xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Mountnessing Bridge Club Featured Hand

Mountnessing Bridge Club


He who hesitates is lost...



Hand played on 


Board number




Love all, Teams of four scoring

Submitted by

Tim Prior






































































Most players go along to the Bridge Club for a friendly, relaxed, social exchange with friends and colleagues.  However, even if you have little interest in Local Points, or aspirations of winning a bottle of wine, or even a trophy, you would want to see the game played fairly.  Difficulties can arise when one player is perceived to have gained through receiving - possibly unwittingly - 'unauthorised information'.  These situations can be particularly difficult to handle when the perceived giver and receiver of the 'unauthorised information' are not even aware that something has gone wrong.  This hand from Tim Prior illustrates some of the pitfalls very well... 


The hand and bidding were as above.  Bidding notes:

(1) in normal tempo, showing 6+ clubs and 9-12 HCPs

(2) a very slow pass, markedly out of tempo

(3) deciding to bid now instead of at his first turn

North's double of the 3 bid was of the negative variety - showing length in the two unbid suits.  East could - and indeed should - have bid 4, or even 5, at this first opportunity.  By passing and waiting to bid later, East is giving the opponents a 'free run' at the bidding, as well as contributing to the problem that ensued.  A sound principle in competitive auctions is bid what your hand is worth as soon as you can; get in quick and get out quick. Give the opponents the last guess.


The hand was played out in 5 doubled, which failed by one trick, for a score of +100 to North / South.  (Note that 4 is a simple make unless there is a diamond lead - unlikely, after the suit had been bid twice by Dummy.)


Look at West's hand and his choice of calls (1) and (2). 3 seems like a sound descriptive choice, but he has no more than a 3 bid and has shown his hand with this call. The slow pass (2) clearly suggests he was thinking about bidding again (looking at the hand you can see he was thinking about 4). Let's go back to the principle above - bid what your hand is worth as soon as you can - West should decide whether the hand is worth 3 or 4 in the first place, and bid one of those straightaway.  When West in practice bids 3 and then passes slowly, there is Unauthorised Information available to his partner that he is thinking of bidding again.


When East came to life after West's hesitation, North and South were less than pleased because the  4 (3) bid was suggested by West's hesitation. To paraphrase the law: "East may not choose a call from those available to him which is suggested by the Unauthorised Information."

The director was called and ruled that East's 4 bid was suggested by the West's hesitation and the score was adjusted to 4 making.  All of this could have been avoided if West had made his calls in an even tempo. But note that East backed himself into a corner by passing the first time - had he tried 4 at his first turn this problem would not have happened.


What can we learn from this?

  1. If you're going to pre-empt, bid as many as you dare straightaway. Don't have two bites at the cherry. Give your opponents the last guess.

  2. If it's a competitive auction, bid as many as your hand is worth straightaway.

  3. Hesitation is not in itself wrong, but if you frequently hesitate over decisions that involve hand valuation, you'll put partner in a difficult position.  You are in effect giving partner 'Unauthorised Information', which your partner is duty-bound to ignore.  The guideline is that if your partner clearly hesitates before passing and you then choose to bid, then your bid must be very sound - one that the director judges would have been made by 70% of the players in the room.  Note that it says "70% of the players in the room", NOT "70% of international experts" or "70% of attendees in a beginners' class."

  4. A similar situation arises if, when the auction is still in progress, you ask questions about the opponents' bids, and then pass.  Again, you are giving partner 'Unauthorised Information', which he / she is obliged to ignore, but if partner is judged to take advantage then the Director may award an adjusted score to compensate your opponents' perceived 'damage'.