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Howells and Arrow Switching seating

I’m interested to know, in Howell type movements, is there a protocol for the pairs playing N/S then E/W.
I know in some scoring software you have an individual assessment of your Declarer play or your defence. (So the direction is important, if it is to be correct)
As an example, in the initial setup, where I am entered as North and my partner is South; When we move, in a Howell movement, should I (North) move to the East or West seat.
Equally, in a Switched Mitchell, should the board be rotated 90deg Clockwise or Anti-clockwise.
Kind regards Steve


  • There is an answer to "Ask Robin" in a recent English Bridge, and this from the White Book

    8.5.3 Arrow-switched rounds and Howell-type movements in pairs event
    In a pairs movement, where one pairs remains at each table throughout the session, when there is an ‘arrow-switch’ round, the TD instructs that the players to occupy their usual seats but to rotate the boards, so that East plays the North cards.
    In other movements, where some moving pairs play other moving pairs (‘Howell-type’ movements), when pairs change direction, players should swap between the North and East seats or between the South and West seats.
    In both cases, these provisions match the expectations of software as to where players will play.

  • That’s great. Thank you Robin 👌
  • I always leave this up to individual pairs.
    I can't see any reason why the Director should need to designate the positions. The laws say nothing about this.


  • Bridgewebs and Pianola give statistics for each players play. If it is a one-winner pairs movement, the systems have to know where "North" sits when the pair plays EW. Both systems make the same assumptions - Bridgewebs displays this assumption "(Assuming E & N)" - the instructions in the white book match these assumptions. The TD can give these instructions (they are not contrary to the law) in order to allow the players to get more values from the online results systems.

  • If the TD gives no instructions, how can any disagreement be resolved?
  • I suppose you could have a disagreement with an arrow switch if both pairs want to be specific. I would allow the moving pair to change places.
    Personaly, I'm not too bothered by what Pianola thinks. When I Direct I often switch between East and West so that I'm more accessible to other tables.


  • " I would allow the moving pair to change places." On what would you base that? What if the sitting pair also want to play the other way?

  • I don't normally use arrow switches. But in the hundreds of times I have played them I have never known a Director specify which way North and South play. It doesn't matter.
    I have sometimes seen the moving pair swap seats for an arrow switch.


  • Thank you All, it’s good to know at least there is an established switching pattern. I think it’s reasonable to consider in Mitchell’s; by rotating the board 90deg clockwise on switched rounds (if I’ve understood this correctly). As far as Howell type movements, mostly pairs tend to have their own NSEW preference (in charge of the BridgeMate or Not), which I wouldn’t object to. I personally tend to prefer not sitting next to a radiator when playing E/W, but my wife likes to.
    Thank you also for the White Book references and BridgeWebs/Pianola assumptions.
    Kind regards Steve
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