Dec 072002

To get the most out of today’s column, don’t look at the bidding until you’ve finished reading.

E/W Vul
Dealer: West
Lead: H2

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

2 S
3 C


4 C


What becomes an expert? Expert judgment.

North, regular Gee-partner Josh Donn, opens 2S, showing weak-two strength, five spades and a four-card minor. East doubles with his moose. Lesser players, holding Gee’s hand, might consider a pass to await developments. 2SX is unlikely to be passed out, and even if it is you may be better off there than in 3C. Neither side appears to have a fit and you probably want to defend.

Our hero, however, asks the obvious question with 2NT, and, after West passes, receives the obvious answer with 3C. East doubles again, for what looks like penalty this time. 3CX is destined for -300 at least. But West rescues North/South by pulling to 3H. East bids 3NT, on the in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound principle, and matters are again up to our hero.

Well, let’s see, what hope has 3NT? Five major suit tricks at an absolute maximum, one diamond, a couple of clubs at the outside, that makes eight. Gee is on lead with a diamond suit that is at least even money to set up for four tricks and a certain outside entry. 3NT, in other words, has no hope even if Josh opened with QJxxx xx xx Qxxx. On the actual layout 3NT goes for 500.

Now let’s examine the prospects for 4C. Trying to take ten tricks in a Moysian with a minority of the points is usually a losing proposition. Our hero’s hand has only a trump entry, which means the diamonds are unlikely to set up. There is no secondary fit. The chances of making 4C, or even going down only one, are approximately zero.

Guessing Gee’s actual bid will be left as an exercise for the reader.

  3 Responses to “Expert Judgment”


    Look down the column at East’s bids: X X 3N X. How many tables could generate such a sequence? Probably only Gee’s.


    One of the most underrated talents in Gee’s repertoire is his grasp of the art of sacrificial bidding; perhaps he will someday write a treatise on the subject. First he has sacrificed himself with his famous 2NT Burger bid to escape from 2SX, and then followed himself up with a sacrifice against the freely bid 3NT contract, which his expert judgement has deemed likely to make. This hand demonstrates one of the major tenets of the Bones Principle, and suggests a corollary for bidding when Gee is an opponent: When as opener you have a hand with invitational values and responder has made a limited response, ignore inviting and bid game unilaterally; Gee will usually sacrifice against what sounds like a confident bid, and when he doesn’t one has the pleasurable option of having Gee on defense, and often on opening lead. This combination will lead to a successful result 90% of the time.


    Even with a great partner like Josh, Gee would have SOMEHOW forced declarer to make the 3NT (if all else failed, he could toss his winners) thereby losing even more IMPs. He knows how bad his defense is so was better to take the chances on sacrificing in order not to lose -600.

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