header                Issue #15               October 2015

These pages are an attempt to inform bridge players of  the laws governing our game.  In particular, we will be looking at everyday situations where the TD is called.
These pages will be updated each month, so please come again!  

Always call the TD for any infringement, however minor -   do not take the law into your own hands.

Questions on the Laws

Query 1

Wild Coast

My reply

During the play of a hand, the TD was called when declarer claimed all tricks with three cards left but the others had 4 cards each. The contract was a suit contract.

A search for the missing card - the Q - was found on the floor next to the previous table. It is ascertained that no revoke occurred by declarer on a diamond play. The card picked up is not a winner.

What should the ruling be?

The incident was reported a few days later to me.

Far-reaching effects: On scrutinizing this incident, it comes to light that the missing card (the Q) was the difference between the player making an invitational bid and a forcing-to-game bid in the suit strain. When this pair stopped in 3-of-the major they collected a bushel of matchpoints when the fates decreed that the game would fail. Thus Law 23 applies (see RHS).

There is a penalty for not counting your cards at the start of play. You are in breach of law 7B:

B. Removal of Cards from Board
  1. Each player takes a hand from the pocket corresponding to his compass position.
  2. Each player counts his cards face down to be sure he has exactly thirteen; after that, and before making a call, he must inspect the faces of his cards.

That would earn a procedure penalty of quarter-top to N/S, in terms of Law 90B7.   Furthermore, Law 23 will apply:

"...When the play has been completed the Director awards an adjusted score if he considers the offending side has gained an advantage through the irregularity".
Typically, if N/S received a matchpoint of above average, the TD adjusts it back to Ave.

Query 2

I had a strange phone call from a TD who was about to run a major competition in 2 days time. She cites an expert player who has the habit of detaching a card from his hand when declarer, brings it close to the table (still concealed from the others) and thinks awhile. Sometimes he would change the card.

"Is the card played?" she asks.

I said that the opponents have a right to complain about the practice of removing the card prematurely then replacing it. It is off-putting and certainly distubs one's concentration if this happens frequently in the same hand.

By all means think when you have a problem, but players have to take cognisance of the allotted time available, esp. in a pairs game. The opponents can seek redress if rushed at the end, making unforced errors.

My written reply

Hope my answer to you over the phone clarified things. To summarise,

When is a card played?

A. Play of Card from a Hand
Each player except dummy plays a card by detaching it from his hand and facing it on the table immediately before him.

C. Compulsory Play of Card
2. Declarer must play a card from his hand if it is
(a) held face up, touching or nearly touching the table; or
(b) maintained in such a position as to indicate that it has been played.

Note that declarer’s card is not played when detached from hand, but when it is "deemed" to be played.

Still... players should heed this advice:
Go to the bidding box only when you have decided; similarly, detach a card in the play of a hand only when you have firmly decided.


Please feel free to write in regarding the bridge laws, to   webmaster [at] gbu.co.za


Sid Ismail
National Director

26 September 2015

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