The first Laws of Duplicate Bridge were published in 1928. There had been successive revisions in 1933, 1935, 1943, 1949, 1963, 1975, 1987, and 1997. In accordance with its By-Laws the World Bridge Federation promulgated the current edition in 2007.

Previously through the 1930s the Laws were promulgated by the Portland Club of London and the Whist Club of New York. From the 40s onwards the American Contract Bridge League Laws Commission replaced the Whist Club, while the British Bridge League and the European Bridge League supplemented the Portland Club’s efforts. The 1975 Laws were also promulgated by the World Bridge Federation, as they were in 1987 and 1997.

This latest revision supersedes the 1997 Code. Zonal authorities may implement the Code at any time after 1stJanuary 2008 but before 30th September 2008.

Over the years there has been a marked increase in the expertise and experience of Directors, which has been recognized in the new Code by the increased responsibilities given to them. In addition, the Appeals process has been improved considerably by the introduction of the “Code of Practice for Appeals Committees”, to which attention is drawn.

The Drafting Committee notes with sorrow the passing of Ralph Cohen during the drafting of the new Code and the earlier passing of Edgar Kaplan. The assistance of Antonio Riccardi is acknowledged together with that of David Davenport of the Portland Club.

The Drafting Committee also acknowledges with gratitude the substantial contributions of Anna Gudge, Richard Hills and Rick Assad. The Code, however, would not have been produced without the dedication and hard work of its Co-ordinator, Grattan Endicott.

The Drafting Committee consisted of: Max Bavin, Ralph Cohen, Joan Gerard, Ton Kooijman, Jeffrey Polisner William Schoder, Grattan Endicott (Co-ordinator), John Wignall(Chairman) John R. Wignall, MNZM


 The Laws are designed to define correct procedure and to provide an adequate remedy when there is a departure from correct procedure. They are primarily designed not as punishment for irregularities but rather for the rectification of situations where non-offenders may otherwise be damaged. Players should be ready to accept gracefully any rectification or adjusted score awarded by the Director.

 There have been many developments in duplicate bridge over the last ten years and there are no signs that these changes have stopped. The task that confronted the Drafting Committee was to ensure the Laws were updated so as to cope with past changes and to establish a framework that can cope with future developments.

 Directors have been given considerably more discretionary powers. There are fewer automatic penalties: they are replaced by the concept of rectification of a situation that unfortunately has arisen. Bridge is played in different ways in different countries so the Laws give more power to Regulating Authorities to make controlling regulations. This is particularly so in the area of Special Partnership Understandings, in itself a new concept. Artificial bidding is a fact of life so an attempt has been made to solve problems, or to allow Regulating Authorities to solve problems, that arise when something goes wrong.

 We have tried to clarify the areas of responsibility of Regulating Authorities, Tournament Organizers and Directors and it is made clear that certain responsibilities may be either assigned or delegated.

 Many headings present in the 1997 Laws have been removed in the interests of streamlining their appearance. Where headings remain they do not limit the application of any law, nor indeed does the omission of a cross-reference.

 Established usage has been retained in regard to “may” do (failure to do it is not wrong), “does” (establishes correct procedure without suggesting that violation be penalized) “should” do (failure to do it is an infraction jeopardizing the infractor’s rights but not often penalized), “shall” do (a violation will incur a procedural penalty more often than not), “must” do (the strongest word, a serious matter indeed). Again, “must not” is the strongest prohibition, “shall not” is strong but “may not” is stronger – just short of “must not”.

For the avoidance of doubt, this Introduction and the Definitions that follow form part of the Laws. Finally, unless the context clearly dictates otherwise, the singular includes the plural and the masculine includes the feminine, and vice versa.


 Adjusted Score  — A score awarded by the Director (see Law 12).  It is either “artificial” or “assigned”.

Alert  — A notification, whose form may be specified by the Regulating Authority, to the effect that opponents may be in need of an explanation.

Artificial call — is a bid, double, or redouble that conveys information (not being information taken for granted by players generally) other than willingness to play in the denomination named or last named; or a pass which promises more than a specified amount of strength or if it promises or denies values other than in the last suit named.

Auction  — 1.  The process of determining the contract by means of successive calls. It begins when the first call is made.  2. The aggregate of calls made (see Law 17).

Bid  — an undertaking to win at least a specified number of odd tricks (tricks in excess of six) in a specified denomination.

Board  — 1.  A duplicate board as described in Law 2.   2.  The four hands as originally dealt and placed in a duplicate board for play during a session (also referred to as a ‘deal’).

CallAny bid, double, redouble or pass.

Cancelled — see “Withdrawn”.

Contestant  — in an individual event, a player; in a pair event, two players playing as partners throughout the event; in a team event, four or more players playing as team-mates.

Contract  — the undertaking by declarer’s side to win, at the denomination named, the number of odd tricks specified in the final bid, whether undoubled, doubled or redoubled. (See Law 22)

Deal  — 1.  The distribution of the pack to form the hands of the four players.  2.  The cards so distributed considered as a unit, including the auction and play thereof.

Declarer  — the player who, for the side that makes the final bid, first bid the denomination named in the final bid.  He becomes declarer when the opening lead is faced (but see Law 54A when the opening lead is made out of turn).

Defender  — an opponent of (presumed) declarer.

Denomination  — the suit or no trump specified in a bid.

Double  — a call over an opponent’s bid increasing the scoring value of fulfilled or defeated contracts (see Laws 19A and 77).

Dummy  — 1.  Declarer’s partner.  He becomes dummy when the opening lead is faced.  2.  Declarer’s partner’s cards, once they are spread on the table after the opening lead.

Event  — a contest of one or more sessions.

Extraneous — not part of the lawful procedures of the game.

Follow Suit  — Play a card of the suit that has been led.

Game  — 100 or more trick points scored on one deal.

Hand  — the cards originally dealt to a player, or the remaining portion thereof.

Honour  — any Ace, King, Queen, Jack or 10.

Infraction — a player’s breach of Law or of Lawful regulation.

International Matchpoint (IMP) — a unit of scoring awarded according to a schedule established in Law 78B.

Irregularity — a deviation from correct procedure inclusive of, but not limited to, those which involve an infraction by a player.

Lead  — the first card played to a trick.

LHO  — Left-hand opponent.

Matchpoint  — a unit of scoring awarded to a contestant as a result of comparison with one or more other scores. See Law 78A.

Odd Trick  — each trick to be won by declarer’s side in excess of six.

Opening Lead  — the card led to the first trick.

Opponent  — a player of the other side; a member of the partnership to which one is opposed.

Overtrick  — each trick won by declarer’s side in excess of the contract.

Pack  — the 52 playing cards with which the game is played.

Partner  — the player with whom one plays as a side against the other two players at the table.

Partscore — 90 or fewer trick points scored on one deal.

Pass — a call specifying that a player does not, at that turn, elect to bid, double or redouble.

Penalty — (See also ‘Rectification’) — penalties are of two kinds:

disciplinary those applied for the maintenance of courtesy and good order (see Law 91), and

procedural penalties (additional to any rectification) awarded in the Director’s discretion in cases of procedural irregularities (see Law 90).

Penalty card — a card subject to disposition under Law 50.

Play — 1.  The contribution of a card from one’s hand to a trick, including the first card, which is the lead.  2.  The aggregate of plays made.  3.  The period during which the cards are played.  4.  The aggregate of the calls and plays on a board.

Play period commences when the opening lead on a board is faced; contestants’ rights and powers in the play period each expire as the relevant Law provides. The play period itself ends when the cards are removed from their slots on the subsequent board (or when the last board of a round is quitted).

Premium Points — any points earned other than trick points (see Law 77).

Psychic call (commonly ‘psych[e]‘ or ‘psychic’) — a deliberate and gross misstatement of honour strength and/or of suit length.

Rectification — the remedial provisions to be applied when an irregularity has come to the Director’s attention.

Redouble  — a call over an opponent’s double, increasing the scoring value of fulfilled or defeated contracts (see Laws 19B and 77).

Retracted — see “Withdrawn”.

RHO — Right-hand opponent.

Rotation  — the clockwise progression of the normal turns to call or play; also the clockwise order in which, one at a time, the cards are recommended to be dealt.

Round — a part of a session played without progression of players.

Session  — an extended period of play during which a number of boards, specified by the Tournament Organizer, is scheduled to be played. (May have different meanings as between Laws 4, 12C2 and 91.)

Side  — two players at a table who constitute a partnership against the other two players.

Slam  — A contract to win six odd tricks (called Small Slam), or to win seven odd tricks (called Grand Slam).

Sorted deck a pack of cards not randomized from its prior condition.

Suit  — One of four groups of cards in the pack, each group comprising thirteen cards and having a characteristic symbol: spades ([), hearts (]), diamonds ({), clubs (}).

Team  — two or more pairs playing in different compass directions at different tables but for a common score (applicable regulations may permit teams of more than four members).

Trick  — the unit by which the outcome of the contract is determined, composed unless flawed of four cards, one contributed by each player in rotation, beginning with the lead.

Trick Points  — points scored by declarer’s side for fulfilling the contract (see Law 77).

Trump  — each card of the denomination named in a suit contract.

Turn  — the correct time at which a player is due to call or play.

Undertrick  — each trick by which declarer’s side falls short of fulfilling the contract (see Law 77).

Unintended — involuntary; not under control of the will; not the intention of the player at the moment of his action. 

Vulnerability  — the conditions for assigning premiums and undertrick penalties (see Law 77).

Withdrawn actions said to be ‘withdrawn’ include actions that are ‘cancelled’ and cards that are ‘retracted’.