ACBL District 21

Let's Play Duplicate Bridge

Bidding Boxes


ACBL Bidding Box Regulations

(courtesy of the ACBL)

Revised: 8/01




Use of Bidding Boxes

  1. Bidding boxes will be used in all events except Intermediate/Newcomer events (0-200). Their use will be optional in I/N events.
  2. Units and Districts are encouraged to use bidding boxes in their games.
  3. Handicapped players requiring bidding boxes will have preference when availability is limited.
  4. Non-handicapped players may use bidding boxes, if available, in games in which such use is not mandated as long as no player at the table objects.


Note: Any player has the right to use bidding boxes (assuming they are available) for any ACBL event in which they play, if they are needed because of a hearing impairment. As a policy, we do not question players as to the details of a handicap when they state that one exists.

When bidding boxes are in use for this reason, no player has the right to refuse to play with them. Players who have a handicap which preclude their use will have a distinctive card. The card will be displayed on the table and read, "due to a physical or visual handicap, we are not using bidding boxes."

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Choosing a Call Using Bidding Boxes

  1. A player is obligated to choose a call before touching any card in the box. Deliberation while touching the bidding box cards, removing bidding cards prior to the call being considered "made," etc., may subject the offending side to the adjustment provisions of Law 16. A call is considered made when a bidding card is removed from the bidding box and held touching or nearly touching the table or maintained in such a position to indicate that the call has been made. Until a call is considered made, the director will treat the situation as unauthorized information and apply Law 16. After a call is considered made, the director will apply Law 25.


  2. A call, once made, may be changed without penalty under the provisions of Law 25 only if a player has inadvertently taken out the wrong bidding card, and the player corrects, or attempts to correct without pause for thought, and partner has not taken action (picking up the bidding cards after the auction is over constitutes taking action).


  3. The skip-bid warning is given using bidding boxes by displaying the stop card, making a call and then replacing the stop card in the bidding box. LHO is obligated to wait 10 seconds (while giving the appearance of studying his hand) before making a call.

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The STOP Card

Players should protect their rights and the opponent's by announcing, prior to making any subsequent bid that skips one or more levels of bidding.

Place the stop card so that LHO sees it (the skip bidder is responsible for gaining LHO's attention). The skip bid is made. The stop card is replaced in the bidding box.

NOTE: If a player forgets to replace the stop card there is no penalty. It is each player's responsibility to maintain appropriate tempo including after a skip bid.

If the stop card is placed on the table and a skip bid is not made, the director may judge that the bid card was played inadvertently or not. If the judgment is that the card was played after a "slip of the mind" therefore with intent, then the situation is a Law 16 (Unauthorized Information) situation, not an insufficient bid - assuming that the player does not want to make (or did make) a purposeful correction under Law 25 B.2. An example of this situation is: 1H - 2D - (after the stop card is displayed) 2S.

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Alert Procedure

Except when screens are in use, a player must say "Alert" out loud when tapping the alert strip of the bidding box.


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Bidding Box Mechanics and Etiquette

The following is excerpts taken from an article written in the ACBL Bulletin July, 1995.

...Bidding boxes are now mandatory at all NABCs - except in the I/N events where their use is optional - and their use is spreading to regional and sectional tournaments as well as local clubs.



Here are some advantages to using them:


  1. Auctions can no longer be overheard at other tables.
  2. No extraneous information is exchanged through a remark or the tone in which a call is made.
  3. The need for reviews during the auction is virtually eliminated.
  4. Bids out of turn are rare.
  5. The noise level in the playing area is dramatically reduced.


Here are some suggestions to help you become familiar with the mechanics and etiquette of using bid boxes:


  1. Make up your mind what you going to bid before you reach into the bid box. This eliminates shuffling through the bid cards as if you were still debating which to place on the table. This gives unauthorized information that you werenžt sure about your final choice.



  2. Develop the habit of placing your thumb over the bid you select as you pull the bid card out. Look at the bid card before you place it on the table. This insures that youžve got the card you want.



  3. Place the bid cards on the table without special emphasis. "Building" your auction from left to right enables you to display and recover you bid cards most effectively. The bids should overlap so that the entire auction is visible. This includes pass, double and redouble.



  4. The red STOP card is used during the auction as a skip bid warning. As with verbal bidding, either you should always make a skip bid warning when a skip bid comes up or you should never use the warning.

    Place the stop card so that LHO sees it (the skip bidder is responsible for gaining LHOžs attention). The skip bid is made. The stop card is replaced in the bidding box.

    NOTE: LHO is entitled to 10 seconds even if the STOP card is picked up immediately.



  5. A player must say "Alert" out loud while touching the alert flag on his bidding box. When using screens, silent alerts are mandatory.



Even with practice and familiarity, accidents will happen and the "OOPS" rule applies to inadvertent calls or mechanical errors.

For example: You mean to bid 1 Spade but accidentally play the 1 Heart card on the table. The director is authorized to permit you to change your call if it was inadvertent.

In such a case, some immediate indication is necessary before partner has called. The director should be liberal in judging whether there was pause for thought.

If partner has already taken some action you now have an obligation, just as with verbal bidding, to continue bidding as though no irregularity had occurred.


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Last modified: 06/11/09