Table Procedures and Etiquette, Part 2 - March 2014
By Bill Michael, Florissant, Colorado
This article continues last month’s discussion of proper procedures and table etiquette for some common situations. Once again I’ve picked several points where many players fail to follow our expected procedures. There are several reasons that this happens, primarily, I believe, because players don’t know their own, or their opponents’, responsibilities.
5. Dummy’s Rights.
Laws 42 & 43 outline dummy’s rights and limitations, and are pretty straightforward, so I’m just going to quote them.
LAW 42 DUMMY’S RIGHTS
A. Absolute Rights
1. Dummy is entitled to give information, in the Director’s presence, as to fact or law.
2. Dummy may keep count of tricks won and lost in accordance with Law 65B.
3. Dummy plays the cards of the dummy as declarer’s agent as directed (see Law 45F if dummy suggests a play).
B. Qualified Rights
Dummy may exercise other rights subject to the limitations stated in Law 43.
1. Dummy may ask declarer (but not a defender) when he has failed to follow suit to a trick whether he has a card of the suit led.
2. Dummy may try to prevent any irregularity by declarer.
3. Dummy may draw attention to any irregularity, but only after play of the hand is concluded.
LAW 43 DUMMY’S LIMITATIONS
Except as Law 42 allows:
A. Limitations on Dummy
1. (a) Unless attention has been drawn to an irregularity by another player, dummy should not initiate a call for the Director during play.
(b) Dummy may not call attention to an irregularity during play.
(c) Dummy must not participate in the play, nor may he communicate anything about the play to declarer.
2. (a) Dummy may not exchange hands with declarer.
(b) Dummy may not leave his seat to watch declarer’s play.
(c) Dummy may not, on his own initiative, look at the face of a card in either defender’s hand.
B. If a Violation Occurs
1. Dummy is liable to penalty under Law 90 [dealing with procedural penalties] for any violation of the limitations listed in A1 and A2 above.
2. If dummy, after his violation of the limitations listed in A2 above,
(a) warns declarer not to lead from the wrong hand, either defender may choose the hand from which declarer shall lead.
(b) Is the first to ask declarer if a play from declarer’s hand constitutes a revoke, declarer must substitute a correct card if his play was illegal, and the provisions of Law 64 then apply as if the revoke had been established.
3. If dummy, after his violation of the limitations listed in A2 above, is the first to draw attention to a defender’s irregularity, there is no rectification. Play continues as though no irregularity had occurred.
At the end of play, see Law 12B1 [which provides for an adjusted score “If an innocent side obtains a result less favorable than would have been the expectation had the infraction not occurred . . . .”]
6.Summoning the Director.
Once an irregularity is pointed out to the table, any of the four players may summon the director, and at least one must so do. The best way is to raise your hand and say “Director, Please.” Using mild words and a calm tone puts a better face on the call, making it less contentious. A player should not summon the director in a manner that is discourteous to either the director or the other players at the table. Failing to summon the director in a timely manner may eliminate rectification or protection under the laws for either or both sides.
7. The director.
Always remember that the director is in charge, and that a player must comply with a director’s instructions; failure to do so leaves the player susceptible to procedural and/or disciplinary penalties. Instructions such as “Move along,” “Pass a board,” “Sit down and play,” etc. are designed to keep the game moving smoothly; they are not a personal attack.
If a player disagrees with a director’s ruling, he should say so, but politely. (“That’s bull****!” is not considered a polite way to disagree by most directors.) If there has been a judgment call which a player disagrees with, the appeals procedure is in place at virtually all tournaments, and even in some club games (it is not required that a club allow appeals committees). If the disagreement is over a point of law, the player has the right to have the law read to him, and the director should, within reason and without providing unauthorized information to either side, explain the rationale of the ruling. If the director thinks it best not to clarify the rationale at that time, he may insist that the board first be played. An appeals committee may not overturn a director on a point of law, but may suggest that a director review his ruling. The conscientious director will always consider all of his rulings after the fact, and be willing to reverse himself, even absent expressed disagreement from a player.
8. The Opening Lead.
The opening lead should be made face down. A player who frequently leads out of turn, and doesn’t lead face down is putting himself at risk of procedural penalties. Frequently, players ask “any questions?” of partner while making the opening lead. While this is legal, I advise against it. Partner may always ask questions at his turn to bid or play. I’ve heard some players say to their partner “make your lead face down, I have a question. The reason to offer the opening leader’s partner the opportunity to ask a question before the lead is faced is in case there is some clarification that will allow the auction, or possibly even the opening lead itself, to be corrected. A detached and face down card is the led card, and may not be changed except by specific instruction of the director (such as in the case of correction of misinformation). The real question for the person who thinks he’s on lead is to ask whether it is, in fact, his lead, and to have one member of the declaring side agree that it is. Improperly informing an opponent that it’s his lead constitutes misinformation, and allows the incorrect lead to be withdrawn (whether face up, or face down) without rectification. So, don’t ask your partner if he has any questions, ask the opponents if it’s your lead and wait for one of them to say that it is before you lead face down and ask your partner if he has any questions. Following this procedure gives your side maximum protection.
I hope these tidbits are useful to you.
See you at the tables!
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