Experts also make mistakes I

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Some non-experts delight in watching experts err. This article is dedicated to those players.

By Ana Roth
On 8 June, 2016 At 10:53

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Ted Horning
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Ottawa Citizen – 25 Feb 1987 By Ted Horning

What makes a bridge player an expert? Many less experienced players may think that the essence of experthood lies in technical superiority. To an extent that is correct. Hands on which technical brilliance comes out ahead are fairly common but the real reason is that bridge experts simply make fewer mistakes than other players. Some non-experts delight in watching experts err. This article is dedicated to those players. In each case, two very good players are put together in a new partnership. As for the results, they best speak for themselves.

NS vulnerable South deals

Opening lead: Ace of hearts

Going down seven tricks doubled in a freely bid grand slam is not a result becoming of experts. Here’s how it happened in a tournament where honors don’t count. South opened his powerhouse one spade over which West preempted three hearts. North jumped to 4 NT, Blackwood, and East raised his partner to the five level. South’s next bid was the key to the disaster.

North/South were playing Dopi, a convention invented to deal with this problem. South would double with no aces, pass with one ace, bid the next step with two aces and so on. Thus, according to Dopi, South should have bid five spades, to show his two aces.

When South bid five no trump, North reasonably assumed that South had three aces and jumped to seven diamonds. South reasoned that if seven diamonds could make, so could seven no trump. Actually, neither grand slam was making. Seven diamonds, however, would cost mere 50 points while no trump, suffering from a lack of a heart stopper, was down 1,300 off the top!

So where did South go wrong? Well, his thinking went one step further than Dopi. North/South also had agreed to play Roman Keycard Blackwood, and South thus thought that although it hadn’t been discussed, they would also play Roman Keycard Dopi. Under that convention five no trump would show two aces plus the queen of the agreed trump suit (in this case spades).

Neither expert was right or wrong, they were simply on a different wavelength. Another characteristic of experts, by the way, is that they come to an agreement after a bidding misunderstanding. I’m sure these two experts will never have the same disaster again.

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