Contract bridge is both a friendly, informal social game and a highly competitive mind-sport when in formal club or tournament play. Abiding by the rules, players are also expected to conduct themselves ethically and to be courteous at all times. The rules of the game and expectations for ethical play are codified in the official Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge and its published interpretations; the rules define which actions at the table are and are not permitted and remedies for rule infractions and irregularities. Players are expected to respect the norms of social courtesy and behavior; duplicate bridge sponsoring organizations (clubs, regional, national, zonal and world organizations) can define additional standards for player's conduct, including the penalties for violation of personal conduct such as rudeness and other breaches of discipline not covered by applicable civil laws.
Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge
The following aspects of conduct in game play are covered in the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge.
Any contestant remaining at a table throughout a session is primarily responsible for maintaining proper conditions of play at the table. (Law 7D)
The Tournament director's powers, duties and responsibilities are defined under laws 81 - 93. As the official representative of the Tournament Organiser he is responsible for managing the tournament and apply the Laws applicable to the said tournament. His duties (under Law 81) include:
- to maintain discipline and ensure the orderly progress of the game.
- to administer and interpret these Laws and to advise players of their rights and responsibilities thereunder.
- to rectify an error or irregularity of which he becomes aware in any manner, within the Correction Period... (The Correction Period is usually 30 minutes after the final entry of the scores)
- to assess rectification when applicable and to exercise the powers given him... (to penalise or suspend players)
- to waive rectification for cause, in his discretion, upon the request of the non-offending side.
- to adjust disputes.
- to refer any matter to an appropriate committee.
- to report the results for the official record if the Tournament Organiser requires it and to deal with any matters delegated to him by the Tournament Organiser
Law 81 also states The Director (not the players) has the responsibility for rectifying irregularities and redressing damage.
Procedure following an irregularity
Unless prohibited by Law, any player may call attention to an irregularity during the auction, whether or not it is his turn to call. (the dummy is subject to restrictions to this rule during play) and The Director must be summoned at once when attention is drawn to an irregularity. . A player does not generally have to draw attention to an irregularity committed by their side (Law 9A4 and 72B2) but must not attempt to conceal an infraction (Law 72B3)
Law 73B2 states: The gravest possible offence is for a partnership to exchange information through pre-arranged methods of communication other than those sanctioned in these laws.
- 1965 Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro were accused of passing information on how many hearts they held in the hand.
- 1975 The 'foot soldiers' Gianfranco Facchini and Sergio Zucchelli were found to be tapping each other's feet under the table.
- 2013 In the D'Orsi Senior Bowl the 'German Doctors' Elinescu and Wladow have been found ('subject to appeal') guilty of passing information by coughing in the final against USA 2.
Players are expected to bid and play 'in tempo', i.e. without undo haste or delay. Occasionally, within the context of more complex situations, additional time may be required to consider one's bid or play options, but players may not draw inferences based on their partner's break in tempo and doing so may draw a penalty when such hestitation is deemed without merit.
In duplicate play, "stop" cards are commonly used during auctions to notify the opponents of a skip bid. After the bid is made, the next player is expected to wait 10 seconds before bidding. A quick Pass after an opponent bids 2♠, for example, strongly implies a lack of card values.
Review and explanation of calls
- At their turn to bid, or after the final pass, a player may ask for a review of the auction when it is their turn to bid. The full auction (up to that point), including alerts, must be given.
- A player may request information about a particular call but this risks giving unauthorized information.
- A player is entitled to know not only information about calls made but also about relevant calls that were not made and any inferences that can be drawn from them.
- A player may not ask a question for the benefit of their partner.
If misinformation is provided (whether inadvertently or not) and not corrected then a pair may be afforded restitution by the Tournament Director. The assumed declarer or dummy should give the correct explanation at the end of the auction but before the opening lead is faced up. (When the Tournament Director can give the last defender a chance to make another bid and the auction may continue). Defenders may not correct misinformation until the end of the play of the hand (to do so earlier would give unauthorized information to their partner)
Players are authorized to base their calls and plays on information from legal calls and plays and from mannerisms of opponents. To base a call or play on other extraneous information may be an infraction of law.
When a player accidentally receives unauthorized information about a board he is playing or has yet to play, as by looking at the wrong hand; by overhearing calls, results or remarks; by seeing cards at another table; or by seeing a card belonging to another player at his own table before the auction begins, the Director should be notified forthwith, preferably by the recipient of the information. If the Director considers that the information could interfere with normal play, he may:
- Adjust Positions
- if the type of contest and scoring permit, adjust the players' positions at the table, so that the player with information about one hand will hold that hand; or,
- Appoint Substitute
- with the concurrence of all four players, appoint a temporary substitute to replace the player who received the unauthorized information; or,
- Award an Adjusted Score
- forthwith award an artificial adjusted score.
Conduct and Etiquette
Law 74 deals with a correct attitude (courteous and avoid annoying other players), etiquette (e.g. paying attention, not making gratuitous remarks) and violations of procedure (e.g. boasting about success, varying tempo to disconcert opponents, trying to look at opponent's cards or where they played the card from in the hand).