Better Behaviour

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Many players are intimidated by aggressive questioning.

Inexperienced players are particularly vulnerable: they may not understand the question, or know what kind of answer is expected.

As with most situations in life, there are good ways and not so good ways to go about this...

You are entitled to know your opponents’ partnership agreements:

During the auction and before the final call, any player may request, but only at his own turn to call, an explanation of the opponents’ prior auction. He is entitled to know about:

  • Calls actually made,.
  • About relevant alternative calls available that were not made.
  • About relevant inferences from the choice of action where there are matters of partnership understanding.

After the final pass and throughout the play period, either defender at his own turn to play may request an explanation of the opposing auction.

At his turn to play from his hand or dummy, declarer may request an explanation of a defender’s call or card play understandings.

Law 20F: Explanation of calls

Such questions are answered by the partner of the player who made the call or play, as fully and helpfully as possible.

What is important is the manner in which the question is posed:


  • Adopt a ‘Bad Cop’ line of questioning.
  • Put words into opponent’s mouth:  “Is that Drury?”
  • Repeat the same question in a louder voice.
  • Insist on an explanation when told ‘we have no agreement’.
  • Ask ‘what are you taking this as?’


  • Remain polite at all times
  • Ask clearly: if your original question is met with a blank expression try to clarify.
  • Make sure you have fully understood the reply to your question: follow up if necessary.

Be Nice!

It really doesn't hurt. Try it on for size next time.

Not being nice does not impress experienced players and discourages less experienced players.