The Courier – 11 Feb 1983

Mr. Sharif: In your opinion, what aspect of bridge causes the average player to throw away most points? I tend to think that it is in slam bidding, but I would value your opinion. —

I agree that, by and large, slam bidding leaves something to be desired, even among many expert pairs. And at the top levels of bridge, failure to bid sound slams costs more than anything else. But my own feeling is that misfit hands, cause far more damage to the average player.

I remember some years ago I was a guest in a commuter railroad game. It seemed to be the rule that the shorter a player was in his partner’s suit, the more he felt constrained to bid some number of no trump. No one ever gave a thought to the fact that without a fit for partner’s suit there was simply no source of tricks for a no trump contract.

The average player simply doesn’t know when to STOP bidding. Give him a sound opening bid and say, 6-5 in the black suits and no matter how many times partner bids the red suits, he tries to push on In the blacks. And then when he get doubled and loses some large number of points, he will wail: «But partner, you opened the bidding and I had 14 points and a six card suit».

Here’s another example that is quite common.

A player picks up: spade suit K J 5 3 2     A 8 4 3  K 6 5 2

According to the point count, the hand is worth 11 points in high cards and 3 for the void. But now partner opens one heart, and the prudent player will immediately decide that his void in partner’s suit is no longer an asset, but in fact a major defect.

Still he has a perfectly sound spade response. But when partner now rebids two hearts, showing a six card suit, the whole picture of the hand changes. It has become a misfit and I maintain that the only correct action now is to pass.

But how many times have I seen players trot out three clubs, without even thinking that they are making a forcing bid and that there might no longer be any safe place to bail out.