“The Laws” sounds awfully intimidating, but all games have laws, though they usually call them “Rules” or “The Official Rules” — Scrabble, chess, golf, football…, they all have rules.
There is a little book called the “Laws of Duplicate Bridge” which is our rule book. We often just refer to it as “The Laws”. It was first published in 1928 as “The Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge”. It gets revised every few years. For the last few editions, that has been about every 10 years.
Among other changes, the latest (2008) edition was renamed “Laws of Duplicate Bridge”.
I would like to discuss
- What are The Laws for?
- What is their Objective?
Clearly they spell out the way our game is played, just as the rules of Scrabble do for that game.
They indicate how we should proceed when a player makes a mistake and does something that is against the rules.
Most of the time this happens, it is an accident. Almost nobody playing our game breaks the rules on purpose — in fact, the rules themselves indicate what should happen when a person breaks the rules on purpose and that can be as harsh as ostracizing the person from our game (the club or even the ACBL).
The objectives involve keeping the game pleasant and when an accident happens, attempting to do something that is FAIR to ALL the people playing.
This can be tough and sometimes the rules may seem a little harsh or even a little too lenient — but the objective is to be FAIR. The current edition of The Laws calls this “restoring equity”.
Another objective is try and make sure that, when an accident occurs, you can finish bidding and playing a hand. It cannot always be done, but Directors are taught to try their best to make sure that hands can be played out and scored — after all, that’s what the game is about.