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Archive-name: games/bridge/style-guide
Last-modified: 1996/01/22

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
The quality of a newsgroup will benefit if its community adheres to
certain conventions in presentation and style.  In this posting we
provide some suggestions concerning contributions to
We claim no authority, but hope that contributors to r.g.b. will be able
to use these suggestions to their advantage.

This posting is not the rgb.FAQ.  Here is a quick reference to the bridge
FAQ and other online information:
  IBA & RGB FAQ site  :
  WWW Bridge Directory:
  The Laws of Bridge  :
  OKBridge info.      :
  BridgePlayer LIVE!  :
  Tournament Info.    :
  ACBL home page      :

The newsgroup news.announce.newusers regularly provides an introduction to
the general rules and etiquette of net use.  You will find there much
commonsense advice: your postings reflect upon you, compose your text
carefully, be brief, use a descriptive subject header, summarize previous
posts to which you are responding, don't quote more material than is
necessary, restrict your lines to 72-74 characters, sign your articles.
You will find there also a discussion of the disease of mushrooming
meta-discussions, suggestions about when to use private email rather than
the net, suggestions about ignoring or dealing with postings that are
deemed inappropriate, obnoxious or silly, advice about proper procedure in
quoting previous posts and private email, and much else.

It is helpful to your readers if you follow a minimal standard format
when posting a hand or a deal.  Count the cards!  List the suits in the
order S, H, D, C.  In a diagram of four hands, place South at the bottom
and rearrange the directions to make South declarer unless there is a
special reason not to.  Do not use the tab key to compose a diagram, as
the diagram may become misaligned on other people's screens and is very
likely to become misaligned if your text is quoted and indented.  If only
two hands are shown it may be better to place them side by side as West
and East, and a single hand can be specified inline.

The exact distribution of small cards is often relevant for signaling and
for communication between the hands, so please do not use xx's to
represent small cards when discussing a play problem, and in a bidding
problem use xx's only when they may truly be understood to represent the
smallest cards in the suit.  If you are posting a deal from actual play
and you've forgotten all the small cards, then it may be best to make
them up in some way so that this newsgroup has a precisely specified
problem to consider.

Here are some minor points to improve readability.  The symbol "T" for 10
is common and its use is recommended, particularly if you don't use
spaces between cards.  In the auction, use P or Pass and X or Dbl rather
than PASS and DBL.  A vertical lay-out for the suits in the North and
South hands is difficult to read, please don't use that format.  Cards
are always specified suit first and bids level first (so D2 is a card and
2D is a bid or contract).  Please capitalize the symbols AKQJT and use
lower-case "x" for the unspecified small cards.

When recapping the auction, make sure that East's bids are to the right
of West's, else readers may associate the bids with the wrong hand.  The
recommended format is to list the bids in four columns in the order
W-N-E-S.  Note all alertable bids and explain the bid in context.  Do not
explain a bid by convention name if it is not one of the standard bids or
if you play some variation that is not standard.  You can avoid confusion
by describing a bid rather than naming it.

When describing the play, take care to specify the type of defensive
carding that is being used where this information is relevant.

When you post a bidding problem, supply the method of scoring, the
vulnerability and the position of the dealer.  Do this even if you think
the information is superfluous; it seldom is, and takes up very little

When you post a play problem, again, as a matter of routine, mention the
method of scoring and the vulnerability.  It is normally right to provide
the bidding too.  Whenever possible, please give the level of the event.

When asking for a director's ruling on a particular deal, describe the
level of the event and any relevant circumstances, specify all four
hands, and describe the bidding and play completely.  (In cases involving
unauthorized information you can alternatively provide only the
authorized information and ask what are the logical options.)

Many postings on r.g.b. are in the "What went wrong?" category.  A good
original posting of that type describes a deal and bidding or play that
is, in the poster's humble opinion, reasonable and without obvious error,
but that has led to an unsatisfactory result.  The poster asks whether
some particular action is to blame or whether the result is just
unfortunate.  Deals in which the poster already recognizes that some
error has been committed normally do not provide good material for
discussion.  Please do not pose problems of which one component is
partnership misunderstanding, partnership mistrust, or flouting of
partnership agreements.  The net can't help with those problems except by
impressing upon you that partnership understanding and partnership trust
are preconditions for a good game of bridge.

Please try to research your problem a bit before asking a potentially
common question.  Good American and British sources for generic bidding
problems include Bill Root's "Commonsense Bidding", Bill Root and Richard
Pavlicek's "Modern Bridge Conventions", Alfred Sheinwold's "5 Weeks to
Winning Bridge", Dorothy Truscott's "Bid Better, Play Better", and Terence
Reese's "Learn Bridge with Reese".  These books will often give a better
and more complete description than you are likely to obtain from the net.

If you are seeking advice or help, consider requesting replies by email,
and if your question is of some general interest, be prepared to post a
summary of comments received.  If you did not announce beforehand that
you intended to summarize replies then it is proper to ask permission
before quoting from private email.  If someone does send you email, it is
polite to respond with at least a brief acknowledgement.

Before posting a reply to a problem, think it through.  Read all the
other postings in the same thread; maybe somebody else has already said
what you were going to say.  Reply only if you believe you are qualified
and have an informed opinion, and compose your answer carefully--the time
spent on doing so will save your readers much more time in the aggregate.
Remember that it is only the careful reasoning that you supply that makes
your answer of any interest to the r.g.b. readers.  If you are addressing
a bidding problem, explain why your chosen bid is superior to the likely
alternatives.  If it is a play problem, try to provide percentages.  If
it is a director's problem, state the legal basis for your ruling.
Please appreciate that a question that appears trivial to you was not
trivial to the original poster and may not be trivial to many other
readers.  Be polite, succinct and to the point.  Quote from the original
posting no more than is needed to make your answer clear; attribute your
quote properly, but never quote a signature.

It is not normally a good idea to make successive postings referring to
the same problem or issue, although a discussion may introduce a new
topic that merits a second contribution.  If you decide you've not made
yourself clear in your first contribution, resolve to do better when you
comment on another problem.  If you decide that your original answer to a
problem was wrong and meanwhile someone else has posted a better answer,
don't feel that you now must post a correction to your previous answer.
Perhaps you should not have replied in the first place, and anyway, the
correction has already appeared.  Forget about it and resolve to do
better the next time.  If you've posted an answer to a problem and you
read a subsequent answer by someone else that you think is wrong, don't
reiterate what you've said before.  You've made your point and the
readers can make up their own mind.

If you see a posting that is plainly wrong or silly, wait a day or two
before following up.  If you can't stand to wait, send email to the
author rather than a follow-up.  Chances are other people have noticed
too and an excessive number of follow-ups are already on the way.  If you
see a posting that is rude or inappropriate, an email message should be
preferred to replying over the net; replying by follow-up on the net
tends to generate flame wars instead of discussion.  If you post a hand
on this newsgroup you should be willing to accept that some players will
strongly disagree with your bidding or play.  Please understand that the
nature of a public electronic network does not allow you the same degree
of social control that you may have in your local bridge club; for that
very practical reason you should try hard not to let a style of posting
of which you disapprove interfere with your enjoyment of this newsgroup.

Articles in should normally receive worldwide
distribution, so if your posting software inserts some restrictive
"Distribution: ..." line, please remove it.  And in consideration of your
worldwide audience, please avoid bridge slang: "a hook", "to tap", or
"red on white" may not be as clear to everyone as "a finesse", "force to
ruff", or "vuln vs. not".

The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is maintained by
Markus Buchhorn ( and is regularly posted to
the newsgroup.  The FAQ and related archive material, including a variety
of Bridge software, is available by anonymous ftp on in
the directory /pub/Bridge/FAQ, or if you have access to a Web browser
point it at

The OKBridge program allows people to play and watch bridge over the
Internet.  For information send mail to or point your
Web browser at  Please don't post hands
from OKBridge until the end of the week in which you encountered the
hand; the same hand may be played by many other r.g.b. readers.

Thanks to Bharat Rao, David DesJardins, Doug Newlands, Paul Jackson, Mark
Brader, Hans van Staveren, Brian Clausing, Geoff Hopcraft, Franco
Baseggio, David Grabiner and Jim Loy for their contributions to this style

    Bas Braams (address for follow-up email)
    Steve Willner
    Ted Ying

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM