1997 Laws - Technical
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1997 Laws - Technical

by David Stevenson


Gopher Editor's note:

Before reading this article, I advise you to read the article 1997 Laws - Basic.

These are the changes that are technical ones in my opinion. All other changes, apart from changes that merely clean up the wording or are trivial, are in 1997 Laws General.


Definition of Convention
A call that, by partnership agreement, conveys a meaning other than willingness to play in the denomination named (or in the last denomination named), or highcard strength or length (three cards or more) there. However, an agreement as to overall strength does not make a call a convention.

The definition of Convention is strange: it seems to define a natural call as one willing to play there or showing length [at least three cards] or strength in the denomination [even though it does not use the word "natural"], then define a convention as any other call. At first sight it seems that sponsoring organisations will not be allowed to regulate an opening bid of 1S that shows the ace of spades since this is not conventional!

The definition of session, which has been discussed extensively in the bridge-laws mailing list, has become a number of boards, specified by the sponsoring organisation, which probably solves the problems we discussed.

Shuffling and dealing has changed somewhat: nothing that really matters, unless you count the fact that dealing clockwise becomes "recommended" [L6].

There was a section, namely L11B, which never quite did what was intended, since it said that any call or play by the other side meant no penalty could be imposed. It was regularly ignored, because there are many situations where it clearly could not apply. This section has been deleted.

In L13, where the bidding has started with the wrong number of cards the TD will be empowered to let it continue in cases where it clearly does not matter to do so.

One change is that where UI is concerned partner may not choose among logical alternatives one that could "demonstrably" have been suggested over another: previously the word "reasonably" was used. It will be interesting to see what differences of interpretation will come because of this: not everyone thinks it makes any difference.

L17D dealt with playing with the cards from the wrong board. It is still in the wrong place [it has nothing to do with the rest of L17] but a totally confusing Law has been cleaned up and made easier for the TD.

L18E is a new one that appears to legalise bidding boxes [and written bidding] for bids, but not for passes or doubles or redoubles! Actually, it is just in the wrong place, and it is a technical Law only.

The infamous L23B [Damaging Pass at Partner's Turn] has disappeared. While L23A [Damaging Enforced Pass] is still there, both of these are really covered by the new L72B1 discussed in 1997 Laws [General].

L40E2 now has a footnote allowing defences to unusual methods to be referred to at the table: this legalises what is happening when HUMs are played.

L50 now makes it clear that a Major Penalty card is unauthorised information for partner, except for the fact that partner has to play it.

A face-up opening lead out of turn is treated as the lead even if there is a face-down one in turn [L54].

The revoke Law for trick 12 sometimes gave declarer a lucky advantage: this has now been taken away [L62D2].

L70E disallows finesses and so on after claims, but there is a new bit allowing finesses if the play would be irrational otherwise.

L73 has a few small but significant changes: the list of ways partner can give unauthorised information in L73C is not exhaustive: this is made clear. L73D1 accepts that variations in tempo do occur. L73E adds the words "or experience" after concealed partnership understanding to disallow deception based thereon. L73F2 no longer refers to a "deceptive" remark or whatever, but a remark for which there is no demonstrable bridge reason. These technical differences probably make this Law easier to apply.

It has even become illegal to address a Director in a discourteous way [L74B5]: sorry fellas! Breaches of Propriety have now become Violations of Procedure [L74C].

A new L80G makes the sponsoring organisation responsible for arranging appeals.

L83 gives the TD the right to refer matters to "the appropriate committee" on his own initiative.

L92 now allows for the correction period for appeals and rulings to be different from that for errors of score in L79C, and allows for penalties for appeals without merit, thus legalising things that happen now. Note L81C6 refers to the TD taking action on events within the L79C correction period not the L92 one.

L93 has a special Zonal option for different appeal methods.

The drafts of the new Law book had two Appendices, one of which is Special Conditions Pertaining to the Use of Screens, the other WBF Bidding Box Procedures for use without screens. Neither Appendix appears in the final version.

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