Laws, Regulations & Codes

All SABF and SAWBA events are governed by the Laws of Duplicate Bridge 2017 (as amended) and the various SABF Regulations and Codes which can be viewed on the SABF web site.

Always remain calm and courteous and adhere to the following rules:

  • When playing at a central venue, be there at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start of play for the first session to give plenty of time for setting up.
  • Log in and be ready at least 10 minutes before the start of play each session.
  • Greet opponents and pre-announce your basic system and carding at the start of each round.
  • Play to time. You will have about seven (7) minutes a board. Call the Director to reserve your rights if you feel you are running out of time.
  • Claim or concede whenever you can to save time but remember to state your line of play.
  • Do not make your own rulings at the table - if you need assistance, call the Director.
  • Do not refer to your own convention card or system notes during the bidding or the play of a hand.
  • You may refer to your opponents’ convention cards when available, otherwise use private chat to ask about their bidding and carding styles.
  • Alert and explain your own artificial/conventional bids. How?
    • Step 1 - type explanation in box using plain English (e.g. 4-cd fit, 8-10 pts);
    • Step 2 - click your bid.
  • Ask for an explanation or clarification by clicking on an opponent's bid and await an answer. Do not ask or answer via open table chat. Call the Director if you need assistance.
  • Log off and on again as quickly as possible if you experience computer or system issues.
  • If you think a player is experiencing connectivity/computer problems, wait a short while (but not too long) before summoning the Director.

A substitute will be allowed in cases of emergency, but Robots will not be permitted. No player or substitute may play for more than one pair. Substitutes may not be of a higher standard than the player being replaced and the Tournament Committee reserves the right to vet any proposed substitute.


It is now the norm for regional and national events that the actions of all players are to be closely monitored. Where this is required, players will play at designated regional venues or, in exceptional circumstances, and where already agreed in writing, from home but with suitable camera technology installed.

There will be one or more Monitors at each venue throughout every session. The Monitors will actively patrol the playing area and maintain video links with those players playing from home.


The Monitors will enforce the following rules:

  • Players are not permitted to consult with their own convention cards or system notes, but they may consult a printed copy of their opponents’ convention cards.
  • Only Bridge Base Online (BBO) may be open on the player’s computer. No other apps (including but not limited to email programs, Whatsapp and other messaging software) are permitted to run at the same time, nor is any other browser window or tab allowed to be active.
  • All forms of automatic notification must be switched off.
  • Cell phones must be switched off and ideally handed to the Monitor on duty. The Monitor may permit a player to retain his or her cell phone if it is switched off and remains plainly visible on the tabletop.
  • Smart watches must be switched off.
  • While each session is active players are not permitted to communicate with other players in any way other than via the BBO interface itself.
  • On the first day players must arrive at the centre at least thirty (30) minutes before the start of play.
  • Players are expected to be present and set up ready for play at least ten (10) minutes prior to the start of each session.
  • Late arrivals will be penalised as indicated below and can result in forfeiture of the match.
  • Monitors will report all late arrivals and other infractions to the Tournament Director.

Monitors are not expected to assist with technical difficulties but will do so to the best of their ability.  They are not there to do the job of the Tournament DIrector.

The Tournament Director (TD) is responsible for the smooth running of the tournaments and has absolute jurisdiction on all matters pertaining to the bidding and the play. Players must use the "Call Director" function within the online environment to summon the TD to their table as required. 

Penalties for Infractions

During the play the following IMPS penalties will apply:

  • Boards which cannot be played due to slow play:
    • Average + (or 3 IMPS at Teams) to the non-offending side
    • Average - (or -3 IMPS at Teams) to the offending side

  • Boards which cannot be played or completed due to Internet connectivity issues:
    • Average + (or 3 IMPS at Teams) to the non-offending side
    • Average (or zero IMPS) to the offending side

At Teams, the following Victory Point (VP) penalties will apply:

  • Late arrival at the venue (or at home):
    • Up to 5 minutes late - penalty of 1 VP
    • More than 5 minutes and up to 10 minutes late - penalty of 2 VPs
    • More than 10 minutes and up to 15 minutes late - penalty of 5 VPs
    • More than 15 minutes late - forfeiture of match (i.e. lose match 12 : 0)

  • Cellphone infractions when sessions are in progress:
    • First offence (no warnings) - penalty of 1 VP
    • Second offence - penalty of 2 VPs
    • Third offence - penalty of 3 VPs
    • Fourth offence - disqualification from event.

In the event of any and all possible infractions, the Tournament Director must be summoned and every effort will be made to restore equity in accordance with the Laws.

UNDOs Policy

The UNDO facility in online bridge exists to cater for an inadvertent action that is akin to a mechanical error in face-to-face bridge. This facility is a privilege, not an automatic right, and may not be available for certain events or tournaments.

In the absence of advice to the contrary, these are the standard rules relating to UNDOs:

  • During the bidding:

    • You may request – and opponents are expected to permit – an UNDO for a clear mis-click but not for a change of mind or a mistake in a conventional sequence.
    • Do not chat (type or speak) to the table what you intended to do as this will constitute Unauthorised Information (UI) and may be subject to penalties.
    • Do not write the reason for your request in the “Call Director” box as this is visible to everyone at the table and may also give rise to UI and penalties.

  • During the play:

    • The Declarer (from their own hand or dummy) may request - and should be allowed - an UNDO provided that no card has yet been played by the opponent whose turn it is to play next.
    • No defender shall be permitted an UNDO for any reason whatsoever.

Be sensible and stop the proceedings when an UNDO is requested. It is bad form to continue the bidding or the play at speed to compromise the request. Success at this game should be absed solely on ability, noyt on taking advantage of wholly unintended actions.

If there is any doubt, call the Director whose decision will be final.