Regulations and Alerts

Laws Versus Regulations

Bridge organizations, including the World Bridge Federation, the ACBL and the Canadian Bridge Federation, establish various regulations. There is one important thing about these regulations (and the “Conditions of Contest” for a tournament) and it is stated explicitly in The Laws: They cannot conflict with The Law.

Things governed by regulations include things like what bidding conventions are allowed in what types of contest (Team Trials, Nationals, STaCs, Club games, etc.), what the Alerting Procedure is (it varies quite a bit from zone to zone), how Bidding Boxes are to be used and so on.


The regulations covering alerting differ depending on whether screens are in use. However, since screens will probably never be used at our local club, we will not bother with the procedures to be followed when using them.

In the ACBL, there are four different kinds of alerts, one of which is called an “Announcement”.

The 4 types of alert are:

Pre-alerts — actually these are announcements made when two pairs sit down to play, before they start the first board, they are required to inform the opponents if they play certain conventions, particularly ones which may require the opponents to discuss what defense they will play.

Alerts — made by the partner of the person who made the bid, before the next player makes his call. It is important that you know your agreements and be attentive so you can make your alerts in a timely manner. If a player made a bid or call in ignorance of the meaning of your partner’s call, the Director may allow the player to change his call (without penalty).

Announcements — the sort of thing you are used to such as announcing the range of your 1NT opening when partner opens 1NT. Technically, the ACBL do not call these “alerts”, but in fact they serve the same purpose.

Delayed Alerts — with a couple of minor exceptions (which you don’t need to worry about at the club), players are not to alert bids that are above the level of 3NT as long as they are after the first round of the auction (i.e. at the player’s second or later turn to call). Most players seem to realize they do not have to make a normal alert when partner uses Blackwood to ask for key-cards, but are unaware that when the auction ends, they should make a “delayed alert”.


There are only four announcements in the ACBL regulations, so I’ll list them for you. Note that when you make an announcement, you are meant to also use the Alert card from the bidding box. When you make an announcement, you say something out loud, at the same taking the “Alert” card out of the bidding box and displaying it on the table.

  1. After partner opens a natural one notrump, you announce the range (in HCP) — for example, “Twelve to fourteen“.
  2. After a or  transfer response at any level to any level natural notrump opening, overcall or rebid — just say “Transfer“.
  3. After a 1NT forcing or semi-forcing response to a 1 or 1 opening bid with no interference — say “Forcing” or “Semi-forcing“.
  4. After a non-forcing opening 1 or 1 for which the opener could have fewer than three cards in the suit opened — say “May be short“.

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