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Dos and Don’ts




Michael Abbey


Note to readers: Michael Abbey is a bridge player from Ottawa, who writes a column for Bridge Canada, the CBF bridge publication I edit ( Here are some excellent tips for all players. I was playing at the Tuxedo club this past Wednesday, and was a witness to many infractions of number 3, Bidding Box usage. When I made mention to educate these players, I was occassionally met with some resistence.


Please change your behaviour if you are contravening the following bridge laws. Doing this will ensure that you are behaving ethically at the bridge table. As well making the game enjoyable for all.


Sincerely, Neil Kimelman



As was obvious from my inaugural Bridge Canada article in December, I am new at this game. A few things have happened at the table recently that have allowed me to learn more about playing this wonderful game. As I see it, there are two separate components to bridge:


1.     How to play—all the way from bidding through playing the hand.

2.     Playing the game—the way one behaves at the table and what is allowed and what is not.


This article is about the second component. Let’s look at three different circumstances at the bridge table, and find out what is allowed and what isn’t.



Communicating with partner during the play


Its half way through a 27 board game and the opponents are declaring a 3NT contract. Their order of tricks records are as follows, with East as the declarer:




In the previous diagram, on the left is the order of played cards for East and West. Notice how East’s layout shows the partnership winning tricks 1 and 2. West’s record shows them winning trick 1 but not trick 2. The order of played cards for North and South reflect the same status of trick #2, having been lost to North/South. Thus, the trick record by East for trick #2 is wrong.


The table on the right shows the Win/Lose status for tricks 1-11. In a 3NT contract, the partnership needs nine tricks. Just before the 12th trick starts, East fingers his tricks and counts to eight. West knows that they lost trick #2, so he points it out to East. East then turns the card record for trick #2 to reflect the loss, thereby realizing he has to win two more tricks not just one. My partner points out that what West just did is not legal. After the game, I discussed this with my partner and, lo and behold, she was right. West offered some information to East to which he was not entitled. As it turns out, the only time your partner is allowed to tell you one of your trick records is oriented the wrong way is immediately after a trick finishes and before the first card is played to the next trick. This is covered in Law 65 of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. Let’s look at another situation:


Turning over your card to a trick


Trick #5 finishes and East wins it. The cards each person played to the trick are sitting on the table as shown in the picture on the left. Then South, West, and North turn their cards over to change to what is shown on the right:




Before East leads the next trick, she asks the other three players to face their cards. South says, “I already turned my card down, sorry.” East reminds South that since she has not yet turned her own card (the }K) over, she can ask the other players to expose what they played to the trick. East is correct. On the other hand, suppose South had been the one who asked the other players to face their cards. Since she has turned her card (the }8) over, she is not allowed to ask. This is covered in Law 66 of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. One more position is enough for this brief journey into a corner of duplicate land:


When to reach for the bidding box


This one involves fishing in the bidding box, as I call it. Players are not allowed to go to the bidding box without having made a decision about the bid they are about to make. The process is as follows:

1.     Ponder the options for bidding based on what has been bid so far and what convention may or may not be used

2.     Select the bid in one’s mind, and only then

3.     Go to the bidding box and extract the proper card(s) ensuring the desired bid is on the top of whatever is extracted from the box

The key here is to think, decide, and then go to the box. Any other process could be deemed to be giving unauthorized information to your partner and lead to the summoning the Director, and a possible score adjustment. 


You may wonder what all the above means to you? First, knowing these rules may avoid any score adjustments.  At least as important, as you play, the way you behave at the table and how you carry yourself throughout the auction and subsequent play makes a statement about your integrity, as well as your mastery of the game.


Please visit Michael at his website for beginners at


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