Monday, April 13, 2009

Communicating in code

In the comments from an earlier blog post, Crash asked how do the required skills differ between poker and bridge? One of the remarks I gave, which didn't really say much, was this:

"Poker is an individual game, whereas bridge is a partnership game -- without a good partner with whom you communicate, you're nothing."

I guess I could have added that poker is more straightforward. You look at your hole cards, you look at the board and you know what you have. You then try and figure out what the other player(s) has and bet accordingly.

Bridge, on the other hand, is a partnership game. During the bidding (and when defending), you have to communicate with each other, just as I remarked to Crash. But the communication isn't always cut and dried. When you bid, you're talking in code. Sometimes, however, the conversation is a code within a code.

In 2000, this won the award from the IBPA for the best-played deal of the year.

10 9 3 2
K 10 9 7
J 10 5
A K Q J 8 4
6 Q J 8 4 3 2
J 10 9 7 4 3
Q 9 8 5 3 7 6
7 6 5
A 5
Q 8 6 5 2
A K 4
West North East South
Pass 2 Dbl
Pass Pass 2 Pass
Pass Dbl Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT All Pass

The 2 bid showed at least 4-4 in the majors and 6-10 points (and likely longer hearts). See what I mean about coded messages?

North-South could have slaughtered East in 2 doubled, but they apparently had a mixup about the meaning of North's double. Because of all the permutations and combinations, bridge definitely isn't easy. I'm just sayin'.

West led the J. Declarer, young Dutchman Vincent Ramondt, played A K, and exited with a spade. West won that and unblocked his second high spade before leading the 9.

Ramondt won his Q and made the key play of cashing the A before exiting with a diamond in this position:

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

West won his two diamond tricks, then exited with a low club, won in the dummy with the J. When he played two more rounds of the suit, East was squeezed in the majors.

When I first looked at this deal, I wondered what would have happened if West had not cashed the second diamond winner (a suicide squeeze). But, no. If West exited with a club first, declarer would win, then lead another club to his hand, followed by his last diamond. After West won, he has nothing but clubs to lead, and that would again squeeze East.

1 comment:

  1. TY, Mr. MOJO.
    Can you just pass notes to your partner? When I asked the DW that question is when she stopped trying to teach me bridge.