By Alex J. Coyne © January 2022
Alert! It’s not really something that comes up while you play Monopoly, Uno or Duel Monsters, but alert procedures are an important part of the bridge bidding phase.
Alert procedures are meant to call attention to specific bids you make, usually when the meaning of a convention or bid might not be clear to your opponents.
The Alert-card found in the bidding box is used to call an alert during a game, but there have been recent changes to the ACBL about how and when alerts are necessary.
These changes came into effect in 2021 and while they don’t change much to the rules, they change the frequency of when partners need to call alerts. Now, alerts can’t just be called in the dark, but each alert needs a practical reason typed together with it (or spoken if playing face to face).
Different online bridge platforms also have different ways to call an alert. Do you alert differently on BBO than on BridgeClubLive or Funbridge?
Here’s your complete guide to online bridge alert procedures and what the modern bridge player should know.
ACBL Alert Chart
If you aren’t sure when to alert or how, the first resource I’d recommend is the ACBL Alert Chart. Download it, and forward it to any other bridge players who you think might be able to use it! While the alert chart isn’t necessary, it sure is useful.
Announcements are a word or a short phrase that describes the meaning of partner’s call. Announcements are a form of Alerting, and you must still visually Alert the call. Calls that require Announcements must be immediately announced, even if the call would otherwise not be Alerted or if the Alert would be delayed.
For a full list of ACBL Alert Procedures click here →
How to Alert (from Different Online Bridge Platforms)
Online alert procedures work much the same everywhere, though there are little nuances with every online bridge platform that are worth a mention. With BBO and Funbridge, alerted bids must contain details like the suit, while platforms like PlayOK allow a simpler means of alerting for casual games.
Here’s how to alert bids for opponents from different online bridge platforms.
PlayOK keeps the alert button to the bottom-left of the virtual card table. Use the bidding tab for details, to chat with others or to review the bids and moves that have been made in the game so far.
Funbridge players can just click on the Alert button, found with the rest of their bids just like a real-life bidding box. Like BBO, Funbridge requires a combination of clicking and typing the reason for your alert. Once you are done, just enter like you normally would.
Bridge Base Online (BBO)
Bridge Base Online players will find their option as a red Alert button. Before your alert, enter an explanation for why this specific bid is being subject to an alert. For alerts, Bridge Base Online requires a little more detail than other platforms about what’s behind the click.
For BBO players, you are:
• Expected to name the applicable suit, by typing “Hearts” and not just for example the word “Transfer”.
• Expected to name the length in more detail than just “short”, such as “could be one”.
• Expected to name anything less than three cards with a length explanation, for example “2+ diamonds” over “short”.
• Expected to define more detailed or complex bid alerts with a sentence, like “could have 4 spades”.
RealBridge combines the love of face-to-face bridge together with an online, webcam-driven game. If your club plays their tournaments or regular club games through RealBridge, their alert procedure is much the same as in bridge games at any club – but with a mouse pointer.
Just click on the Alert card and then, where necessary, type an explanation for your bid.
BridgeClubLive players can find the answer to alert procedures in the player help section of the website, or at this direct link.
Even for general play, it’s a useful resource that will tell you more or less what to alert during a bridge game.
BridgeClubLive players can find the Alert button to the bottom-right of their bidding box. According to the BCL help resources, rules for players here are:
No self-alerting your own conventions.
Alert 1C Opening Bids.
Alert Game Force Bids
Alert Forced Responses