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Content with the pass

Oct. 10, 1960
Oct. 10, 1960

Table of Contents
Oct. 10, 1960

Hockey
Rocks
Epic Of Golf
  • Jack Nicklaus wrote it on the greens and fairways of Merion, during the World Team Championship, with the best display by an amateur since Bobby Jones's Grand Slam in 1930.

Seven Bold Bucs
Automobiles
Football
Pro Football
Baseball's Week
Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

Content with the pass

In tournament bridge there is only one permissible way for a player to pass his chance to bid, and that is simply to say, "Pass." Anything else, even "No bid," once quite acceptable, is frowned upon generally and banned in international competition.

This is an article from the Oct. 10, 1960 issue Original Layout

Bidding wasn't always so strictly governed. In the early days of the game one of the politer forms of accepting the last bid was to say, "Content." This suggestion that partner remain quiet was banished for obvious reasons, but there are occasions today when a player might like to revive the quaint bid. Present-day bidders have the penalty double with which they can convey the same "keep quiet" message to partner. But the bid is not always satisfactory, as West unhappily discovered in the following deal, which was told to me by my new teammate, Boris Koytchou, the Parisian who moved to New York to join the faculty of the Card School.

Only a player with a pronounced aversion to being excluded from the auction would have ventured a raise to five clubs with the hand South held. But this particular South was the kind of competitor who was all but ignited by such pre-emptive tactics as East's jump to four spades.

And West, on this occasion, was a player who would have preferred that once-proper call "Content," had it still been available. He was so well pleased with the five-club bid that he wanted nothing to disturb it. Therefore he felt he had to double in order to warn partner not to rebid his spade suit.

Left undisturbed, this five-club contract would have been set, if only for the reason that East would have been on lead. After cashing two spade tricks, a third spade would have permitted West to overruff dummy for the setting trick.

However, West's double of five clubs had given South a chance to escape. So, uncertain of the quality of his partner's club suit (the opening bid could conceivably have been made on as few as three to the ace or king), South discreetly retired to five hearts. The only thing that justified West's double of that contract was his conviction that South was firmly in a trap.

Dummy won the opening club lead, cashed the heart ace and led a heart to declarer's queen. The jack of clubs was finessed, and another club lead established the suit. West's last trump was drawn with dummy's heart jack, and South's losing spades were discarded on the long clubs. In the end, declarer lost only one diamond trick.

Why didn't North redouble? Would East have gone on in spades if West hadn't doubled, or if North had redoubled? At five spades doubled, would East have gone down two tricks? (This would have demanded a perfect defense with North overtaking the jack of clubs opening, cashing the ace of diamonds and underleading the heart ace to allow South to lead a diamond for North to ruff.) All of these questions are academic—and unanswerable, which is probably just as well.

One question, however, South himself volunteered to answer. "The ice-cold slam was not biddable," he contended, "as West refused to tell us in advance that he did not have a spade to lead."

EXTRA TRICK
When you think you can set the opponents, don't double if there is any possibility of their escaping to something safer. Just say, "Pass."

PHOTO

East-West vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

NORTH

1 [Club]
PASS
PASS

EAST

4 [Spade]
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

5 [Club]
5 [Heart]
PASS

WEST

DOUBLE
DOUBLE

Opening lead: 6 of clubs