header                Issue #5              28 October 2014

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.

Card played inadvertently

The query - received from Julia Crowe   (shortened) Response

I would be most grateful if you would help me with this problem, as I am having difficulty finding which Law is appropriate to apply. I was defending a hand on Saturday at the Links, sitting W. The contract was 3* by South. I was the Doubler and was on lead. I led a card, looked down at it to see that I had played the 8 which was not what I intended, said “Oops, that’s not the card I meant to play” and N said “Do you want to take it back?”. So I said Yes and she said OK, so I put the 8 back and took out the A , whereupon she said perhaps we should call the TD, and we did so. I then returned the A to my hand and put the 8 back on the table.

I should point out that after I played the 8 no other play took place, neither from Dummy nor from my partner, as I noticed my mistake immediately and pointed it out according to my relation of the sequence of events above.

I cannot find any reference to a mechanical error of this sort in the Laws and assume that I must be looking in the wrong place. I have been checking in Appendix L Law 24 which seems to apply in this case but it makes no mention of a ‘mechanical error’. On referring to the other results in that section, several defenders doubled that Spade contract and in the majority of cases the A was led. I cannot think that the lead of the 8 would have prejudiced the play in any way. On the contrary, the Declarer would probably have been delighted to see it.

The doubled 3 contract was made, and would have been in any case.

North was at fault for allowing you to change your card and then only calling the TD.   The TD must always be called in the first instance.

The “new” mechanical error law was introduced simultaneously with the advent of the bidding box. Law 25A covers it. It applies to the bidding phase of the hand only though.

For the play segment of the hand, there is no provision for mechanical errors. The law applicable to your case is: Law 45 -


A. Play of Card from a Hand
Each player except dummy plays a card by detaching it from his hand and facing it on the table immediately before him.


C. Compulsory Play of Card
1. A defender’s card held so that it is possible for his partner to see its face must be played to the current trick

Law 45C4b allows declarer to change an incorrectly designated card from dummy, but I am afraid that the laws are very strict with regard to defenders. The end result is that...
The 8 is deemed to be played – with no option to change – A becomes a penalty card, and Law 16 (UI) would also apply.

Because North allowed you to change your lead in the first instance, I would allow the A to be put back in your hand.

Always call the TD.  There is more to penalty cards than "you have to play the card at the first legal opportunity."
The TD will give you all your options, after consulting the relevant section(s) of Law 50.


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


Sid Ismail
National Director

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