Playing a knockout bridge game

Published 3:03 pm Monday, September 8, 2008

We’re back from a long weekend in Atlanta at the Labor Day Regional tournament held at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia Hotel.

Every day was bridge–bridge–bridge, three rounds of 24 plus boards. For the first two days, we even played in the Dinner Bell knockouts, a shortened game of 12 boards each round.

Linda earned enough points during the event to make Life Master!

I’m about 12 points behind her and expect to probably make it on our trip to Bermuda in late January or maybe in the upcoming North American Pairs competition — if we make it past the unit qualifying round.

A knockout is a simple two-table game of bridge with the EW pair from one table playing against the NS team from the other table and vice versa.

The scoring and comparison is on a hand–by–hand basis.

Thus, if one team bids and makes three spades for plus 140 and the opponents, playing the same hand at the other table, bid and make four spades for plus 420, the difference of 250 is translated to an International Matchpoint Scale, in this case plus six.

Each of the 24 hands is compared in similar fashion. The winner plays another round in the knockout, the loser finds a pairs game to play.


Monday morning: Barbara Dawson and Judie Fair, Judy Chase and Jerrie Friar, Judy and David Funk, Judy Wilson and Kathy Flemming, Liz and Tom Milko, Marion Petters and Donna Sigrist.

Monday afternoon: Lynne and Roy Martin, Judy Converse and Kathryn Howell, Lorette and Clark Ogle, Liz and Tom Milko, Judy Chase and Jerrie Friar, Janet Johnson and Barbara Dawson, David and Judy Funk.

Monday evening: Barbara Dawson and Janet Johnson, Liz and Tom Milko.

Thursday: John Lusco and Mac LaCasse, Peggy and Gene Graham, Judy Chase and Mel Dupuis, Judy Converse and Kathryn Howell.

Friday: Judy Chase and Bernie Liberman, Judy Converse and Boots Jennings, John Lusco and Mac LaCasse, Gayle Cole and Beth Fletcher.

Saturday: Arlene Owens and Frances Ubben, Jan Lovorn and Judy Chase, Jerrie Friar and Liz Milko


If your opponent opens with a three-level pre-emptive bid ahead of you and you hold 10-12 points with shortness (singleton) in the bid suit, don’t be afraid to double for takeout, even if you don’t have a full opening hand. Even vulnerable, your opponents will surely miss out on a game if your LHO has values.

You’re short in their suit and will be able to ruff quickly in your long suit. Get in there. Double. Get your partner to state his long suit. Nine times out of ten you’ll get a good score regardless of LHO’s holdings.


Blackwood does no good in this bidding sequence which won us a morning first-round event; there is no intelligent question South can ask; even Blackwood with a five-heart response (two aces) doesn’t tell South that the slam is makable. In team events it’s vital that the team make the contract bid.

Bidding a slam is risky but essential to the contest because a swing of 500, 750 or 1,000 points is monumental in the scoring, especially if the opponents don’t bid it.

With the ace of diamonds lead followed by a heart, trumped in hand, the contract depended on the spades dropping.

Linda ran off six clubs to no avail before testing the spades, which fortunately fell just right. Our opponents stopped at five, giving us a plus 12 IMPs on the hand, enough to win the 24-board contest.

John Randall and his wife, Linda, sponsor the Shelby County Bridge Club.