10 things you did not know about Bidding boxes
by Jeremy Dhondy

10 things to know about Bidding Boxes

1. Law or regulation?

The rules covering the use of these are regulations issued by the EBU. They may vary slightly from country to country. No club is obliged to use bidding boxes if it doesn't want to. There are some slightly different regulations when screens are in use.

2. When is a call considered to be made?

A call is considered to have been made when it has been removed from the bidding box with apparent intent (but the director may apply Law 25). Law 25 is about intended and unintended calls. In essence if you pull out 2D but because the cards stick together 2H comes out then you would be allowed to change. If you, on the other hand, pull out 2H and want to change your mind to bid 3C because you think it a better description of your hand you won't be allowed to.

The test to change is:

  1. You have taken the card out of the box in error
  2. You attempt to change it instantly when you realise

3. How will the director decide whether you changed your mind or not?

He may look at your hand and may also ask you, probably away from the table to avoid giving information to others.

4. Suppose my bid is in the air and has not touched the table?

Irrelevant. See answer 2 above

5. Don't let your fingers do the thinking?

It is sometimes hard but much better to make up your mind before going to the box. If you go to the bit which includes double and pass and then change and make a bid partner will be in receipt of Unauthorised Information and an adjustment for this is possible under Law 16.

6. How should the bids be arranged?

Starting with the dealer, players place their calls on the table in front of them, from the left and neatly overlapping, so that all calls are visible and faced towards partner.

7. What about the alert card?

You must use it if your partner makes an alertable bid. If there is an argument later about whether you did or did not alert, then the regulation says it is your duty to ensure your opponents see the bid. For this reason it is better to play the card ostentatiously rather than flicking it or saying "alert".

8. Stop Cards

If you make ANY jump bid you should use your stop card. (“Should” in bridge law and regulation means if you don’t, you will probably be warned the first time. “Must” is a stronger word and usually results in a penalty if the regulation is breached.) You should display the STOP card for about ten seconds. The next player MUST pause for the requisite time and must not show indifference. Some players will tell you that stop cards are a waste of time. However, it may be helpful to clarify why the procedure was introduced. Bidders should generally make their bids in reasonably even tempo as, in many situations, long thought before a call will convey additional information to the “pauser’s” partner. One situation where this is a particular problem is when a player’s right hand opponent jumps the bidding. Deprived of bidding space, the player may have to consider the bidding plan afresh. If a player does not pause as required, it is highly probable that unauthorised information will have been conveyed. A quick pass may say “I’m weak”, or a quick bid “I’ve got a clearcut bid, partner”. Additionally and most importantly, an obvious show of disinterest during the pause is totally inappropriate, as it conveys the same “I’m weak, partner” message as a quick pass.

9. So what if the player does not show his stop card when making a jump bid? Am I off the hook?

No. You should pause as if it had been played correctly. If you don’t do so and there is a problem, the director may rebuke the player who did not play the card at the right time but may still think your partner is in receipt of unauthorised information and make an adjustment if damage has been caused by your actions.

10. How long should the bidding cards remain on the table?

Until the auction has ended and the opening lead has been faced and all explanations have been obtained.

If an opponent puts them away prematurely, you can ask him to display them, sigh heavily or both as you choose!