What should dummy do during the play?

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A famous English bridge player reputedly said that the best place for dummy was away from the table buying the next round of teas and coffees.

By David Stevenson
On 7 October, 2012 At 17:14

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for Mr Bridge

What  should dummy do during the play? A famous English bridge player reputedly said that the best place for dummy was away from the table buying the next round of teas and coffees. While no doubt he was joking, there is an element of truth in what he said, because dummies love to get involved. They act like 0 nursemaid to partner, worrying on his behalf. Sadly, many of the things dummies do are illegal. When the dummy has only winners left, some dummies feel the urge to say, ‘They are all good.’ This is illegal: suppose partner had not realised. That is suggesting 0 play to partner: the defenders should call the director immediately. 

The most common foiling of dummies, which happens all the time in clubs and lesser events, is to tell declarer he has led from the wrong hand. Sometimes declarer names a cord, for example ‘Ace of clubs’, at which point dummy says, ‘You are in your hand,’ then declarer says, ‘Oh, sorry,’ and leads from the other hand. This is illegal for two different reasons. First, dummy must never draw attention to an irregularity before anyone else, so, once declarer has led (and calling for the card is leading it), dummy should stay quiet. Second, the defenders must be given the option of accepting the lead from the wrong hand -and they never are.

Some people dispute this, saying, ‘Surely dummy is allowed to worn partner he is leading from the wrong hand’ True, he can warn partner, but only if he manages to do so before it happens. Once the card is played, it is too late -and once a card is called for from dummy, it is too late.

Thus, dummy can stop his partner if he is starting to call a card, or is removing a card from hand. What else dummies do wrong? One of the most annoying habits is to play a different card when declarer asks for a card and there are equals. If dummy has A-K-Q and declarer says, ‘queen,’ dummy must play the queen. It breaks people’s concentration if dummy plays the ace and it is rude as well. Similarly, dummies who reach for small cards unasked, or even for a trump when they think declarer is ruffing in the dummy, are a menace. If declarer says, ‘Play anything’, that is a choice for the defenders to make, not dummy.

What else is dummy allowed to do? When declarer has shown out of hearts, he may say, ‘No hearts, partner?’ In effect, he is warning him against establishing the revoke. He can also tell declarer he has put a trick the wrong way, but only before the start of the next trick. In addition, if one of the other three draw attention to an irregularity, dummy can (and should) call for the director. If the director wants to know something, he might ask dummy questions: of course, dummy can answer. When the play is over, dummy can call attention to an irregularity, but only then, so if he realises someone has led from the wrong hand or revoked, he con point it out then. He can also point things out about claims that have occurred since play ceases.

The above is about the limit of what dummy can do. Put the dummy down, keep quiet, worn partner against doing things, check partner has not revoked, tell him he has a trick the wrong way, point things out at the end of the hand and nothing more.

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