Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 10th, 2021


Iain ClimieJanuary 24th, 2021 at 3:05 pm

HI Bobby,

I’m surprised that Multi 2D is seen as new as I played it in the late 70s in the UK. Our version wssxa weak 2 in a major, a strong 2D, strong minor 2 suiter or 17-24 4441 hands (any shortage). Mind you, our defence to Multi ran to 4 pages of detailed notes and I still remember an immediate 2M overall showed a hand which would have made a TO double of the other major.

I actually felt that a weak 2 directly is more effective against well-prepared opposition but the multi did intimidate the unprepared. At relaxed club.level I much prefer fewer “toys” as they aren’t necessary to gain an advantage and sometimes put beginners off. They can cope with the effects of good defence or declarer play from better players but can feel they’re being unreasonably bamboozled by odd conventions.





bobbywolffJanuary 24th, 2021 at 4:31 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt I agree with almost everything you say, except not having played your specific defenses against it, I would need to think about a while before commenting.

First, Multi has been around for a long time, even before the late 1970’s except on this side of the pond, it has not been allowed because of the following reasons:

1. While defending, it needs to be carefully discussed (although your simple defense mentioned, is likely adequate), but without that (or perhaps similar others), it becomes intimidating to average or below experienced players, creating non-bridge advantages better off not granted, since the result offers too much, what could be called non-bridge advantage, for its use against them.

2. Historically, and in Europe (where it began, long ago) it became a too often used, basic cheating device wherein Multi’s were often chosen opposite very weak holding partner hands (done by very simple and highly illegal signals, sadly so easily accomplished), wherein psyching suits (especially with favorable vulnerability) became devastating to their opponents with either outright stealing of the hand (NV) or the confusion it caused inexperienced opponents became in frequency, “off the charts”.

As was often the case the “bad guys” raked in many “top boards” or “IMPs) by their use, not related to the value of the system itself, but rather the hanky panky, legal or not, which went with.

BTW, and in case someone is interested, I would rate the honest use of Multi when two above average pairs compete against each other as something slightly below 50% effective, therefore, if that figure is near correct, no partnership is missing much, if anything, by not playing them. The downside of multi lies: 1. the proper defenses to it, at least to me give the defenders that slight edge, by the information given the opponents (with more room for their opponents, because of the perpetrators having to have either more rounds of bidding than regular WTBs and the dangers which lurk when, in the zeal to open one, strong opponents may more often have the ability to penalize it more than they could earn by bidding to their maximum contract.

3. In all game playing methinks, the sponsoring organization has the duty to reward the theoretical best players (understanding and executing the highest qualities the game offers) rather than first recognizing the flim-flam methods resorted to (fertilizer comes to mind) which in turn often emphasizes the game’s weaknesses which usually are artificial and not really a normal nor useful part of the game, but, at least to me, would be similar to discussing the mass murder of people rather than the better opportunity to spend their time allowing them to live longer.

All the above, except perhaps the immediate above, led the ACBL (and its advisors) to not allow Multi for fear of the same thing happening here.

IMO, the right decision then, but now, many years later the ACBL could allow it with certain restrictions (such as recording Multi’s for inspection), since, if done, would quickly allow veteran bridge detectives to almost immediately decide what was going on, either nothing untoward or the other extreme, dirty, filthy, cheating!

Other political views are plentiful from others, but IMO, the parent organization needs to do what is best for a honest game which, in turn,
needs to be its #1 concern, without which, it will be almost as bad for bridge (particularly ftof) as has the pandemic.

Bill CubleyJanuary 24th, 2021 at 7:33 pm

I guess I am a rare reader who has played against Multi. The odds strongly favor a weak 2 bid, so I bid as if I were dealing with a weak 2. Multi’s partner also has the problem of which suit to bid.

On partnership discussion. I tell new partners they are only making ONE mistake today. Partnership selection. I also tell them that I never question bridge judgment calls. Post session polite discussion works best. You might well hog hands as my partner and I would agree you know best. With my peers it is not necessary to matter over who declares. This is why I f freely bid 5+ majors over strong 2 clubs. It is easier to simply bid game to show a minimal response.

Patrick CheuJanuary 24th, 2021 at 9:00 pm

Hi Bobby, I don’t think it’s often that a small slam is made missing three aces including the Ace of trumps..North KQ964 void AKJ6542 7 East 872 AT T98 Q9532 South JT53 KQJ643 void K84 North got to 6S doubled by West A 98752 Q73 AJT6. East led the AH..and declarer ruffed and 2D ruff and KH c disc and JS..and Ac ruffed..Hope you are well and since discovering this column a few years back,I have learned so much and the people here are very supportive of one another..what more can one ask for? Regards Patrick

bobbywolffJanuary 25th, 2021 at 1:45 am

Hi Bill,

While I cannot attest to your partnership harmony, you would certainly be, at the very least, a candidate for Mr. Congeniality at the bridge table.

Would I be considered immodest if I disclosed what an understanding and helpful partner I am with all my current and former partners (with former far outnumbering current) as long as they never made a mistake, took all the blame and paid the entry fee?

Other than that Mr. Cubley, I did enjoy the play.

Bridge that was, not the famous one which Mrs. Lincoln was attending.

Stay safe and please help bring back face to face competition, not the kind where everyone plays double dummy, never guesses wrong, and ultimately never admits to any wrongdoing.

However, by writing the above, all I am doing is being jealous of all those better players who are close to perfect.

Good luck, stay safe and always be as modest as you can. A question–is it good or not to have a lot to be modest about?

bobbywolffJanuary 25th, 2021 at 1:52 am

Hi Patrick,

Finally you are realizing how wonderful bridge players have always been.

In only a few years, they might even move ahead of politicians in telling the truth, never complaining, being good losers, doing favors for opponents and all other good deeds.

Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words. You always find a way to bring good cheer. Never, ever change.

BTW in 1971 at the World Championship held in Taiwan the French bid to seven, missing all four aces. However they did fall short of scoring it up.