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After the board had been assigned, but before we looked at our cards at matchpoints, my partner announced, "We're vulnerable and they're not." This was a call to bid cautiously because of the prospective scoring.

This fact was apparently available to all at the table, and the opponents could hear my partner as well as or better than I (sitting next to, rather than opposite him).

Even so, was there anything improper about my partner "advertising" the vulnerability situation?

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No, I don't believe there is anything improper here. Referring to the Laws of Duplicate Bridge (2017 revision), I observe the following.

Law 17 (The Auction Period), Part A (Auction Period Starts) reads:

The auction period on a deal begins for a side when either partner withdraws his cards from the board.

Law 73 (Communication, Tempo and Deception), Part A (Appropriate Communication between Partners), Section 1 reads:

Communication between partners during the auction and play shall be effected only by means of calls and plays, except as specifically authorized by these laws.

Since neither of you have yet pulled your cards from the board, the auction period has not yet begun and your communication is not yet limited.

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    So the key is that we hadn't yet "pulled" our cards, right? Because another partner was reprimanded and penalized for making a remark after seeing her cards.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 4:46
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    @TomAu: Yes, that is also how I interpret the Laws quoted above. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 14:47
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    @TomAu Yes, you should try to avoid anything that could have been, or could be perceived as having been, influenced by your cards, even it's not explicitly communicating a fact about your hand. For instance, if you say "There are a total of 13 diamonds in the game" during bidding, even though that's something everyone already knows, it will cause your partner to start thinking of reasons why you might have wanted to mention it. Since things you do before you see your cards can't possibly have been influenced by your cards, you have much more leeway then. Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 1:03

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