Why do we do what we do? On preempts. Continued.

April 8, 2009 at 11:09 am 10 comments

I guess I’m just going to have to keep disagreeing with Sartaj’s opinion that the weak 3 preempt is primarily a declarative action. The real reason we are making this bid is because of its potential impact on the opponents: it will make life hard for them. It doesn’t declare much more than ‘pards, I’m hoping this bid tortures them more than it tortures you….’

Here are a couple we had on the weekend in the Pennant semi-final.









In the open room the West hand passed throughout. East didn’t lead the HA to 4S and so +620 was duly chalked up by our teammates. As North-South’s auction was slightly murky the opponents tried it on with a call to the director but he dismissed the ‘I would have led a heart if’ argument. The opponents took it to appeal which they subsequently lost.

It was obviously a candidate for the frivolous appeal rule, though in this case that penalty was not imposed. I wonder how that rule of IMPs being lost for frivolous appeals is working in general? Is it one of those rules that isn’t comfortable to apply? Will it be applied so inconsistently that it it becomes unfair? I can see it being easy to apply if it is in a situation where the penalty won’t matter, but what is the point of the rule in that case?

At any rate, back to the hand. At our table partner opened 3D, next hand overcalled 3S, I bid 5D and LHO doubled for +300 and a handy swing.

Later in the match came this deal. Oh, no. I’m starting to learn how unreliable BBO records are. Some of the hands aren’t available…no idea why. At any rate, we defended 1NT and shot it a trick in our room. In the other room our teammates opened a dodgy preempt – weak 6 card suit, a 6-4 shape, few points. Here the preempt pushed the opponents to a dreadful 3NT. Fact is it made, but I hope we are allowed to put that down as a mark against defence rather than against the preempt.

I’m not sure if the point of my last post on this got lost somewhere in the discussion on whether AQJxxx should be opened. The point was to observe the problem it gave the next hand. Further, it was to observe in what way the problem was tackled. This matters. If it become evident that the problems are being solved well, then surely at that point you set about changing the problem. Don’t you? Aren’t there four people interacting at the table? Do we all really think that we can ignore two of them????

More on this tomorrow.


Entry filed under: bidding.

Those eights and nines concluded. Breaking news….

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. phil markey  |  April 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    re the frivolous appeal rule

    i think this rule is hard to apply because in this scenario “frivolous” should be judged subjectively and that means its pretty much impossible to come to the conclusion that the appeal is frivolous without further evidence of say malice or long history of dodgy appealing – and i think thats a good thing

    i havent had an appeal for a year or 2 but i have had a couple like this one i instigated turned down where judged objectively i had no issue with the result

    i like to think i practice active ethics and i understand that to mean you dont use the rules for the sake of getting the best result – you use them to correct actual damage caused to you – calculating when there is actual damage before you appeal is always a subjective issue – no human being can state with certainty i would of done this is that happened – i mean “that” never happened so you dont really know – so i figure i can appeal as sure as sure can be that i was damaged and judged objectively that appeal would be frivolous

  • 2. Peter Gill  |  April 9, 2009 at 12:31 am

    It’s a pity that the commentary on BBO is not in their archives
    for the Pennant Semi. We commentators pointed out the futility of their Director Call, with a brief discussion whether anyone anywhere in the world had ever heard of anyone being fined for a frivolous Director Call. No takers.

    Lots of people seem to like the idea of players making the final rulings (i.e. appeals) and players forming Trials teams
    (a topic I’m no longer going into) whereas some of us would prefer for the administrators to be entrusted with the bridge admin, allowing processes such as Appeals and some Trials to be abandoned. Oops – getting off topic.

    I would open 4D on the hand that Brad Wein passed throughout.

    I think it makes sense for preempts to have different styles and approaches, just as there are different styles and approaches to one level opening bids (5 card majors, 4 card majors etc). For example, if one’s partner is notoriously bad at bidding opposite preempts, you should obviously make less preempts. If your partner has good bidding judgement, then you should make more preempts. Simon, take a bow.

  • 3. Chris Mulley  |  April 8, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I don’t believe that you can automatically “put that down as a mark against the defence rather than against the pre-empt”. The fact is that by opening “dodgy” pre-empts, you have a tendency to push people into games that other people are not getting to. If game defence is a “dodgy” area for the partnership, you really need to keep it in mind when deciding on pre-empting style.

    Even where defence is not necessarily a dodgy area, I think when playing teams it can be relevant that you are putting yourself under a degree of pressure to beat the beatable games that are bid against you. Sure, there will be some “lucky makes”, but by striving to push the opponents into guessing, you are asserting that overall you will be showing a plus.

    I have found that the majority of good players have a tendency to bid rather than pass after a pre-empt, particularly at equal and unfavourable. If I don’t beat a fair proportion of these games that they would not otherwise have got to, I should be reconsidering my pre-empting style.

    • 4. cathychua  |  April 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm

      Chris, Excellent point, which of course comes into the whole idea I’m trying to establish here, as is Markey. I wouldn’t care to comment on my teammates’ defence but surely it is something they should be considering!

      • 5. cathychua  |  April 10, 2009 at 8:37 am

        Actually, no, I have reconsidered your point, Chris. You can work on your defence and on your declarer play. They are under your control. You can’t stop pushing your opponents to bad spots or stop steering your side to the right contract just because you go down when you shouldn’t. But if your opponents get the best of the bidding after preempts, certainly that may dictate changing what you are doing with preempts….

      • 6. Chris Mulley  |  April 14, 2009 at 10:49 am

        I agree that “defence” is under your control. But how many people would acknowledge their pre-empting style as one of the reasons that they need to improve their defence? Not too many would be my guess.

        I think the major problem (for me, at least) is that I believe this is a really close call – I don’t think that it is clearly correct to loosen one’s pre-empting style when non-vulnerable. My gut feeling is that we show a small net plus by doing so, but I have not done any close analysis to support that gut feeling. At least my gut feeling acknowledges the losses from pushing them to makeable-but-unbiddable games, which seems to be a blind spot for many people’s gut.

        Bridge for me is a bit like chess – part of it is about playing to one’s strengths. I rate partnership defence as one of my (our) relative strengths (when you declare as badly as I do, that is not saying much!). If I could defend a beatable game every hand, I would be quite happy. So, my pre-empting style reflects that, in the same way that when I played chess I strove for “tactical” lines, because my endgame technique was so poor.

        Yes, I can do things to improve both my endgame technique and my declarer play (and my defence). When I do and I improve to the point that one of those things is no longer a relative weakness, I can re-evaluate what I am doing. Until that happens, though, mark me down as a Sicilian/King’s Indian player!

  • 7. Ron Lel  |  April 8, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Which member of Michael’s team passed the hand first up Cathy? Just curious.

  • 8. phil markey  |  April 8, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    i would open 4 diamonds on the given hand because i dont want to play 3nt and i’m not passing an 8 card suit – thats a mix of declarative and destructive in the phil markey bidding style i guess

    i think its right to observe that you need to change the problem but to do that you have to be capable and comfortable playing in a broad range

    few bridge players get that in my view – i often make my opponents cross when i tell them that a certain destructive bid isnt what we always do but we may of done it – ‘well when do you do it ?” – to which i often tell them of examples but generally observe “when we think its right”

    i mean how much help is it to say “if my pard thinks you are vulnerable to messing up when he does the dodgy thing he will do it – if he thinks your expecting it and know what to do about it he probably wont”

    • 9. cathychua  |  April 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

      Phil, I’m in danger of making a habit of agreeing with you.

    • 10. andrew webb  |  April 8, 2009 at 7:44 pm

      I think the mooted response is perfectly helpful, just difficult to phrase helpfully.


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