Page 0023


December 2016 English Bridge

As well as ironing out what certain bids mean, a

new pair will be developing a style, or at least an

understanding of where their natural styles differ:

t'I would never open a weak two with a four card

major (even a weak one) on the side.'

t'When you open 1® and they overcall 1t, does a

double promise 4-4 in the majors, or could you

be 3-4?'

t'I was surprised when you opened 1NT with

doubletons in both majors.'

t'Do you ever pass third-in-hand and nonvulnerable?'

Lastly, the pair needs to address behavioural

aspects that affect the partnership. What does your

partner do that annoys or distracts you? And viceversa.

At the top level this may be

the sort of thing that a sports

psychologist can help with, but

some of it is just common sense.

�´ Punctuality is very important

to some players. They will not

perform well if their partner

regularly arrives less than a

minute before the start time,

complaining about the traffic


�´ The way your partner plays his

cards can become irritating:

flicking them as he takes them

from his hand, or snapping

them as she puts them on the


�´ Those little comments, that

seemed so droll the first time

he said them, aren't really

amusing when used every


�´ If your partner feels time pressure, don't waste

time looking at all the results on the electronic

scorer ('Look, three pairs made 4´'). After the

session is over, sitting with the hand records and

a glass of wine, is the time to decide if and how

you should have bid to 4´.

�´ Don't even start to discuss complex alternative

lines of play. That just wastes mental energy and

may distract the brain from getting on with the

next deal.

And so the partnership moves into the stable

phase. Bidding misunderstandings are few and far

between (cue soft lighting and gentle mood music),

the chemistry is working, you are consistently above

average and your NGS grade is going up. Good pairs

are inviting you to play in teams events. Life is


Or - back to reality - the partnership starts to

decline. One of you wants to tinker with the system;

to experiment with odd-even discards and add

Leaping Michaels and Rubensohl; the other is

regularly making a mess of Puppet Stayman, and

things that are already on your card. Then it gets

worse; you find you are having competitive

auctions, even when the opponents are passing

throughout. You used to be playing against two

people: LHO (left-hand opponent) and RHO; now

it seems to be three; CHO (centre-hand opponent)

has joined the fray. Both of you are wondering if it

wouldn't be more fun to play with someone else. It's

time to implement the 'part' part of partnership; the

'ship' has run aground.

Did you notice? Nearly every time I have used the

word 'partnership', you could substitute the word

'marriage' and much of the advice would still apply.

Playing with the electronic scorer is obviously a

reference to mobile phones; irritating behaviour is

just as annoying in life as it is in bridge; and the

same goes for punctuality and time pressure. As for

experimenting with the wriggle and Leaping

Michaels, I'll leave them to your imagination. r

By Bill Buttle


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