The Laws of Bridge 2017

The Laws of Bridge are revised every 10 years. The World Bridge Federation have recently published the 2017 Laws of Duplicate Bridge and the new Laws will come into effect in New Zealand on August 1st this year.

The attachments below are the full 2017 Laws of Duplicate Bridge showing the changes (highlighted in green and yellow with the changes that have been made since the beginning of January 2017 in Green and the previously shown differences between the 2007 and 2017 codes remain in Yellow.)

The major changes:

Law 23: Comparable Call

This is a new law. Calls out of Rotation, Insufficient Bids and Withdrawn Calls, for example, can now be replaced by a 'comparable call'.

A call is comparable if it:

  1. Has the same or similar meaning
  2. Defines a subset of the possible attributable meanings
  3. Has the same purpose (conveys the same information)

 

Law 25: Change of Call & Law 45: Unintended Designation

Although Law 25 covers bidding and Law 45 covers play, they have both been changed in a similar manner. The words “without pause for thought” have been removed from these two laws.

Law 25 A1: If a player discovers he has not made the call he intended to make, he may, until his partner makes a call, change his unintended to his intended call.

Law 45 C4(b): Declarer may correct an unintended designation of a card from dummy, up until the time he next plays a card (from dummy or from his own hand).

The player’s original intention is important; a call or designation arising from a mistake or a reconsideration or a loss of concentration cannot be changed.

 

Law 26: Withdrawn Call & Laws 30, 31 and 32: Calls out of Rotation

Currently a call out of turn can result in a requirement for one or other player of the offending side to pass. This created an incentive for that player’s partner to guess the final contract, sometimes with beneficial results, sometimes disastrously, but it could produce a random result not based on bridge merit.

The new laws instead allow any call out of turn (pass, bid or double) to be replaced with a comparable call at offender’s next turn and the auction proceeds without any further rectification or adjustment.

However, if the call out of turn is not replaced with a comparable call, the withdrawn call can now incur new lead restrictions.

If the offender becomes a defender,

On offender’s partner’s first lead, Declarer may prohibit the lead of any one suit not legally specified by the offender. This prohibition applies as long as partner retains the lead.

 

Laws 68, 69, 70: Claims and Concessions

The biggest change in this area is to Law 68 D which was headed Play Ceases but is now Suspension of Play.

After any claim or concession, play no longer stops, instead it is suspended. In the case of a claim, a clear clarification statement, including line of play, is still required.

If the claim or concession is doubted by any player (dummy included); either

(a) the Director may immediately be summoned and no action should be taken pending his arrival (Law 70 Contested Claim applies)

This is a substantial change from 2007 Law 68D which stated that if the claim or concession was not agreed the Director must be summoned immediately.

The 2017 Laws go on to outline the circumstances under which play may continue (without calling the Director).

(b) upon the request of the non-claiming or non-conceding side, play may continue subject to the following:

(i) all four players must concur; otherwise the Director is summoned, who then proceeds as in (a) above.

The lawmakers seem to be recognising what happens at many clubs when the non-claimers say “I’d like to play it out” and the claim or concession is simply ignored. However, there are implications of playing on as the new law continues:

(ii) the prior claim or concession is void and not subject to adjudication, the score subsequently obtained shall stand.

So, if all players agree to playing on there is no redress at the end of the hand – you can’t then call the Director if you think things haven’t gone well for you. Players also need to be aware, after disputing the claim, that allowing play to continue may not be in their best interest - for example, the disputing player may have alerted claimer to the location of an outstanding high card or trump.

Note that the law says “upon the request of the non-claiming or non-conceding side” which means that if Declarer’s claim is doubted he cannot initiate playing on although this is what often happens. We have all heard a conversation along the lines of: “The rest are mine.” “I’m not sure about that.” “OK, let’s play them out.”