Thursday, January 22, 2009

The language of bridge

Language, according to the Webster online dictionary, is a system of words (or signs or symbols), their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community. All languagues must define the relationships between those signs and that is called grammar. The meaning of a word can change. The word Washington, for example, may mean the U.S. capital, one of the U.S. states or someone's name. Usually you can tell which meaning is intended by the context.

Bridge bidding is similar to a language. It is a series of signs or codes meant to relay information to your partner. The grammar of bridge is, perhaps, the system you've agreed to play. If you are playing a 2/1 system, then a 1 bid means something entirely different than the same bid in a Precision Club system.

In bridge, what does a 2 bid mean? If it's an opening bid, it may be a weak-two bid, it may be Flannery, or it may be something else, depending on your agreement. Suppose someone opens the bidding and the next player bids 2. Now what is that? It depends on the context. If the opening bid was 1, then 2 means whatevever an overcall is (depending on your style). If the opening bid was 1NT, then 2 might show the majors, or diamonds and a higher suit, or something else. If the opening bid is 1 and you bid 2, many players agree that the bid shows 5-5 in the majors.

Playing online a few days ago, I was East on this deal:

K 10 9 6 5 2
K 8 6 2
10 2
J A Q 8 7 4
A J 5 9 7 3
Q J 8 4 3 A 6 5
A K 6 3 10 8
Q 10 4
K 9 7
J 9 7 5 4 2

West opened 1 and North bid 2, a Michaels cuebid. This is supposed to show 5-5 (or occasionally 6-5) in the majors. This is like talking to someone, but artibrarily changing the meaning of some of the words you are saying. Either that or maybe it's the quivalent of lying. East bid 2 to show where his values were (unusual vs. unusual would be better) and South bid 3. When you have a bad hand, it's usually a good idea to pass. Besides the fact South has a weak hand, her K has questionable value. After partner has shown the majors, at least bid hearts if you feel you have to bid -- you know you have a fit there (unless partner is lying to you). He doesn't care about your moth-eaten club suit. West doubled and that ended the auction.

West led the J which held the trick. She continued with the K and then the 3. East won the ace and returned a diamond. Declarer took the ace and advanced the 10. West grabbed the ace and cashed the Q and led another. East ruffed with the 10 which uppercut South. She over-ruffed and now West's 6 was promoted to a trick.

The final result was a score for North-South of minus 800 which was 8.91 IMPs for East-West. You can see other results and who else is lying by clicking here.

To enjoy this deal as a bridge movie in a java applet, click here. Use your back arrow on your browser to return.

1 comment:

  1. I have no idea what you're talking about but it sounds like an interesting language ! Where on earth does start ?!