What went wrong here?

June 30, 2009 at 12:21 pm 18 comments






h1 K86



At both tables the auction began 1H by South, 4S by West. At our table this was passed out. At the other table, Reynolds doubled and Appleton bid 5H. This was doubled for -300, while we also went 2 down in 4S. Minus 9 IMPs.

Unlucky. Isn’t a takeout double on the South hand routine? And passing that on the North hand would be taking a doubledummy action. wouldn’t it? If anybody doesn’t have their bid it is West, and NS can’t be crimed for that. Still, if that’s what I think, I guess that means you all think something else! Opinions please.


Entry filed under: Cayne matches.

Is GIB cheating? Are there choices here?

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. khokan  |  July 3, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Cathy, you seem to have a romantic notion that when the top Australian players played rubber, Australia was on top of the world. I’m afraid the facts don’t support you.

    The best pairs in the world, with a couple of notable exceptions, play extremely detailed methods, which take away the judgement aspect of bidding and defence to a large degree.

    • 2. cathychua  |  July 3, 2009 at 8:11 am

      I don’t say we were quite top of the world, but we had a viable team, as third in two Bermuda Bowls indicates.

      • 3. khokan  |  July 3, 2009 at 8:25 am

        In each of these Bowls, there were only six teams and Australia was a distant third.On the other hand, the BB semi final appearance by Australia in the 1989 Bowl was more significant IMO, as Australia were a real show to make the Bowl final. I’m not trying to denigrate the earlier results, but put things in perspective.

    • 4. cathychua  |  July 3, 2009 at 9:00 am

      No, what I’m suggesting is that (1) we had one player so world class that he could more or less carry the country and (2) when top Australian players played rubber they were better players. I’m not particularly suggesting it has to be rubber – though there are obvious advantages of rubber, since you play far more hands and all the hands count – but it does have to be bridge. Maybe over the last few years the Internet has allowed people to play bridge all day every day in a way that hasn’t been possible before. So perhaps the venue for non-stop bridge is changing…

  • 5. David Morgan  |  June 30, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Personally, I’d want more high cards or more shape to X as S (so — ATxxx KQx Axxxx or x ATxxx KQ AKxxx would be bare minimums for me). As N I’d want to Pass if partner has lots of high cards and bid if he has the void. I’m unsure which is more likely — this would be a useful simulation to do. If I did bid then I’d choose 4N (two places to play, one of which is hearts in my partnerships), hoping to find the 5-4 or even 5-5 D fit.

    Of course, I’d overcall 1S with that defensive hand and expect to play 3S undoubled:
    (1H) 1S (2H) 2S
    (3C) 3S //


  • 6. Peter Gill  |  June 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    South has masses of defence (A, A and short suit KQ) and no offence, i.e. no KQJ10’s in the long suits. Thus South simply wants to defend 4S, as the lack of texture of South’s suits means South expects 4S to fail and any five level contract also to fail.
    Therefore I think Pass by South is strongly indicated.

  • 7. khokan  |  June 30, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I think that both NS actions are borderline. I don’t particularly like the takeout double, as south wouldn’t be thrilled to hear 5D. Similarly, TNT (18-19 trumps) suggests that north should pass, in spite of south’s imputed spade shortage. I don’t necessarily mind any of the NS actions, but I don’t think they’re “automatic”. BTW, doubling 5H on this auction is pretty strange.

  • 8. Chris Mulley  |  June 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    It might not be “routine” to play the double by South as pure takeout, although I know a lot of very good players do. Paul and I would probably get out alive – South might double (cards) and North would probably leave this in, but South might also choose to just pass 4S out.

    If double is pure takeout, I’m not sure that I would make that bid with those South cards. It looks like I have a reasonable amount of defence but not a huge amount of offence, given my shape. Of course, there’s nothing like 20-20 hindsight for evaluations like that.

    A question for the X = Takeout people: What would a 4NT bid by South mean? If that would be a “more distributional” takeout, there might still be a case for North passing the “less distributional” takeout double, on the basis that 11 tricks is a lot to take with a flat hand opposite a “not so distributional” takeout bid.

    I will concede that Paul and I suffer the occasional double game swing playing the way that we do. But I think on average we are miles ahead in terms of total number of imps by consistently writing down +100 – +300 on hands like this.

  • 9. Bill Jacobs  |  June 30, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Well, there’s a well known law from Larry Cohen.

    North looks at his hand after the re-opening double and visualizes an 8-card heart fit and a 10 card spade fit.

    18 total trumps. 18 total tricks.

    So if 4S is making, 5H is 3 down. If 5H is making, 4S is 3 down.

    So pass the double.

    People denounce the law of total tricks at their peril.

    • 10. phil markey  |  July 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm

      i think the law of total tricks is a pathetic and misguided attempt to make bridge simpler for lazy people or players who dont understand the game all that well

      show me the peril !

      • 11. cathychua  |  July 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm

        Phil, I couldn’t agree more. The ten dollar game in Double Bay conducted an interesting experiment at one point, looking at all the hands we played from the TNT point of view. We all found that our own judgment worked much better.

      • 12. khokan  |  July 2, 2009 at 1:10 pm

        A pub poll of Double Bay rubber players or an exhaustuve analysis by Vernes, followed by the backing of international experts, including Rodwell, Cohen, Marston etc? I know who’s judgement I’d value more.

        • 13. cathychua  |  July 2, 2009 at 11:04 pm

          I expect that since those days of testing TNT there have been modifications made to it so that it works better, just as HCP have gone through face lifts from time to time.

          But gee, Khokan, I know you don’t fancy Tim Seres as a player and certainly not, in that case, the rest of the Double Bay crowd, but when the people who met at Double Bay on a more or less daily basis included Tim Seres, Bobby Richman, Marek Borewicz, Dick Cummings, Seamus Browne, Michael Courtney, to name some of of the more prominent players there, this was a serious group of players who played all day every day – until you have played bridge all day every day you don’t really have an appreciation of how good that is for your bridge.

          In fact as far as I can tell, the time when Marston and Burgess played well was when they also were part of that scene and therefore were at the table far more frequently than these days. Tim was the one who was really interested in testing the Law of Total Tricks because, your opinion not withstanding, he was actually one of the very best players in the world for fifty odd years. Not only was he one of the very best players in the world for that period of time, but he loved bridge and wanted nothing more than to be playing or talking about it. No disrespect to Marston intended, but to put Marston ahead of Tim as a player is hard to understand. He’s not often been very interested in it, he’s played much less at all levels, he doesn’t have anything like Seres’ results at any level.

          I don’t know if Rodwell, Cohen, etc play much bridge. Rubber players get through more hands in a day than the average tournament player gets through in several days at least. It gives them a lot of data, when you consider they often play more or less every day of the year. And one thing they are specifically strong on is judgment. In fact, the whole point of the Law of Total Tricks is that it is a substitute for judgment. The Americans did something disastrous for their bridge even at expert levels when they marketed the High Card Point count as a substitute for judgment. It must be true that TNT is a better substitute for judgment than the HCP, but that in itself is not saying a lot.

          • 14. khokan  |  July 2, 2009 at 11:54 pm

            You’ve got me totally wrong, Cathy. I think Tim’s a great player and one of the best card players I’ve seen – I played in a couple of teams with Tim in the 1980s. Ditto for some of the other players you mention. BTW, I did play rubber almost every day for around 6 months and I agree it’s good for one’s bridge.

            I think Marston’s international record is better than anyone in Australia, even though Tim has won a couple of Far Easts. The Marston/Burgess third in the 1986 World Pairs is the best international result an Australian pair has had IMO. Marston has also performed better than anyone else in world team championships. I think it’s a testament to Marston’s abilities that he can still win even when he’s not playing very much. Matthew Thomson is similar in this respect.

            You seem to rubbish TNT as a tool. However, I reckon that most top players use it, even if only at a subconcsious level. Of course, judgement comes into it. It seems that TNT may have helped you on your example hand, as you considered the NS actions to be automatic.

            I don’t think that rubber players had or have any better judgement than the top tournamnent players around the world and I’m not sure what leads you to this conclusion. I’d be surprised if many of the currrent top international players play much rubber.

      • 15. Jonathan  |  July 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm

        I don’t play often enough or well enough to trust my competitive judgement absolutely. Having decided what I feel is the right course of action, I use TNT to see whether it agrees. If it differs strongly, I sometimes change my mind.
        But by this time, I’ve usually thought for too long to gather one of the benefits of bidding, namely that they incorrectly bid one more. Naturally, TNT ignores these substantial tactical benefits.

        Of course TNT cannot replace judgement. But it works so well
        that one should listen to it in borderline cases, I believe. Listening isn’t necessarily obeying, of course, and I usually do what I wanted to anyway. A lot of the time it’s a good excuse for a wrong view.

        A pathetic, misguided and lazy player (sometimes)

    • 16. Chris Mulley  |  July 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

      I must admit to never having read Cohen’s book, but hearsay has informed me that he suggests various modifications based on double fits, minor honours in their suits, etc. Is this a double fit, given our 8-card club fit?

      I agree with Phil -“The Law” is no match for experience based on critical reflection. I have found that as I get older (and wiser?), my gut feeling seems to coincide quite nicely with what other people justify with the *detailed* version of TNT, and it consistently outperforms the decisions of basic TNT adherents.

  • 17. Ben Thompson  |  June 30, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    If doubling is routine on the South hand, then passing it out must be routine on the North hand.

    South needs to hit a pretty good hand to make anything at the 5-level. North could have an invitational-value hand if it fitted well but, more likely, will need something like an opening bid to have a decent shot at making at the 5-level. And if 5-something is a good thing, 4S is frequently going down an adequate amount anyway.

    So if this South has a routine double, North doesn’t have what’s needed for the 5-level and should give it away. North is approximately average for the situation, has no interesting shape and has a defensive trick.

    As it happens, I think doubling with the South hand is scraping the bottom of the barrel, and I wouldn’t call it routine, but I’m basically ok with it. Partner will need to provide a bit of help to justify the double, but not ridiculous amounts of help.

  • 18. phil markey  |  June 30, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    west went +9 imps so he definately has his bid

    i would pass as north and double as south and although it is some help to see all the hands i reckon i will pass the takeout double as north

    i think dappleton should pass – going off at the 5 level is horrible – no doubt there may be some risk of writing down a bad score by passing but its rare 4 spades is making and 5 hearts is taking a big fat risk for some 5-6 imp reward


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