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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.

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