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Northern Virginia Bridge Association

American Contract Bridge League Unit 218

Bridge Ethics

Bridge is an honorable and fun pastime. As in any sport, there are many rules both written and unwritten on ethics and participant behavior. In bridge, one of the primary rules is that you're not allowed to convey any information to your partner during the bidding EXCEPT via the actual bid you make. Hesitations, sighs, gestures and other mannerisms are forbidden. If your partner exhibits any of these behaviors, you, as their partner, are obligated to ignore them in your decision making process. Similarly, when on defense, you're prohibited from conveying any information about your cards to your partner EXCEPT by the rank and/or suit of the card you play to a trick. Theatrics or not playing every card in the same tempo and fashion in an attempt to give your partner "added" information is strictly prohibited. Behavior of this sort is called "Unauthorized Information" (UI) and may not be used! NOTE: your opponents ARE allowed to take inference and advantage from you and your partner's behavior. YOU are not. It's also unethical to use fake behavior to try to fool the opponents (derisively called "coffeehousing").

Sadly, there have been numerous instances of players all the way up to world champions who have besmirched the reputation of the game by actively colluding with their partner at the table and violating the above principles.

The purpose of this page is to provide you with educational and informative material so you will understand the issues and not inadvertently put yourself into situations where your ethics could be called into question. Unfortunately, many, particularly newer, players do not understand the subtleties and implications of their behavior and continue to practice them largely due to ignorance.

Larry Cohen, a world class player and teacher, has taken it upon himself to write a series of articles that describe various situations and to provide players with guidance on how to behave properly and ethically at the table. The below links are to the first batch of articles on his website that provide explanatory text and video demonstrations. There are also links to PDF files which you can download, print and read at your leisure. Additional links will be added as additional articles are written.

In addition, there are a series of links to the BridgeBum website which has some very short articles on bridge etiquette and ethical topics.

To round out the material, there are links to the ACBL website describing the official ACBL policies.

NVBA prides itself on its Zero Tolerance program. Cheating is strictly prohibited and public accusations of cheating will not be tolerated. If you suspect someone of actively cheating, you must notify a director or Bob Boyd, our unit's recorder, in private.

Larry Cohen

Bridge Bum

ACBL Active Ethics