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Ethics and Play of the Game

Jim Bagley, a resident of Harligen, and an accomplished Bridge Player collected this bit of "Tips" for us during his travels. He played in Cleveland,Tennessee, a town of less tht 40,000 people where they have 6 to 11 games. I believe that this was written by one of the Directors and I thought that it was an excellent piece for all players to learn and practice. I thought it was time time for reminders of routine things for playing Bridge in the Unit. We have a few new players, but I'd like for everyone to review these pages even if you've been playing for 50 years. Please read and give me some other suggestions that may need to be sent to the club. I know that I have learned a lot and will strive to follow them......Here 'tis:

Page 1 Bridge Tips at Duplicate

Arrive on time. It's not fair to the crowd to wait for a tardy arrival of a a player.
Pay the fee.
Find your correct playing location. Check to make certain you are with the correct opponents and have the correct boards.
ACBL Specific Convention Card Regulations require both members of a partnership to have identical convention cards legibly filled out.
All conventions marked in blue require an Announcement. Those marked in red and all unusual treatments require an Alert.
If the meaning of a bid has not been discussed, "no agreement" or "undiscussed" is the proper response. Players should not say such things as, "I am taking it to mean." In addition, "standard" or the name of a convention is not a proper answer.
Always count you cards face down before looking at them.
When a contract has been reached, the person on lead should lead before writing down the information on his personal score card. The lead should be face-down (ACBL rule). Do not touch anyone else's cards.
Do not pass your cards over to partner to discuss the hand. Can cause a mix-up.
Bridge is a "timed event." ACBL allows 7 1/2 mins per board. "If you can't play well, play fast," is an ACBL guideline.
Do not "box" (fold up your cards) your cards during the auction. (That in effect tells your partner you are through bidding).
Everyone is not responsible for dummy. Only the declaring side is responsible for dummy. Dummy has very limited rights. Dummy may try to prevent an irregularity by declarer, such as playing from the wrong hand or not following suit by asking, "No spades partner?" or whatever the suit might be.
Dummy may not inform declarer during play that he has a trick turned incorrectly unless it is done immediately after declarer places it incorrectly.
Dummy is named that because he generally keeps quiet. Dummy must wait for declarer's instructions on what to play from the dummy.
Do not mix tricks together before the results are agreed upon.
Do not engage in unacceptable social behavior at the table. Don't give lessons, don't "play" or touch other's bid cards. Don't fuss at your partner or opponents if they don't play to suit you. CALL THE DIRECTOR to settle disputes.
Use the bid boxes. Do not make any comments or gestures during the auction. It is silent bidding. Make up your mind about the bid you are going to make before you touch the bid box. When your mind is made up, look at the bid your have pulled up before you place it on the table. You may have pulled the wrong bid card.


Do not pull a card from your hand before it is your turn to play. Actually, it best not even to touch a card in your hand when it is your turn until you have decided exactly which card your are going to play. For example, if you are declarer and you pull a card from your hand and get it face up, touching or nearly touching the table, or maintained in such a position as to indicate that it has been played, it is played. It is not relevant whether either or both of the defenders see the card. If the card is held in a manner to indicate declarer has determined to play it, the card is played.

A defenders card is played when it is held in a position where it could be possible for his partner to see its face. It does not matter whether the defender's partner saw the card. The question is could he have seen the face of the card had he been looking directly at it?

One "biggie" that sometimes may occur when declarer leads, and his play from dummy is intended to be conditional on the play of the LHO. He then prematurely calls a card from dummy and, observing that LHO's card makes his choice unpalatable, endeavors to change it. The change must not be allowed regardless of the tempo, for his first designation was not inadvertent. Declarer leads toward an Ace-Queen, intending to finesse. Expecting to see a small card on his left, he says "Queen." As he does so, however, he sees that LHO has produced the king. Regardless of how quickly he endeavors to change his designation to the ace, such a change cannot be allowed. This is a change of mind (as opposed to a slip of the tongue), and the change is not permitted.

When dummy plays a wrong card, a card not named by declarer, the trick must be corrected if attention is drawn to the error before both sides have played to the next trick.

No player should turn his own card down until all four players have played to the trick.

These comments are intended to be helpful rather than critical, but we need to be aware of the "rules of etiquette" at the bridge table. We have all been a bit lax in following the "rules," so these are given to refresh our memories.

When it's your turn to bid try not to agonize if you have a bad hand. By the same token when you get a great hand try not to look so cheerful. Let your bidding do the "telling." You are entitled to base your judgment on your partner's bid or the card he has played, but not the manner in which he has played the card. We all occasionally slip, but when we do, our partner should not take advantage of the information that has been improperly conveyed by our manner of placing the bid card or playing card.

Although you're not entitled to take advantage of information you get from your partner's manner or hesitation, you are entitled to use information of this sort that you get from the opponents and that sometimes creates a problem.

Are you entitled to assume that your LHO opponent has the queen of trumps? You are. If your LHO opponent wants more time to decide his play, he must inform you that he does not have a essence telling you that he does not have the Queen.

What if it turns out that the opponent doesn't have the queen of trumps after all?

He has cheated you if he has not informed you that he does not have a problem. That sort of deceptive action would be perfectly legitimate in poker and in some other games. BUT NOT IN BRIDGE. In bridge you are not supposed to try to deceive your opponents by your manner. Long pausing before bidding is to be avoided; for example, the pause followed by "Pass" tells everyone that you probably have 11-13 points, not quite good enough to open. Make your bids at the same pace if you can.

You should try to slow down your speedy plays and to speed up your slow plays so as to maintain an even tempo.....and keep up with the other tables. If you can do this successfully, your opponents will not be able to read anything from your manner.

PLAY OF THE HAND Experienced players should go out of their way to make novice players feel at ease, so that they will view bridge as a pleasant recreation, not a battleground.

Never try to give advice or "teach" anyone at the table unless they ask for your advice. Never let a harsh word pass your lips and you will be a sought-after rather than a shunned partner. Prefer to say too little than too much. If partner has bid or played the hand like an idiot, say "bad luck" and leave it at that. Do not harp on past errors.

Violations of proper etiquette are quite common from inexperienced players, either through lack of knowledge or inadvertence. Above all, remember that bridge is primarily a game and is meant to be enjoyed. Make sure it is also enjoyable for the other players at your table.

We're not all experts and we're not playing tournament bridge, but I think it will help our game if we try to follow the guidelines mentioned here.

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