The great majority of duplicate bridge players play the game honestly, ethically and politely. But when occasionally you find situations where this is not the case, what should you do?

Many times, an infraction is so clear-cut that it can be quickly rectified by a director ruling at the table. Conduct clearly outside the boundaries of the ACBL's Zero Tolerance policy is an example.

There are many situations, however, where a director call might not be appropriate. Perhaps the rude conduct is subtle. Perhaps the suspicious conduct isn't clearly demonstrable. Or perhaps the player who is offended or suspicious just doesn't feel comfortable with an open discussion at the table or feels the offending opponent might not feel comfortable with a director call.

Here are some examples:

1. Subtle low-level, but repeated, rudeness;

2. Repeated, unwanted lessons for partner or opponents;

3. Stronger players intimidating the opponents (consciously
or unconsciously) by glaring at them after a call or a play,
making a claim without stating a line of play or showing
their cards, or turning over a played card so rapidly the
opponent doesn't get a good look at it;

4. Weaker or beginning players unintentionally telegraphing
their holdings to their partners by hesitating before bidding
or playing a card or by touching more than one card in the
bidding box before making their selection;

5. Any player frequently making unusual but successful bids
or plays, especially if they walk about the room often
between rounds or seem to overhear information discussed
at neighboring tables;

6. Any player who changes a score after the opponent approves it;

7. Stronger players playing with clients or weaker partners
who seem to coach the weaker player with body language
or who play most of the No Trump and major suit
contracts, which might appear to be violating the ACBL
rule of both players using the same convention card;

8. A player routinely fielding his partner's frequent psyches.

Here's what you SHOULD NOT do in the situations above. Don't talk about the real or suspected infractions with your friends or other players. This can be equivalent to character assassination by gossip. Things are not always what they seem. After all, expert players can figure out when to drop singleton offside Kings from the auction and the opponents' play. There are occasions where a defender can very legitimately stop to count out a hand before playing to a card led.

The thing to do in these situations is to document your concerns in writing to the Unit or District Recorder. You do this by filling out a Player Memo reporting form which you get from the tournament or club director. The Recorder will accumulate such complaints and concerns and investigate them confidentially as appropriate. The confidentiality applies to both the individual being investigated and those who initiated the reports.

If the Recorder determines an individual's actions aren't intentional cheating and that the individual would benefit from counseling and/or education to help him modify his behavior, the Recorder will initiate a confidential discussion with the subject. All the examples above except 5 and 6 are situations in which the Recorder will probably respond this way.The Recorder has no disciplinary authority. He will file a complaint with the appropriate disciplinary body if his investigation warrants.

The Recorder will refer matters that could involve major ethical breaches to the ACBL Recorder for evaluation prior to the start of an investigation.

Jess Stuart is the District 4 Recorder, he can be reached at

If you want to file a Player Memo at a club or a tournament outside your unit, just ask the director for a form and the director will help you get the completed one to the appropriate Recorder. Each Unit within the District has its own Recorder. Since, as noted above, most bridge players are routinely honest, ethical and polite, filing a Player Memo through the Recorder should be an infrequent event but, where warranted, it can be very helpful in keeping our game fun and fair for all of us.



The aim of the recorder system is to establish a method of dealing with complaints that: 1) by themselves do not warrant the filing of formal charges; 2) are very serious but there is only the implication of wrongdoing without substantial evidence necessary to bring formal charges or 3) are a request to have the subject's behavior modified by counseling and/or education.


Receives, investigates and evaluates Player Memos.

Educates reporters and subjects about proper behavior and ethics in accordance with the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge and the ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations.

Communicates, as appropriate, with those involved with a reported incident, especially the reporter and subject.

Makes or assists with an impartial presentation of evidence to a disciplinary committee during the prosecution of the complaint


A recorder has no disciplinary authority and MUST not give any indication to the contrary.

A recorder may file a complaint with an appropriate disciplinary body against a subject as a means to resolve player memo or memos. A recorder may choose to inform a subject that a complaint may be filed in the future should the undesirable behavior continue. In either case, the recorder must ensure that the authority of the office is not abused.

A recorder should handle all allegations of cheating or unethical behavior at games and tournaments within the District. At clubs within the Unit, the Club Owners and/or Directors handle complaints of rudeness and other inappropriate behavior.


The recorder should be available for any tournament sponsored by the appointing body. If not available, the recorder is responsible to nominate a qualified assistant to perform all recorder functions. While acting as assistant recorder at a tournament, the appointed person is subject to all limitations imposed on the recorder. If no recorder is present, the Director-in-Charge (not an assistant) will act as an on-site recorder. The DIC is responsible for sending any and all player memos to the organization’s recorder.