Location, location, location is as desirable in real estate as communication, communication, communication is to good bridge.
Sadly, communication during an auction is hindered by the limited number of words — pass, double, redouble, numbers 1 through 7, and suits clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, and notrump — players can use in bidding. Systems have been created to provide innovative and even inspired use of these words. Examples are Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC), Montreal, Strong Club, Two Over One, and Precision. All bidding systems use various combinations of conventions. Some are even evolving as we play. A partnership can invent a system of its own. Both partners should understand and be able to explain it to the opposition upon request.
“Conventions” are two words which combine a number (1-7) with one of the bid suits. To simplify, I like to view every bid as a convention. Conventions are used to describe the contents of your 13 card hand to your partner and to receive information about his or her hand from your partner. Assume a bid of one spade is made. Once bid, bids below one spade can’t be made during the remainder of the auction. When an opponent bids one spade after one spade has already been bid, opponent’s bid is declared “insufficient.” When this happens the player to left of him or her can accept the insufficient bid letting the bidding continue from there or require opponent to correct the one spade bid to two spades. If a bid has a meaning other than the one in general use, bidder’s partner must alert opponents. Each opponent, at their turn, can always request an explanation of the bid from the bidder’s partner whether it has or hasn’t been alerted.
The bids of “double” and “redouble” can be made at any time during an auction. A “double” tells everyone you have opening count and want partner to bid. To tell partner opponent’s bid is what you would’ve bid had opponent not beat you to it, a “double” can be used. You also can “double” to tell everyone you believe opponents can’t take enough tricks to make their bid. If you think opponent’s doubled contract can make, “redouble.” I like to also “redouble” to tell partner I have 10 or more points. The “pass” bid says “Partner, I have less points than the number we agreed upon for requiring me to respond.”
Future articles will address conventions. Going on the web to Bridgeguys.com, I found countless conventions in the current repertoire of bridge. Doing justice to them all will take me well into the next century. My game stands to improve. After all, when writing about any subject, it’s wise to know plenty about it.
Call George (425-422-7936) or Mamta (425-789-1106) for information about local bridge games.