Duplicate Bridge is a Timed Game

When discussing etiquette at the bridge table, the conversation eventually (usually) gets around to the subject of “Slow Play”. In general, bridge players don’t like sitting around twiddling their thumbs because a couple of slow tables are holding up the game.

“Slow tables” are something every director has to deal with on a session-by-session basis. Obviously some tables will be finished before others, but we are talking about those tables that are just starting their last board when the round is called — the ones that have only just finished the first round of bidding!

There have been innumerable articles written on the subject, but most of them discuss several ways you can avoid being a “slow table”. These are simple things that all of us should know and practice — straightforward “Bridge Etiquette”. Here are some of those basics:

  • When you change for the next round and sit down at the next table, introduce yourselves (say “Hi” or if you don’t know the opponents, tell them your name), but don’t get into a long-winded discussion about vacation plans, etc. Also, do not ignore the opponents and start the round by discussing a previous hand with your partner (I apologize, I am occasionally guilty of this, but I try to catch myself). If you finish the round early, that’s a great time to spend a bit of time chatting with the opponents (or wander off with partner to discuss that hand you misbid…).
  • When the auction is over, leave the bid cards on the table until the opponent makes the opening lead — this allows everyone to review the auction and for the defenders or declarer to ask questions. There’s no need for anyone to ask for a review if the bid cards are still on the table!
  • When the auction is over, make the opening lead before writing the contract in your personal score. Making everyone wait to see dummy until you write down the contract makes the deal last longer and there’s plenty of time to write down the contract while partner and declarer are studying the dummy. Similarly, if you are dummy, wait until the opening lead has been made and you have put the dummy down before entering the contract in your personal score.
  • Never assume that your side’s last bid ends the auction. An auction isn’t over until there are three Passes in a row and sometimes an opponent will double the final contract or bid again (even though it may seem highly unlikely). It’s presumptuous (and against the rules) for you to indicate you think an opponent has a clear-cut Pass. It’s obviously also a major infraction to imply to partner that he should pass the bid you have just made!

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