Hand Evaluation: Destructive Bidding by Bob Crosby

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There are two ways or philosophies ( if you will ) to play IMPS . One is constructive , the other destructive.

Bob Crosby
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Thursday, April 08, 2004 9:57 AM

Hand Evaluation –  Philosophy ( Destructive bidding ) 

There are two ways or philosophies ( if you will ) to play IMPS . One is constructive , the other destructive. The constructive way to earn IMPS is to maximize partnership discipline so as  to be accurate in bidding partials, games and slams. This partnership discipline also assists defending & sacrificing decisions. In constructive auctions, partners bids are always taken at face value. The assumption of discipline is paramount in all decision making.

By the term discipline, we mean opening bids have the values & defense measured in quick tricks  as expected for opening bids. An opening bid is off limits as a way of “making the opponents guess”. Discipline also means that 1st & 2nd pre-empts never hold outside controls . Suits for weak two’s are not destructive Jxxxxx or the like. Overcalls at the one or two level do not have bad suitsVulnerability is respected & more values are expected when vulnerable.  Psyches or tactical bids are always done when partner is a passed hand & always at favourable vulnerability. Disciplined take out & penalty doubles & the appropriate use of the green pass card is assumed with the partnership. 1NT overcalls have a stopper in the bid suit with no singletons.  In competitive auctions , bids have a meaning rather than “just pushing them up “.

Constructive bidding brings out the partnership element of Bridge . Forcing passes show the beauty of the partnership element of Bridge . Single handed actions are rare & only if the hand dictates it. Otherwise,  you try to get partners input by inviting her to the party in all your bidding decisions. gambling cartoon

You respect your partners ability , so do not gamble poorly & risk going for huge sets. Trapping & balancing are a big part of maintaining partnership discipline in bidding. The gambling element of Bridge is done intelligently like in Poker games with pot odds & not like in a Casino with blind luck. 

The destructive approach to Bridge is to win IMPS by causing the opponents to go wrong .  Good partnerships also have that weapon in their repertoire but not at the expense of partnership discipline & certainly not with opening bids.  If a bid ( opener or not ) might get partner as well as the opponents , the bid is not made in a constructive partnership. With the destructive partnership , partner is fair game also. If you make a modern opener causing partner to go wrong by doubling the opponents into game  or bidding a slam going down , you deem it the cost of doing business the destructive way. If you pre-empt with an outside Ace thereby missing a slam or cause partner to make a pseudosacrifice , you are “unlucky” . If you overcall vul on a Qxxxx suit , go for 1100 you shrug your shoulders & say “these things happen”.

If you overcall 1NT without a stopper in the opponents suit , they cash 5 tricks in 3NT when another game makes it is “unlucky” . You overcall 1NT with a stiff , partner bids a game in that suit & goes down when 3NT is cold again it is “bad luck “ . You open a weak two vul with Jxxxxx , the opponents convert the balancing double so you go for 800 it is “unlucky” . You play a 10 HCP 1NT vul against non vul& get doubled for 1400 with your partners coming back with +460 in 3NT is unlucky. You overcall or open 1NT on 14 one time & 18 HCP another time  , so partner has to field the ambiguity . You get to 22 HCP games & go two down vul or get misdefense & make it.  You make a single handed sacrifice to 7 & push the opponents into a vul 7 that your partners do not get to . Unlucky !  Conventional toys like Michaels & Unusual 2NT bids are total undisciplined  with a range of 0-40 HCP. Does not matter if partner has any idea what your range is as the opponents being confused are more important than partner judging correctly in competitive auctions. Again partner is an unnecessary complication to your grand plan of making the opponent’s guess starting from the opening bid . 

constructive-destructive

constructive-destructive

The  modern openers without quick tricks were designed for & by destructive bidders. There is no Bridge logic for these modern openers other than to “make them guess” where them includes partner. Bridge players know the importance of controls so removing them from the opening bid structure ( requirement ) makes no theoretical Bridge sense. The object of the game of Bridge is to take tricks both on offense or defense. Does it not make sense that an opening bid has a couple of tricks as a standard that partner can counton ? A scattered collection of HCP’s just does not cut it as tricks. The modernists are distorting opener bids to use them as a tactic . The opponents are the incentive for opening rather than partner or the language of bidding. They are opening to disturb the opponents at the expense of partner. The lack of a quick trick requirement is only justified by frequency. This lack of a standard allows them to “open” even more hands to fool the opponents. The trade off is openers no longer promise trick taking potential for offense or defense .Openers are just a collection of HCP’s that may have no trick taking potential.  The trick taking standard for opening bids was invented by Culbertson & carried on by Goren & every Bridge expert who played the game over the years. Semi-psyches ( modern openers) are the main tool for destructive bidders. Destructive bidders are usually “solo artists” who have a partner only because the rules of Bridge demand it or they are getting paid J. 

The destructive style is based on poor gambling . You are gambling that the opponents do the wrong thing & partner does not get in the way by believing you . This style of Bridge works best in weak fields where you are taking advantage of the opponents inexperience in dealing with such situations .  Your system is geared towards destructive bidding so single handed decisions are the norm . What this does of course is erode partnership discipline & trust. I was playing against a team recently that employ such tactics. Partner opens two spades vul , you hold 

 Jxx  KJ109x  xxx  xx , RHO passes . If you play undisciplined weak twos vul,  you are scared to take tactical action. If you bid 3, you may go for a tremendous set if partner has xxxxxx for example. For a disciplined  partnership , this hand is a natural for a 2NT bid or a 3 spade bid as the opponents are in the +26 HCP range .

Partner this time had quite the undisciplined weak two  KQ109xx  Axx  xxxx  void so 4 spades makes . 3NT , 5, 5 all make the other direction but you can jam the opponents out of the auction. The modern bidder passed with responder’s hand allowing us to get to our game. Why the other modern bidder opened a weak two was also beyond me as I count two quick tricks & a void. Being a “quick trick” guy , I open that hand just like the Whist players would have 100 years ago.  As an opponent , I guess I am to feel flattered as they were out to get me.contra pareja

Playing this destructive style, partnership confidence is put at risk. Responder must deal with the ambiguity of partner not having what she announced for an opening bid.  In competitive auctions , you believe the opponents rather than partner. In fact , the opponents guide you through the auction rather than partner. This works well if partner does not have his bid  with a modern opener but back fires if partner does have his bid & the opponents do not . Penalty doubles are virtually impossible. The destructive style is by necessity a “master minding” approach . You cannot pass the ball via a forcing pass to partner as either of you might not have your bid . The opponents escape unscathed because you are “compensating” for partner not having his bid .  This is a win win situation for the opponents . Sacrificing is a pure gamble as we do not know if we have defensive tricks or not as that is not a requirement for a modern opener apparently.

Slam bidding is one of the victims in this destructive modern style. Partnerships who do not trust each other leap to game quite often . Slams that require delicate Q bidding are missed . Actually games are missed because you make very heavy invitational bids in case partner “does not have an opener” after he has opened. Leeway is given because there is that nagging doubt doe partner really have an opener ? Does partner now accept the invitation if he just has what he has shown or does he bid game because he is not an Ace short of his opener ?  Do you bid a slam , hoping that partner has the controls for an opening bid or do you just guess. Opening leads take a beating playing the undisciplined style. If you lead from Kx against 3NT after a weak two auction , you risk hitting the opponents AQJ10 suit . Unlucky  as overcalls & weak twos are just to disturb the opponents so not for leads ! 

We have caved into destructive bidding on one vulnerability only ( the terrorist vulnerability) . With this one vulnerability only,  we bid like Meckwell & the other pros who subscribe to modern bidding. The other 3 vulnerabilities , we play disciplined partnership Bridge. On the terrorist vulnerability , we put pressure on partner to read the situation & give us leeway the pros get on all vulnerabilities. Keeping the opponents from their rightful vulnerable games is just too large a prize. Partner , forgive me on this one vulnerability & may Allah be with you. 

            The style of Bridge  you choose,  I guess is up to the partnership. With the two conflicting styles , beginning players do not even know what an opening bid is anymore. There are many players in Edmonton & the world that subscribe to Bridge as a bidders game , let them figure it out after an opening bid  & colour is for kids. They open flat 5-3-3-2  twelve HCP’s with little or no quick tricks. Partner somehow must field it as if there is an “undo” in Bridge.  Frankly ,  I will not play Bridge the destructive way , as I feel insulted by all the straight Casino like gambling & I value my partner. There is an element of gambling in Bridge but I think this game is above that . Where's the beefThe partnership element of Bridge is just to huge a factor to sacrifice in order to play this destructive style. Modern openers are a form of  terrorism , the way I see it. Terrorism is not the way to play a partnership game like Bridge. In Poker you can bluff as you have no partner. In Bridge , partner has to deal with trickless garbage that modernists call opening bids. Where’s the beef ? 

With destructive bidders , it is always “feast or famine” . They win big when their tactics work. They lose big & far more often when their tactics fail. In the Thursday nite IMP games at our local club  it is proven statistically over the years. The modern bidders win big once , then for the next long stretch they end up on or near the bottom. The constructive bidders win often but when they do not , they are 2nd , 3rd, 4th & remain in the top half. This is the way the law of probabilities dictate it will happen. Live by the sword , die by the sword for the solo artists & modern bidders. Quoting George Bush , “you are either with the terrorists or against them”. Not hard to figure out my position  😥

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