Should bidding be like sex?

March 19, 2009 at 4:03 am 14 comments

Totally distracted from the theme of suicide and its relationship to bridge – frankly, I prefer shopping.

Not that this has been the only source of distraction. I’ve been wondering about something somebody asked me a little while ago – what changes to our system and why? The whats are tedious, the whys might be interesting.

Suddenly last night in the middle of contemplating my opening lead to 3NT, I realised exactly the right way to describe the ideal bidding system….

Bidding should be exactly like most men want their sex: in and out quickly, minimum of fuss. Don’t give anything away, only tell her what she really needs to know….In general deep and meaningful will only confuse the situation for debatable benefit. Am I right so far?

But, as you will also all know, sometimes you find yourself in a tight corner, back’s against the wall, SHE IS DEMANDING DEEP AND MEANINGFUL. Nothing less will do.

So, what you want in a bridge system is exactly the same armoury you need for the sex. Assume in and out quick is the right approach, use it whenever you can, but be prepared for the worst. If she wants a long, tedious, drawn out cue-bidding sequence with somebody at the end probably still having to guess what to put where – well, be ready for that too.

That’s pretty much how my partnership’s bidding system is developing. For years we’ve kept it at ‘in and out quick’ but for some time we’ve had a bit of a hankering to get deep and meaningful. Recognising that this is a dangerous development in the relationship, we’ve tried to keep it to obscure, high-level auctions that won’t happen often. It’s like having the technical appendix to the modified-Rumanian- gymnast-Kama-Sutra next to the bed…you kinda like having it there, but you kinda hope nobody asks you to use it.


Entry filed under: thoughts on bridge.

Making the most of your opponents’ transfer bids. The sex bidding scandal continues

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jill magee  |  March 23, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    lest any confusion arise, my last comment was intended to agree with what i understood cathy to say, not to dissent. apologies for any ambiguity.

  • 2. jill magee  |  March 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    speaking of sex, what ever happened to the preliminary grope? once upon a time, all guys could think about was getting their hands ON ur chest.

    now, it’s macho to get hands off of chests at break neck speed to reach a wham bam slam.


    speed and simplicity do offer clarity and illumination:
    100 relays are blinded by the shimmering light of:
    1nt– 3nt

    but as cathy suggests, it would be tragic to fully abandon the dark corner of deep and meaningfuls. –for it is there that the chiaroscuro of creative groping brings art and fluidity to the partnership dance.

  • 3. Peter Gill  |  March 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    I don’t play pioker, but my impression from
    my nephew’s poker blogs is that there are
    plenty of bunnies at any table when you play poker.

    At bridge in Australia there are plenty of bunnies, but ……

    When we go overseas to represent Australia, or even in the Open Playoff which starts tomorrow, the bunny well dries up. The destructive style become far more dangerous for the destroyer. For example, in my opinion the turning point of the Markey – Nagy semi-final of the 2007 Open Playoff was when Markey – Mill made a series of attacking destructive preempts which happened to destroy their own chances when my partner Paul Gosney made a series of excellent choices, gaining many imps for our team.

    Yet Boye Brogeland told me in Queensland last month that
    he couldn’t believe how good at bridge the players in the Markey team who knocked the top seeds out of the
    2009 NOT were. I think we have the talent here, and
    the right style for beating bunnies, but perhaps not the right style, or ability to change styles, for the highest level of bridge.

    For example, Boye (and Curtis Cheek at the other table)
    held as dealer at favourable vulnerability yesterday on
    BBO in the Vanderbilt: KQx, xx, xx, KJ108632. Your call?

    What are the issues involved in making this decision?

    Does the quality of the opposition matter?

    That is, if you are playing against Gosney, Meckwell,
    Versace or the like, does it affect your decision?

    Peter Gill

    • 4. Peter Gill  |  March 20, 2009 at 1:10 pm

      Actually the hand is KQx, xx, xx, KJ10863. Just the 13 cards.

      Peter Gill

      • 5. sartaj  |  March 21, 2009 at 11:16 am

        Its close between 1C and pass. The colors/position sway me to 1C.

      • 6. Ben Thompson  |  March 23, 2009 at 1:36 am

        I rate this hand as more constructive than destructive. I would immediately change system to Precision and open 2C. Otherwise, I expect I would open 1C.

        Here’s a mildly undisciplined confessions.

        Against weaker opponents, I might open 3C. Reason – weaker opponents tend to have weaker agreements oevr pre-empts, and therefore on average achieve less with their cards than they should when they are pressed for space.

        Undisciplined? Discipline to me means doing the same thing with the same cards in the same situation. Nothing about aggressive or conservative. Just consistency.

        So I ‘ve argued the situation is different (weaker opponents), but if I’m completely honest with myself, it feels a bit undisciplined to bid this hand two different ways.

      • 7. phil markey  |  March 23, 2009 at 8:57 am

        thats crazy talk ben

        recognising why your doing it and doing it for a valid reason makes you disciplined

        i have an opponent at SABA who is widely regarded as an expert and rightly so – for the 16 or so years i have been playing him its apparent to me though that he has a gapping weak spot – he panics in a high level competitive auction

        when i play him i take all sorts of crazy looking positions so that he has to make a decision in a high level competitve auction – on there own they would quickly be crimed as undisciplined but i reckon i do that in a very disciplined way

        easy 1 club opener for me – i rank pass below 3 clubs – i mean pass is conceding the big advantage you have cause you get to go first and on the notional list of all hands possible this hand is better than the average

    • 8. Peter Gill  |  March 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm

      Two of the most aggressive bidders in the Northern Hemisphere, Boye Brogeland (playing Standard) and Curtis Cheek (playing Strong Club) both passed.

      3CX, which would not be the contract against random opponents but might well be the final contract against world class opponents (as was the case in this Vanderbilt match), goes for 1100 or perhaps even 1400. They can make 3NT but no slam. You have too much defence for them to make more.

      So Ben’s stategy is a good one. Against random opponents, 3C might work, but against world class opponents 1C and Pass are the only sensible options. It is the 6322 shape which is the big loser for three level openings against strong opponents. Too many losers. I personally think the influence
      of Sydney experts such as Tim Seres, Roelof Smilde,
      Dick Cummings, Stephen Burgess, Bobby Richman,
      Michael Courtney, Mike Prescott and Ishmael Delmonte,
      who have opened many 6322 shapes at the three level,
      has created an illusion in Australia that this is good tactics against any opponents.

      Peter Gill.

  • 9. sartaj  |  March 19, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Hamman said in an interview that he has learnt with the years that there are three types of auctions
    1) Declarative – You show your hand and leave it to partner
    2) Interrogative – You take charge and ask partner questions
    3) Cooperative – Both you and partner exchange information.

    I believe most players and partnerships have either a positive or a negative bias attached to atleast two out these three categories. Which leads us to believe in our distinct “style”.
    In my partnership, i’m aware that tony has a positive bias for cooperative auctions while cathy, it appears you have one for declarative.

    The ideal bidding system would have the capacity for all three modes. And its users would have the judgement and the ability switch to the right mode based on the specifics of the situation.

    However, due to limited bidding space (and memory issues), the ideal bidding system needs to take a position on various areas and sacrifice one (or maybe even two) of the options.
    For example, its possible to have all three modes available after our 1NT opening due to its limited range/hand-type, but we cant quite do that over a 1Major opening.

    • 10. phil markey  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:34 am

      interesting stuff sartaj

      i think i’m like cathy – i often feel like i’m happiest telling pard what i have – if not for the fact i’m normally the more aggressive in a given partnership it always feels like i play fewer hands than pard because i’m keen to tell him what i have rather than take another route

      negative bias for cooperative i suppose – i mean a cooperative auction feels a bit like a roller coaster to me – maybe this is because i dont trust my partners enough or because i am too lazy to do much if any system work

      i only “suppose” its a negative bias because my “style” is barrage and i’m careful that its a consistent style throughout the system

      maybe its just me but i think hammans summary whilst thought provoking is lacking in considering the 4 handed bidding issues – i mean these are all constructive styles

      • 11. sartaj  |  March 20, 2009 at 3:17 am

        “hammans summary whilst thought provoking is lacking in considering the 4 handed bidding issues – i mean these are all constructive styles”

        That is the standard australian excuse.
        What the world calls undisciplined we call tactical.

        If our way is right, then what is stopping our dominance on the world stage ?

      • 12. phil markey  |  March 20, 2009 at 3:41 am

        well its not an excuse for anything really

        there is a place for the destructive as opposed to the constructive in bridge bidding – where the balance lies is an interesting issue

        i am a convert to the notion that in the development of theory about games there is a tension between the technical and what i might call the practical or artistic views of how to skin a cat – the mainstream always aligns itself with the technical view of the game and loses sight of the merits of the other views – my basis for this statement is cathys book and my own considerable following of poker theory (which is like reading cathys book all over again) – i am a hamman fan but i also think he is more aligned with a technical view than the other

        the very best players i have played against have a keen sense of the destructive – and are able to judge when to leave a technical reason behind in favour of a practical solution – it may be that in australia we pay too much interest to the less technical more destructive views on bidding and not enough to the technical but thats not to say its not an issue

      • 13. phil markey  |  March 21, 2009 at 12:56 am

        “what the world calls undisciplined we call tactical”

        this has been bothering me since i read it

        there is nothing undisciplined about finding a destructive bridge bid – in fact i think those who favour the destructive more than others and do it well are highly disciplined

        undisciplined is when you do something for a reason that wasnt related to an honest view about whats best – like opening a bunch of sick pre-empts because you have had some bad results early in the match and want to get them back

        i think a large part of a destructive players edge comes from an acute understanding of what the tables feeling and where his opponents errors are likely to come from – it takes a massive pool of discipline to do this

        stupid mainstream

  • 14. phil markey  |  March 19, 2009 at 7:57 am

    in and out or deep and meaningful – i’m honestly not fussed – its all the same lolly bag

    as for bridge – i like the in and out


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