Disposition of a minor penalty card

North is in 5C. West leads a diamond won by East. East leads the KD to trick 2. The 3C simultaneously falls from East' Hand. East designates the KD as the card played and the 3C becomes a minor penalty card. The director is called. East wishes to play another diamond which will be trumped and defeat the contract.

The director consults the laws and quotes:

Law 50C. Disposition of Minor Penalty Card
When a defender has a minor penalty card, he may not play
any other card of the same suit below the rank of an honour
until he has first played the penalty card, but he is entitled to
play an honour card instead. Offender’s partner is not subject
to lead restriction, but see E following.

The directors interpretation is that this law means that a club must be played, but that this law limits the choice of club. The law does not explicitly state that a card from another suit may be played.

The White Book does not add anything.

David Stevenson's "Duplicate Bridge Rules Simplified" states (Page 32): "The OFFENDER does NOT have to play a MINOR penalty card at the first legal opportunity if instead he pays a honour card of the same suit or a card in a different suit". This does seem to imply that East may play a card in a different suit.

Could you clarify the position please?


  • Oops. It was East that led the winning Diamond at trick 1.

  • A minor penalty does not have to be played unless you must or wish to play that suit and are out of honours in that suit. Having a minor penalty card does not place any requirement on you to play that suit.

  • Going back to "the director's interpretation", there's nothing in 50C which suggests that the minor penalty card places any restrictions on the offender, other than those stated. The lead restrictions mentioned under 50D pertain only to a major penalty card.

    There's nothing here to interpret; the director is making up his own rules.

  • Seems a clear case of misreading the law. IFF a club is played to a trick it must either be an honour or the penalty card. In the words of Warner Bros "That's all folks" - (Other than the UI considerations - 50E).

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