Laws and regulations

Duplicate bridge is governed by the Laws of the game, maintained by the World Bridge Federation, regulations that are maintained by the Scottish Bridge Union (our National Bridge Organisation) some of which are devolved to the East District. The club also has some local regulations, where they are permitted by the above organisations.

The Laws do not directly address etiquette, but they do cover how to play the game and what is permitted. If you want to know if you can look at a quitted trick, then these are the places to look if you do not have a tournament director to ask.

2017 Laws of Duplicate Bridge (WBF)

SBU Competition Handbook

Berwick Bridge Club regulations (these address initial seating positions and extending the correction period for scoring errors)

Behaviour at the bridge table

It is very disappointing that the club has lost potential members because they felt that it was not a friendly and welcoming club. It is, perhaps, inevitable that an established club develops its own way of doing things when most of the members are well known to each other. But this has led to behaviour that may be accepted by friends but can be unpleasant for visitors.

There are two BRIDGE things that we can all do to help the situation.

  1. Do NOT make up your own rulings at the table, call the director

    Whenever there is a bid out of turn, insufficient bid, revoke, lead out of turn, exposed card, or any irregularity you SHOULD call the director. Very few players know the rules and you should not make your own ruling. Do not bully the others at the table and do not let yourself be bullied by an experienced player, call the director and let them do their job.

    We have a pool of five or six directors at the club and making rulings is good experience for them. So let’s use them. Even the evening’s director should NOT make rulings at their own table.

  2. Do NOT offer advice on how to bid or play a hand without being asked

    Law 74A2: A player should carefully avoid any remark or action that might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player or might interfere with the enjoyment of the game.

    Law74B: As a matter of courtesy a player should refrain from:
    - making gratuitous comments during the auction and play.
    - summoning and addressing the Director in a manner discourteous to him or to other contestants.

    Comments like “you should have done this”, “you are not allowed to bid that”, “that was lucky, they should have beaten me”, “that was okay, they can make game” are disrepectful and unnecessary. Telling opponents how to play the game, especially to less experienced players, can come across as bullying even if you have the best intentions.

All bridge organisations are seeing an increase in bad behaviour at the table and this is increasingly causing people not to play the game. We’ve done well to increase the size of the club over recent years as new players, mainly due to our teaching efforts, have come to the club. But we need to continue to grow.

Let us all try a little harder to welcome new members and less experienced players; and treat all players with the respect that they are due. 

The directors are there to make the game run smoothly. Let’s use them a bit more.

Leave your bidding cards out

At the end of the auction the calls should remain in place until the opening lead has been faced and all explanations have been obtained, after which they should be returned to their boxes.

From the SBU Bidding Box Regulations.

Bridge Table Etiquette

Remember – IT’S ONLY A GAME, and meant to be enjoyed! However, there are some basic elements of etiquette which, if followed, can add to the enjoyment and also create a favourable image of our Club if you’re playing somewhere else!

First, please pay particular attention to the following:


The board to be played should be left in the centre of the table so that everyone can see the vulnerability, other boards may be put to the side.

Do not remove your cards from the board until all four players are present at the table. Count your cards before you look at them.

At the end of the auction, all bidding cards mustremain on the table until the first lead is placed face down on the table. At this stage the board must not be moved from the table, but may be moved a little from the centre, never turned.

When players complete a board with time to spare, they often wish to look at the other hands and quietly discuss the board. This is fine but you may only remove your own hand from the board, never another player’s hand.

Ensure that your hand is restored to the correct slot.

Misboarding spoils the board for anyone yet to play it, so the Director will issue a penalty to any pair misboarding a hand, even for the first offence. At matchpoints this penalty is 10% of a top (normally about 2 matchpoints), - 120 points at aggregate scoring and 1 VP for team events.

Other main points:

  • Be friendly – greet your opponents politely, don’t continue to discuss a previous hand.
  • Count your cards before looking at your hand.
  • Decide on your bid before touching the bidding box.
  • Try not to make it obvious if you’re unhappy with Partner’s bid. (This also applies to Partner’s lead or play!)
  • You can ask the meaning of an opponent’s bid, but ONLY when it is your turn to bid OR at the end of the auction. Partner of the player on lead can ask ONLY once the lead card has been placed face down on the table.
  • Bids must remain on the table until the opening lead has been made.
  • The opening lead must always be placed face down on the table. This prevents irregularities and allows Partner to ask any questions regarding the bidding. This should be done before you write the contract details on your card.
  • Once declarer has nominated or deliberately touched a card in dummy, he/she may not change his/her mind, UNLESS it would be illegal to play that card.
  • Dummy can only do as declarer instructs, EXCEPT to point out if declarer is about to lead from the wrong hand or to ask if declarer has a void when not following suit.
  • Dummy, or either defender, may point out if a player has stacked a completed trick the wrong way, but ONLY until the lead to the next trick has been made. Declarer, however, may point that out at any time, and may require any of the other three players to stack their tricks correctly.
  • Do not gather up your cards until the score for the hand has been agreed.
  • Shuffle your cards and return them to the board before marking your card. 

Be nice to the Tournament Director!

Without a Tournament Director there can be no tournament.

Try not to take your TD for granted!

The TD will ensure that the tournament runs smoothly and resolve any issues that arise at the table.

But the TD is human like the rest of us and will appreciate you co-operation.

You should all the Director whenever you have a problem, but remember:

Be Courteous  -- 

call the director politely, in a tone that will not upset your opponents

Be Patient  -- 

when you call the TD may be involved elsewhere

do not demand instant attention

Be Aware  -- 

familiarise yourself with the basic movements

check that you have the correct boards and the correct opponents 

Be Helpful  -- 

offer to assist with setting up and clearing up

pass the boards to the next table

do not leave boards on the floor

Be Tidy  -- 

clear away crockery, glasses and litter

Be Grateful  -- 

it costs nothing to thank the workers


Hesitations and the Stop card

It is not an infraction to hesitate during the bidding or play if you have a bridge reason to do so, but it can place constraints on your partner. This is explained, together with how to use the Stop card correctly, in this guide.


Disclosure of agreements between partners is an important element in Bridge etiquette.  Click here for information about disclosure.

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