System/Convention Cards

Traditionally, our club has not insisted that each playing pair displays their System/Convention Card.
This practice occasionally makes for misunderstandings when pairs introduce changes to their system or new inexperienced players arrive.
Does the absence of System Cards obliged players to give fuller explanations to Alerts and Announcements and to questions during the Clarification period?
Or should I simply insist on the use of System Cards in future?


  • 3A1 Blue Book says:- Pairs are required to have two fully completed system cards. Both must contain the same information. At the beginning of each round they should exchange these with the opponents’ system cards. The TD may impose a penalty if a pair does not have two properly completed system cards.
    3 B

  • edited September 2019

    Each club is entitled to use its own regulations instead of the EBU's if that works out better for the club. Being a "TD" at Cambridge University BC is an example of when insisting on system cards would be completely inappropriate, despite the club being affiliated to the EBU. However, if there was ever a misunderstanding that could have been resolved clearly by having a system card available, I would always rule favourably with the "non-offending side," which tends to be a more experienced pair in most cases anyway. If you oblige players to bring system cards, it may have the non-intended effect of deterring players from coming to a "serious" club. It all depends on the type of club environment you currently have and want to have, and what the players want!

  • [495670] " However, if there was ever a misunderstanding that could have been resolved clearly by having a system card available, I would always rule favourably with the "non-offending side," which tends to be a more experienced pair in most cases anyway."

    I agree with this (maybe not "always", but close enough). I also favour a mixed policy on convention cards - pairs are only allowed to play complex systems if they exchange properly filled-out convention cards with their opponents at the start of each round.

  • There's often not going to be space on a systems card for a pair that plays a complex system. For example, I play a strong club system with one partner for which we have a 62-page document file. We have a systems card which covers the salient points but it's never going to cover the details of our many asking sequences. I have read of professionals with hundreds of pages of system notes.

    As stated above, a club is, effectively, its own regulating authority with regards to the necessity of cards at club-level events. My local clubs, for example, only require cards for competition nights and not for regular sessions.

  • It's not even complex situations necessarily, there's so many different competitive sequences each with their own nuances, even playing fairly simple systems it's hard to fit everything on the card.

    At club level, getting everyone to carry even a basic convention card is sadly a bit of a losing battle, which does irk me when quite good pairs with some advanced agreements don't have one. Our own club has recently adopted the policy of "if you don't have a convention card, please pre-alert your basic system", which I suppose is another compromise :).

  • edited October 2019

    One solution in a club where lots of pairs play the same simple system but a few stronger pairs have more complex systems is to only require the stronger pairs to bring a system card (these pairs are more likely to have a printed copy in any case). You would have to use your own discretion based on the particular club, but at least in our case we run a beginners' group in October and November so anyone who hasn't played before at a reasonable level will play the same known system; Only those pairs who have had prior experience will have different cards and might reasonably be expected to have a copy available (obviously being a university club this is rather unique to our circumstances).

    It's important to ensure that the results are fair, including in situations where the lack of a cc might be disadvantageous to the opposition, but I consider it far more important (particularly at club level) to focus on a enjoyable and friendly atmosphere with some rules fairly relaxed to ensure that players return each week (that's not to say that calling the director should be discouraged, in fact the opposite would be desirable, but instead that the TD should take a reasonably generous view to less experienced players and partnerships when they are called).

  • Absolutely agree with the relaxed approach being suggested. Convention Cards are just one of the available means to an end (full disclosure) and not an end in themselves.
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