Passion of The Game of Bridge

Bidding, Play & Misclaim (?) Trouble at Sarundajang Cup

Bidding, Play & Misclaim (?) Trouble at Sarundajang Cup

In every tournament, with fatigue and stress fuel mistakes, we sometimes witness how these supposed to be good player performing poorly. And this is one of those stories that we can get the lesson from. This time from the Sarundajang Cup 2015.

Bergen Raise Disaster: A Lesson Learnt

Bergen Raise Disaster: A Lesson Learnt

One of the popular (and terrific) convention that better player use is Bergen Raise. But like all others artificial bidding, because of its unnatural nature, the user need to be absolutely memorize it inside out or a disaster is waiting to happen. This is some of the lesson learnt from my own disasters.

So You Have A Fit: Make Sure Your Bid Can Communicate These 4 Types of Fit

With 13 cards on each suit, democratically you need to have at least 7 cards to claim “majority” on the suit (4-3, 5-2). But what consider “good fit” will be at least 8 cards fit (4-4, 5-3, 6-2). While of course the more card is  the better when declaring a suit contract, remember that , sometimes, having a double suits fit,  playing 4-4 fit as trump gives you more trick than even 5-4 or 5-3 fit as the 5-3/5-4 suit can be used for discarding losers (while 4-4 become trump). Then the important question. There are 4 important types of support, does your bidding system covers it ?

Static Bid vs Dynamic Bid: Essence of Bidding System

Static Bid vs Dynamic Bid: Essence of Bidding System

Bidding is about communication. One person tell the partner (and the opponent) about what kind of of hand he/she is holding. The partner then respond back with either further inquiry or also describe his/her holding. This is the essence of any bidding system. But not too many bridge player really realize that those 2 activities (making asking bid and describing hand) are in fact the one make a bidding a static bid or a dynamic one. Understanding of this basic will lead to much better partnership, guaranteed !

The Auction or Bidding in Bridge

The Auction or Bidding in Bridge

The first action to do after you receive your hand and assess it is to do the auction or bidding. The purpose of auction or bidding is simply to communicate the kind of hand that you have to partner and opponent for them to act accordingly and reach the best contract.

Your Check List: What Should be Covered By Your Bidding System/Convention and Beyond

For sure, knowing only the opening bid will not be qualified as “have a bidding system” with partner. There are much more aspect that just knowing the opening bid. So, below is a starting point, a checklist to confirm that the aspect is covered. I don’t mean that below checklist is complete, but it should be something that you need to cover as minimum. Again have this checklist as starting point and expand further. You partnership will soon be above the average or even better….

To be frank, below items probably will only relevant for those of you that want to play competitive or serious bridge. I have to admit it could be overwhelming for casual player.

But remember this rule of thumb:

it’s better to have less convention but with solid understanding, rather than complete convention but with the risk of forgetting it on the table

So, do the whole checklists below maybe within 3-6 months while playing regularly. Don’t just memorize, understand the reason behind it is more important.

Bidding Related System

  • Opening Bid
  • Reverse Opening Bid: Opening Bid is a description of  “which hand to have if you have this bid”, reverse opening bid is “which bid to do if you have this hand.
    See this example for more detail. If reverse opening bid is pretty much in alignment with Opening bid, then your system is better than the one that have ambiguity,
  • Subsequent of Opening Bid until at least rebid by both
  • Double/ Redouble Bid:
    • take out vs penalty vs special double vs responsive
    • over natural bid vs over artificial bid, until what level
  • Overcall characteristic: level 1, level 2, level 3 and above
  • Competitive against NT strong: 1NT/2NT
  • Competitive against weak 1NT (12-14 HCP)
  • Competitive against Strong Unbalance (e.g: 1C Precision 16+ HCP or 2C Standard System, 23+HCP)
  • Competitive against Preemptive : level 2, level 3, level4 and beyond
  • Bidding Unusual/Special Hand: e,g: 2NT unusual jump to show 5-5 minors, Michael cuebid to show 2 suiter other major and 1 minor, etc
  • Defensive Bidding: Partner Open 1 NT, Opponent Disturbs
  • Defensive Bidding: Partner Open, Opponent‘s Pre-Emptive
  • Defensive Bidding: Partner Open, Opponent‘s Double
  • Defensive Bidding: Guard against Opponent’s Phycic
  • Slam try bidding: Cuebidding
  • Special convention and its complementary: ROPE/DOPE after Gerber, Grand Slam force, etc

Defense Related System

  • Opening Lead against NT contract: partscore vs game vs slam
  • Opening Lead against Suit contract: partscore vs game vs slam
  • Attitude signal: encourage vs discourage from Opening Lead
  • Count signal: even vs odd holding
  • Discarding signal: suit preference
  • Unblocking mechanism
  • Bidding analysis for defense plan, make sure you and your partner based your defense from the same understanding

Declarer Stuffs

Share the technique of declarer play with your partner such as: when to drop, when to finesse, etc to align the principle between partners.

  • Safety Play principles: getting the most of combine suit, which card to play
  • Statistic of outstanding card: drop or finesse or squeeze
  • Bidding analysis for playing plan, make sure you and your partner based your play from the same understanding

Feel free to let me know if there is any other important item should be on this list…

Have a good workout with your partner !

ROPE/DOPE: A Must After Blackwood or Gerber Convention

ROPE/DOPE: A Must After Blackwood or Gerber Convention

If your partnership use either Blackwood Convention (4NT/5NT) or Gerber Convention (4C) for asking Aces, Key Cards or even Kings, one of the defensive bidding that you need to have is to still answer the convention even the opponent has disrupted it with some sacrifice bidding. DOPE/ROPE Convention is one of the nice complimentary of Blackwood/Gerber.

The Convention: ROPE/DOPE

DOPE is shorts for Double is Odd, Pass is Even.
ROPE is shorts for Redouble is Odd, Pass is Even.

That’s would be the answer of partner’s question of “How many keycard you have” or “How many Aces you have” via Gerber/Blackwood convention

Yes, you need to alert opponent for this artifical bid.

In Action

Let see the convention in action:

  • Your partner (North) open “1NT” strong, 16-18 HCP, balanced distribution no 5 cards major
  • Your RHS (Right Hand Side) – East opponent passed
  • You (South) have 19 HCP balance distribution 4-4-3-2. So, you are thinking either 6NT if partner has 2 Aces or maybe 7NT if he has 3 Aces. So you bid Blackwood convention asking for Aces “4NT“! See illustration below:

    ROPE/DOPE in Action
    Dealer: N
    Vul: NS
    AT8765432 e[n/s]w
    South West North East
    1 NT pass
    4 NT 6 ??? .
  • Your LHS (Left Hand Side) – West opponent, apparently holding 9 cards Spade headed by A and T, 3 cards Heart, void diamond with singleton club, ask your partner “Blackwood?”. When your partner nodded, he  bid “6
    Advance sacrifice. He was ready for doubled and short 5 tricks for -1100 non-vulnerable vs your vulnerable 6NT of 1440
  • Using ROPE/DOPE convention, partner “Pass” to indicates even holding of Aces. From your point of view it is clear that partner has 2 Aces. Cannot be zero as total HCP between you and partner is already 35 HCP. The point missing will not be more than 5 HCP. And cannot be 4 as you hold one Aces with you.
  • Hence, you confidently bid 6NT to play.

There are other variation for this convention such as DOPI/ROPI (Double/Redouble = zero, Pass=1 and subsequent bidding is 2, 3, 4 etc). So , with above example North should reply with “6NT” to indicates 2 holdings as 6NT is the next bidding after 6♠.

The problem with DOPI/ROPI is that if partner has more than 1 Aces/Key Card, partner need to bid something, hence literally preventing opponent to be penalized instead.

For example: on above example, how about if West bid 7♠. instead of 6♠. (which is still good: X-6 for -1400. Still better than -1440 if you making 6NT). Using DOPI/ROPI partner need to bid 7NT which hardly can be made and opponent will score +100 instead of -1400. In contrary, using  ROPE/DOPE, partner simply “Pass” to indicates even holding just like above, and when it comes to your turn you, just bid “X” – Double for penalty: +1400 instead of +1440, but much better than -100.

Remember the Convention

It’s effectively known that you will remember something much better if you associate it with something. Furthermore, just this convention you can see the possible convention as it can be: DEPO/REPO, DOPE/ROPE, PEDO/PERO, or PORE/PODE, etc

But, I will give you a mnemonics to never ever forget this convention:

“Rope A Dope”: Rumble in A Jungle – Muhammad ‘The Greatest’ Ali vs George Foreman

[Rope A Dope Painting]

Ali vs Foreman, even Ali used ROPE/DOPE! - photo: - click to check the painting

On 30-October-1974 in Zaire, a boxing fight known later as “Rumble in A Jungle” took place. It was between that time’s current heavy weight world champion George Foreman against the challenger Muhammad Ali.

For this big fight, Ali used what then called “Rope A Dope” where he just lay himself again the rope of the ring letting Foreman to punch him repeatedly to drain his energy, while Ali cover himself in protective posture. So, what Foreman hist just his protective arm. And it works ! Foreman become tired and the rest is history.

So, “Rope A Dope” is to be used after Gerber/Blackwood and you would not even able to forget it anymore, once you remember Ali’s story !

Update your convention !