What Is New in the 2017 Laws — Part 3 — The Play

This is the third of a series of articles comparing the current ACBL Laws of Duplicate Bridge, 2016 Revised Authorized Edition with the WBF The Laws of Duplicate Bridge 2017.

This article covers the Laws from Law 41 up to and including Law 71, what used to be Chapter VI — The Play.

Any highlighting (bold) in quoted Laws, other than titles, has been added by the author.


Law 42 — Dummy's Rights

There are a couple of minor changes. Law 42A(3) now includes the phrase, “… and ensures that dummy follows suit…”, so Dummy has a responsibility to ensure his hand does not revoke.

Law 42B(2) used to say, “Dummy may try to prevent any irregularity by declarer.” This wording seems to imply Dummy could not try to prevent an irregularity by a defender, but that has never been the case. Law 9A(3) says, in part, “Any player, however, including dummy, may attempt to prevent another player's committing an irregularity…”. This Law has been clarified by removing the implied constraint. In now reads, “He may try to prevent any irregularity.

Law 43 – Dummy's Limitations

Law 43A — Limitations on Dummy

This Law has been made stronger. Law 42A1(a) used to say “… dummy should not initiate a call for the Director during play.”, but now says, “… may not…” (unless of course, another player has already called attention to the irregularity). The stricture of dummy not seeing the face of a defender's card has been made stronger. Law 43A2(c) has been reworded to remove the phrase “on his own initiative” and Law43A(3) added.

    1. Dummy may not initiate a call for the Director during play unless another player has drawn attention to an irregularity.
    1. Dummy may not look at the face of a card in either defender's hand.
  1. A defender my not show dummy his hand.

Law 43B — If Violation Occurs

Law 43B(3) has been changed. Instead of the last sentence cross-referencing another Law, the rectification is spelled out.

  1. … At the end of play if the defending side has gained through its irregularity the Director adjusts only its score, taking away that advantage. The declaring side retains the score achieved at the table.

Law 45 — Card Played

This is another place in the Laws where a subtle change in wording may alter meaning. In this case, instead of saying a player “must” play a particular card, the wording has been changed to indicate a card is “deemed” to have been played. The title of Law 45C has been changed (as well as its contents). It is now:

Law 45C — Card Deemed to be Played

There is an interesting change to Law 45C4(b). The prior version allowed any player to change an “unintended designation”; the 2017 version of the Laws only allow declarer to correct an unintended designation of a card from dummy.

It also, in my opinion, makes it clear that the “Oh shit!” appeals committee ruling was wrong.

ACBL 2016 Edition:

    1. Until his partner has played a card, a player may change an unitended designation if he does so without pause for thought. If an opponent has, in turn, played a card that was legal before the change in designation, that opponent may withdraw the card so played, return it to hand, and substitute another (see Laws 47D and 16D1).

WBF 2017:

    1. Declarer may correct an unintended designation of a card from dummy until he next plays a card from either his own hand or dummy. A change of designantion may be allowed after a slip of the tongue, but not after a loss of concentration or a reconsideration of action. If an opponent hs, in turn, played a card that was legal before the change in designation, that opponent may withdraw the card so played, return it to his hand, and substitute another (see Laws 47D and 16C1).

Law 45D — Dummy Picks up a Non-designated Card

The title of this Law has changed to be more accurate. The prior title was “Card Misplayed by Dummy”. Law 45D has been split into two subsections. The original now constitutes Law 45D(1) and Law 45D(2) has been appended:

  1. When it is too late to change dummy's wrongly placed card (see above), the play continues normally without alteration of the cards played to this or any subsequent trick. If the wrongly placed card was the first card of the trick, then the failure to follow suit to that card may now constitute a revoke (see Laws 64A, 64B7 and 64C). If the wrongly placed card was contributed to a trick already in progress and dummy thereby has revoked, see Laws 64B3 and 64C.

Law 46 — Incomplete or Invalid Designation of a Card from Dummy

Law 46B — Incomplete or Invalid Designation

The title has been changed from “Incomplete or Erroneous Call of a Card”. Likewise the introductory sentence has been changed, including deleting the redundant phrase, “of the card to be played from dummy”. That sentence now reads:

In the case of an incomplete or invalid designation, the following restrictions apply (except when declarer's different intention is incontrovertable):

Law 47 — Retraction of Card Played

A clarification was made to Law 47E(1) that Law 63A1 (part of the revoke Law) does not apply.

Law 47E — Change of Play Based on Misinformation

  1. A lead out of turn (or play of a card) is retracted without further rectification if the player was mistakenly informed by an opponent that it was his turn to lead or play (see Law 16C). A lead or play may not be accepted by his LHO in these circumstances and Law 63A1 does not apply.

Law 50 — Disposition of Penalty Card

Law 50C — Disposition of Minor Penalty Card

There appears to be a change regarding unauthorized information. The prior version of the Law stated explicitly that information gained by seeing the penalty card is unauthorized for offender's partner. That explicit statement has been dropped in favour of just the reference to Law 50E. The importance of that is significant change in Law 50E(1) (see below).

Law 50D — Disposition of Major Penalty Card

A minor change to Law 50D1(a) has been made. The Law now starts with the phrase, “Except as provided in (b) below,…”.

Law 50E — Information from a Penalty Card

The 2017 version of the Law solves a dilemma of prior versions, which essentially said that the partner of a player with a penalty card(s) has unauthorized information. That makes sense in that all players can see the penalty card; however, rectification has already been imposed to compensate. That rectification, in general, more than compensates the non-offending side.

The 2017 version of the Laws states that the information from a visible penalty card is authorized and that it only becomes unauthorized information if the card is restored to the offender's hand (that is, as a result of carrying out the rectification). After the card has been played, then even the circumstances that gave rise to the penalty card are unauthorized. Law 50E in full:

  1. Information derived from a penalty card and the requirements for playing that penalty card are authorized for all players for as long as the penalty card remains on the table.
  2. Information derived from a penalty card that has been returned to hand [as per Law 50D2(a)] is unauthorized for the partner of the player who had the card (see Law 16C), but authorized for declarer.
  3. Once a penalty card has been played, information derived from the circumstances under which it was created is unauthorized for the partner of the player who had the card. (For a penalty card which has not yet been played, see E1 above.)
  4. If following the application of E1 the Director judges at the end of play that without the assistance gained through the exposured card the outcome of the board could well have been different, and in consequence the non-offending side is damaged (see Law 12B1), he shall award an adjusted score. In his adjustment he should seek to recover as nearly as possible the probable outcome of the board without the effect of the penalty card(s).

Law 51 — Two or More Penalty Cards

Law 51B — Offender's Partner to Lead

A third subsection has been added to Law 51B(2). It merely states what most people would assume based on Law 50D2(b) which applies in the case of a single penalty card.

    1. When a defender has penalty cards in more than one suit and his partner is to lead, declarer may elect not to require or prohibit a lead, in which case the defender's partner may lead any card and the penalty cards remain on the table as penalty cards16. If this option is selected Laws 50 and 51 continue to apply for as long as the penalty cards remain.

16 If the partner of the defender with the penalty cards retains the lead, then all the requirements and options of Law 51B2 apply again at the following trick.

Law 53 — Lead Out of Turn Accepted

The order of Laws 53B and 53C has been swapped.

Law 54 — Faced Opening Lead Out of Turn

Law 54C — Declarer Must Accept Lead

It has been made explicit who is declarer (it was implicit, but pretty obvious anyway) by the addition of the phrase, “… and the presumed declarer then becomes declarer.

Law 55 — Declarer's Lead Out of Turn

Law 55C — Declarer Might Obtain Information

Rather than indicating that the Director may award an adjusted score, the Law has been changed simply to deal with this infraction as a case of unauthorized information.

When declarer adopts a line of play that could have been based on information obtained through his infraction, Law 16 applies.

Law 56 — Defender's Lead Out of Turn

The prior version of the Law simply referenced Law 54D which did not include the option of accepting the lead, though that is an option but the Director needs to remember that Law 53 still applies. The 2017 version is explicit:

When a lead out of turn is faced, declarer may:

  1. Accept the the irregular lead as provided in Law 53, or
  2. Require the defender to retract his faced lead out of turn. The withdrawn card becomes a major penalty card and Law 50D applies.

Law 57 — Premature Lead or Play

Law 57C — Declarer or Dummy Has Played

This Law has been reworded for clarity.

  1. A defender is not subject to rectification for playing before his partner if declarer has played from both hands. However a card is not considered to be played from dummy until declarer has instructed (or otherwise indicated18) the play.
  2. A defender is not subject to rectification for playing before his partner if dummy has of his own volition prematurely selected a card before his RHO or has illegally suggested that one be played.
  3. A premature play (not a lead) by declarer from either hand is a played card and if legal may not be withdrawn.

18 as by a gesture or nod

Law 57D — Premature Play at RHO's Turn

This section of Law 57 has been added.

When a defender attempts to play (not lead) to a trick at his RHO's turn, Law 16 may apply. If his card can be legally played to the trick, it must be played at his proper turn; otherwise, it becomes a major penalty card.

Law 61 — Failure to Follow Suit — Inquiries Concerning a Revoke

Law 61B — Riqht to Inquire about a Possible Revoke

Law 61B(3) has been altered by removing the option of the Regulating Authority to prohibit a defender asking his partner about a possible revoke:

  1. Defenders may ask declarer and one another (at the risk of creating unauthorized information).

    Law 61C — Right to Inspect Tricks

    This part has been moved to Law 61, where it logically belongs, from Law 62.

    1. A claim of a revoke does not automatically warrant inspection of quitted tricks (see Law 66C).

    Law 62 — Correction of a Revoke

    As mentioned above, part of Law 62 (Law 62C(3)) has been moved to Law 61. What is new, is clarification of what happens when both sides revoke on the same trick.

    Law 62C — Subsequent Cards Played

    1. If both sides revoke on the same trick and only one side has played to the subsequent trick, then both revokes must be corrected (see Law 16C2). Every card withdrawn by the defending side becomes a penalty card.

    Law 62D — Revoke on Trick Twelve

    Law 62D2 has been simplified. Now the Law concerning unauthorized information applies.

    1. If a defender revokes on the twelfth trick before his partner's turn to play to the trick, Law 16C applies.

    Law 63 — Establishment of a Revoke

    Law 63A — Revoke Becomes Established

    Law 63A(4) has been added. It is a significant clarification, or possible addition, to the Laws concerning revokes. What happens when a claim or concession of tricks by the non-offending side results in a revoke being missed at that time, but discovered later? If the offending side makes a claim or concession that masks the revoke, it might be a different issue (i.e. if deliberate).

    At first blush, 63A(4) appeared to say that the revoke was established and therefore there would be rectification; however, Law 64B(4) and (5) say otherwise. It seems the only recourse is for the Director to consider applying Law 64C (Redress of Damage).

    Law 63A(4):

    1. when agreement is established (as per Law 69A) to an opponent's claim or concession; the offending side having raised no objection to it before the end of the round, or before making a call on a subsequent board.

    Law 64 — Procedure after Establishment of a Revoke

    Law 64B — No Automatic Trick Adjustment

    Law 64B(7) has been added. It clarifies that when both sides have revoked on a trick and Law 62C(3) has been applied, there is no automatic transfer of tricks.

    1. the revoke has been corrected as per Law 62C3.

    Law 64C ­Redress of Damage

    As well as a new title (previously “Director Responsible for Equity”), this Law has been expanded. The prior version has become Law 64C(1) and the rest added.

    1. When, after any established revoke, including those not subject to trick adjustment, the Director deems that the non-offending side is insufficiently compensated by this Law for the damage caused, he shall assign an adjusted score.
      1. After repeated revokes by the same player in the same suit (see B2 above), the Director adjusts the score if the non-offending side would likely have made more tricks had one or more of the subsequent revokes not occurred.
      2. When both sides have revoked on the same board (see B7 above) and the Director deems that a contestant has been damaged, he shall award an adjusted score based on the likely result had no revokes occurred.

    Law 65 — Arrangement of Tricks

    Law 65B — Keeping Track of the Ownership of Tricks

    Law 65B(3) has been simplified. There is no longer any distinction among the players (declarer vs dummy vs defenders).

    1. A player may draw attention to a card pointed incorrectly, but this right expires when his side leads or plays to the following trick. If done later Law 16B may apply.

    Law 66 — Inspection of Tricks

    Law 66D — After the Conclusion of Play

    The final sentence of this Law has been changed. The directed ruling only applies if one side (i.e. both players of the partnership) have not mixed their cards.

    ACBL 2016 Edition:

    1. … If, after such a claim has been made, a player mixes his cards in such a manner that the Director can no longer ascertain the facts, the Director shall rule in favor of the other side.

    WBF 2017:

    1. … If the Director can no longer ascertain the facts after such claim has been made, and only one side has mixed its cards, the Director shall rule in favour of the other side.

    Law 67 — Defective Trick

    Law 67B — After Both Sides Play to Next Trick

    The introductory paragraph has been reworded and simplified (it is now only one sentence). There may also be a subtle change of emphasis. The omission of the word “should” appears to mean the Director has no choice as how to proceed.

    ACBL 2016 Edition:

    After both sides have played to the following trick, when attention is drawn to an defective trick or when the Director determines that there had been a defective trick (from the fact that one player has too few or too many cards in his hand, and a correspondingly incorrect number of played cards), the Director establishes which trick was defective. To rectify the number of cards, the Director should proceed as follows.

    WBF 2017:

    When the Director determines that there has been a defective trick (from the fact that one player has too few or too many cards in his hand, and a correspondingly incorrect number of played cards); both sides having played to the next trick, he proceeds as follows:

    Law 67B(3):

    This new Law states what the Director is to do when a player did contribute a card to the defective trick, but failed to put the card properly among the played cards in front of him.

    1. When the Director determines that the offender did play a card to the trick, but that card was not placed among the quitted tricks, the Director finds the card and places it correctly among the offender's played cards. The Director shall award an adjusted score if the same card was played to a subsequent trick and it is too late to correct the illegal play.

    Law 68 — Claim or Concession of Tricks

    While there are minor changes, there is a major change that allows play to continue if the non-claiming (or conceding) side requests and all four players agree.

    The introductory part of Law 68 has been rewritten to incorporate what had been a lengthy footnote.

    Law 68C — Clarification Required

    This has been revised, perhaps in an attempt to avoid careless claims. What had been an either/or condition now requires both (i.e. “including”). Additionally, it is made clear that the player making a claim or concession must face his hand.

    1. A claim should be accompanied at once by a clear statement of the line of play or defence through which the claimer proposes to win the tricks claimed, including the order in which the cards will be played. The player making the claim or concession faces his hand.

    Law 68D — Suspension of Play

    This was formerly titled, “Play Ceases” and the Law required play to cease and if there was any doubt expressed about the claim or concession, the Director had to be summoned. This has changed. Here is Law 68D in full:

    After any claim or concession, play is suspended.

    1. If the claim or concession is agreed, Law 69 applies.
    2. If it is doubted by any player (dummy included); either
      1. the Director may immediately be summoned and no action should be taken pending his arrival, Law 70 applies; or
      2. upon the request of the non-claiming or non-conceding side, play may continue subject to the following:
        1. all four players must concur; otherwise the Director is summoned, who then procees as in (a) above.
        2. the prior claim or concession is void and not subject to adjudication. Laws 16 and 50 do not apply, and the score subsequently obtained shall stand.

    Law 70 — Contested Claim or Concession

    Law 70D — Director's Considerations

    Law 70D(3) no longer applies because of the change to Law 68 and has been deleted.

    Law 70E — Unstated Line of Play

    Thankfully, Law 70E1 has been changed to remove a claimant's argument that not following a specific unstated line of play would be irrational. Clearly, if a claim is contested, it will “wake up” most claimants. The phrase at the end of Law 70E(1) that said, “… or unless failure to adopt that line of play would be irrational.” has been removed. The Law now reads:

    1. The Director shall not accept from claimer any unstated line of play the success of which depends upon finding one opponent rather than the other with a particular card, unless an opponent failed to follow to the suit of that card before the claim was made, or would subsequently fail to follow to that suit on any normal21 line of play.

    21 For the purpose of Laws 70 and 71, “normal” includes play that would be careless or inferior for the class of player involved.

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