The critical point. Or not.

February 20, 2009 at 2:10 am 2 comments

A while ago I posted a couple of hands – here – which were about the ‘critical point’ – aka the suicide point…it’s that point where you THINK everything is over.

I’m reminded of an absolutely classic case of thinking the critical point of a hand is over. It was the first round of the Australian Playoff in 2005.

Round one
Board 5
Dealer South
NS Vul


Joe Haffer
S 84
H J107432
D 32
C J63


S QJ10953
H A6
D K5


H —
D QJ9864
C K942


Nick Croft
S 76
H KQ985
D A107
C 1087

One way or another I found myself in 7S by West. As you can see, it needs a bit. A 3-3 club break, 2-2 trumps, plus a diamond trick. Yeah, well, I’ve been in worse. I won the heart lead, drew two rounds of trumps, 4 rounds of clubs pitching the king of diamonds and South was a very sad little sausage. Way too sad to pop the ace of diamonds on the queen next. His sense, naturally enough, was that the critical point of the hand was over at trick one when his partner failed to begin with a diamond.

I vaguely recall writing an article about The Suicide Point in Bridge Today years ago. I’ll try to find it to reproduce it here. As I said before, this is really easy to write about, but oh-so-hard to address at the table. Still, being aware of it will be the first step. There IS a Suicide Point. Some ideas for dealing with it on Monday.


Entry filed under: defence, thoughts on bridge. Tags: , , , , .

Damned if you do…. Have you ever played real bridge?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. phil markey  |  February 21, 2009 at 2:37 am

    thats a cool hand

    i would have to see more examples though to be persuaded that critical/suicide point is the best description

    what happened is that nic (no “k” in that nic) was upset – “sad little sausage” is a bit cruel but it works for me – and because he was distratced by his feelings of upset he commited a horrible error – because i have been there i know that ducking the queen of diamonds was probably a desperate attempt to do something about his side not finding the best lead driven almost entirely by emotion not logic

    players can do the same thing without it being because they think the critical point has past – more common would be because of what happened on the previous hand

    in poker the old nomenclature for the same sort of concept was “tilt” – originally it meant chasing good money with bad – ie frustrated by your poor fortune on some hands you madly throw money at almost every hand in an attempt to get back the losses wilfully blind to the poor technical decisions you are making – in modern poker “tilt” has had its meaning expanded to mean any poor technical play driven by emotion – that new expanded definition doesnt work well for me because there are numerous examples of how and why players let their emotional state drive the way they play to thier detriment

    for me at least to understand this stuff i have to remember doing it myself – empathy is the only weapon – to be useful the description therefore has to describe a feeling that people can readily identify with

    one day i discovered that one class of poker players had done some work on this topic – a bunch of hard-core greek guys i played poker with had around 5 different categories – my favourite was the ‘resillo” – probably not spelt that way but thats what it sounded like in greek – upon enquiry i was told it meant something like “ego embarrasment” – it refers to when a poker player is too embarrased to give up on a bluff such that he/she wastes further $$ on a hopeless attempt at bluffing when any sensible analysis would of told them that it was time to give up – it hurts there ego for others to know they have been caught bluffing so they plow on regardless

    on reflection maybe “suicide” does work for nic’s play in that its driven by feelings of hopeless desperation but it wasnt deliberate like suicide – maybe it should be called a “lemming” – i mean do those lemmings actually know they are going over a cliff ?

  • 2. sartaj  |  February 20, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Another case of critical point fixation ….


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