The Advantage of Looking Confident by Mike Lawrence

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I can tell you what this player is thinking:

Mike Lawrence
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Fuente: ACBL Boletin del 2005

Consider this auction (you’re South):

West North East South
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass 
4 The End    
       

It’s your lead. Without giving you a specific hand, I’ll tell you that it has one relevant feature – a spade void. You make your opening lead and dummy comes down with a modest hand that includes the J 8 4 3. At this point you do not know what is happening in spades. Declarer could have sixto the Ace-King-Queen, but obviously many lesser holdings are possible.

Mike Lawrence

Declarer wins your opening lead and without thought plays the A. You show out and something amazing happens. Declarer notes your card and goes into a tirade. “Partner, this is terrible. This is the second time this week that someone has had all five trumps. I hate computer hands. Why didn’t you pass three spades?” How do you feel about your chances of setting 4?

Compare the atmosphere at the table with the atmosphere at another table where declarer is in 4 on a similar auction. Upon seeing the dummy, he remembers to say “thank you” in a tone that means it. After winning the opening lead he plays the A and when South shows out, he pauses for some length of time before making his next play. At no time does he announce how many trumps are missing, he does not complain about the bad break and be does not show that he hates what is happening.

I can tell you what this player is thinking:

“I am in a normal four spades contract and I am getting a bad break. Everyone else in the room will get the same bad break, so if I can save a trick it will be an okay or even a good board for us.” In some way, this player is happy to find a bad break, because the number of tricks to be taken is now subject to good play.

You can look in a lot of books and you can play a lot of bridge, but you won’t find this tip mentioned in any of them: Show confidence, do not show frustration and do not tell everyone just how bad things really are. This is meaningful advice and you should take it in heart.

Here are a few more situations where this excercise in attitude is important. You hold:

J7432 873 KJ7 Q10.

With no one vulnerable, your right-hand opponent bids 1 , and LHO raises to 2. This is passed in you and you have a balancing problem. This is a horrible hand, but it has a few things going for it;

1. You have a five card suit

2. You can bid it at the two level.

3. The opponents have bid weakly.

Partner rates to have some points.

4. You have three low hearts. Partner will be short in hearts.

5. You know that passing out the auction in a contract that the opponents like is never a good result.

In a nutshell, you have lots of reasons to bid. You have something to worry about, however, because if partner has his points in the wrong place and if he has bad spades, you might get doubled and go down a couple. Still you judge to bid 2.

So how do you do it? Do you wait until RHO finishes the second ”pass” and bid 2 confidently or do you look at your hand for a long time and then lean backwards as if  to surrender before finally bidding in a tone that tells everyone you hate the whole thing?

If LHO has a hand that suggests doubling, won’t he be more inclined to double if you agonize over your bid than if you bid 2 as if it was the obvious bid?

Here are two hands for you to lead from. On both deals RHO has opened 1NT and LHO has raised to 3NT. Here is the first hand:
QJ1097 K53 A63 J3

How long does it take you to get the Q over the table?

The second hand:

QJ 3 Q83 J873 Q43

You consider leading the 3, but reject it because dummy did not look for a major-suit fit. He is likely to have long diamonds. You look at your hearts and your clubs and reject those as too speculative. Finally you look at your spades.

Perhaps partner has four to the 10. Perhaps he has five to the king. Either of these holdings will make a spade a safe lead or a good lead. Since a spade lead offers genuine potential, you decide to lead the Q.

How long did it take you to get the Q on the table with this hand?

Now shift over to declarer. A good declarer will note that you took two seconds to lead a spade on the first hand and nearly a minute to lead the Q on the second hand. Worse, if you exhibited signs of anguish on the second hand in addition to the fact that you took a while to think about it, declarer may judge your problem. Certainly a good declarer, will be better informed on both hands if it is your tendency to fret and waffle when life is tough and to play with elan when everything is in place.

 

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