Rule of Anticipation - Taking a
pragmatic assessment for offsetting values of other players’ strength and
length to compensate for one’s own holding. So if a player has
a long suit or a strong hand, the player should initially expect that
partner generally will not have length or strength. Conversely, when a
player has a very poor hand, optimistically the partner may have a good hand
or length in a short suit (possibly being bid by an opponent on a good day).
Using the Rule of Anticipation isn't meant to portray dismal pessimism
perspective. Rather the concept is meant to provide the player a more
pragmatic view of
the aggregate ecosystem around the table.
The Rule of Anticipation is dynamic - as players bid or pass, the view of
the ecosystem should be updated based on deductions and inferences.
When Left Hand Opponent opens the bidding and Right Hand Opponent (RHO)
raises, they likely have the balance of power. This is especially
true when the RHO makes a 2 level bid in a new suit, typically showing 10+
points. On such auctions, the contract probably belongs to the
opposition. So the more points the advancer holds (in the 4th seat),
the fewer partner will hold. Thus, without a wildly distributional
hand, it makes little sense to enter the auction. Trying to compete
with normal competitive calls is futile - even worse, it effectively
announces to the opponents, "Finesse me, I have the honors over here!"
In fourth seat, many players use "The
Rule of 15", often passing without the requisite Spade holding.
However as the late Bridge professional Rixi Markus noted, holding a singleton or void in Spades
may actually provide exceptional opening values. Why open up a potential
"can of worms" when the competition has most of the Spades? Rixi aptly
pointed out that partner quite likely also has a long Spade suit, a real
surprise if the opponent's win the auction in Spades.
When the bidding goes: P - (1N) - P - ?, holding 0=4=4=4 or a similar
short suit holding, anticipate Left Hand Opponent will likely show a
preference for Spades. If the Spade deficient hand has no points, the
Rule of Anticipation predicts the opponents will like invite or bid game based on the
defender's holding. As noted above, 1 Notrump opening partner may have
a surprise for the opposition.
When shortness is known based on bidding, viewing dummy and play, often
another player also has a short suit - approximately 75 percent of time one
of the four hands dealt will have a singleton or void (see
Miscellaneous Probabilities). Thus, declarer should
always beware of
opponent ruffs and trump distribution.
Another useful aspect using the Rule of Anticipation is preplanning bidding
(and play) before one's actual turn. Here's a practical
application of the Rule of 15:
Make an initial
evaluation of one's assets - distribution and strength
Forecast likely bidding
scenarios by players before their actual bid - knowing probable bids
before they occur often helps a player make better informed calls in
Update the assessment
of the previous players holdings based on their calls, considering
inferences, hesitations, and the like
subsequent bids based on assets held by others, particularly when
holding long/short suits
To illustrate these steps, let's say you pick up the following hand sitting
in third seat:
J 10 9 3
Non-Vulnerable vs. Vulnerable
J 9 8 6
Other then length in the black suits with a few sequential cards, the hand
is terribly. Sitting in third seat, it's likely a prior player will
bid a red suit. Perhaps our partner will open 1 Notrump in which case
a Jacoby Transfer 2H will be forthcoming (transfer to Spades). On this
scenario, the Right Hand Opponent could conceivably interfere, in which case
it would be unwise to bid since partner may raise to 3S in a
But after partner passes, it's much more likely the Right Hand Opponent will
open the bidding in which case a smooth pass will be appropriate, not too
fast or slow but after carefully looking at one's cards even though the hand
would never warrant a bid under this situation.
However, in this scenario, the Right Hand Opponent surprisingly passes! So the aggregate holding
of both hands are 20 points or less, maybe as few as 10 points. Thus,
the Left Hand Opponent quite likely has 20 points or more! And it's highly
likely the opponents' have game somewhere, with slam a definite possibility.
Based on this revised forecast, perhaps this hand should be re-evaluated
based on the aggregate bidding scenario.
Thus, while a
bid of 1S would be a gross misrepresentation of strength, making a
preemptive 2S bid tactically would consume valuable opponent bidding
space. On a good day, partner may even hold 3-4 Spades (although red
suits are anticipated) in which case partner bidding up to 4S would
not be unreasonable - a good sacrifice based on the favorable vulnerability.