Suicide? Indeed, Holmes.

February 24, 2009 at 1:34 am 8 comments

There is an interesting discussion going on in comments of the previous post on the issue of whether bridge players should be allowed to know what the score is while they are playing. Go here to take a look.

h1 AQ3

The contract, if you recall from yesterday, is 4S by East. Partner opened 3D, you bid 4D over 3S by RHO and 4S by West ends the auction.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I felt strongly that I should begin with a diamond. In my view it’s is about the only time it is wrong to lead from an AK holding. The reason it is wrong is that partner is most likely short but you won’t be able to tell how short. You will have no idea whether or not to continue the suit. Whereas if you lead partner’s suit and he shifts to one, you will know how to follow up.

Now I have to confess that for me this was most certainly the suicide point. I led a club with great misgivings and indeed, after the end of trick one I didn’t have a clue what to do….shift to a diamond? Or continue the suit I had already messed up?

A clear head would probably come to an easy conclusion that it is best to keep playing clubs from the top. Not only is partner on the vulnerability likely to have 7 diamonds, given what you can see of that suit, but in fact if you DO have 4 tricks including a diamond, you probably can’t get them.

Suppose declarer is:


Shifting to a diamond doesn’t help – declarer will get his 10th before you get your 4th. He’ll rise, eliminate the majors and throw North in with a diamond. End of the penny section.

So that’s how a clear head would figure it out. But I had a head swimming with thoughts as to how I was being punished for breaking my own principle. Clear it was not. Eventually I shifted to a diamond and that meant +620. A flat board as it happens when the same tricks one and two occurred.

Phil Markey in his comments to the last post commented that there are all sorts of reasons why mistakes are made – of course. Some of them don’t have a solution which can be put into play at the table. If you are tired you are tired. Your fault, no doubt, but the time to address it was last night when somebody said let’s go to the bar. You might let something that happened on the preceding board affect your play on this one. And, again, like this one you might let the development of the hand to date affect your thinking adversely.

More tomorrow.


Entry filed under: defence. Tags: , , .

Have you ever played real bridge? Fabulous suits

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bill Jacobs  |  March 1, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    This Suicide Point thing is a great concept.

    See the March edition of the VBA Bulletin page 8 for a hand where I fell at Suicide Point.

  • 2. jill magee  |  February 24, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    You can bet ur life that it was some cloying born-again american that first gushed with glee:
    “Today is the first day of the rest of your lifeI”

    But the comment has a parallel in bridge

    To quote the Baby Bridge Buddha (who came to my comfort in a dream, after i had erred yet again at the game):

    “Each trick is the first trick of the rest of your hand.
    Better to learn through thoughtful hope, than accurate regret.
    Cats have 9 lives, the shuffle of the deck has granted us 13.
    So abandon thoughts of suicide ,
    and focus on rein-card-ation. “

  • 3. Ben Thompson  |  February 24, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Dick Cummings played in a game in London early in his career where an expert sat behind you and rang a bell if you made a mistake. A bit Pavlovian, but it was apparently very effective.

    Much better would be to have an expert ring a bell when you’re about to make a mistake.

    Sadly, there is no one to ring the bell for you. Being tough is having your own inner bell go off every time you need it to.

    • 4. cathychua  |  February 24, 2009 at 10:25 am

      Yes, I rather think somewhere – maybe Australian Bridge? – there is a wonderful description of those games with the dreaded bell.

      It could be, as you and Phil are suggesting, that it is about being tough, making that bell go off in anticipation of your own mistake….I wonder, though, if you can not create something of a Pavlovian response to some of these situations. More on this later!

  • 5. phil markey  |  February 24, 2009 at 2:53 am

    thats a good one – not sure what to call it but certainly been there

    “But I had a head swimming with thoughts as to how I was being punished for breaking my own principle.”

    all power to you for sorting it out although of-course the patient died

    i made me think of another poker quote i like – its from a seasoned pro i met on-line in response to a discussion about characteristics of good players and more specifically the suggestion that you have to be “tough” to be good – “playing tough isnt about being tough its about knowing when to be tough”

    i take that to mean the real challenge that tough players meet is to see through all the crap that goes on in thier heads and in the game yet still make the best decision – and that the critical part of that is knowing when to do it not so much the capacity to do it

    • 6. sartaj  |  February 24, 2009 at 5:14 am

      ” take that to mean the real challenge that tough players meet is to see through all the crap that goes on in thier heads and in the game yet still make the best decision – and that the critical part of that is knowing when to do it not so much the capacity to do it”

      Great post !

      • 7. sartaj  |  February 24, 2009 at 6:18 am

        “Watching the video of the official site, I noticed that he was walking a lot during the first 30 moves or so, something he did not do in the previous games. It is easy to understand that he felt happy after the previous game and also that he felt no danger in the position of today, but this attitude may have caused him miss the critical moments of the game. I know how dangerous this whole situation is from my own experience, although at a completely different level, of course”

        • 8. cathychua  |  February 24, 2009 at 8:29 am

          Great quote, Sartaj….Isn’t this whole business a bit Sara Lee. Layer upon layer upon….


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