The Scottish Bridge Union will follow the guidelines laid down by the European Bridge League in this area. The key elements of any disciplinary process are:

  • The subject of the complaint shall be made fully aware of the nature of the complaint against him and any supporting evidence.
  • A case shall be investigated in a professional manner by an Officer of the Union, charged and empowered with that duty by the Union’s Constitution
  • A case shall be heard before an Independent Panel constituted and authorised under the Union’s Constitution
  • All cases shall be heard in an open and timely manner.

Correct procedure in the event of a complaint

  1. A complaint about unacceptable behaviour must be addressed, in the first instance, to the appropriate body – generally the sponsoring organisation. Thus, bad behaviour in a club tournament is referred to the club committee; in a District tournament to the District Committee; in an SBU event, to the tournament convener.  Complaints made at an event will normally be dealt with on the spot by a Tournament Director, or the Convener of the event.
  2. Complaints received after the event will not be entertained unless the sponsoring organisation was informed at the time that a formal complaint would be made. All formal complaints must be in writing. If they are addressed to the ‘wrong’ person they will be acknowledged, and forwarded to the appropriate body.
  3. On receipt of such complaint the sponsoring organisation may decide that it is without merit, in which case it will inform the complainant immediately. If dissatisfied the complainant may take the matter to the next higher level in the hierarchy.
  4. Should the sponsoring organisation accept that the complaint may have merit, their first step is to inform the subject of the complaint.  Where the Laws and Ethics Committee decides, at its absolute discretion, that to inform the subject of the complaint would prejudice the gathering of evidence relevant to the complaint, it may undertake such investigation as it considers appropriate before informing the subject of the complaint. However, the Laws and Ethics Committee must inform and invite comments from the subject of the complaint before considering whether or not to charge him with an offence.
  5. If the subject of the complaint admits the offence a decision as to further action may be taken at this point. The player may appeal against the severity of his punishment.
  6. If the player denies the offence an official must be appointed to make a thorough investigation of the complaint and the circumstances surrounding it. When he is satisfied that his investigation is complete he will report to the committee, who will appoint an Independent Panel to hear the case. The subject of the complaint may attend the hearing if he wishes, but is not compelled to do so. He must be given complete access to all the evidence, and may bring a friend or adviser to help him present his case.
  7. The Independent Panel shall consist of unbiased, respected members of the bridge community with no previous knowledge of or involvement in the case.
  8. The decision of an Independent Panel is final. A player may appeal to a higher body only if the correct procedures have not been followed.

Offences which may be subject to Penalty


The advice which follows is meant as guidance not as regulation. The suggested penalties may be adjusted for either mitigating or aggravating circumstances, which should be explained to the players at the time. The objective is to increase consistency of application, so that players cannot complain that they were penalised when, in identical circumstances, other players were not.

  • Disciplinary penalties (DPs) increase for additional offences during the same tournament. A congress with multiple different events/sessions is considered to be one tournament for this purpose.
  • Procedural penalties (PPs) generally do not increase in the same manner.
  • PPs are given to a pair or team (or a person in an individual event).
  • DPs may be given to an individual, a pair, or a team. If given to a pair or a team it may be applied to one member or more than one. If given to one member of a pair then 1 x DP; if given to both pair members then 2 x DP

When a warning is given it should be made explicit what the consequence of another offence will be: another warning or a penalty. Most penalties are only given after an initial warning, although some serious offences are subject to immediate penalty


W Warning
W / YC If action is low level and due to inadvertent or careless behaviour, W; otherwise, YC
YC Yellow Card (Official Warning)
PP Procedural Penalty
S Suspension for rest of session or part thereof
DQ Disqualification (Convenor’s decision)


All sanctions of YC or higher will also be reported to Law & Ethics who may instigate further action in the case of repeat offenders.


PP 1 x Standard Amount
DP 2 x Standard Amount
DP+ 5 x Standard Amount


Method of scoring Standard Amount
Matchpoints 10% of top
Teams-of-four 3 imps
Teams-of-eight 4 imps
Aggregate 120 points
Point-a-board 0.5 point (assuming 2 points for a win)
Cross-imps 2 imps per comparison
Butler Scoring 2 imps
Victory Points 0.5 VP in matches of 5 boards or more. 1 VP in matches of 4 boards or fewer



Players may appeal for a review of a procedural or discipline penalty imposed by a TD.

An Appeals Committee may award, rescind or vary a procedural penalty, but may not overturn the decision of the TD/DIC on exercise of his Law 91 disciplinary powers, though it may request him to reconsider his ruling.

If there is unacceptable behaviour during the appeal itself, the AC has all the rights of a TD so may apply disciplinary penalties if it is considered appropriate.


1. Interfering with the Smooth Running of an Event

Actions such as, but not limited to, the following: -

Action First Offence Second Offence More
Not scoring a board (written traveller/electronic scorer) W W PP
Not completing the session in the electronic scorer W W PP
Incorrectly scoring or agreeing scores None W PP
Late arrival See Competition Handbook
Slow play See Competition Handbook
Misboarding: passing on the wrong 13 cards PP PP PP
Misboarding: passing on a hand without 13 cards W PP PP
Not arrow-switching None None None
Causing a board to be unplayable (sitting at the wrong table/wrong way W PP PP
Not handing in Swiss Teams results / not agreeing scores W W PP
Leaving the table unnecessarily, repeatedly W W PP
Refusing to play a board/complete a round DP DQ n/a
Leaving the event early without good cause) PP    



The Conditions of Contest (CoC) for an event may specify different penalties in which case the CoC take precedence.


2. Infractions of the Laws of Bridge or Breaches of Regulations

Generally the TD will deal with such instances by applying the appropriate Law or Regulation.

Where the Laws/Regulations give the option of also applying a PP, the TD will take into account the status of the event and the experience of the players involved

Otherwise, penalties are usually only applied in the case of repeat offences, following a warning.

Action First Offence Second Offence More
Incomplete disclosure of methods W PP PP
Failing to alert an alertable call W W PP
Incomplete convention card W PP DP
Playing an illegal agreement W PP DP
Not observing the STOP regulation W W PP
Fielding a psyche PP PP PP
Making gratuitous or misleading remarks during the play of the hand W PP DP
Not shuffling before replacing cards in the board None W PP
Not calling the TD once an irregularity is pointed out/making up your own ruling W PP DP


3. Unacceptable Behaviour

Law 74 and the SBU guidelines on Better Behaviour define the expected standards of Conduct & Etiquette.

If a player’s conduct falls below these standards the TD may issue an official warning, impose a DP (either twice or five times the standard amount) or may suspend an offender for the current session or part thereof.

In extreme cases the offender may be disqualified from the rest of the tournament (Convenor decision).

These offences need careful discretion from the TD because it is often not the words used that offend but the manner in which they are spoken.

In many cases the TD may consider both pairs at the table at fault and may penalise both, not necessarily by the same amount. TDs should be wary of giving a larger penalty to one pair “because they started it” as the actual initiator may not be obvious; things often escalate from what may have been intended to be an innocent or humorous remark.

It is easy to commit many of these offences at the same time. This would usually be treated as one offence, the most serious. This list cannot be exhaustive and the closest category should be used

It should be extremely rare for a first offence of any kind to merit immediate suspension. When given a warning or penalty for a first offence, the TD should make it clear that a subsequent offence will lead to a more severe penalty. Some penalties are only given after an initial warning, although some serious offences are subject to immediate penalty.

Action First Offence Second Offence More
Ignoring opponents through long post mortem / not starting the next board; time-wasting during deals (and other low level issues) W YC DP
Arriving late at the table for no good reason; time wasting between hands W YC DP
Negative comments to opponents, partner or TD W/YC DP DP+
Arguing with the TD W/YC DP DP+
Loud & and aggressive behaviour; bullying; intimidation DP DP+ S/DQ
Being grossly offensive to the TD, partner, opponents, or a member of an appeals committee DP DP+ S/DQ
Throwing cards/scorecard/pen etc across the table DP DP+ S/DQ
Violence or other physical intimidation of any form S/DQ


4. Other Unacceptable Behaviour such as: -

Failure to pay expenses incurred at the venue, damaging property or premises, rudeness to staff, drunkenness, violence or other serious misdemeanours away from the playing area should be reported to an official. The official will request a formal complaint addressed to the Secretary of the Scottish Bridge Union so that the disciplinary procedures may be set in motion.

5. Deliberate Cheating

A very serious accusation. An official may report his suspicions to L&E who will carry out an investigation. To this end they may appoint observers to gather evidence over any period of time. Should they consider the accusations to be substantiated they will set disciplinary proceedings in motion.

Revised, August 2013

Source: SBU Disciplinary Procedure (August 2013)

SBU Disciplinary Procedure - Incident Report form