Some of you may have heard of the “World Bridge Federation” (WBF). It is the umbrella organization that is responsible for the bridge laws (Laws of Duplicate Bridge) and for holding world bridge championships and other world-wide events.
There are “independent” organizations that are members, directly or indirectly of the WBF. They fall into a hierarchy as follows:
The WBF (World Bridge Federation) — top level
Zones, which generally follow geographic boundaries, are direct members of the WBF. For example: Zone 1 is Europe and its organization is the European Bridge League (EBL); Zone 2 is North America and its organization is the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL); Zone 5 is Central America and the Caribbean and its organization is the Central America and Caribbean Bridge Federation (CACBF).
The third level, consisting mainly of countries, are the members of the zonal organizations. The actual bridge organizations responsible for bridge (within the WBF umbrella) are referred to as “National Bridge Organizations” (NBOs). A few examples: England is a member of Zone 1 (which has 47 member countries) and its NBO is the English Bridge Union (the EBU). Zone 2 has only 3 member countries — Mexico whose NBO is the Federación Mexicana de Bridge, the United States whose NBO is the United States Bridge Federation (the USBF) and Canada whose NBO is the Canadian Bridge Federation (the CBF).
What About Our Bridge Club?
Part of what our local bridge clubs do is to run “ACBL sanctioned games” and generally have games run by “ACBL certified directors”. The results of such games are reported to the ACBL who then make “masterpoint awards” to the pairs (or teams) that place (as long as they are members of the CBF/ACBL).
The organizers of bridge events establish regulations (for example “Alerting Regulations” and regulations restricting bidding systems). That means all the organizations in the hierarchy from the WBF down to our local bridge clubs. Not surprisingly, there are some constraints on those regulations by virtue of being member organizations. So the WBF imposes some, but not all, its regulations on the zonal organizations which in turn impose some on the NBOs and so on. One general rule is that by default, if a club doesn’t specify something that the NBO does, then what the NBO specifies applies and so on up to the WBF.
One thing that is common, however, is that ALL these organizations recognize the WBF as the top-level organization and ALL are required to conduct games according to “The Laws”.
So a bridge club in Canada could decide not to follow some of The Laws, but then it could not hold games sanctioned by the ACBL — it could not award ACBL Masterpoints.
So, we are bound by “The Laws” as most of our players want ACBL Masterpoints. But we could run some games that do not award masterpoints and do not follow The Laws. Why would we not want to follow The Laws? Well, one example is we might want to run some games for beginners in which we let them change the card they have played, consult a “cheat sheet” or take back a bid — breaking The Laws, but all in the interests of learning how to play.