Bridge Corner

Published 8:06 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bridge is a competitive, problem–solving, trick–taking game.

In last month’s Bridge Magazine there was a Letter to the Editor that netted out the difference between a game like poker and one like bridge. In poker you watch the cards and make betting decisions based on your observation. In bridge you play the cards. Each of the 13 tricks in a hand of bridge offers the possibility of being able to fool, foil or frustrate your opponents. After all, that’s why they’re called opponents.

That being said, there are rules of engagement. If you and your partner use conventions that aren’t standard, the rules require that you alert your opponents. For example, I bid 1C and my partner raises with 2C. Normally, a single raise indicates a minimum hand and some support in the trump suit, in this case clubs. However, we play inverted minors, which I’ve described in previous columns. Our meaning of the 2C response means 10 plus HCP (high card points), five-card support and an interest in getting to some kind of game level. The partner of the person bidding either announces “alert” or uses the blue alert card in the bidding box. In this case, if I open 1C and partner bids 2C, I’m the one to announce “alert.” This gives the opponents an opportunity to ask a question regarding the meaning of the bid.

If an opponent asks, I can’t just get away with inverted minors. I need to be prepared to explain in detail, “That’s 10 plus points and at least five-card support.”

Uh, oh –– what if I give the wrong explanation? As soon as I realize I’ve given the wrong explanation, it’s my responsibility to call the director.

Uh, oh –– what if the situation is reversed and my partner gives the wrong explanation? Bidding is a conversation between two people. If I correct my partner (who may either have confused conventions or simply forgot), then I’ve given unauthorized information to him. In this case I must wait until the bidding is complete before calling the director. It’s possible the director will allow the bidding to be re-opened to allow the opponents to correct their bidding.

So, while it’s perfectly OK to false card (play the higher of two touching cards instead of the lower) while defending or stick a bid in to interfere with your opponent’s bidding. It’s not OK to have secret conventions without explaining them.


Monday afternoon: Rosann Dufek and Linda Floyd

Monday evening: Carolyn Gunn and Tom Nelson

Thursday evening: Liz and Tom Milko

Friday morning: Mac LaCasse and Clark Ogle

Friday evening: Janet Johnson and Barbara Dawson

Saturday morning: Aileen Hill and Jerrie Friar

Saturday afternoon: Eleanor Binderman and Helen Thrasher


The sound you hear is a train falling off the track; you hear a convention falling into a wormhole. The train came off the tracks when South bid 2C, forgetting that this bid meant 5-5 in hearts and spades instead of 5-5 in a major/minor, which is 1H-2H or 1S-2S depending on the hand. This hand sets a new Shelby County Bridge Club record for a minus score; down seven, doubled and vulnerable. North figured South had spades and hearts. When South corrected to spades, North had no option but to re-correct to hearts, expecting five support trumps.

Oh, my.

The defense was merciless, allowing declarer to piddle away with her trumps, all the while getting three clubs, two spades and three more hearts for down seven. Fortunately, bridge being a game where no matter what happens the slate is cleared after each hand, declarer was able after seven minutes to play another hand as if nothing had happened.