header                Issue #12              June - July 2015

These pages are an attempt to inform bridge players of  the laws governing our game.  In particular, we will be looking at everyday situations where the TD is called.
These pages will be updated each month, so please come again!  

Always call the TD for any infringement, however minor -   do not take the law into your own hands.

Announcing / Alerting

When to Announce or Alert? Methodology
Let me start with a frequent occurence. N-S vul.

You will be East, holding -

        The bidding thus far -

What do you bid now?

Answer: Well... it depends on the meaning of the double, surely. If it is penalties, you have been warned; if the double shows "extra values" then you can raise and up the ante, whilst if the double was showing 3-card hearts (a support double) then perhaps you want to bid as much as 4!

The SABF Regulations state that if the doubles are clearly stated in a convention card, and made available to the opponents, then no double need be alerted. But the culture in South Africa is not so. Hardly anyone has a clear comprehensive CC, and CCs are generally not made accessible to the opponents even if they are. End result? Alert all doubles other than the simple takeout double, and announce the negative double. A support double is alertable. So is a Lightner double (asking for a specific lead in a slam).

Philosophy of announcing/alerting: The objective of the Alert system is for both pairs at the table to have equal access to all information contained in any auction. In order to meet this goal, it is necessary that all players understand and practice the principles of full disclosure and active ethics. Ethical bridge players will recognize the obligation to give complete explanations. They will accept the fact that any such information is entirely for the benefit of the opponents and may not be used to assist their own partnership.

The SABF chart showing when to Announce and Alert

After an ALERT:
  • The proper way to ask for information is “please explain”;
  • When an Alert is given, ASK, do not ASSUME;
  • When a pair’s failure to Alert or Announce disadvantages an opponent or benefits themselves, the director should award an adjusted score;
  • When asked, the bidding side must give a full explanation of the agreement. Stating the common or popular name of a convention is not sufficient.

So often I am asked to confirm that bids above 3NT need not be alerted, to which I reply "not true". It depends on the circumstances.

Splinter bids 1H - (P) - 4D*       *shortage     must be alerted even though it is above 3NT!

When the opponents are in a blackwood sequence or cue bidding above 3NT and there is no bidding by the other side then no alerts need be given nor any questions should be asked of the bids. Please do not interrupt their train of thoughts.   As I have said in previous articles the bids must be explained at the end of the auction and before the lead is chosen. This is deemed as a Delayed Alert


When sitting down against new opponents, highly unusual bids that you use need to be declared even in a pairs game. Take a quick minute to explain your subtleties:

  • Declare NT size, length of majors, carding and your basic system;
  • If your style is to make weakish overcalls/raises;
  • If you overcall with 4-card suits as a rule;
  • A 5-16 point jump overcall range and whether 5x;
  • Over their NT you play transfer overcalls;
  • If partner opens 1C your response is showing the suit above what you bid;
  • If you play funny 2-openings;
  • If you lead low from a doubleton;
  • etc. etc.

Please remember -
  • Bridge is not a game of secret messages; the auction belongs to everyone at the table;
  • That the opponents are entitled to know the agreed meaning of all calls;
  • The bidding side has an obligation to disclose its agreements according to the procedures established by SABF.


Please feel free to write in regarding the bridge laws, to   webmaster [at] gbu.co.za


Sid Ismail
National Director

27 June 2015

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