Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 15th, 2020


jim2November 29th, 2020 at 1:37 pm

Concerning the 4N inquiry by “Mix-Up,” casual or pick-up partnerships can result in many misunderstandings such as the one posed by the questioner.

Since so many of my games are with players I do not know or with whom I play rarely, I apply the “KISS” principle to many such sequences. That is, I give up some nuanced potential auctions for the sake of an easier game w/o fear of several specific disasters. Also, when I consider various bid choices, I give more weight to ones less likely to produce cognitive dissonance or uncertainty than I do than with established partners.

This 4N Q is a perfect example of the above. My clearly-stated rule with pick-up partners is that once either one of us bids a suit naturally, then Gerber and 4N quantitative are both off. Instead, 4N answers should consider the last naturally bid suit proposed as trumps as the trump suit for key cards.

So, Stayman bids and 2D/3D responses are not natural (but heart and spade responses ARE natural). A transfer bid followed by 3N is a choice of games (1N – 2D; 2H – 3N), so a transfer bid followed by 4N is a quantitative choice of slams – because responder has not bid that suit naturally. However, a transfer bid response ABOVE the minimum level is a natural bid (1N- 2D; 3H – 4N is now key card for hearts).

These treatments are sub-optimal. They are, however, KISS and reduce mental/psychic stress while retaining a lot of the system bid values.

With this treatment, deep into a session when tiredness may be setting in, a player who sees/hears a partner bid 4N can simply check to see if either of them has bid a suit naturally, rather than having to expend scarce/precious skull sweat on the matter.

bobbywolffNovember 29th, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Hi Jim2,

First, thanks for covering one of the more controversial and thus provoking bridge subjects, among players who have several partnerships and play that game for entertainment first, and rarely for blood or whatever is necessary for him or her to stay alive for a few more minutes.

In addition and, at least no doubt, your post should be swallowed whole, if and when that
partnership agrees to your main theme, KISS.

However, if both partner’s want to see an update, thus uptick in their slam bidding (not frequent, but still significant) and feel up to it, a delve into DI (declarative-interrogative) would be my choice.

Yes, my suggestion takes some thought, but although I totally agree with both your advice and the reason for it, if others have different and more demanding overall reasons for playing, I would give a serious edge to what I prefer.

Finally to do so, after a few experiences, it will not be considered difficult, but rather, easy to digest, but then, as time goes by, only very cool.

However, our above answer on today’s column, question, would NOT IMO, be at all inappropriate.

jim2November 29th, 2020 at 6:21 pm

You are totally correct.

The problem I experience is that remembering bidding conventions and treatments and understandings and responses, etc is — for more casual players — a “zero sum game.” I do not play with experts (except maybe one) and, since I am not one either, that is quite understandable.

Thus, all departures from natural bids consume some amount of the memory resources. I have to weight each one because the total is fixed, and thus there are trade-offs.

Lebensohl? Texas transfers? Jacoby? Michaels? Jordan? Attitude signals vs count? 14-30? Unusual NT? Treatment of 3C in 1N-2C auctions? Upside down minor raises? Is 1N forcing? When is a redouble SOS?

If my KISS of 4N consumes zero space, then I have preserved resources for another something. I judge the opportunity cost fairly low compared to pard remembering treatments over a weak two bid, for example.

bobbywolffNovember 30th, 2020 at 11:44 pm

Hi Jim2,

And do not think for a minute that the same problems and challenges you experience are not, at the very least, similar to the top world players like experience, you and others are kidding themselves.

Of course, the inventory of conventions, treatments, and overall systems are considerably more plentiful, varied, and at times diabolical when strength meets strength.

Also the bridge logic, always present and often subject to different interpretation regularly injects the scene, causing rigid discipline to remain on the same wave length with partner.

However, the good news resembles the same type of thought present when more physical team sports (offensive lines in football, basketball fast breaks, doubles tennis, baseball double plays and even the singular discipline required by professional golfers when so much is expected on any one difficult shot.

Since bridge is only a mind sport, not a physical venture (except for the endurance aspect) no one will likely be unable to continue, if you discount disastrous embarrassing mistakes as less troublesome than bodily injury.

In any event, the rewards of playing consistently well, if it ever really happens, would certainly be worth the cost, at least those who manage to qualify, tell me.