Many people have questions about bridge and practices at the club. You can ask the guru many questions. To save guru time we record the answers here so that others may share in the guru's wisdom. Who is the guru? - see the answer below.
Questions and answers are listed by segments below:
Practices at the club
Do I need to wear a name badge? This is not compulsory but is encouraged as it is helpful to your opponents and to making the game more social and friendly, a key goal of our club. Some players find name badges damaging to their clothing, and others do not like being told what to do when it is not essential. This is a perennial question still in search of a great consensus answer - suggestions welcome.
Practices at the table apart from bidding or play
Do I have to have a systems card on the table? Yes. You should have a systems card on the table every time you play. As well as being required it is a matter of consideration to your opponents - remember bridge is not a game of secret agreements. It is an area where our club has performed poorly in the past. We are working on improving the situation and have prepared simple to use Peninsula Basic, Standard and Open system cards.
What are the rules for the handling of the Bridgemate? Usually South handles scoring with the Bridgemate but North can optionally also do this. South (or North) should check that they are playing the correct boards and the correct EW pair, and for each board played should enter the contract and the result and ask East or West to check this and, if correct, press the Accept button. The scorer should then put the Bridgemate into the centre of the table and click View Results so everyone can view the results. The reason for these guidelines (not really rules) is to ensure that both sides confirm the board result and everyone has an equal chance to see any summary information that is provided.
What is the rule for the handling of the boards? The common practice for a standard duplicate is that the boards are checked and appropriately placed on the table by North (with South normally scoring). After being played they are generally passed to West (or East) who then takes them to their next table as part of their own movement. The director may ask for the boards to be handled differently depending on the movement he or she has chosen. For instance in teams or Swiss Pairs it is common for North or South to pass each board after it is played to the next table. The scorer should also check in the scoring device that the appropriate board is being played.
Who is to handle the money/vouchers collected at the table? It is our club's common practice for North to collect and check the money and the vouchers and places these items with the table slip (after the player numbers have been entered in the Bridgemate units) on the side table to his or her left for the director to collect.
What do I do if an opponent is bullying or intimidating? If a simple request to stop the behaviour does not succeed, call the Director and state something like “XYZ’s behaviour is spoiling my enjoyment of the game”. Or do this after the game. The director will observe the situation - and generally the director’s presence will stop the inappropriate behaviour immediately. While it is difficult for a penalty to be applied based on a player’s report, a pattern of such reports is noticed and the club will monitor and deal with such patterns.
Practices at the table during bidding
How do I alert? Artificial calls (those without a commonly understood natural meaning) need to be alerted so that the opponents are aware and can ask for an explanation if they choose. It is the partner of the person making the artificial call that does the alerting - this is so there is no danger of the player alerting their partner of the artificial meaning of the call. At our club the established practice of alerting is done by placing an Alert card on the table, preferably next to the card of partner’s artificial call. If necessary a previously played alert card can be moved to the next artificial call. It is also helpful to say “alert” at the time. The exceptions to this are for bids that are considered self-alerting: these include doubles and redoubles, bids of a suit already shown by the opponents, bids above 3NT and a Stayman bid of 2C (or 3C) over a 1NT (or 2NT) opening bid (if there has been no opponent bidding). No alerting is appropriate for these bids. Note that alerting a call does not include giving an explanation - that is only given when an opponent asks at their turn to bid.
When don't I have to alert? In brief when partner calls naturally or when their artificial call is self-alerting. Self-alerting calls include: doubles and redoubles, bids of a suit already shown by the opponents, bids above 3NT and Stayman bids of 2C (or 3C) over a 1NT (or 2NT) opening bid (if there has been no opponent bidding). The opponents can still ask the meaning of self-alerting calls, but you do not need to alert them because they “alert themselves”. A good rule to remember is that any call which has more than one meaning should be alerted - so that the opponents can ask the meanings and are not disadvantaged by your partnership understandings (as secret agreements are not part of the game of bridge).
What if the information partner gives about an alerted bid is incorrect? You should give no indication (including body language) of the misinformation during the bidding (or the play if you are a defender) - as this would alert your partner to the mistake. But you should call the director as soon as the bidding is finished (if your side is declaring) or after the play has finished (if your side is defending). If the director believes the non-infringing side was disadvantaged by the misinformation he or she is likely to award an adjusted score in line with the likely outcome if there had been no misinformation.
Do you alert 2D if this is a low bid? A 2D weak opening does not have to be alerted as it means only diamonds and cannot be either strong or weak. If in doubt you can ask, at your turn to bid, the meaning of the 2D bid (as they may have forgotten to alert a multi two).
Practices at the table during the play
Do you leave all the bidding cards out before the first card is played and if so why? Yes. This is so the player on lead can review the bidding before leading, and then so their partner can also ask questions about the bidding after the opening lead has been played face down. This has been a hard rule to enforce as most players are in a hurry to clear the table and get on with the game.
Why is the contract turned face down on the table? This is done after the opening lead so that other players passing the table cannot see the contract, which would be unauthorised information when they come to bid the board.
Do I have to have my cards visible or can I hold them under the table? You may hold them under the table edge if you wish. Indeed when you first pick up your cards, it might be advantageous to count them under the table in case one of the cards had been placed in the board face up.
Why if I pull a card up in my hand, do I have to play it even though I don't want to? Yes if it has not been played. However the apparent change of mind suggests to your partner that you have an alternate good lead. This unauthorised information creates problems for your partner. A switch of suits might be decisive in a competitive game and the laws of bridge prevent partner from making such a choice that may have been suggested by unauthorised information like this.
If I ask dummy to play a card and then change my mind can I play another card? No, the card is considered played when you ask for it.
Can a player call the dummy card before the player to the left has played the card? No. Apart from being contrary to the law about playing out of turn, it is unwise as left hand player may play an unexpected card - declarer may end up under-trumping because he or she called for dummy's card too soon.
If a partner doesn't follow suit can they be asked if they have that suit by their partner? Yes. It is common practice to ask your partner, such as “no spades partner?”, to reduce the chance of unnecessary irregularities.
What do I do if a player has revoked? In brief any player (other than the dummy during the play) should call the Director immediately that a revoke (or renege) is detected. Often this may not be ascertained until the end of play. The Director will check whether the revoke has been established (that is the play has progressed to the point where it cannot be undone). If not the revoke will be unwound and others playing cards after the revoke card will be able to change their played card. If the revoke has been established the director will ask to be called back at the end of the play and will award nil, one or two tricks transfer from the offending side depending on the circumstances. In the rare case that the non-offending side does not believe this mandatory trick transfer restores equity they can ask the director to consider the particular circumstances and if the director agrees the director can award a greater transfer.
Is it alright for the dummy to tap to indicate that the dummy is in play? Yes, dummy should help avoid an irregularity if possible.
What are the limitations on dummy? In brief dummy only follows declarer’s instructions. There are specific laws (Laws 42, 43) that apply to dummy, primarily ensuring that dummy is not a participant in the play and does not communicate any information during the play. Dummy should only play a card as called by partner or even suggest a card by hovering over it. Dummy should not look at the other players hands and should take care to show no body language. Dummy can prevent an irregularity such as declarer leading from the wrong hand by tapping or saying that the play is from the dummy but cannot call attention to one that has occurred or initiate a call for the director during the play.
Do you always have to play out the hand? In brief while with less experienced players it is often better to play out the hand, either declarer or a defender can at any time claim or concede all or a specified number of the remaining tricks. This is commonly done in a game between competitive players to save time that might be needed on another board. The person making a claim can state how they would play the hand at the time of making the claim and simultaneously showing his or her cards. If a defender immediately objects to their partner’s concession then the concession does not occur and play continues - any information that the attempted concession provided is unauthorized to the partner. Otherwise play is suspended and the other players have sufficient time to consider the claim. Any of the players (including dummy) can express doubt as to the claim or concession. It this occurs then either the four players can agree to playing out the remaining tricks OR the director can be called. If the director is called he or she will make a decision about the likely outcome taking into account any statement made at the time of the claim - and if in significant doubt will award against the person making the claim.
What happens if there is a dispute about the number of tricks taken? Call the director. You should always keep your played cards undisturbed until there is an agreement about the number of tricks taken. Otherwise it is much more difficult for a Director to resolve the situation.
Who is the guru? The guru is such a useful prolific source of wisdom that she needs a Politesse working group to support her. The working group currently comprises: David Farmer, Di Hunter, Verl Lawrence, Sandie Rooke (representing the Bridge Education Sub-Committee) and Anne Small (representing the Directors group). Our goal is to promote the enjoyment of bridge at the club with improved communication, improved education, and a nudge here or there. We translate politesse as showing consideration for others.