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Weekly updates from Kit Jackson offering hints and tips for the modern Bridge player. Enjoy!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Magic of 25 Points - 8 Oct 2009

It is a probability - not a certainty - that if you and your partner have a combined point count of 25 high card points (hcp) then you can make "game". Game is either, 3NT, 4 Hearts or 4 Spades. If we are balanced we choose 3NT; if we have eight hearts or eight spades between the two hands, we choose the trump game. Game is also 5 Clubs or 5 Diamonds, but because that is 11 tricks, you'll need another 3-4 hcp or longer trumps.

The reason we like to be in game if we can is that - if you make the contract - you will receive a BONUS! Sadly this does not mean you will get a tax-free 6-figure lump sum into your offshore banking account, but merely a few hundred extra points added to your score. To be precise: 300 if you are not vulnerable and 500 if you are.

But how can we tell? I hear you cry. Well this is why you have to try to tell your partner not only what suits you like, but also what the approximate strength of your hand is. When you open 1NT partner knows you have 12 - 14 hcp. Now partner can do a quick, (or even slow), bit of mental arithmetic and will know either:

game is NOT on 10 or less
game MIGHT be on 11 - 12
game IS on 13+

The same is true when partner opens one of a suit and then re-bids 1NT. Now partner has 15 - 16 hcp and game might be on opposite 9 or 10 hcp. Likewise when partner opens one of a suit and re-bids 2NT, this shows 17 - 18 hcp and game might be on opposite 7 or 8 hcp.

You will see that if partner doesn't open 1NT, it will be the second bid that tries to give you a more accurate picture of their hand. By the time partner has made this second bid you will probably have a fair inkling of what is going on. You will have added partner's probable points to your known points. Now, with less than 25, you know game is unlikely, but with 25+ - Go for it!

The same is true of responses to the one level suit opening bid. A one level response promises anything from 6 - 19 hcp. If opener merely repeats the first-bid suit at the two level (showing a 5+ suit and 11 - 15 hcp), responder now knows that game may not be on if they hold 6 - 9 hcp. But if opener jumps a level at the second bid, (16 - 20 hcp), responder knows that game might be on with as little as 6 points!

If the first response to a one level opening bid is at the two level (10+ hcp), opener knows that game might be on with 15 hcp.

If the combined total is 25 points - go for game.
If the combined total is less than 25, stop in a sensible part-score as soon as you can.

As the above shows, it is quite possible to be accurate in the bidding and safely arrive unmolested at all sorts of different "perfect" contracts. This why, when the opposition start bidding, WE GET IN THE WAY! We overcall, we double, we jump to the three level - in short anything at all we can do by fair means or foul to mess up this cosy little fireside chat our opponents would like to indulge in - we do it. We are the terrorists in the stately home. As the crumpet warms by the fire, there we are, smashing the brittle crockery of constructive bidding to smithereens.

The bidding starts (1C)-pass-( 1D)- ?? and you hold:


You can bid 1S. You could even bid 2S as a weak jump overcall. But what's happening in hearts? partner could have bid them but didn't. So there is a strong possibility that between them the opponents have an as yet undiscovered bounty - a heart fit. Maybe enough for game, who knows? Well as yet, more importantly, they don't know either. So now is the time to get nasty and stage that palace coup. Bid 3 S!

From here on in anything might happen: you could be doubled and go down - horribly. You could actually make it. They might bid 4H and go one off. They might make 4H. On a really good day they bid and make 4H +2. They made a slam. So what? They didn't bid it! See how there are so many possible outcomes and if you think about it only one of them is bad - that you go down doubled. And even that may not be too bad if they could have made game (420) and you only went down 2 (300).

And this is what you will enjoy about duplicate - the extra parameter of the score. You've got to get that inner terrorist out …

1 comment:

  1. Nah, 3 spades!!! Bid 4, by the LTC there must be game, so 4 spades it is. Witby would have!