Bridge Scene: Learning the ‘alert’ procedure

The “alert” procedure in duplicate bridge has its shortcomings, but the object of the system is for both pairs at the table to have equal access to all information contained in the auction.

The alert is intended to notify the opponents; it says,” wake up and hear this,” we are playing something unusual and we want you to know what our bid or bids mean. Partnerships with very unusual systems should alert before playing the game and the opponents at this time can ask how best to defend against their system.

There are pre-alerts, alerts, announcements and delayed alerts and you need to know when each should be used; for according to law 40B, in the Laws of Duplicate Bridge, concealed partnership agreements are prohibited. The bidding side must give a full explanation of the agreement, not just the name of the convention used. The player must satisfy the opponent’s question with an explanation that fully discloses the meaning of the call, and this explanation must be given and received in a spirit of friendly communications.

Players sometimes fail to alert, or alert and do not have a fully rounded explanation of their call to pass onto the opponents. In these cases the director may be called, but adjustments for violations are not automatic. An adjustment will be made only when misinformation was a direct cause of damage and only when the opponents truly did not know what the call meant and are objecting to get an advantage.

Under the new rules for alerts, the player must make an announcement, after a natural one notrump bid stating the range or value of the call. Announce after a one diamond or one heart transfer response at any level, announce to any level natural notrump opening, overcall or rebid. Announce when your one notrump response is forcing or non-forcing, and alert if it means something else. After a one diamond or one club call announce “may be short.”

If partner fails to announce or alert a call a player may not make any indication of the error during the auction. The auction must continue with the player bidding but not making any allowances for partner’s error. When the auction is over and before the lead comes down, the offending side must call the director and correct any wrong explanations or announcements or alerts that were omitted.

Boca Raton Silver Sectional is Sept. 14-16 at the Inn at Ocean Breeze in Boca Raton, Fla. Call Dean at (561) 338-2995 for further details.

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