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TD Class 1 Script How to direct high-quality tournaments

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Posted 2006-October-17, 22:09

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The following is very slightly different than what was presented in the lecture on November 30.

How to Direct High-Quality Tournaments on BBO

1. Introduction

2. Tournament settings

I will now offer suggestions for some of the tournament settings:

3. What must/should be included as part of the tournament description or rules page?

Time per board or round, or total time allotted for the tournament
The names of all co-directors
Any restrictions of system or partnership agreements
If psyches are restricted or must be self-reported to the director
If tournament chat for players is enabled
If kibitzers are not allowed
The official language of the tournament, if not English or the language in which the tournament description is written
If any director will also play in the tournament
If the director will not offer board adjustments (One of the director’s most important functions is to adjust the result of a board, if necessary. It is generally considered to be a requirement of a well-run tournament. Board adjustments will be described in detail later in the lecture.)

4. Time per board, boards per round

Under normal circumstances, I suggest setting a tournament for 16 minutes per 2 boards (8 minutes per board), or one board and 8 minutes per round, or unclocked (with 1-2 boards per round). When a section finishes a round, the next round automatically starts. Whatever time per board or round that you choose, it is very important that time not be added, except in the last round. Players will become very restless if the clock goes from 1-3-2-1-3, and extending the tournament time may cause some people to be late for other plans that they have made.

A director may instead choose to announce a total tournament time on the tournament description.

example: For a 10-board tournament in which the director plans on setting the BBO clock to allow 7 minutes per board, the director may choose to allow 75 minutes for the tournament. This allows the director to add a minute occasionally to allow more tables to finish a round, without making the players feel anxious or restless. Of course, players are still expected to complete each round in the allotted time.

Directors should avoid setting a tournament with more than two boards per round. In tournaments with 3+ boards per round, players have a significantly lower number of different opponents (and partners if it is an individual tournament), which drastically increases luck as a factor of the competition. (exception: if the tournament has very few pairs and setting the tournament to 3+ boards/round allows each pair to play against every other pair for an equal number of boards)

5. Number of pairs

To provide excellent service to the players, I suggest that a tournament have at least one TD for every 40-50 pairs, or 20-25 tables. Some directors with a lot of experience are able to provide good service to more tables, while others may feel more comfortably allowing only 10-15 tables, which is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes, directors who limit the size of their events will get requests to raise the tournament limit. While it may appear to be a good idea to try to accommodate everyone, you will feel a lot more relaxed and you and the players will have a better and more enjoyable tournament experience if you stick to your own limit. There will always be another place for the other 20 people to play. Also, some players prefer to play in a tournament with a relatively small number of tables. Also, some players will rush to find a partner, thinking that the pairs limit will not be increased.

6. Pairs Tournament Formats

Clocked: The field is divided into sections of up to 16 tables. The N/S pairs remain in the same seats for the entire tournament. The E/W pairs move to the next table for each round. A N/S pair can choose to compare its scores with only other N/S pairs in its section or with all other N/S pairs in the tournament, in addition to the overall standings. That leads to more people happy with their results (because of more section winners and near-winners) and less complaints about the cards (all N/S pairs get the same cards for the entire tournament). The fact that all pairs in one section and direction play against the same set of opponents also makes the score comparisons more meaningful. An often overlooked advantage as compared to Swiss/Survivor is that with a smaller section size (8-16 tables, as compared to a maximum of 49 tables), players start the next round as soon as the other tables in the section have completed the round, as opposed to needing to wait for all tables in the tournament to finish a round.

Swiss: The pair with the highest overall score is seated at table 1 N/S, the pair with the next-highest score is seated at table 1 E/W, etc. Some players like the “race” to try to reach table 1. However, there are many disadvantages to BBO’s Swiss tournaments, as compared to the “Clocked” format, including: (1) There is no way to compare your overall scores with other pairs that held the same hands as your pair (sat in the same direction). (2) It is possible to have the same opponents for more than one round. (3) The section size is much larger. A pair will play against any other pair in the field, as opposed to just pairs from the same group of tables that sit in the opposite direction.

Survivor: Same as Swiss, except that the designated percentage of pairs will be booted from the tournament after each round, starting with the second round. If the tournament is set for a 0% cut, any incomplete pair is automatically removed, as well as the last-place pair if there is an odd number of incomplete pairs. (At the end of the first round, incomplete pairs and possibly the lowest-scoring pair are still booted.) A pair can be leading the tournament and get booted if one of the players gets temporarily disconnected at the wrong time. A small number of players feel that it is an advantage to be able to leave a tournament if they are not scoring well, but I think of it as a big disadvantage. I do not register for a tournament thinking I want to leave as soon as possible.

Unclocked: In this format, pairs do not need to wait for everyone to finish the round (or until the allotted time for the round ends) to start the next round. When two tables finish a round, the pairs at those tables switch opponents for the next round. The advantage is that pairs (usually) can quickly start the next round, once the current round is finished. Players can sometimes play the entire tournament with an average of 3-4 minutes per board. The disadvantage is that a very slow first round by one table can put both pairs at the “slow” tables for the rest of the tournament. There is the perception that the fast pairs must wait a long time to see their results. However, the overall tournament time is rarely longer than that of any other type of tournament.

Barometer (only in Clocked or Unclocked formats): Activating the barometer allows the players to see their IMP or matchpoint results as soon as everyone in the section has completed the board. The barometer is automatically activated in the Swiss or Survivor formats.

7. Undos

The default setting is for undos to not be used. Some directors prefer to allow undos for bidding and play, or for bidding only. In general, I recommend that undos not be permitted if you desire a more serious tournament setting for several reasons:
(a) Whether an undo is allowed is controlled by the feelings of each pair of opponents, which, in effect, makes each table in your tournament play by a different set of rules. The current director software does not allow a director to undo a player's bid (in accordance with Law 25). In theory, a director can demand that a player undo a bid (and that the player's opponents accept), but the director is required to temporarily activate undos for the entire tournament while this process takes place, which can cause a problem at another table.

(B) Allowing to ask for an undo, through this setting, can also give that player’s partner information to which he or she is not entitled.

© Undos are often not requested after a misclick, but rather after a misbid (Why did I not think to bid 3NT a few seconds ago?) or a misplay (I wish I had played this card instead…). It is often impossible for the opponents to know, at the time of the undo request, whether the request is legitimate.

Misclicks will be discussed more in detail later in the lecture.

8. Restricting systems, conventions and agreements; enforcement of restrictions

Unless otherwise stated on the tournament description, your players may use any bidding system and their choice of conventions and partnership agreements. If you choose to not permit a particular system, convention, etc., this must be stated as part of the tournament description.

A reasonable restriction would be to not allow players to use any HUM (Highly Unusual Method), as defined by the WBF. (Among other reasons, a normal BBO tournament does not allow time for a pair to adequately defend against such a system.) HUM systems are not allowed in nearly all WBF tournaments. I will provide the full definition of HUM later.

If you choose to permit only one or two systems, you will also need to be prepared for what may happen:

(a) Many players will not read or are unable to read your tournament description or announcements, so they will not be aware of the restrictions. This may result in a few of your players being unable to play the specified system(s).
(B) You will need a method of enforcing your restrictions. It may be necessary to adjust boards where two players agree to play a system that is not allowed, or remove players from a SAYC-only tournament where players are unable to play part of SAYC, for example, transfer bids.
© If you want everyone to play exactly the same system and conventions, you will have to fully define what is permitted. Just saying "SAYC-only" would not be enough, because so many players have a different understanding of what is included in SAYC.

9. Tournament chat

I suggest that if you want to allow the players (and kibitzers) to chat to the tournament, that you include that in your tournament description. A lot of players dislike unnecessary tournament chat.

If you choose to activate tournament chat, it is also your responsibility to monitor the chat for messages about boards that not everyone has played (hopefully by accident) and for rudeness. It may be best to turn off the tournament chat as the last few tables finish, because it is relatively common for finished players to accidentally make comments about the boards to the tournament, instead of privately to partner or someone else.

Most players recommend that the director make a small number of announcements to the tournament. Many players will not take the time to read longer announcements and get distracted by unnecessary announcements during the play. For example, announcing "3 minutes remaining in the round, CLAIM!" can cause slower players to take more time to finish, since they see the message and will need time to regain concentration after reading it.

10. Kibitzers (allow/disallow)

Generally, players are most pleased when the director allows kibitzers. However, the director has the choice to disallow kibitzers. Players should assume that kibitzers will be permitted unless the director announces on the tournament description that they are not permitted.

11. Tournament language

Players should assume the official language of your tournament is English unless otherwise stated on your tournament description. For a tournament where the description is written in a language besides English, that language should be assumed to be the official language of the tournament. Any player in your tournament should have the ability to describe bids and answer the director's questions in the tournament's official language.

12. Start time of tournament

When selecting a start time for a tournament, a director should consider these factors:

1. Other tournaments that are listed on the tournament schedule that will start at close to the same time
2. Any large tournaments that may finish close to your start time (You can estimate the finishing time of a clocked tournament by going to a table and seeing how much time remains in the current round, and adding eight minutes per board for future rounds.)
3. Any tournaments that are scheduled to start near the time that your tournament is projected to end

When the start time for a tournament is set, and the tournament is within 30 minutes of starting (for spontaneous tournaments), the director should not change the start time. If the start of the tournament is delayed, the players will be disappointed or upset, and some players who were already registered will not be able to participate. Also, it may adversely affect tournaments that are scheduled later.

If your tournament is regularly scheduled each week for a particular time and day, it is especially important for your tournament to start at the announced time and not be delayed. In addition to the other reasons to start a tournament at the announced time, your loyal players may choose to register for your tournament and not to play in an earlier tournament, because the earlier tournament would not be expected to end early enough.

13. Start of tournament

1. Welcome the players to your tournament.
2. Look at your table list to see if there are any sitouts and find subs for those seats.
3. (optional) Provide a brief introduction to remind players of rules that you feel are important.
4. (recommended) Add, to the tournament description, the projected time at which the tournament will end. It may increase the number of subs available. Possible subs now have an easy way of knowing whether they will be able to sub.

14. Disclosure of bidding and defensive methods

The director may require that, at the start of every round, each pair announces its system and carding. If such a rule is not used, a pair’s system and carding must be disclosed by the request of an opponent.

If a pair refuses to disclose its system and/or carding:

1. The director should be called. The bidding stops at this point (or does not start).
2. The director should ask in table chat for the non-compliant pair to disclose whatever has not yet been disclosed.
3. Everyone should allow a minute for an answer. Not everyone can type quickly. If there is no answer after a minute, the director may issue a final warning (optional).
4. If there is still no answer, the director is left with no choice but to remove the pair from the tournament (see note B).

note a. Damage can not be claimed merely as a result of the opponents choosing not to announce their system/carding, because the bidding is supposed to stop at the point that the request is not answered. However, damage can result if the explanation is discovered to be inaccurate or incomplete.

note b. A mandatory 1-trick or 2-trick penalty for failing to disclose system/carding would be unfair to the other pairs in the field.

15. Prealert unusual agreements

If a pair has unusual partnership agreements and does not post a convention card, it should notify each new opposing pair at the start of the round. Examples of conventions/agreements that should be prealerted (without a convention card posted) are 1NT openings that vary based on vulnerability and position and a agreement to open the bidding at the one-level with significantly less strength than in standard methods.

Unusual defensive carding agreements, including leading low from a doubleton, must be prealerted.

16. No unnecessary chat by the players during bidding or play

Players are expected to not make any unnecessary comments during the bidding and play. A quick “wdp” or similar comment about the previous board is acceptable, but a player should wait to offer any analysis or other comments until the end of the round.

17. Subs

The most common activity for a director is to add a sub to the tournament. A player may be fully disconnected or just non-responsive. A fully disconnected player (a red bar where the player’s name is located) can be replaced by that player's partner. A player who has a “red dot” or is “stuck” can be replaced only by the director.

After a player goes for some time without bidding, usually one of the opponents will make a director call to say “opp (or xxx) not playing”. The director then arrives at the table and greets the table and/or asks if there is a problem or if xxx is still not playing. Usually, an opponent will be quick to say that xxx is not playing, has not bid, etc. If an opponent is the one who made the TD call, it is very important to allow a minute for the inactive player’s partner to say something to the director if necessary. It is possible that his/her partner said “brb” just before the round started, or the player wants to request to wait for the player to return/respond, or wants to request a specific sub from the sub list.

If the player’s partner makes the director call or tells the director that his/her partner needs to be replaced, it is fine to look for a sub immediately.

Under no circumstances should a director replace a player just for appearing to be disconnected without visiting the table first. A player may be reconnecting to BBO at a convenient time (as dummy if it can be done quickly, or between rounds).

In all cases, it is recommended that the director allows the player at least three minutes to return, from the time the player stopped playing or disconnected, unless the disconnected player's partner requests a sub sooner. Sometimes an opponent will call the director immediately; other opponents will be nice enough to wait for some time before calling. A large percentage of players who are briefly disconnected will need 2-3 minutes to return.

Here is the preferred sub policy:

A player may request to wait for his/her partner to return. The director should allow a minute after arriving at the table to see if the player makes that request (some players are not able to quickly type a response). If an actual result can not be reasonably be obtained for a board because of the delay, the complete pair should receive ave+, with ave- awarded to the side responsible for the delay. (I think an ave- board is a small price to pay to complete the tournament with a partner of choice.) If the tournament is set as Survivor, the player and director may also choose to not add a sub, and that pair will disappear from the tournament at the end of a round (if a red bar is displayed). If a player wants a specific sub for partner and can not sub the player him/herself, the director will choose the sub of the player's choice. This policy benefits players who are mostly interested in playing with a regular partner or his/her choice of partner. Most players would prefer to continue playing with a possibly compatible sub. If the remaining player appears to have no preference, the director should obtain a sub. If the original player returns after getting replaced, he/she may re-enter his/her original seat once per tournament, only with the permission of the sub. The sub would then be promised the next opening in that tournament.

18. Replace a player between boards if at all possible

Whenever possible, the sub should enter the tournament at the completion of a board.

If a sub enters during the bidding, the sub is entitled to know the intended meaning of any of partner's conventional bids.

If a sub enters during play, the sub is entitled to know the cards played to each trick, and an additional explanation of any of the opponents' bids if requested.

19. Language problems, if opponents or director can not understand each other

If a player is unable to answer an opponent's system question or request to describe a bid due to not being able to use the official tournament language, the director should be called. The director can make an attempt to ask someone not at the table to translate what the player said, or if no other alternative exists, the director may need to remove the player from the tournament. Under no circumstances should a director describe a player's actual hand to answer such a request.

20. [removed]

21. Complaints about current tournament to TD

You might do everything correctly while directing a tournament, but there are some people in life who are impossible to please. These people may complain to the director about the current tournament settings (although these settings were already mentioned on the tournament description) or a ruling. The proper way for a player to request or dispute a ruling will be mentioned later. A player may state disagreement to a director about the current tournament settings but must do so in a polite way. The line between just disliking the tournament settings and rudeness may be crossed if a personal attack is added.

22. Rudeness between/among players at a table

If the director is notified that someone is rude to another player at the table, the director should first determine whether rudeness did occur (or if it was a misunderstanding, etc.) and then warn and/or remove the rude player(s). The director should advise someone who witnessed the rudeness of the right to create a screenshot and report the incident to In the case of a player being rude to his/her partner, the victim may also be asked if he/she would prefer to have a different partner for the remainder of the tournament. In cases where two sides have conflicting stories which are equally likely to be true, or the director otherwise can't determine what actually happened, the entire table should be warned to behave properly and advise a witness to create a screenshot to e-mail to A tutorial for creating a screenshot is available at http://www.bridgebas...h/scrnsnap.html

23. How to handle BBO crashes

In rare cases, BBO will "crash", meaning that a very large number of players will be unable to keep a connection to BBO. The crash will sometimes happen without warning and persist for an unknown amount of time, anywhere from a few seconds to 45+ minutes. You will know a crash occurs when you see 10 or more red (disconnected players) on the table list. Here is how to handle a crash, assuming you can remain connected to BBO:
1. Temporarily change the time per board to 15, the maximum permitted by the software.
2. Announce what is happening to the remaining players.
3. Wait patiently for everyone to return to the tournament.
4. Some players will give up trying to return to BBO. When you see that players have stopped returning to the tournament, then you can find subs.
5. Starting the next round, remember to change the round clock back to your original setting, although if BBO seems to be slower than usual, adding an extra minute or two might be a good idea.

24. Almost never cancel a tournament that has started

After a tournament starts, the "cancel tournament" button should be used only in extreme circumstances. If you have an emergency and must leave, you can ask in the lobby for an available director to take your place, or explain your situation to a "yellow", and he/she might be able to find someone to finish the tournament.

25. Slow play at table, near end of round

In clocked tournaments, players should know to call the director (about 3 minutes before the end of a round) if an opponent has taken so much time that all boards of the round might not be finished. This will help the director make a ruling later if the board is not completed.

26. Two-minute break

I will take a break for two minutes.

27. How to use the BBO software

Adjusting the result of a board is easier than many directors think. Some examples:
4HW-1 (Contract of 4 hearts was played by west, down 1)
3CNx+1 (Contract of 3 clubs was played by north, doubled, with 1 overtrick)
6NExx= (Contract of 6NT was played by east, redoubled, making with no overtricks)

number…suit or NT…direction…[double or redouble if any]…(number of overtricks or undertricks, or = if none)

C=clubs D=diamonds H=hearts S=spades N=no trump
N=north S=south E=east W=west
X=doubled XX=redoubled

Some other adjustments:

A-+ (North/South receive ave-, and East/West receive ave+)
A== (Ave= for both pairs)

28. Adjusting unfinished board to board result (if obvious line of play)

The director should resolve unfinished boards in this manner:

A: If the director sees that a particular outcome would be reached with any reasonable continuation of play, or if both sides agree on what the outcome will be, the director should adjust the board to that outcome.

B: If more than one reasonable continuation of play exists, which would produce different board results, the director often can not assign a specific board result (an exception is listed below). Then, the director must determine if either side is at fault for the round not being finished. Usually, if one side is at fault, it is because one player had a slow connection or got disconnected. In rare cases, someone will intentionally play slowly at the end to try to avoid a bad result (see note). If the director was not called to the table during the round, and the board's outcome can not be determined, the director can leave the ave- that the system assigned or adjust to ave= for both pairs.

exception: If the declarer or defense has already won or will surely win enough tricks for a good result example: If the defense has already won 2 tricks in 6NT, the director should adjust the board to 6NT-1 (assuming the declarer had a reasonable chance of being only -1).

note: Many players will claim in the adjustment request that an opponent played very slowly or was stalling to run out the clock, but it rarely happens. Generally, that statement is not a factor in how the board should be adjusted, but I would try to remember who the accuser and accused are.

29. When to assign ave+, ave-, or ave= to a pair if someone is at fault for slow play

If the board result can not be determined, and one side is determined to be at fault for the unfinished board, a score of ave+ should be awarded to the pair not at fault, and ave- should be awarded to the pair at fault. "Fault" does not imply that a side did anything dishonest or bad. It just means that the side contributed to most of the delay that caused the board to be unfinished. The delay may be due to a player requesting the director to wait extra time for his/her partner to return (many players would rather have an ave- for a board or two if it allows a friend to return and finish the tournament).

30. The director, when assigning scores for a board, should not award both sides ave+ (or ave+ for one pair and ave= for the other pair) unless required to do so by the Laws (if a board can not be completed and neither side is at fault).

31. Player who bids 7NTxx for no good reason

If a player makes a ridiculous bid, such as 7NTxx, for no legitimate reason, the best way to handle the situation is to boot the player making the ridiculous bid and report him/her to To protect the other pairs in the field, the board result should be cancelled. Ave+ is awarded to the pair that would have been defending the contract, and ave- is awarded to the other pair. The director may instead choose to award ave= to the remaining player and sub only if the remaining player was not at fault in any way for the ridiculous bid.

32. Rudeness to TD/challenges to TD authority or decisions

A player may politely request an explanation of any ruling or adjustment. A player may also inform the director of additional information, if he/she believes that an adjustment was incorrect. All directors will make an occasional mistake. A good director should be willing to consider the additional information if it may make a difference in his or her decision. Any board can be adjusted as long as the tournament results are still listed on BBO (about 15 minutes after the tournament ends), but it is much better to adjust a board before the results first appear, if possible. If a director does change a ruling or readjusts the result of a board, the reason should be explained to each side. A director who is not sure about what decision to make about an adjustment, or any other issue, is encouraged to ask for help.

A TD also has the right to declare his or her decision to be final.

When a ruling is made, players will occasionally get upset and show their frustration inappropriately. A comment such as "You are a horrible director" may come from the part of the BBO population that is impossible to please, or from someone who is in a really bad mood, so do not take it personally. At the point a player becomes very disruptive (for example, stopping play at the table to repeatedly insult the director) or obscene, the director should boot the player and report the incident to and include a screenshot of the offensive chat. The director should issue a warning for a minor disruption.

33. Disputed claims

On BBO, when the declarer (or a defender) claims any number of remaining tricks, play is stopped and the claimer’s opponents can see the remaining cards in each hand. The claimer must state the line of play that will enable him/her to win those trick(s). It is usually helpful for the declarer to list the number of expected winners in each suit.

If a claim is rejected, play should stop immediately and the director should be called (Law 68). However, on BBO, it is relatively uncommon for a player to call the director in this situation.
Much of what is below is copied directly from Law 70 of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge.

In ruling on a contested claim, the director should assign a result as equitably as possible to both sides, but any doubtful points should be resolved against the claimer. The director should ask for the line of play stated at the time of the play, if any, and then for the opponents' objections to the claim.

When a trump remains in one of the opponents' hands, the director should award a trick or tricks to the opponents if declarer did not mention the trump and may have been unaware of the trump at the time of the claim, and a trick can be lost to that trump by any normal play.

The director should not accept from claimer any unstated line of play which depends upon finding one opponent with a particular card, unless an opponent did not follow suit before the claim was made, or would not follow suit later on any normal line of play (unless any other line of play would be irrational).

This procedure is important because it is possible that a rejected claim will give declarer extra information about the play, for example, reminding declarer that a defender still has a trump.

note: Law 70 also includes this statement: “…’normal’ includes play that would be careless or inferior for the class of player involved, but not irrational.” Directors should be reminded that the self-ratings of BBO players are, in general, very unreliable.

34. Invalid claim accepted

If an invalid claim is accepted, and one side accidentally concedes a trick that must be won by any legal play of the remaining cards, the director is required to adjust the board. Law 79B states that a player must inform the director by the end of the round, but because this is not always possible due to some aspects of online play, it is reasonable to allow such a request up to five minutes after the start of the next round.

35. Partnership agreements and psyches

From Law 40a of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge:

“A player may make any call or play (including an intentionally misleading call - such as a psychic bid - or a call or play that departs from commonly accepted, or previously announced, use of a convention), without prior announcement, provided that such call or play is not based on a partnership understanding.”

A player who makes a bid that is based on a partnership agreement must self-alert at the time of the bid, in accordance with BBO‘s alert procedure. Either opponent may click on the bid to request an explanation. The player must fully describe the partnership agreement in the space provided, or, if more space is needed, the player may use private chat to both opponents. Occasionally, a player will ask in private chat to explain the meaning of a bid, or the player will choose to answer just in private chat.

If an opponent asks for information about a bid that was a psyche, the player is obligated to tell only what partner thinks the bid represents and never his/her actual holding.

36. Restricting or not permitting psychic bids; notifying director of a psychic bid

The director may request that players report their own psyches to the director at the time the psyche occurs. If you choose to make that request, it is important to not suddenly appear at the player’s table. If you do appear at the table, it might unfairly warn players at the table about the psyche.

Many organizations choose to restrict psyches to a small extent. The ACBL uses these restrictions for its tournaments (in the Disallowed section of each Convention Chart):

“Psyching of artificial or conventional opening bids and/or conventional responses thereto. Psyching conventional suit responses, which are less than 2NT, to natural openings.”

“Psychic controls (includes ANY partnership agreement which, if used in conjunction with a psychic call, makes allowance for that psych.”

The Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge do not allow a director to completely disallow psyches. A total ban on psyches would also be very difficult to enforce fairly. A director would be required to determine in some situations whether a bid in question would be a psyche, tactical bid, etc.

37. What bids should be alerted?

Currently, there is not a “BBO Standard” Alert Chart. Players are expected to self-alert, and explain fully when asked, any unusual partnership agreement or understanding. Players are also required to disclose their system and agreements when asked by an opponent.

If the director does not otherwise specify, players must self-alert any conventional bid (except Stayman and regular Blackwood). By default, an opening bid of 1c or 1d shows 3+ cards in the suit, and an opening bid of 1NT shows 15-17 hcp.

Players are expected to alert all alertable agreements, and all alertable bids that might be understood by a partner, regardless of whether the bid or convention is specifically discussed. Only if there is absolutely no reason to think that partner will have any idea what the bid means, can a player say "no agreement". That means if a pair agreed to play SAYC (even by default), a Jacoby 2NT bid is alertable even if neither player has ever mentioned it. Another example: if a pair has never discussed any system at all, but both profiles say "Polish Club" as the preferred system, then they should be presumed to be playing Polish Club by default, and bids would be alertable accordingly.

38. Misclick during bidding

Occasionally, a player will accidentally click on the wrong bid. Currently, the BBO software does not give the director the capability of canceling a player’s bid. If undos are allowed by the tournament director, of course, the player may request an undo (to the opponents). Both opponents must accept the undo request for the bid to be cancelled. A player may decline or refuse the undo request for any reason, including personal reasons, which is why it seems unfair for a director to select the “undos allowed” option for a tournament.

If undos are not allowed by the tournament director, the player has these options:

A. If the misclicked bid may give a big advantage to the opponent (example, accidentally opening 6h with a weak hand), the player may stop bidding, call the director immediately, and explain the situation. As stated previously, the current BBO software does not allow a director to cancel the bid. The director should cancel the board and adjust the board to ave- for the pair who made the misclicked bid and ave+ for the non-offending pair. This adjustment will also protect the rest of the field.

note: If the player making the misclicked bid does not call the director immediately, the director must not adjust the board in this manner. Otherwise, a player may get a free chance at a good board without a risk of a lower score than ave-.

B. The player may accept the misclicked bid and allow the bidding to continue. In this case, the player must not announce to the table that the bid was a misclick until after the bidding and play are completed. Also, the player is under no obligation to tell the opponents about the misclick. If there is a normally alertable partnership agreement involving the accidental bid, the player must explain the agreement, in private, to the opponents, preferably by clicking on the bid and explaining there. The player is under no obligation to tell the opponents anything more than what partner will think of the bid (their partnership agreement). In this case, the misclicked bid is treated as a psyche bid. If the director requires that psyches be self-reported to the director at the time of the bid, the player should inform the director of the misclick immediately.

39. TD called because of failure to alert, procedure to continue play and for players to show damage

If a player discovers during the bidding or play that a bid has not been properly alerted, the player must immediately stop play and call the director. The player will then tell the director about the non-alert, and if the player thinks there may be any damage as a result. (If necessary, the director asks the player to give a description for the bid in question.) The director will then tell everyone to resume play.

At the completion of play for that board, the director must make a ruling.

To award an adjusted score, the following conditions must apply:
--The player called the director immediately when the infraction was discovered.
--The player must show that the non-alert caused damage* to the player’s side.
--The player could not have reasonably known at the time of the bid that it was showing a partnership agreement. (example: If a Jacoby transfer bid of 2d is not alerted, it is very unlikely that damage can be claimed because of how commonly used transfers are. However, in the rare case that a player who is unfamiliar with such bids makes a claim for damage and these other conditions are satisfied, the director may adjust the board.)
--The player’s side did not make any ridiculous bids after the unalerted bid.

*Damage can be in the form of impacting any later bid or any declarer or defensive play based on how the player counts the distribution and/or hcp of the other hands at the table.

-If the director rules that there is no damage, the board result is not adjusted, but the player should be warned to properly alert bids in the future.
-If the director rules that there is damage, and all of the conditions above are satisfied, the director should adjust the score in this manner:

--If the director can determine the actual result that would have occurred, the director should adjust the board to that result.
--If the damage did too much to prevent the normal play of a board, the director should award ave- to the offending pair and ave+ to the non-offending pair, unless the non-offending pair would prefer to keep the result from the play. (This option is presented only because of the limitations of the BBO software. A “split result“ can not be awarded on BBO, at this time.)

40. "No agreement" claimed

It is not uncommon for a pair to play together in a tournament for the first time with little or no discussion of what system they are using. However, if there is an implicit agreement, the bid is still alertable. (example: An “advanced” pair that agrees only to play 2/1 would still be expected to alert a 1NT bid that is forcing.) If “no agreement” is claimed, a defender should use his/her right to ask for the system, conventions, etc. to which the opponents have agreed to use. A player is never required to disclose his/her actual hand, only partnership agreements.

41. Determining if an unalerted bid is a hidden partnership agreement

Sometimes, it is possible for the director to determine if a partnership agreement is not disclosed to the opponents (by a non-alert, or by request of an opponent). One example is when 1NT is opened with 13 hcp (and no apparent reason to upgrade to 15 hcp). The director can look at previous boards to see if the pair previously opened or rebid 1NT to see if their agreed 1NT opening range is 15-17. The director can also gain inferences by how opener’s partner responded to the relevant bids. If the bidding is 1NT-all pass, and opener’s partner has 10 hcp, their 1NT range is very likely not 15-17.

42. Dummy says "?????????????" at beginning of play

A visibly impatient dummy can make the game less enjoyable for everyone at the table. The dummy must remain silent during the entire play of the board.

If, at the end of the bidding, the dummy shows some form of disapproval of partner’s bidding, the dummy should be warned to not act in such a manner. For repeated violations, or in extreme cases, the player may be removed from the tournament and/or reported to

43. Dummy says "claim p" or "wdp" during play

If the dummy tells declarer to claim or otherwise gives information about the board during the play (directly or indirectly), the director’s response depends on whether the defense was damaged. If there is only one obvious line of play, or all reasonable lines of play would have the same result, the board should stand as played. The director should warn the dummy to not act in that manner in the future.

If the dummy’s comments have any possibility of influencing the declarer’s line of play, the director should determine all reasonable lines of play and adjust the board result to what is least favorable to the offending side. A “claim” comment from dummy can, among other things, remind declarer that there are enough winners in a suit, or that a suit can be set up easily, or the defenders do not have any more trumps, which is why any benefit of the doubt should be given to the non-offending pair.

44. HUM in more detail

The definition of HUM, as described on the WBF’s official Web site:
(from http://www.worldbrid...ems/policy.asp)

“For the purpose of this Policy, a Highly Unusual Method (HUM) means any System that exhibits one or more of the following features, as a matter of partnership agreement:

a. A Pass in the opening position shows at least the values generally accepted for an opening bid of one, even if there are alternative weak possibilities.
b. By partnership agreement an opening bid at the one level may be weaker than pass.
c. By partnership agreement an opening bid at the one level may be made with values a king or more below average strength. [7 hcp or less]
d. By partnership agreement an opening bid at the one level shows either length or shortage in a specified suit.
e. By partnership agreement an opening bid at the one level shows either length in one specified suit or length in another.”

Remember that it is not illegal to make an opening bid at the one-level with 6 hcp, only that it is not permitted to have a partnership agreement to do so with 6 hcp.

45. Playing director

It is impossible to direct a high-quality tournament while also playing. Many tournament situations require that the director be at the table where the situation takes place, in order to create the proper resolution. However, a playing director can take some steps to make the tournament as enjoyable as possible for the players and for him/herself:

a. (*very important) Allow only a small number of pairs to play. I recommend no more than 14-16 pairs if the tournament is clocked, or 20 pairs if the tournament is unclocked. This will reduce the number of problems that require the director’s attention, which also means you can concentrate more on playing.
b. Do not allow the players to chat to the tournament. While it may be annoying to receive a director call while playing, it is the only method by which a player can tell you something in private. The alternative of allowing players to chat to the tournament can lead to arguments in tournament chat that the director is unable to properly resolve, because the director can not go to the table to resolve anything.
c. Try to offer all of the services that a non-playing director would offer, including board adjustments. It may be best to announce that all boards will be adjusted immediately after you play your last board of the tournament.

46. Director Web site for help/answer questions

A Web site is currently under construction that will provide a quick reference guide for directors to use if unsure of a ruling. The address is:

For any questions or comments regarding this lecture, you may send e-mail to:

A question and answer page may be added to the above Web site, if I receive many questions.

47. Conclusion

Thanks to everyone for attending this lecture, and thanks to all of the current and future directors for the services they provide to the BBO community.

This post has been edited by golfacer: 2007-August-09, 04:32


#2 User is offline   golfacer 

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Posted 2006-November-30, 23:28

(Posting again because I could not update the first message's date)

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