Akaroa Bridge Club is quite relaxed. Here are some guidelines that are useful and common throughout the bridge world no matter where you play. Some clubs are quite strict. Just ask if you are unsure.


Be seated 10 minutes before play starts to ease the scorer’s setup.     

Listen to the Director for any announcements before play begins.     

Greet opponents before the start of a round. Conversation should stop once bidding has begun.     

Do not carry on a dialogue about a previous board with partner when   others are at the table. Apart from not being polite, it may give     information if the opponents have not yet played the board.     

Count your cards face down before looking at them. If you don’t have 13 say so and count again. If you still don’t have 13 raise your hand and call “Director”.     

The Director should be called whenever there is an irregularity. Players should not attempt to sort it out themselves. It is the Director’s  job to ensure irregularities are sorted out fairly and by the rules. It is usual for the perpetrator to call the Director and explain what has happened.     

When declarer, it is customary to thank your partner when they put dummy down.          

Remember to thank the opponents at the end of a round.     

Agree on the result before hands are gathered up, shuffled and placed in the board.     

Take care when replacing hands in the boards that the hand is returned to the correct position.          

If players get behind, West and North are expected to move on as soon as play has finished. This is to allow the next table they are going to, to pick up their cards. East and South move as soon as they have completed the scoring, unless the Director has taken over. There is no penalty for slow play but both pairs at the next table are expected to catch up.     

Don’t make comments about another player’s bidding or play. Breaches may be penalised.     

Don’t comment to anyone, except the Director or recorder, about any other person’s irregularities. This in itself is a breach of etiquette.     

If you gain unauthorised information about a hand, e.g. overheard     comments, call the Director immediately.


Do not take out the cards if an opposition player is not present at the table (unless table is really late.)     

Make sure that the correct players are sitting in the correct seats.     

Make sure you have the correct boards.     

Make sure the board is in the correct direction before taking out cards.     

Do not start bidding until everyone has sorted their hand.     

It is inadvisable to pause for a long time. Your partner must not make any assumption from the pause, the opponents have the right to call the Director in such a case and your partner may be banned from further bidding for that board.     

Boards must remain on the table in the correct orientation after bidding is completed.


The opening lead should be made face down. This allows partner and declarer a final chance to ask any questions about the bidding, and will prevent you leading out of turn.     

Don’t make the lead in the middle of the table. Dummy needs space.     

Dummy should be laid out neatly and in order, with trumps to declarer’s     left. The cards are already sorted into suits and in order of denomination.     

No player should make any comment about dummy.          

Dummy should not play a singleton on the lead until instructed to do so by declarer.     

Dummy must not play a card at any time without declarer’s instruction, even if it is to follow with a singleton or from equals.     

Declarer can either play dummy’s cards themselves or tell dummy which card to play. When following suit you can say small for the lowest card on the table, top for the highest, or name the card, e.g. jack, nine. If not following suit you can say top trump or small trump. It is important not to call the cards too loudly especially if those next to play the board are sitting at the next table.     

Declarer should not play from his hand and then from dummy before his left hand opponent has played.          

No player should pick out a card to play before it is their turn. This may give information to your partner or the opposition.     

Dummy can prevent declarer from playing from the wrong side, but is under no obligation to do so. Once a card has been played from hand or the table, dummy is not allowed to point it out. They must act before a card on the table is touched or before a card from declarer's hand is faced. It is up to the defenders to make the correction. There is no penalty for declarer in this case. However, it is unethical of declarer to deliberately lead from the wrong hand.     

To make a claim you must say “I wish to claim”, face your cards and     explain how you are going to make the play. Failure to explain how you intend to play the cards may result in the opposition being able to dispute the claim. If in doubt, play it out without claiming.     

Don’t turn down your played card too early. It is polite to wait until declarer has turned down her/his card.          

Accept all decisions made by Directors without argument or attempt to change the decision. The Director’s ruling may be appealed.

Slow Play

This is a perrenial issue for Club Directors, possibly their biggest headache.

Some players enjoy playing quickly.  Others enjoy thinking and planning the complete play of the hand, and consequently play at a much slower pace.  This often results in some players being held up.  Gracious players patiently wait and then proceed when able.   However, quite frequently, some less than gracious players become irritable after a few bad boards and want to blame this on slow play, or the noise, or the confusing movement, or something else.  Be prepared to cope with such players telling you that “It’s just not fair, you should penalize them”.


Nonetheless, some players are habitually slow, and complaints from others are quite justified.   The Director has the obligation to ensure fair competition, and therefore MUST attend to slow play, but you should do so in as pleasant a manner as possible.


There is a difference between time used for thinking and time which is just wasted.  Good bridge requires time for thinking.   This should be allowed for.   Wasting time includes unnecessary social chatter, filling in personal score cards, post mortems, analyzing the results of the hand, pulling a card from the hand and then returning it, repeatedly closing and fanning the cards, and numerous other (quite annoying) time-wasting habits.    Allan Joseph, National Director