Common Director Rulings

Calls out of turn

LHO may accept the call by making any call. There is no rectification.
If not accepted, then

Insufficient Bids Law 27

Any insufficient bid may be accepted at the option of offender’s LHO. It is accepted if that player calls.
If it is not accepted then
  1. If corrected to the lowest sufficient bid that specifies the same denomination or to a CC, auction continues.
  2. If corrected with another bid or pass, partner must pass for the remainder of the auction. Lead penalties may apply

Unauthorized Information Law 16

Steps in dealing with unauthorized, extraneous information such as tempo variation (e.g.,huddles).
  1. Was there unauthorized information available? Was there a huddle? If yes, proceed.
  2. Were the opponents damaged? If yes, proceed.
  3. Were there logical alternatives to the call chosen by the partner of the huddler? (Remember that a logical alternative is a call that, among the class of players involved, would be given serious consideration by a significant number of such players.) If yes, proceed.
  4. Could the extraneous information demonstrably suggest the call chosen over a likely less successful logical alternative(s). Is it obvious? Is it readily apparent? Is it easily understood? If yes, assign an adjusted score.

Card Exposed or Led Prior to the Play Period Law 24

When a player’s error during the auction period made it possible for his partner to see one or more of his cards, every such card is left face up on the table until the auction period ends. If the offender subsequently becomes a defender, every such card will become a penalty card. Then:
  1. if this card is a single card below the rank of an honor and not prematurely led, there is no further rectification.
  2. if it is a single card of honor rank, or a card prematurely led, the offender’s partner must pass when next it is his turn to call.
  3. if two or more cards are exposed, offender’s partner must pass when next it is his turn to call.

You are declarer and wrong opponent makes opening lead Law 54

  1. You can accept the lead and you become dummy while partner becomes declarer.
  2. You can accept the lead but stay declarer and have the dummy faced before making your play on the first trick. Helps your decision on the first trick.
  3. You can reject the lead and now compel the correct leader to lead the same suit. At this point the offender puts the card back in his hand and can play anything.
  4. You can reject the lead and now forbid the correct leader from leading the same suit. At this point the offender puts the card back in his hand and can play anything.
  5. You can reject the lead and let the correct leader lead any card he wishes. In this case the offender’s card remains face up on the table as a major penalty card. While the penalty card is still on the table, and every time the correct leader gains the lead you can exercise one of the 3 major penalty card options.

During the play of the hand a defender plays prematurely when it is partner’s turn to play Law 57

If not accepted, it becomes a major penalty card, and declarer can
  1. insist that the correct leader lead his biggest or smallest card in that suit or,
  2. prohibit the lead of any other suit.

Defenders Lead out of turn

If not accepted, it becomes major penalty card.

Revokes Laws 61-64

Minor & Major Penalty Cards Law 50

Minor Penalty Cards

A minor penalty card occurs when a card is accidentally exposed in such a manner as the partner could possibly have seen it but its value is a 9 or less. The card must remain face up on the table but only must be played before another card in that suit is played by the offender which is less than a 10. You can only have one minor penalty card. If more than 1 card has been dropped they both/all become major penalty cards.

Major Penalty Cards

A major penalty card must be played at the first legal opportunity. Each time the partner of the player with the penalty card gains the lead, the declarer has three options:
  1. He can demand the lead of that suit and any penalty cards of that suit are returned.
  2. He can forbid the lead of that suit for as long as the lead is retained and any penalty cards of that suit are returned.
  3. He can allow the leader to lead anything and the penalty card stays on the table to be played at the first opportunity.

2017 Changes

Comparable Call Law 23

The contents of the old Law 23 (Awareness of Potential Damage) have been moved to Law 72 (General Principles). This is a completely new law that represents what is probably the biggest change in the 2017 version. As mentioned in the July Bulletin, the lawmakers have been moving towards more equitable solutions following irregularities rather than imposing arbitrary penalties that needlessly distort the outcome of a board. That is the intent of this law, and it expands the idea first seen in the insufficient bid law in the 2008 version to other laws. Its basic goal is to allow a player to substitute a "comparable call" for an illegal one, without penalty, as long as any information from the illegal call does not give the offending side an advantage. It will now apply to certain passes, bids, doubles, and redoubles out of rotation in addition to insufficient bids. A comparable call is defined as one that replaces a withdrawn call if it (a) has the same or a similar meaning as that attributable to the withdrawn call; (b) defines a subset of the possible meanings attributable to the withdrawn call, or (c) has the same purpose (e.g., an asking bid or a relay) as that attributable to the withdrawn call. So, for those out-of-rotation calls that used to result in partner being barred from bidding, the director may be able to allow a substitution that permits normal play to continue under the new laws. The director should now do so in the laws mentioned above if the substituted call has the same or a very similar meaning as the withdrawn call, or if it is a "subset" of the meanings of the withdrawn call (such as a pass out of turn at partner's turn, later corrected to a pass of partner's opening one-level suit bid), or if it performs the same function as the withdrawn call (such as a 2C bid over partner's 2NT, intended as Stayman and corrected to 3C, also Stayman).

The director will have to exercise more judgment here than before and many of these rulings will become more difficult than they were under the old laws. That is the trade-off for rules that are intended to be fairer and less arbitrary. Just keep in mind that the overriding principle to be used is that if it is quite clear that there is little or no information available to partner from the withdrawn call that isn't available in the substituted call, the director should allow the auction to proceed without penalty in cases where this new law applies. If later it seems that the offending side gained an advantage through the substitution of a comparable call, the director will revisit the situation and adjust the score. Law 23C states: "If, following the substitution of a comparable call, the director judges at the end of play that without the assistance gained through the infraction the outcome of the board could well have been different, and in consequence the non-offending side is damaged, he shall award an adjusted score." While it will be discussed below in reference to changes to the laws on lead penalties, note that no lead penalties apply if the director allows the substitution of a comparable call for a withdrawn call.

Call Withdrawn, Lead Restrictions Law 26

This law has been revamped from the previous version and is now simpler. It does not apply in cases where a comparable call has been made or where a call is changed due to it being unintended (see previous articles in this series). When a player withdraws a call and replaces it with another to correct an irregularity and he later becomes a defender, declarer may choose one suit that was not specified in the legal auction by the offender and prohibit his partner from leading that suit the first time he obtains the lead (including opening lead). Such a prohibition continues for as long as partner retains the lead. There are no longer any cases where declarer will have the option to require the lead of a particular suit. For example, suppose a player makes an insufficient 1H bid over a 1S bid and replaces it with a pass and does not bid later in the auction. If the offending side is later on defense, declarer may choose any one suit at offender's partner's first turn to lead and forbid him from leading that suit while he holds the lead. If, however, offender in the legal auction later raised partner's club bid, clubs would be exempt from the list of suits declarer could choose. Note that in all cases where a call is changed to something other than a comparable call, the partner has unauthorized information throughout the deal that may restrict his legal choices.