What’s it to be? Concluded

November 8, 2009 at 8:36 pm 8 comments

The question was, with this hand, what bid to make with the following information:


Partner opens 1NT 13-15.

After a system discussion of 5 minutes with your inexperienced partner, it seems to you that your options are:

(1) 2S natural and weakness takeout
(2) 3S 5+ forcing
(3) 4S
(4) 3NT

So what’s it to be?









For playing 2S making 11 tricks I got 41%. Half the field was in game, most in 4S, a couple in 3NT.

I was playing at the Adelaide Bridge Centre, Phil Gue’s club. It is a most pleasant place to play and has excellent MP scoring in place. Your scores are available the instant you finish and during the night you can see all the scores so far on each board after you enter your own score. Great fun. For a link to the sort of thing I’m talking about, go here.

Tomorrow, something COMPLETELY different. Do drop by.


Entry filed under: bidding, MP Pairs.

What about this pairs decision? Thoughts on the World Championship book

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nigel Kearney  |  November 11, 2009 at 8:31 am

    It’s been a long time since I last didn’t play transfers but I seem to remember reading (probably in an old Acol book) that you invite in a major by bidding Stayman first, i.e. 2C then 3S over 2D/H.

    Of course this would only improve your result if partner misunderstood, otherwise he would pass and you’d still get 41%.

    I would draw two lessons from this hand:

    1) You want to be in 4S at matchpoints even if 3NT is theoretically better. You may take the same number of tricks in NT that others take in spades, but you may also take an extra trick in spades just by playing better and you don’t risk a bottom that way.

    2) Sometimes your NT range leads to a subpar result where a different NT range would not. That’s unavoidable. But your chances of losing matchpoints as a result are greater if your NT range is different from the one everyone else is playing.

    • 2. cathychua  |  November 11, 2009 at 4:11 pm

      Indeed. A serious MP player would always take on the general methods used by the field. On the other hand, I have to admit this. I was once playing in an event in France, my system being some variant of Symmetric Relay. I picked up my 3333 – yes, that’s right – partner opened 1C strong, I responded 1NT, he bid 2C relay and I, ahem…I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten how to show a 3333!!! I knew this system backwards. Eventually I got with the program, called the director and was awarded a below average score. Can’t recall exactly why it was my fault. Perhaps he thought we were New Zealanders. It was just after Rainbow Warrior and we spent all our time in France saying ‘No, no, Australia, not New Zealand’. If we’d been able to finish the board, we would have received a fine score as the room was playing strong NT and played it the wrong way up! Sigh.

      • 3. khokan  |  November 11, 2009 at 5:10 pm

        I can’t say that I agree with the sentence about serious pairs – what would you call Meckstroth/Rodwell, who won the World Pairs by a record margin in 1986? They played Relay Precision with mini-notrumps, hardly standard fare. A “serious” pair would play the methods they think will work.

        If you’re trying to say that a good imp player would generally try and match the bidding actions of other pairs and hope to win points in the play, there might be something in that – however, I think it’s much more complicated than that.

        • 4. cathychua  |  November 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm

          No, I was talking about match points. It can be interesting watching a top pair in an unfamiliar field examining the field’s actions after a session to understand how the field works.

          Really, since bridge is more or less completely unprofessional, I don’t particularly see the point of noting that a pair who has exceptionally worked on their system won an event or even lots. In this case, one tournament? It isn’t enough data! If anything, it suggests that they took the anti-field gamble and got lucky! If only we could all time that to perfection.

          More ‘ifs’: if bridge were a professional sport, the top practitioners might do all sorts of things that they don’t at present, and that might be one of them. Of course, a field doesn’t necessarily have any standout characteristics, but sometimes it will. In England it will be Acol. In the US Standard. We are lucky here that we have diversification of methods.

          We don’t really have any conception of what bridge would be like if it were a serious professional activity, unfortunately. But I do have some opinions on ways that partnership bidding repertoire would develop….

          • 5. khokan  |  November 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm


            I meant matchpoints, not imps, in my earlier post – my mistake.

            I don’t think that serious pairs generally change their normal bidding methods when they play pairs events to match “field actions”- you only have to look at the pairs that have won major pairs events and the diversity of methods they play eg Hamman-Wolff (strong club with medium NT), Branco- Cintra (Precision), Martel-Stansby (std with weak NT), Rodwell-Meckstroth (Relay Precision) – I could go on. Is that enough data?

            As for bridge being a serious professional activity, it is at the top. It’s been a while since the American Nationals and World Championships haven’t generally been dominated by professional teams, consisting of players that play for a living.

  • 6. Chris Mulley  |  November 9, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Only half the field in game? That’s a bit sad presuming the majority are playing 12 – 14 or 15 – 17, which is likely to put your partner at the bottom of the NT range when they show it.

    So, Cathy, did you make an idiot of me by outplaying those who were in 2S?

    • 7. cathychua  |  November 10, 2009 at 10:45 am

      Of the three pairs in partscore, 2 made 11 tricks and 1 made 10.

  • 8. phil markey  |  November 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    i like 2 spades more seeing what its like when pard has a max in highs for a 1nt opening – if we swapped east and west you will probably get close to 80%


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