Bidding

Oct 282002
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: D10

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

Dbl

North

Pass

East
2NT
Pass
South
3 D
Pass

 

Today Gee sits South and hears a first-hand 2NT opener to his right. In a red suit his hand can be expected to take approximately three tricks. Applying the rule of six, which states that one should always preempt six tricks above expectation at equal vulnerability (seven favorable, five unfavorable), Gee accordingly bids 3D, showing diamonds and another. STCPs™ should note that this is simply the old 2-3-4 rule of preempts, adjusted for expert play.

West doubles, showing cards and an interest in penalty — it would be unfair to call it Bones when he knows that E/W have at least three-fourths of the deck — and North, the long-suffering Mini-Gee, passes. It looks to the casual observer like he should take the logo save; three hearts goes for a mere 800 on best play. But Mini realizes that in hearts he, not Gee, would be declarer, and the three-trick expert adjustment would no longer apply. (Students of Gee, as opposed to Gee himself, are entitled to a one- or two-trick adjustment at most.) Under the circumstances he has no choice but to pass.

East is delighted to leave in the double with his trump stack, and West leads the D10, ducked to Gee’s jack. One trick for declarer. Gee leads a spade, won by East, who returns another spade, pumping the chump. Two tricks for declarer. Gee switches to the HQ now, too late. East wins the HK, cashes the two top trumps, and plays a third round of spades. Gee discards a club, which doesn’t help. Club ace and another club to Gee’s CK. Three tricks for declarer. Another heart to West’s HA. West cashes clubs, and Gee ruffs in with the DQ for his fourth, and last, trick.

Of course it is only fair to note that had Mini-Gee shown up with a stone yarborough, instead of the SJ, slam in spades or notrump would be cold for E/W, and sticks and wheels would be a mere setback instead of a calamity. In fact six spades is an excellent contract, going down only because of the bad trump break and the offside CK. And how could our hero be expected to foresee that?

Oct 172002
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: East
Lead: D3

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

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

1NT
3 S

East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 C
Pass

 

Today we see captain/crew theory in action. Mini-Gee kicks things off with a second-hand spade opener. Gee raises to two, immediately requests an undo, and changes his (correct) bid to 1NT on the grounds that it was an “accident.” Since 2S was correct this sounds right to me.

Mini-Gee jump shifts to 3C. Any STCP™ who thinks Mini is a queen or so short for this game-forcing bid is advised to review Gee’s comprehensive explanation of captaincy theory. The opener, to repeat, cannot be captain. The responder places the contract.

Which is fine. Gee knows that Mini-Gee has an excellent hand with at least nine cards in the blacks (he would bid 2NT or 3NT if he were more balanced). Holding nothing more than four-card spade support and three clubs to the A10, he makes the expert decision of signing off in three spades. Mini, as crew, has no choice but to pass, and pass he does. Gee approves wholeheartedly: no results merchant he.

“Magic hand,” he says, as West leads a low diamond for the second overtrick. “Claim 6, Efes. Give a heart and let’s go on.” Efes, less ambitious, decides to concede the defense’s natural trump trick as well and claim five. In the post mortem Gee waxes positively effusive. The spec comments, since I lack the transcript, must be left to the imagination.

G: Efes, I command [sic] you for passing 3S… first time ever I see you observe the captain/crew relationship rules properly:-)))))))))
g: yeah..i had too [siccer]..why did u not bid 4 :-(
G: was afraid you would go on
g: noooo
g: u r the capt
G: I am very proud of you, kido [siccest]:-)

Oct 132002
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: CJ

petit_g
S J 10 7 6 4
H A 6 3
D Q 9 2
C J 2
icewater
S A K Q 5 3 2
H Q
D 7 6 5
C Q 9 8
[W - E] justinl
S 9 8
H K J 10 8 4
D A J 4
C 7 6 4
Maestro
S
H 9 7 5 2
D K 10 8 3
C A K 10 5 3
West
1 S
2 S
Pass
North
Pass
Dbl
Pass
East
1NT
Rdbl
South
2 C
Pass

 

Today, for once, a hand on which Gee’s partner really does sell him down the river. No, really.

Gee, South, at unfavorable vulnerability, makes a reasonable 2C bid over West’s 1S opener and East’s forcing notrump. Double is the other choice, but the awful hearts could easily put you down 500 in 2H against a part score the other way.

Mini-Gee, North, doubles West’s 2S for penalties, which is fine but for the fact that you have to back up bids like that with actual defense. Seaman Lall promptly redoubles, alerting it to the specs as a Bones Redouble. We owe this modern extension of the Bones Principle™ to Ira Chorush. It can be enumerated as follows: When Gee doubles a freely bid contract for penalties, always redouble, relying on a combination of errors in judgment and defense. It will prove to be a profitable action 90% of the time.

Justin’s alert, then, was erroneous, as it was Mini-Gee, not Gee, who doubled. But since the contract is a part score, perhaps we could safely call it a miniature Bones Redouble.

The contract looks to be off 2 on casual inspection, and Mini gets the defense off to a fine start by leading the CJ. Gee cashes two clubs and gives his partner a third round ruff with his lowest club, the 3. I’m not sure what this means in the strange world of Roman carding, but ordinarily it would ask for a diamond shift. Mini takes his ruff, ponders the layout, and leads a low heart.

Now the hand is cold. Simply play the HK and lead another high heart back, discarding a diamond. The second diamond loser goes on the remaining heart, and declarer loses two clubs, a ruff, a trump, and a heart, making 2.

But West, in a fit of generosity, lets the heart run around to his queen, sticking himself in hand and giving the defense another chance. His best chance now is to cash three rounds of trump and throw North in with a fourth round, hoping he will try to cash his HA instead of shifting to diamonds. Instead he plays three rounds of trump and leads a diamond. North plays the 9 and declarer ducks in dummy. Gee now makes his one defensive error of the hand and it’s a beauty: knowing that his partner holds DQ and HA and that a diamond return will always beat the contract, he lets the D9 hold, allowing his partner to try to cash the heart. Sure enough, North, who can also mark his partner for the DK, plays the HA, and the Bones Redouble cashes in for 640.

I apportion blame for this catastrophe 80%-20% N/S. Declarer earns demerits for nearly allowing a cold hand to get away and dummy, Seaman Lall, for an incorrect alert of an unsound redouble. Gee’s sins look minor by comparison, and it’s only fair that he should be the hero every once in a while.

Oct 122002
 

Both Vul
MPs
Dealer: South
Lead: C3

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

Pass
3 H
Pass

North

2 S
Pass
Pass

East

Dbl
4 H
Pass

South
1 S
Pass
Pass

 

Sacrificing used to be a simple matter of comparing the points you expect to lose by passing with the points you expect to lose by bidding, and acting accordingly. In today’s hand, for instance, Gee, South, opens a spade in first chair and hears a pass from West and a spade raise from his partner. East doubles, West, who ought to bid 4H straightaway, bids 3H, and East, who has no business raising hearts, raises to game anyway. Sometimes two wrongs do make a right.

Back to our hero. Does he sac?

Let us reason together. With a 2-2 spades break unlikely on the auction, South holds about 1 1/2 defensive tricks, which means North needs 2 1/2 more to beat four hearts. Not happening.

So how many tricks do N/S take in spades? Nine is the normal expectation; it sounds like North has a stiff heart. Ten is conceivable, and fewer than eight is just about impossible. Down 2 doubled is 500, vs. 620 or 650, so you sacrifice, right?

Wrong: you pass. Sure, West eventually finds the CQ and loses just two trump for 98% of the matchpoints, but there are more serious considerations:

a-yummy: lucky i think
Spec #1: crash test helmet
G: I swear I was about to bid 4S but I did not want to hear about bones double tomorrow morning
Spec #2: lol
Spec #1: excuses
G: you guys feed the ego of that maniac by sending him stuff he can hit me with
Spec #2: oh man
Spec #3: lol
Spec #4: pills stopped working
Spec #1: the only maniac with an ego is the one we are currently watching
Spec #3: rofl
Spec #5: we are looking for sympathy here?
Spec #5: it seems like the wrong place to me :)
G: I cannot play bridge under fear… I’d better stop after this hand… I am not playing my game
Spec #6: sigh
Spec #1: fear?
G: I am playing the game of that a**h*** aaron
Spec #5: anxiety attack — anyone have any prozac?

The pass, then, if I understand it correctly, hedges against the possibility of another Bones Principle logo appearing on the site, and what looks like a refusal to sacrifice turns out, in fact, to a be a deeper sacrifice — a logo sac, as it were. And just as I thought I was starting to figure this game out…

Oct 112002
 

N/S Vul
IMPs
Dealer: North
Lead: C3

laurel
S K 8 7 3
H Q 9 5 2
D 8 6
C K 6 2
samik
S 9 6 2
H K 8 7 6
D 10 3
C A J 8 5
[W - E] jdonn
S A J
H J 4 3
D K Q 9 2
C Q 10 7 3
Gerard
S Q 10 5 4
H A 10
D A J 7 5 4
C 9 4
West

Dbl
2 C
Pass
Pass

North
Pass
1NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
1 C
Pass
Pass
3 C
South
1 D
Pass
2 S
Pass

 

Every call is normal today until West’s 2C is passed around to Gee. Does he pass? Nah, E/W have about half the points, why sell out to two lousy clubs? OK, does he bid 2D? Well, his partner implied a diamond doubleton, but she could have just one, that seems problematic. Yet partner did promise something in the majors with her 1NT bid…clearly there’s only one answer: yes, it’s 2S, on Q10xx, the passed-hand balancing reverse, with two and a half twists from the pike position.

Again Gee’s masterly table feel has landed his side in their best fit. East, staggered, manages to recover in time to compete to 3C on nothing in particular — although I don’t blame him for bidding something, anything, on that auction — and there the matter ends. 3C has no chance against ordinary defense, but unorthodox bidding often calls for unorthodox play. Gee opens the HA, ignores his partner’s encouraging 5, and shifts to the DA and another diamond. This is the end of the defense. Declarer wins the second diamond and plays trump ace and another trump. (North now has no way to get to South’s hand for a diamond ruff to kill one of declarer’s discards. This is the vital importance of cashing the HA at trick 1.) He wins the spade return, draws the last trump, tosses two hearts on the diamonds, and claims.

STCPs™ should pause here to ponder the exquisite timing involved. The heart ace and another heart will defeat the contract. So too will the diamond ace and another diamond (provided North finds the heart shift). Only the alert defender who thinks to lead both aces can allow the hand to make. Be honest now: did you expect anything less?

Oct 102002
 

None Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: C3

laurel
S A Q J 8
H J 8 7 6 3
D Q 9 2
C 4
sauron
S K 7 6 4
H K 10 2
D 7 3
C 9 7 6 2
[W - E] jdonn
S 10 3 2
H 9 4
D K J 5
C Q J 8 5 3
Maestro
S 9 5
H A Q 5
D A 10 8 6 4
C A K 10
West
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
North
Pass
4 H
Pass
Pass
East
1NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
Dbl
Pass
Rdbl

 

You ever hear a score and wonder to yourself, “How did that happen?” I do all the time. So when I was told that Gee lost an eight-board team game 31-12, I had to wonder, “How did he win 12 IMPs?” Here’s how.

Today’s hand was reported to me by one of the participants, one might even say the principal culprit, jdonn, and I can do no better than to let him tell it.

“I get the party started,” Josh writes, “with a 1NT psyche 3rd seat, knowing Gee is bound to have a good hand and doesn’t have a penalty double available. He doubles to show a single suiter (though I hesitate to call those diamonds a ‘suit’) and his partner bids…4 hearts!?!?! Personally I would be worried that my partner’s suit might be clubs, but that’s just me.

“Gerard uses his famous table feel to work out to pass 4 hearts, not playing his partner for anything like his bid (Axxx K109xxxx x x or the like, which leaves me room for a 16 count and might explain his partner’s initial pass). I would of course be playing my partner for Jxxxx as well on this auction. Anyway my partner quite reasonably decides to double, not knowing what they or I am up to. Laurel now decides that even though Jxxxx opposite no hint of support is good enough to triple jump to game, AQJx isn’t good enough to run to when the first suit gets doubled.

“Gerard now ships it back. Interesting how a hand that last round didn’t consider itself good enough to explore to the 5 level becomes absolutely confident of making 4, when his only new information is that the opponents have doubled him. I consider a run to 5 clubs but quickly decide that will only make things worse (indeed, despite my partner’s club support, I am on a diamond guess for down 6/7 in 5 clubs doubled). So I suck it up for -1080.

“The post mortem sheds little light on their adventurous auction.

jdonn: sorry partner, I thought you had opened 1 diamond. I need to go to bed and get my vision checked :o
Sauron: no problem partner
Sauron: strange bidding by opps as well, X as single suit
Sauron: and then 4H from hell
Gerard: yes… we play DONT
Gerard: not sure where the 4h comes from:-)
Laurel: do we play dont?
Laurel: lolllllllllllllllllllllllll
Laurel: i thought we played capp
Gerard: was happy to hear 4h anyway:-)

“I, still reeling, and wondering how 4H is any better opposite a capp double than a dont double, will take a nap now.”

At least it wasn’t sticks & wheels.

Oct 092002
 

None Vul
MPs
Dealer: West
Lead: H6

classact
S 8 6 3
H A 2
D Q 9 5 2
C A Q 8 6
petit_g
S K J 9 7 2
H K 9 7
D 10 8 4
C K 5
[W - E] Maestro
S 4
H 10 8 5 3
D A J 7 6 3
C J 10 2
a-yummy
S A Q 10 5
H Q J 6 4
D K
C 9 7 4 3
West
Pass
1 S
Pass
2 H
Pass
Pass
North
1 D
Pass
Pass
Pass
Dbl
East
Pass
1NT
2 D
3 D
Pass
South
1 H
Dbl
Pass
Pass
Pass

 

Today we have the remarkable spectacle of a balancer being hanged by his partner and hanging him in return. And this is just the beginning.

The auction cannot be faulted through Mini-Gee’s 1S overcall. Gee’s 1NT, though brave, shows, to most, something other than a six count and a stiff in the suit of his passed-hand partner.

The double scuttles what is left of Gee’s courage, as the words “Bones Principle”* thunder through his mind like a herd of charging elephants across the Serengeti. He pulls to 2D.

Over this Mini-Gee, with three cards in both reds, finds the imaginative bid of 2H, pulling to the suit his partner didn’t bid. Your basic expert would be ecstatic to find a 4-4 heart fit to play at the two level; not Gee. He persists with 3D, off 3 doubled for 500 and a stone matchpoint zero.

What possessed Mini-Gee to bid 2H with K97 remains a mystery. Perhaps they play transfers here — an unusual treatment, considering that the opponents have already bid two suits, including hearts, but one never knows. And although to the STCP™ it looks like Mini-Gee could have a stiff or void in diamonds, Gee divines Mini’s error (table feel!) and pulls to the superior 3D contract. What looks like luck is in fact a calculated risk by an expert to improve the contract.

Three brilliant bids in sequence, poor Gee still nets a bottom. Some days it just doesn’t pay a guy to get out of bed.

*Although the Bones Principle did not come directly into play, its specter was enough to affect the hand. Hence, a logo.

Oct 082002
 

E/W Vul
IMPs
Dealer: West
Lead: SQ

pq2
S 8 7 4
H 5 3
D K Q 10 4
C A K 9 7
devil
S Q 3
H Q J 8 7
D 9 8 5 3 2
C 5 4
[W - E] domminae
S A J 9 6 5
H A
D A 6
C Q J 6 3 2
Maestro
S K 10 2
H K 10 9 6 4 2
D J 7
C 10 8
West
Pass
Pass
2 S
Dbl
North
1 C
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
1 S
Dbl
Pass
Pass
South
2 H
Pass
3 H
Pass

 

Today we are doubly fortunate, with lessons from the bidding and the play. North in first seat opens 1C instead of 1D, for reasons that elude me. East makes a pretty ordinary 1S overcall. Now our hero has a problem. He lacks the strength for a 2H free bid, yet, as we know, it is never correct to make a negative double with a five-card suit, let alone a six-bagger. Passing never enters the expert mind. What to do? Make the free bid anyway. West is happy to defend, and North, too, presciently passes this ordinarily forcing bid. East reopens with a double, and West wisely ignores his diamonds in favor of supporting with Qx of spades. 2S probably makes, but our hero won’t settle for -110. The STCP™ who doesn’t have his bid in the first place pulls in his horns: the expert rebids his suit.

West’s double of 3H is not Bones, as some readers may assume. Sure, Gee is declaring, but West has a hand, and has heard an auction, that would prompt a double under normal circumstances. One can argue, of course, that under normal circumstances we would not have heard today’s auction at all.

West leads the SQ, ducked to declarer’s SK. Gee leads the DJ; East wins the ace and cashes two spades, West discarding a club on the second one. Gee ruffs the fourth round of spades with the nine; West overruffs with jack and shifts to a club, won by Gee in dummy as West shows an even count. He leads a low trump, which isn’t optimal but is as good as anything else on the layout. East wins the stiff ace and leads another club. West ruffs and returns a diamond.

Gee leads a trump from dummy, East showing out. Now he hesitates, and hesitates some more, and finally ducks, for -500. The beauty of this play does not lie in the mere fact that he lost the trump count; this can happen to anyone, although to some more than others. It lies in Gee’s absolute assurance that there was more than one trump out. After all, if you had any doubt, since there’s no reason to force the defense to take its “winner” now, wouldn’t you play the HK to be on the safe side? You and I would. That is not the master’s way.

Oct 072002
 

None Vul
MPs
Dealer: West
Lead: CA

sunday
S K 6 4
H Q 6 4 3 2
D 6 5
C Q 9 4
puzzi
S 3
H A J 10 9
D J 9 8 3 2
C A K J
[W - E] pinpin
S 10 8 5 2
H 7 5
D A Q 10 7
C 10 6 5
Maestro
S A Q J 9 7
H K 8
D K 4
C 8 7 3 2
West
1NT
Pass
3 D
Pass
North
Pass
Pass
3 S
Pass
East
Pass
Dbl
Dbl
South
2 S
Pass
Pass

 

Before today’s hand, the last in a session, Gee exhorts the partnership to wind things up “flamboyantly,” and they do not disappoint.

The auction is remarkable. I venture to suppose that West’s 1NT is not every expert’s choice, and venture further that East, for one, might disagree, judging from her double of Gee’s balancing 2S. West pulls to 3D (which makes four), but leaves in the second double after North makes a reasonable-looking spade raise.

West does his best to cooperate on defense as well, leading the CA, shifting to the HA, cashing the second high club, and continuing a second heart. East signals even on the hearts and odd on the clubs. Gee wins the second heart. At this point there are two ways to avoid a second diamond loser, and the diligent reader may wish to set himself an exercise before he continues: how can declarer go down? (For a hint, consult yesterday’s hand.)

Gee begins by playing three rounds of trump, ending in dummy. He now plays the HQ, which East ruffs with her last trump. Gee overruffs, and one chance to avoid the second diamond loser is lost. Yet this is mere prologue. He now leads to dummy’s CQ, and finds the brilliant play of leading another heart, discarding a diamond, and leaving the defense with the diamond ace for the setting trick. Gee’s idea of a “flamboyant” finish was probably a top, like making 3SX, say. But tops come every hand. To manufacture a loser out of thin air — this requires a master’s touch.

Oct 052002
 

E/W Vul
MPs
Dealer: South
Lead: D3

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

Pass
Pass
3 C
Pass
Pass

North

Pass
Pass
3 D
Dbl

East

1 S
Dbl
4 C
Pass

South
Pass
2 D
Pass
Pass
Pass

Gee noted in his incisive discussion of yesterday’s hand that he made a special point of correcting Mini-Gee’s lead of the spade deuce very mildly, “not wanting to look nasty towards [his partner].” And surely no one understands the importance of proper care and feeding of one’s partner better than Gee. As he sagely writes in Bridge Is a Conversation, “The Rule #1 of any partnership in bridge is: Never make your partner feel inadequate.”

Perhaps, then, it is a good time to watch Gee put Rule #1 into practice, with the same partner, the very next day.

Today’s auction is rather orthodox, at least until we get to the three-level or so. Quite a few players would open the North hand in third position with 11 points, good spots and four spades, but it’s borderline and I don’t fault a pass. A more serious error is to fail to show the four-card diamond support immediately. A raise to three diamonds might buy the hand; East would have to think twice about a reopening double that could force his side to play a seven-card fit at the three-level.

But at the table North passes, and E/W locate their club fit, and North bids 3D over West’s 3C, one round too late. East makes a fine competitive bid of 4C with his excellent offensive and mediocre defensive hand. This is passed around to North, who thinks, and thinks, and thinks some more, and finally doubles. Is the double a good call? North certainly had a better hand than he’d shown, but no, not really, not even at matchpoints. In a case like this Gee knows exactly what to do. First he pulls to 4D, despite the fact that he is effectively barred from the auction by North’s slow double. Then he lets his student have it:

G: efes… I am confiscating your double button forever
Spec #1: UI [“Unauthorized information.” —Ed.]
Spec #2: coffeehousing back in popularity?
G: in fact
G: undo please
G: I am gonna pass
Spec #1: lol
G: so he sees what happens
Spec #3: oyyyyyyy
Spec #2: oh geez
Spec #1: ah, drawn and quartered

Well, here we are in 4CX. West ruffs the diamond lead in dummy and leads trump. Mini-Gee takes the ace and shifts to a spade, ducked in dummy and won with declarer’s SJ. At this point declarer makes four easily by repeating the spade finesse, ruffing a spade and drawing trump. West decides instead to ruff another diamond first. Then she plays a second round of trump, leaving Gee with one outstanding as Mini-Gee signals hearts by discarding the 9. Now declarer repeats the spade finesse, which holds.

Declarer continues with a low spade. Gee ruffs, giving away the overtrick and ensuring the stone bottom, to make sure his partner really learns his lesson this time. After the hand they have a few more words, for repetition is the essence of pedagogy:

G: that’s what you wanted, efes?
Spec #2: which was worse? making that coffee housing comment or g undoing his bid to ‘teach his student a lesson?’
Spec #1: neither
Spec #4: petulant
Spec #1: embarrassing efes
G: efes…. you are not to double for the next 3 months
petit_g: your hand bids 4 d
petit_g: not funny at all
G: no, I agree, it is not funny… but you promised to be careful with your doubles, but you keep going
petit_g: my double was correct
Spec #2: humiliation the key to learning?
G: I dont know how to stop you from doing that
G: huh?
petit_g: i had 11 points… single club ace
G: so what, you already told me about your 11 points [Um, when was that exactly? —Ed.]
Spec #5: this from a man who the last time I played w/him threw away the setting trick in a doubled contract
petit_g: last hand for me… ty all… good nite. … good nite G