Thoughts—and a new quiz—on correct bidding

Bidding is a question of deciding the price you are willing to pay—here are eight tests of your skill in appraising the risks
April 06, 1959

No doubt you have heard the report of the bridge game in which Adolf Hitler's left-hand opponent, the dealer, bid one heart. Hitler's partner passed and the next player jumped to three no trump. Adolf then bid one club which was followed by three swift passes.

I can assure you that this story is absurd. It couldn't have happened that way because any time Adolf was dealt only a measly one-club bid, the hand was declared a misdeal!

The reason for reaching into left field for this ancient wheeze is to make the point that bridge would be an easy game if the opponents never dared to bid. Easy—but dull. One of the most exciting aspects of contract bridge is the competitive auction in which each player tries to determine the price he can afford to pay for the privilege of naming the trump suit or the declaration at which his side will gain the most points or lose the fewest.

When an adversary has opened the bidding and you contemplate participating in the contest, you should first determine what type of action is best suited to your hand. Then you must decide how risky it will be for you to "come in." With an eye to strategy you should interview yourself, asking: "How big a loss am I risking and, on the other hand, how much have I to gain by bidding?" In this connection, it is a good idea for the player to bear in mind that his initial move may be only a link in a chain—so he must not "get partner excited" without good reason.

Generally speaking, a defender should avoid any action which will subject him to a loss of 500 or more points. When you compete against an opening bid you must consider the likelihood that you will be doubled.

Here then are a few examples of competitive auctions. Test your skill in appraising the value of your hand in each of the following situations:

1 Your right-hand opponent opens with one spade. What action do you take?

[Ace of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[9 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]

2 Your right-hand opponent opens with one diamond. What action do you take?

[Ace of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[6 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[10 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]

3 Your left-hand opponent has opened with one heart and your partner has doubled. What action do you take?

[Queen of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[9 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]

4 As South you hold this hand. East opens with one heart and you double. West passes and your partner bids one spade. What action do you take?

[Ace of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

5 Your left-hand opponent opens with one heart and your partner doubles. What call do you make?

[Ace of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[7 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

6 Your left-hand opponent opens with one no trump and partner doubles. What call do you make?

[Queen of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

7 Your right-hand opponent opens the bidding with one spade. What call do you make?

[7 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]

8 Your right-hand opponent opens with one spade. What action do you take?

[— of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]

GOREN'S ANSWERS

1 One no trump. This is the simplest and most direct form of strategy. You have the high card requirements for an initial bid of one no trump with protection in three suits. A mere overcall of two clubs would not do justice to your holding and though the hand possesses the high card essentials of a takeout double, we veto this procedure, for if partner were to make the more or less probable response of two hearts you would find yourself in an awkward position. An effort to extricate yourself by bidding two no trump would be an exaggeration of your values and attended with some danger. If partner happens to be weak you might just as well play the hand at one no trump, and the suggested call takes care of that contingency.

2 Double. If partner should respond with two clubs you have a reasonable escape to two hearts—and you will have described a fairly good hand. It is valued at 16 points—14 in high cards and 2 for distribution (1 for each doubleton). By merely overcalling with one heart you might miss the chance to land at a sound spade contract.

3 Bid one spade. We have little patience with the player who passes from fright when his partner makes a takeout double. For a penalty pass a player should have reasonable expectancy of four defensive tricks, and three of them should be in the trump suit. You should make the cheapest available response, which happens to be one spade. When partner doubles he asks you to bid your best suit. He always nurtures the outside hope that you may have a five-card suit; if not, then he is willing to accept a four-card suit, but in a pinch he may have to settle for a three-carder which might actually match his best suit.

Some players, when they have no good suit to show in response to a partner's double, make it a practice to respond with no trump. This does not win our approval. A response of one no trump to partner's takeout double should be based on a hand containing 8 or 9 high-card points and a stopper in the adverse suit.

4 Two spades. At first blush, partner's spade may appear to be the answer to your prayers. But, we beseech you to contain any impulse to act violently. Do not lose sight of the fact that you forced your partner to bid and he may be completely trickless. When you have conscripted partner, as in this case, don't leap to any contract which you cannot reasonably expect to fulfill in your own hand.

When you contemplate raising to three, be sure you are fortified with 19 points. This hand is worth only 17.

5 Two spades. Your hand is valued at 11 points (10 in high cards and 1 for distribution) so that if your partner's double is based on anything more than a rock-bottom minimum you may fix your sights on a game contract. The jump response in spades does not necessarily promise a strong spade suit, but does promise a reasonably good hand. Unless partner has doubled with a scant 13 points he will bid again.

6 Pass, with the expectation of a profit. Partner's double of one no trump shows a hand equivalent to an opening bid of one no trump; i.e., at least 16 points. Your 7 points assures the partnership of at least 23 points and leaves no more than 17 for the opposition.

7 Pass, An overcall of two diamonds entails the risk of a sizable penalty without offering prospects of a commensurate gain. We are not inclined to overcall at the level of two in a suit in which we may lose more than two trump tricks.

8 Two spades, an immediate cue bid in the opener's suit. The strongest of all defensive bids, it announces first-round spade control, and that the cue bidder insists on getting to game. No subsequent jumps will be necessary and thus the bidding can unfold in a relaxed manner in the probe for the best game contract. For an immediate cue bid about 23 dummy points are required. This hand is valued at 24 in support of any suit partner may bid; 19 in high cards plus 5 for the void.

PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)