
So remember to engrave those words “Play it out please” indelibly into your mind and promise yourself never, ever to say them again!

Q. My partner concedes the remaining tricks, but I disagree. What can I do about it”?
A. Object immediately. If you do, then no such concession has occurred.(68B) But be careful here. That concession by your partner is unauthorised information, (keeps cropping up, does it not). Be careful that you can justify any play you make from now on.

General Proprieties (74)

The law which most often gets ignored at all levels of bridge, and should not be, is very simple indeed. Law 74A1 states that “A player should maintain at all times a courteous attitude”. This applies not only to the way you speak to the opposition and to the director, but to your partner. Partner abuse should not be tolerated. If you have been subjected to two opponents being unpleasant to each other, call the director and complain. Until people start doing this, it will continue. Oh yes – be nice to your partner too, won’t you.
Other points to remember are that players should refrain from –
a. Detaching a card before it is your turn to play. Going a step further and replacing it with another when it comes to your turn is grossly unethical.
b. Prolonging play unnecessarily – e.g. by not claiming when clearly all the remaining tricks are yours.
c. Indicating approval or disapproval of a call or play.
d. Looking intently at another player, or at their cards, to see where they drew them from.
e. Varying the normal tempo of bidding or play.
f. Making your own rulings at the table. Only the director has the right to assess penalties. Senior players, who are not directors, are notorious at telling junior ones what the laws are, usually wrongly. In fact since Murphy and Parkinson invented their own laws, so can I, and my Law goes like this –

“The tendency for players to tell others what the laws are, increases with their card playing ability, but their actual knowledge decreases at a similar rate.”

If you are new to this game, take everything you hear from other than a recognised director with a pinch of salt, and check it out.

Some General Comments.
But some players tend to forget bridge is first and foremost a social game, and are out to get their pound of flesh in any way they can. Perhaps the most important statement in the law book, and one that every bridge player should remember at all times, comes not in the laws themselves, but in the first paragraph in the Introduction –

“The laws are primarily designed not as a punishment for irregularities, but rather as redress for the rectification of situations where non offenders may otherwise be damaged.”

To this extent I believe that when the director is faced with a grey area following an irregularity, the question to the opposition must ultimately be “Do you believe you were damaged ?” If not, then “continue to play please”.
Finally I leave you with this thought –

“A measure of a persons mental stability is the degree to which they can play bridge as though it was just a game.”