The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

That old Black Magic

Playing on BBO, you pick up a healthy hand. (IMPs, both vulnerable)

S:AJx H:xx D:AKQ9x C:A9x

Sadly, your RHO opens 3 Hearts. Well, there’s not much to be done about that, so you double.

LHO passes and the Center Hand Opponent bids 3 Spades. RHO has nothing to add, so its back to you.

No doubt about it. This is a sticky situation. You have a good hand, but only three spades. Partner may have four spades and a decent hand (7-9ish HCP) or five spades and slightly less. Or partner may be broke. You can’t tell. Well, maybe you can.

The old black magic applies here. Partner paused a bit before bidding 3S, which implies having a choice of bids. Now, strictly speaking, you are not allowed to take advantage of that information if you noticed. (But plenty of novice players — and some not-so-novice ones, take full advantage of “That old black magic.”)

My opponent holding these cards bid 4 Spades.

Now, I have no idea if this particular player noticed a hitch or just decided to take a shot at game. I noticed the hitch, but on BBO you can’t trust pauses too much. Some people get distracted. Network lag may play a part. For all I know, this wasn’t black magic, but just obliviousness.

I will say that four spades did not fare well.

LHO led the heart ace, then another heart (the Jack), ruffed by RHO (declarer playing the queen). RHO led the diamond Jack into dummy, and declarer crossed to his club king to lead a spade.

LHO showed out.

In real life, dummy would have to wait and wonder if spades broke 5-0 or 6-0 (whether declarer had 4 or 5). But on BBO, you can choose to reveal the hand at any time.

                  S:AJx H:xx D:AKQ9x C:A9x

S:-- H:AJT98xx D:Tx C:Jxxx    S:KQT7xxx H:x D:Jx C:QTx

                  S:xxx H:KQx D:8xxx C:Kxx

Spades broke 7-0. Offside.
The poor declarer had her hitch, a tough decision between the three unappealing bids of 3N (light on points), or 3 Spades or 4 Clubs. 3N would succeed because I couldn’t have led a spade and declarer can simply take 1S+1H+5D+2C=9 tricks. Four spades went down five.

I’ll never know if dummy was using black magic but — if so — justice was served because sometimes black magic summons demons.

The full hand record is online (for a few days, at least).

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Written by taogaming

September 21, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Bridge

One Response

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  1. None of 3S, 3NT, or 4C has any appeal to me. I’d just pass. Probably beat it one. I assume you meant 4D, not 4C. That doesn’t appeal, either.

    Jeff Goldsmith

    September 22, 2016 at 4:18 pm


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