[BLML] (2107) When is a Card Played (L45)

Robert Frick rfrick at rfrick.info
Fri Apr 20 02:48:02 CEST 2012


It is important, for many laws, to know exactly when a card is played. For  
example, a lead out of turn is accepted when the next player plays; a  
revoke becomes established when a player from that side plays to a trick.  
Fortunately, there seems to be relatively good consensus among players  
concerning when a card is played. Unfortunately, that consensus is broader  
than the definition in the laws (L45A) and includes most (but probably not  
all) of the events listed in L45C as merely requiring a card to be played.

Suppose a declarer or defender holds a card face up, touching or nearly  
touching the table, or maintains the card in such a position as to  
indicate that it has been played.

Most players will take that card as played. Most directors want to rule  
that it is a played card and will rule that it is a played card. But  
according to the laws, it is not a played card, it merely must be played.  
It is not place until is it put on the table.

The solution here is simple: Move this to 45A and into the description of  
a played card: "A card is played when it is held face up in the played  
position, on the table, touching the table, or nearly touching the table,  
or when it is maintained in such a position as to indicate that it has  
been played."

The definition of played card influences when rights expire. According to  
a simple straightforward reading of the 2007 laws, these rights expire  
only when the card is put in the played position according to L45A. Note  
that sometimes players will never do this, they will move the card  
straight from the must-be-played position to the turned over position.

Players and directors will also assume that a defender's card in this  
position is played (and cannot be witdrawn) even if the defender's partner  
could not possibly have seen the card. Example: My partner leaves the room  
and I place a card face up nearly touching the table. Can I withdraw it?  
The laws say yes, directors will say no.

Suppose declarer names or otherwise designates a card from dummy to be  
played. I think that again players think this is a played card and  
directors will want to rule that way with regard to the expiration of  

Same thing for declarer touching a card in dummy for purpposes of playing  

Suppose it is defender's turn to play and he places the card in a position  
such that his partner can see it. Without any guidance from L45, it  
becomes a penalty card and must be played. L45C1 just says about the same  

My guess is that most players would not consider this card played, merely  
that it must be played. I don't think directors would rule that any rights  
have expired just because this happened.

So this event should not be moved to L45A. It can be left in L45C (or of  
course eliminated as redundant).

With this change, L63A2 can be eliminated.

This seems like a simple and easy change to make. I cannot imagine you  
doing otherwise. But if you are considering something else....

One could treat the phrase "must be played" as meaning the same thing as  
"is played". But we would not want to do this for a penalty card, a forced  
pass, or I think even a defender waving a card in the air.

Similarly one could argue that if a card must be played, even though no  
deadlines expire (such as correcting a revoke), the first thing that must  
happen is the play of the card. Hence is is a functional end of the right.  
But again, we would not like this interpretation for penalty cards or  
forced passes, and I think not for a defender waving a card in the air.

Suppose it is my turn to play as defender, I put a card in the current  
must-be-played position, and my partner could not possibly see it (because  
he is completely blind or not at the table). In the current laws, my card  
is not played and I do not have to play it. One could try to fix this by a  
very loose interpretation of "could have seen" -- my partner could have  
seen it if he had normal vision or was sitting in his chair.

However, that interpretation of "could have seen" isn't appropriate for a  
dropped card.

You could also leave L45A and C the way they are and just change all of  
the expirations. This projecct has already been started for correction of  
a revoke -- it includes naming or designating a card to be played. You  
would just have to add putting a card in the played position and declaring  
touching a card in dummy for the purposes of playing it.

All of these would presumably have to be added to L44B (Subsequent Plays  
to a trick), L65B3 (arrangement of tricks), and L60 (Play after an  
Irregularity). You might also want to think again about the meaning of L58.

I cannot play until the player before me has played. This is not merely a  
requirement of the law, it is a practical issue -- if the player might  
withdraw the card, I don't want to play.

So, players have to agree on what counts as playing a card. That is why  
they have good agreement.

That means there could be regional variations. But there are none that I  
know of.

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