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May 5, 2001
Partnership Strength

The Scorecard is the publication for ACBL District 16. I was asked and consented to write a regular column aimed at the 0-299 masterpoint player. I will post my columns here as they may be of benefit to the same readers that benefit from my newsletter.

Scorecard, Volume 33, No 3 - May/June 2001

A bridge partnership is much like a personal relationship. You have to have a set of solid understandings for the team to work smoothly. Surprisingly it is often not the context of the agreement that is important, but simply having an agreement in the first place! Let us look at a few of the more common areas where an established partnership should have a firm agreement.

#1

West North East South
1club.gif (841 bytes) Pass 1heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 2NT Pass ???

 

South (you)
spade.gif (842 bytes)KQ65
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ65
diamond.gif (837 bytes)965
club.gif (841 bytes)96

Is it possible for partner to hold a four-card spade suit? If the answer is no, then your action is an easy 3NT signoff. If the answer is yes, then you must have some mechanism at your disposal to find out about a spade fit before deciding on the proper game contract. It does not particularly matter what method you choose to play, only that you and partner agree.

#2

Just what are the limits of your opening 1NT bid? Are a five-card suit and 17 HCP too much? Are a five-card suit and 14 HCP too little? Is it acceptable to hold a five-card major suit? Once again there is plenty of room for style and preference. What is most important is that you and partner agree. Better understandings will translate into superior decisions at the table. You might discuss the following hands with partner. You might be surprised to find that you and partner are not as simpatico as you thought.

A

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ4
heart.gif (841 bytes)87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ754
club.gif (841 bytes)AK6

 

B

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ4
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ754
diamond.gif (837 bytes)87
club.gif (841 bytes)AK6

 

C

spade.gif (842 bytes)KJ754
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ4
diamond.gif (837 bytes)87
club.gif (841 bytes)AK6

 

D

spade.gif (842 bytes)KJ754
heart.gif (841 bytes)87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ4
club.gif (841 bytes)AK6

 

E

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ4
heart.gif (841 bytes)87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ754
club.gif (841 bytes)A96

 

F

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ4
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ754
diamond.gif (837 bytes)87
club.gif (841 bytes)AK6

 

G

spade.gif (842 bytes)KJ754
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ4
diamond.gif (837 bytes)87
club.gif (841 bytes)A96

 

H

spade.gif (842 bytes)KJ754
heart.gif (841 bytes)87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ4
club.gif (841 bytes)A96

#3

Competitive actions are also in need of discussion. For example what about direct cue bids? "No problem!" you say. "We play Michaels!" Then what is difference between the North hands in the following two auctions? I will tell you that two auctions carrying the same meaning is both inefficient and dangerous.

West North East South
1club.gif (841 bytes) Pass
1spade.gif (842 bytes) 2club.gif (841 bytes)

 

West North East South
1club.gif (841 bytes) Pass
1spade.gif (842 bytes) 2spade.gif (842 bytes)

#4

How about auctions after a 1club.gif (841 bytes) opening? Does responding 1diamond.gif (837 bytes) to a 1club.gif (841 bytes) opening deny holding a four-card major suit? Always? Unless the diamond suit is longer? Only with less than a game forcing hand? After a 1diamond.gif (837 bytes) response is opener suppose to show a four-card major suit? Always? Only if unbalanced?

Partner opens 1club.gif (841 bytes), what do you respond on these hands?

A

spade.gif (842 bytes)KQ74
heart.gif (841 bytes)876
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ75
club.gif (841 bytes)96

 

B

spade.gif (842 bytes)KQ74
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ6
diamond.gif (837 bytes)7532
club.gif (841 bytes)96

 

C

spade.gif (842 bytes)KQ74
heart.gif (841 bytes)87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ754
club.gif (841 bytes)96

 

D

spade.gif (842 bytes)KQ74
heart.gif (841 bytes)87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AKJ75
club.gif (841 bytes)96

 

E

spade.gif (842 bytes)KQ74
heart.gif (841 bytes)8
diamond.gif (837 bytes)J75432
club.gif (841 bytes)96

You open 1club.gif (841 bytes) and partner responds 1diamond.gif (837 bytes). What do you rebid on these hands?

F

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ53
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ98
diamond.gif (837 bytes)74
club.gif (841 bytes)Q92

 

G

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ53
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ9
diamond.gif (837 bytes)742
club.gif (841 bytes)Q92

 

H

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ53
heart.gif (841 bytes)98
diamond.gif (837 bytes)7
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ9642

 

I

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ53
heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A974
club.gif (841 bytes)KQ962

 

J

spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ53
heart.gif (841 bytes)A974
diamond.gif (837 bytes)
club.gif (841 bytes)KQ962

These examples are but a few of the areas that need definition by a regular partnership. There are many more subtle areas where you and partner need to be on the same wavelength. You also need a good method of recording your agreements so that disagreements (usually the result of a poor result) can be adjudicated. Find a method that fits your life style. Use a spiral notebook, a Big Chief tablet, a yellow pad, or your computer to record your partnership understandings. Start with these ten major sections. Later you can add or subdivide sections as your record becomes more complete.

Under each heading, try to define the basic auctions. As discussions come up you can add detail on special situations. This document will serve several functions. It will be a resource to resolve disagreements. It will highlight areas where you and partner think you play the same way, but in fact do not. It is a great study guide before a major game or tournament.

Is this a bunch of work? You bet, but no one said bridge was easy. If you look at successful results, it is generally the best PARTNERSHIP that wins and not the single best PLAYER. Let me hear from you.

Thanks!
Gary King

2001 The Bridge Companion. All rights reserved.