Jul 052002

An experienced Gerard spectator maintains that the best way to play against him is to wait until he finishes bidding, then double — advice that resembles “buy low, sell high” in that you’re never quite sure when he is finished bidding. Nonetheless the Bones Principle can be a useful heuristic, as today’s hand demonstrates.

E/W Vul
Dealer: North
Lead: CK

S A K J 8 4
H 10 6 2
D A 7 4
C 9 3
S Q 10 3
H K J 7 4
D J 3 2
C A J 4
[W - E] Maestro
S 9 7 6 5 2
H Q 8 5
D 10 6 5
C 7 6
H A 9 3
D K Q 9 8
C K Q 10 8 5 2


1 S
3 H
2 C

With both the North and South hands almost unlimited, at unfavorable vulnerability, and with a dead flat loser-rich hand, West makes a bold takeout double. (There are other possible adjectives here, like “suicidal.”) Nonetheless if Gee, sitting East, bids 2H, it’s unlikely that South, with his powerful hand, will allow him to play. His actual bid, however, is 2NT, which is promptly doubled. Now there’s nowhere to run but 3H, which loses three diamonds, three spades, a club and a trump for down 4. I book the blame for this disaster at about 50-50. Readers are encouraged to write in with their own assessments.

  5 Responses to “The Bones Principle”


    To be exact, the Bones Principle states: “When defending versus Gee, if he is to play the hand, wait until he stops bidding; then, no matter your hand or the auction, double for penalties. It will be the winning action in about 90% of the cases.” (Note: one problem with this approach is that frequently, if you do NOT double, he will bid again anyway, and one level higher; in this manner you may collect only 800 rather than the more highly desired Sticks & Wheels available by exercising slightly more patience.)


    The Bones Principle is more aptly applied to those hands where, if you WERE to look at your hand and the auction, you would NEVER double versus an advanced declarer.


    Mebbe I was the first banee, over 2 years ago, for making comments in spec that prove “I fail to understand the workings of the EXPERT mind.”


    I do not see how the above hand exemplifies the Bones Principle. Doubles of 2nt and 3H would be automatic, regardless of who was sitting East. Indeed if one didn’t double, there could follow allegations of fielding partner’s psyche. I realise that the subject is intended primarily for entertainment and rightly so. Nonetheless I would welcome enlightenment if I have misunderstood.


    The Bones author himself made the same excellent point. This was not the best hand to choose to introduce the concept. For more classical Bones doubles, check here, here, and here.

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