Poll #1: November 13, 2010

Poll: Bidding Challenge
November 13, 2010

After the first day introducing our new “Polling You” survey, the leading vote choice has a big lead with 45 percent of the total votes and is way ahead by over 50 responses. After the second place position with 26 percent, third and fourth trail with 13 and 11 percent, leaving the lowest vote-getter with a meager 5 percent.

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At the Bridge Table – True Confessions

The Beat: American Contract Bridge League Sectional Tournament, Saturday, California Bay Area

The Game: Its the start of the second session playing “A level” competitors

The Board: We’re on the second hand of the first round

The Bidding: With favorable vulnerability partner passes and RHO opens 1 Spade


P – (1S) – ?

Dealer: North
Vul: East/West



1 Spade


9 6

K J 10 9 7 6 3 2

9 3


Partner prefers day games and after breaking several hours between sessions, we’re hopeful the evening game won’t drag on with slow play.  Our opponents are pleasant Scandinavian chaps.  You know the variety – very friendly, yet after the hand is over you are left scratching your head wondering how you ended up with a bottom board.  Never underestimate any Bridge player who comes from a climate with cold weather; they have way too much time on their hands and they all play like foxes.

Holding South’s hand, it looks as though the opponents have an easy vulnerable game, perhaps a run for a small slam. Bidding some number of Hearts will likely stoke the fire for the opponents.   Probably the rest of the field will overcall 4 Hearts, with the opponents winding up in either a black suit game, slam, or perhaps a high-level Notrump contract.

My partner and I tend to “hit the ball down the center of the fairway” avoiding mastermind bids.  But for some reason on this hand, I just couldn’t resist throwing in a dreaded psych bid.  And so I plunged into the deep dark, dreaded underworld bidding 1 Notrump – in tempo, of course.

Needless to say, my LHO was perplexed to say the least.  After about 15 seconds, my partner was kindly asked our Notrump overcall range: “Yes, we play a standard 15-17 HCP range”  was the response. After pondering some more, LHO delivers the expected “balance of power” double for penalty.

At this point, the plot thickens.  My partner has several thousand masterpoints and always bids in tempo, avoid hesitations, and never inadvertently provides me unauthorized information – at least not until this hand.  You see, when you never make a psychic bid partner most likely thinks its the OPPONENT who has made a psyche or bizarre call.

And so the torture begins, partner begins to grab a pass card, then seems to be looking for the redouble card, then her hand pulls away from the bidding box – oh oh, this auction is not going to be pretty.  After some time, partner again heads for the front of the bidding box, fumbles a bit, again withdrawing and pulls… THREE NOTRUMP!

Within a few seconds my RHO who opened 1 Spade soundly pulls his double bid from the bidding box, softly placing it on the table.  The opponents are truly too kind, not calling for the director after my partner’s tortured bid (all my fault, I might add).

And so as they say, “the chickens have come home to roost” and I’m back in the hot seat.   Well, playing an occasional online Goulash Bridge game where every hand has wild distribution (only surpassed by wild players on EVERY hand in every game), I felt well prepared to recover from my dirty bid.   And so after evaluating my hand about 5-7 seconds, I placed my 4 Heart bid on the table.   As an aside, good players at this level seldom miss observing any kind of “tell” by an opponent as so I’m using my best theatrical performance to act like an android as I withdraw 4 Hearts from the bidding box in normal tempo, placing it on the table in a movement that’s not too smooth, not exhibiting an obvious “hitch” and not letting my eyes waiver from normal behavior.  So how did I do?

In similar even cadence to my RHO (East) double of partner’s 3 Notrump call, now my LHO places his red “x” double smoothly on the table.  He’s got us on the run, or so he thinks.  But wait, there’s more!  Partner tanks holding the following:


P – (1S) – 1N! – (X);
3N – (X) – 4H! – (X);

Dealer: North
Vul: East/West

A 10


7 5 3

A Q 9 7 6 5 3



9 6

K J 10 9 7 6 3 2

9 3


Yup, you guessed it – partner still believes my initial 1 Notrump call and in an attempt to save the auction bids… 5 Clubs!  Well, needless to say East no longer wastes any time doubling that contract.  Ditto here – there’s not much sense for any feeble attempts to pull off  “Oscar award-winning” theatrics and so my 5 Heart bid hits the table in the same cadence and enthusiasm as RHOs double.   LHO doubles and by this time partner has worked out my sorted psych, passing out the auction.

After the dust settled, we’re down a few tricks but with favorable vulnerability and opponents missing a Spade, Notrump or Diamond suit game we score very good results (not that our performance deserved it).   By the way, I agree with my partner’s disciplined pass as opposed to opening 3 Clubs in first seat with an outside suit Ace.  Outside Aces at the 2 level are fine but at the 3 level don’t seem to make sense.  If a player has an Ace and the requisite “two of top three” honors in the preempt suit, than either open at the 1 level or pass; with any kind of fit, the hand rates as a 6 or 7 Losing Trick Count holding.  In the postmortem, partner and I have had several discussions about psychic bids and when I “might” use a rapier psych bid in the future (see http://www.bridgehands.com/P/psychic_bid.htm).   In retrospect, we both agreed the errant bid did indeed have one positive attribute – after my wayward bid neither of us were a bit sleepy the rest of the evening session and we ended up just a nose out of first place in our direction.   Still, psychic bid are probably best served (or instigated) at the end of a session… if at all.

5th World University Bridge Championship – Part 3

Continuing on our review of the exciting 5th World University Bridge Championship, round three reviewed more insights into the abilities, cunning, and tournament team competition.  As play continues day after day, regardless of ones age the intensity of competition can take its toll on a player.  Okay, let’s head for the tables and kibitz a few boards. See here for Round 1 and Round 2. Board 1 started off peacefully enough with our players in a Diamond part score.  But then came boards 2-4, most in 3 Notrump contracts with dramatic results! 

See hand records here.


Board 2 – see details here

Dealer: E
Vul: N/S


10 3 2

A K 9 8

J 8 7 6 5


8 6 3

A J 7 6

Q J 10

A Q 9

A Q J 10 4

8 4

7 6 4 3

K 2


K 9 7 5

K Q 9 5

5 2

T 4 3


After West opens a minor, responder East bids 1 Spade and opener rebids 1 Notrump (with a few weak Notrump openers having a different auction).  For the Notrump rebidders, one wonders if a fair number of players do not play a checkback mechanism (New Minor Force, etc) to find a 5-3 Spade fit on this hand.  Or do you think that perhaps responder East didn’t value the hand as and invitation hand with 11 distribution points (one extra for the good 5 card spade suit)?  Well, as luck would have it, the 3 Notrump contract rolls home nicely while those in a Spade game find themselves short two tricks.  What do you suppose is going on here? Perhaps some of our cunning West players denied showing three card suit, eh?  Taking a closer look a West’s hand, with 3=4=3=3 holding, the shapeless hand has no ruffing values.  And with the soft Diamond Q-J-10 holding those slow trick suggest, if not beg, a Notrump game.  So those in 3 Notrump game picked up  close to 10 IMPs.  And one of the North/South teams – best to remain nameless, figured vulnerability must be for sissies.  While competing in part score has its time and place, the mystery pair bid-em-up to a remarkable 3 Heart contract in the South, going down four doubled for a painful 1100 points.  Ouch.

Players were asked about special habits before the game:

WANG, Jui Chinese Taipei HUNG, Chieh-Hsing Chinese Taipei
Practice with my teammates. Make sure team’s strategies before game start. The most important is unspoken consensus, we should realize teammates each other, how to defend and attack. Actually I don’t. But I am considering that a bridge game takes 2 hours and keeps high tense. I need to pay more concentration on it, so I think there has different quality of wisdom and strength between bridge and other sports.

Next, on board 3 a few pairs tripped up trying to get the beloved ninth trick in 3 Notrump.  Check out the hand and plan your play.

Board 3 – see details here

Dealer: S
Vul: E/W

K 10 8 4 2

J 9 5 4

T 9 7


A J 9 3

K 3 2

K 8 6

A J 6

6 5

A 7 6

A Q J 5

9 8 5 4

Q 7

Q 10 8

4 3 2

K 10 7 3 2

Quick tricks: 1 Spade, 2 Hearts, 4 Diamonds, 1 Club.  Clearly with East’s “body cards,” the nice Club 9-8-x-x and West’s A-J-6 this suit is the only chance for redemption.  Those who lead the Club 9 and let it ride if South does not cover, were rewarded making game.   We take solace for the few who overlooked the values of the spot cards, missing the opportunity to finesse of South’s Club 10.  Been there, own that tee-shirt.

Astute Bridge players take notice when they see one singleton, another stiff singleton often lurks in the shadows.  And so it goes for both North and South on the next hand.  Consider the auction an final contract on this misfit, or is it?

Board 4 – see details here

Dealer: W
Vul: All

K 7 6


K J 7 3

A 8 6 3 2

8 5 4 3

K 10 8 2

Q 8 4

J 5

A 10 9 2

9 3

6 2

K Q T 7 4


A Q 7 6 5 4

A 10 9 4


Most competitive duplicate players open 11 HCP hands with a singleton and that’s about the worth on North’s holding.  Thoughtful players always consider their rebid before slapping down a bid – here with 3=1=4=5 shape and a minimum hand, the thinking North’s open 1 Diamond planning to rebid 2 Clubs (avoiding the 2D reverse or 1C-2C rebid problem).  So after 1D – 1H; 2C – ? what should South bid next:

2S – Fourth Suit Forcing, artificial?
3H – Ostensibly invitational for most, with 13 HCP plus distribution seemingly a underbid?
3N – Thrusting into game, hiding two extra Hearts held by South?
4H – Hoping partner has some Heart support?

Temporizing with a 2S (artificial Fourth Suit Forcing) call seems like the best place to start.  If so, North will  probably bid 3C to show the extra Club and lacking three card Heart support.  That that point our field of Souths could no longer procrastinate had to choose between a Heart and Notrump game.  Nine of fourteen chose 3 Notrump, the other 5 in 4 Hearts.  For either contract, a Spade was frequently led – only a few found the setting high Club lead when North played a Notrump game (although four were able to set Notrump with a Spade lead).  Back to the bidding, assuming South’s artificial 2S call is game forcing then a rebid of 3H would show 6 Hearts.  In this situation, should North bid 3N or 4H?  With a singleton honor ranking of Jack, 4H by North seems a reasonable call – holding primary honors (Aces/Kings) and a worthy honor, partner South should have a reasonable play for a Heart game.  Unfortunately, two of our five team struggled with declarer play here.  What happened?  Apparently some of declarer South’s both mis-guessed the two-way Diamond Queen finesse and needlessly lost a second Heart to go down one.   At times Bridge can be exciting, other times a lonely moment suggesting time for reflection.  And that pretty much sums up the energy of an International team game, right?

After the bell was called on round 3, the top team rankings were:

Chinese Taipei B – 62
Poland – 62
USA A – 56
France – 56
Germany A – 54

REALLY? Get ready for the latest catch phrase/buzzword…

Over the years we’ve seen lots of TV commercials and movies with  quotes, buzzwords and catchy phrases that have enter our culture.  For better or worse, some of these enter the Bridge table. albeit tongue in cheek, just for fun/humor, delight, befuddlement or aghast).  Remember these?
– I’ll be back
– May the force be with you
– Go ahead, make my day

Could this be the latest one we hear at the Bridge tables?

Someone makes a peculiar bid:  really?

Partner exposes the dummy:  Really?

The opponents announce the resulting score of 1000+:  REALLY???

A player interrupts Bridge play to take a mobile call: $%^&***REALLY***%#@!

Happy Bridging – Really! (wink)

Photographs: Duplicate Bridge Players at Tournaments

Competitive duplicate Bridge is a game of intense concentration.  In many pair games, over a 200 minute session players only spend 15 minutes with each pair of opponents.   An unfortunate consequence is that all too often Bridge players do not have an opportunity to meet and get to know their opponents at the table.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone out there who attends a lot of tournaments took pictures of many of the players?  Wouldn’t it be great if those pictures were posted on the Internet?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if those pictures included the names of the players so we could get address them by name in the future?

Well folks, we have an angel out there among us!  ACBL Director Jonathan Steinberg has been uploading dozens of Bridge player photos at tourneys he attends.  The pictures are nicely organized by tournament, complete with thumbnail pix along with the names of the Bridge players (easier said than done).   Check out Jonathan’s photo gallery to see some familiar faces and enjoy putting some names to Bridge players that you’d like to know on a first name basis

Here’s a link to Jonathan’s photo gallery of duplicate Bridge tournament players

Looking at his personal website, here you can see a picture of the man behind the camera

Well done, Jonathan!