Playing At A Duplicate Club


Contact the manager or partnership chair at a club to help find a partner if you need one. The ACBL has a club finder at, and contact information and the web site for each club is described. You can phone them for help.

In most clubs, you just show up, but it is helpful to the management to know you’re coming. Some clubs are not open to the public, such as ones in senior retirement communities, so be sure to check.

After each round of two to four hands, some or all of the players at the table will move to another table, and the boards containing the hands will move. Just ask if you don’t know what to do.

It is a bit scary at first, but you’ll have fun. You can also get started online at


When it is your lead, make your lead first before writing anything in your score sheet. Everybody is waiting for you.

When there are two minutes or less left in the round, and you have finished, leave your seats so the next people can get started. Don’t stay in your seat until your landing spot is clear. Move to the side or get a snack, and don’t talk while people nearby are playing.

Don’t discuss the hands. If you say “Wow, makes six!” in a loud voice, the next pair to play that board may take advantage of it. Even the best case is bad: they are ethical, report the fact to the Director, and have to skip the board.

Don’t start a board when there are less than two minutes left. Call the Director and ask if you should take a “no-play”. A no-play DOES NOT CHANGE YOUR SCORE. It just makes sure everyone can begin the next round in a timely manner.

The rules require you and your partner to have two identical convention cards. There are “Standard American” pre-printed cards available. Most clubs will accept one card. There is a series on the ACBL web site that explains how to fill out a card.

Director Etiquette

Remember Dubois’ Rule: Never mistake incompetence for ill intention. There is a lot more of the former than the latter in the world. Try to assume your opponents have not intentionally broken the rules.

When should I call the director?

Call the director whenever there is an irregularity. You aren’t being mean — often you are protecting everyone else in the room.

If your side has made an improper explanation of a bid, call the director at the end of the auction if your side is declaring, and at the end of the hand if you’re on defense.

If, on the other hand, you made a bid that your partner explained correctly according to your agreement, but that you made in error, then you just goofed, and no explanation is needed. If asked, you can say, “My partner’s explanation of our agreement was correct.”

After an opponent seriously hesitates (“breaks tempo”) in a competitive auction, especially if they then pass, you may call the director before that opponent’s partner bids. The issue is, the pause told his partner that he had something to think about. The Director can explain to that partner that his choices are constrained by that knowledge. At the very least, seek agreement that there was a long hesitation right then. When in doubt, call immediately. This is not a big issue in newcomer games – we’re all hesitating! But as you move on it will matter.

If you notice a revoke by the opponents, call the Director at the end of the hand. Say “Please leave your cards on the table, I think there was a revoke”, as the last trick is played, and call the director. DO NOT TURN OVER ANY QUITTED TRICKS. When you see a revoke, just make a mental note of which trick, and which hand won the trick; do not interrupt play. For purposes of the ruling, the director needs to know if the revoking hand won that trick by trumping, or not. Extra credit for remembering that for him.

DUMMY cannot be the person who points out an irregularity or calls the director until the hand is over. Dummy can call the director after someone else points it out.

Do not call if you made the wrong bid and suddenly realize it. You’re allowed to mess up, but you are not allowed to enlighten your partner about the mistake.

How should I call the director?

Raise your hand, keep it raised, and say “Director, please” in a normal tone. Don’t forget the please. Other methods are not so good:

  • Using the director’s name can raise a concern that he’s a friend of yours and won’t be impartial.
  • Using a loud voice similar to yelling “Fire” or “Stop Thief”. The director’s job is to deal with irregularities. Anger is inappropriate.
  • Leaving the table and asking to speak to the director privately is not proper.

What do I tell the director?

The person who called should go first, stating FIRST the reason for the call: “Lead out of turn”; “Insufficient bid.”; “I inadvertently used the wrong bid card”. The director may ask for some context, like reviewing the bidding (it is harder than it looks to accurately look at all those cards on the table). The director may ask to speak to you or others in private. Otherwise, do not leave the table or ask to speak privately.

The director will give others at the table a chance to explain what they saw or said. Wait your turn to speak. The Director will not want to see your hand.

What if the director doesn’t seem to believe me?

The director has instructions from the ACBL about being skeptical in certain common situations, or even instructions to not allow certain things. It may also be true that what you said is true but doesn’t affect the ruling.

Directors do make errors; a polite question citing the law you think applies is o.k.; arguing a judgement call is rude. As in baseball: point out the umpire forgot the infield fly rule; don’t argue a called strike.