The Laws Of Auction Bridge

In 1902, some years before Auction had been heard of in the United

States, a number of the best-known clubs of New York, Philadelphia,

Boston, and other cities were represented at a meeting held in New York

for the purpose of drafting a code of Bridge Laws to be used by the

clubs of this country. The so-called "American Laws of Bridge" were

adopted, and duly published. It was then expected that they would be

universally accepted.

In a few months, however, some clubs, including several that had been

represented at the meeting, found that certain penalties of the

"American Laws" were not popular with their members. One club after

another made alterations or adopted its own code, so that the object in

calling the meeting, namely, club uniformity, was soon as far as ever

from being attained. Gradually, however, the various clubs began to

recognize that the Whist Club of New York deserved to be ranked as the

most conservative and representative card-playing organization in the

United States. They realized that it devoted its attention entirely to

card games, and included in its membership not only the most expert

players of the metropolis, but also of many other cities. It was but

natural, therefore, that the admirable Bridge Code of the Whist Club

should be accepted by one club after another, until in the end the

desideratum of the drafters of the American Laws was virtually


When, in 1909-10, Auction, with its irresistible attractions, in an

incredibly brief space of time made Bridge in this country a game of

the past, the only Auction laws available had been drafted in London by

a joint committee of the Portland and Bath Clubs. They were taken from

the rules of Bridge, which were altered only when necessary to comply

with the requirements of the new game. It is probable that the intent

of the members of the Bath-Portland Committee was merely to meet an

immediate demand, and that they expected to revise their own code as

soon as wider experience with the game demonstrated just what was


Under these circumstances, it was to be expected that the Whist Club of

New York would promulgate a code of Auction laws which would be

accepted from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The club, however, did not

act hastily, and it was not until May, 1910, that it issued its first

edition of "The Laws of Auction Bridge." This was amended in 1911, and

in 1912 subjected to a most thorough and comprehensive revision.

Until the adoption of a national code by an American congress of

Auction players, an event not likely to occur, it is doubtless for the

best interest of Auction in this country that the laws of the Whist

Club of New York be generally followed. Uniformity is most important;

otherwise, players from one city, visiting another, are sure to find

local conditions which will, temporarily at least, prove something of a


When any improvement is suggested, which, after due trial, meets with

local favor, it would seem wise that such suggestion, whether it

emanate from a club committee or an individual, be forwarded to the

Card Committee of the Whist Club of New York. It may be authoritatively

stated that all such ideas will be cordially received, thoroughly

considered, and, if approved, incorporated in the club code at its next


Appended hereto will be found "The Laws of Auction Bridge" as published

by the Whist Club of New York, November, 1912. These laws should be

carefully read, if not studied, by every devotee of the game. No matter

how familiar a player may have been with the old laws, he will find an

examination of the new to be advisable, as the changes are both

numerous and important. If it has not been his practice to keep in

touch with Auction legislation, he should realize that a close

acquaintance with the code which governs the game he is playing will

prove most beneficial.

As the laws speak for themselves, it is not necessary to explain them,

or even to point out the various alterations. The wording in many cases

has been materially changed, in order to clarify and simplify. Some

penalties that seemed too severe have been reduced, and certain

modifications have been made which appear to be in the line of modern

thought. Special attention is called to the elimination of the law

which prevented consultation as to the enforcement of a penalty, and

also of the law which provided that when a wrong penalty was claimed,

none could be enforced. The laws referring to cards exposed after the

completion of the deal, and before the beginning of the play, have been

materially changed, and the law covering insufficient and impossible

declarations has been altered and redrafted. A point worthy of special

attention is Law 52 of the Revised Code. It covers the case, which

occurs with some frequency, of a player making an insufficient bid and

correcting it before action is taken by any other player. Under the old

rule, a declaration once made could not be altered, but now when the

player corrects himself, as, for example, "Two Hearts--I mean three

Hearts"; or "Two Spades--I should say, two Royals," the proper

declaration is allowed without penalty.

The laws follow.

The Labyrinth The Lead Against A Suit Declaration facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail