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   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.


  1. nekthen says:

    I think I would pass 5 clubs. Purely for the pleasure of putting down dummy!

  2. BridgeHands says:


    Oh my, you too have a deep dark side! I’m going to need to reflect some time on what would happen next…

    Cheers, Michael

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