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Discretion is the better part of valor

Sept. 21, 1959
Sept. 21, 1959

Table of Contents
Sept. 21, 1959

Mr. Rockne
Coming Events
Wonderful World Of Sport
Football
Spectacle
How To Watch Football
Scouting Reports
Small Colleges
  • They may be small and they may belong to either the NCAA or NAIA, but it is hard to beat them for spirit and enthusiasm

Don't Get Hutch Mad
Cards
Food
Track
Horse Racing
Golf
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

Discretion is the better part of valor

Some thoughts on defensive bidding, in which our bridge expert points out that while counterattacking is vital it must never be done without a definite purpose in mind

When one has committed to memory the high points of the valuation table, when he has learned proper responses and how to handle the rebid, it would appear that his basic training is over and that he is ready for serious combat. That would be true if we operated in a vacuum. But nature abhors a vacuum, and so do bridge players. In real life, adversaries are always with us and we must learn to live with them. We must not only know how to counter an enemy attack, we must also learn how to do some attacking on our own part. Thus, defensive bidding.

This is an article from the Sept. 21, 1959 issue Original Layout

In a discussion of defensive bidding perhaps the first thought to come to mind is the overcall, the term we apply to a competitive bid when an adversary has opened the auction. There are a great many players who, still operating under the influence of a prior generation, are constantly champing at the bit to enter the auction when an opponent has opened. In those pioneer days, the bleeding defender who had been briskly doubled and stung by his left-hand opponent was not apt to profit by the error he had committed in overcalling—even in the face of innumerable disasters he could be heard to wail (for perhaps the hundredth time), "But partner, I had a perfect right to overcall. I had a trick and a half." (Today he is more apt to tell you that he had eight or nine points.)

Overcalling without a definite purpose may help your opponents instead of harassing or road-blocking them.

If you are contemplating an over-call, consider the value of suggesting a favorable lead to partner. If your right-hand opponent has opened with one club, an overcall of one spade is clearly in order with:

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

Surely this is the suit you wish partner to lead if your left-hand opponent becomes declarer. But we would decline to act if our holding were:

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

There are other hands on which action is taken in an effort to make a legitimate try for the part score. Against an opening bid of one club you hold:

[5 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[Jack of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]

An overcall of one heart is recommended with a singleton spade. A takeout double is not appealing. If it becomes expedient to do so, you intend to bid diamonds on the next round.

When available, an overcall by you at the level of two may prove irksome to your opponents, and it is the indicated procedure where you have a good suit. Do not be influenced so much by the number of high cards you hold as by the texture of your trump suit.

When your right-hand opponent opens with one of a suit, an overcall of one no trump means exactly what it says: that you are prepared to play the hand at no trump and that you would have chosen that call had you been the opener. You must therefore have values in at least three suits and a sound stopper in the suit adversely bid. Your point count should be between 16 and 18.

THE TAKEOUT DOUBLE

This is one of the most valuable weapons in the bridge player's armory and, curiously enough, the most widely abused. It is the most common way to announce strength when an adversary has opened the bidding, and it announces that the doubler has a hand which he presumes to be at least as strong as that held by the opening bidder.

The takeout doubler should constantly bear in mind that he has forced his partner to bid and so he should be prepared to furnish his partner with a suitable dummy. Raises should be given sparingly until it is ascertained that partner has some concrete values.

WHAT DEFENSIVE BID WOULD YOU MAKE ON EACH OF THESE HANDS?

1 As South you hold:

[Jack of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

E

1 [Spade]

S

?

2 As South you hold:

[7 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[6 of Diamonds]

E

1 [Spade]

S

?

3 As South you hold:

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

W

1 [Heart]

N

1 [Spade]

E

PASS

S

?

4 As South you hold:

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

E

1 [Club]

S

?

5 As South you hold:

[Ace of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]

E

1 [Club]

S

?

6 As South you hold:

[King of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

E

1 [Spade]

S

?

7 As South you hold:

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

W

1 [Heart]

N

DOUBLE

E

PASS

S

?

8 As South you hold:

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

W

1 [Heart]

N

DOUBLE

E

PASS

S

?

9 As South you hold:

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

E

1 [Heart]
2 [Heart]

S

DOUBLE
?

W

PASS

N

1 [Spade]

10 As South you hold:

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

E

1 [Spade]
PASS

S

DOUBLE
?

W

PASS

N

2 [Heart]

11 As South you hold:

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

N

1 [Spade]

E

DOUBLE

S

?

12 As South you hold:

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

N

1 [Spade]

E

DOUBLE

S

?

PHOTO

THE ANSWERS

1 Pass. Despite the fact that your hand is the equal of an opening bid it would not be safe for you to over-call with two hearts. If the trumps are massed against you a 500 or 700 set is not beyond expectancy, and the opposition may not even be able to score a game. Do not overcall at the two-level when you may lose more than two trump tricks.

2 Two hearts. Although this hand is worth only 12 points (9 in high cards and 3 for distribution) it is a reasonable overcall because there is a legitimate prospect for game if partner can support your suit. The quality of your heart suit offers you reasonable protection against disaster.

3 Two spades. Do not bid two diamonds—you might end up in the wrong contract. Partner's spade over-call is surely based on a fair five-card suit, and your three trumps headed by the king should be adequate support. With such support for partner's suit the raise of his suit is always to be preferred.

4 Double, intending to show the spades later. A mere overcall of one spade would be starkly inadequate, and might result in the loss of a heart game if partner had a smattering of strength and four fairish hearts.

5 Double. You have the ideal holding: excellent support in all unbid suits. It is well to visualize your hand as a dummy for partner, and in that case it will be worth 14 points in support of any suit partner bids.

6 Two spades, the strongest possible overcall. With this hand you should be willing to commit your partnership to an ultimate game contract. The immediate cue bid (an overcall in the opponent's suit) is unconditionally forcing to game and permits a more relaxed sequence of bids on future rounds, i.e., no subsequent jumps will be required. Should your partner show strength in the right places, a slam might even be available.

7 One spade. Don't pass from fright. Partner's double is a demand for you to bid and the only excuse for passing is the belief that you can defeat the opponents' bid. For this you need four defensive tricks, three of which must be in the trump suit. Do not be afraid that your response will excite partner; he should not undertake any contract which can't be fulfilled largely by his own cards.

8 Two spades. Your hand has the value of 11 points, and so you should be an outstanding favorite to make game. You need not fear to jump in a four-card suit. Partner's double of one heart implies good support for the other major.

9 Pass. Don't forget that you doubled on minimum values and partner has made a forced response. Assuming that partner is alert to his obligations, you may pass with the assurance that if he has any positive values he will not submit meekly to the opposition but will carry on the fight. When you have forced your partner to bid, you should not raise to the level of two without at least 16 points.

10 Three hearts. A raise to game would not be justified for you have forced partner to bid and he may have little or nothing. A raise to the three-level will announce to partner that you have a very good hand (at least 19 points) in support of hearts, and should induce him to go on to game with ever so little.

11 Redouble. This bid does not necessarily promise trump support, but it does request the opening bidder to pass at his next opportunity. Now, as the defender is forced to extricate himself from the redouble, you will be in a position to inflict punishment.

If partner is permitted to play one spade redoubled, your high-card strength should carry him through, even against a bad trump break.

12 One no trump. You lack the strength for a redouble, yet if you pass it may prove too difficult to enter the auction later. The best strategy is to advise partner of your moderate values by bidding one no trump. This will place him in position to contest further, should that appear to be expedient.