Bols Bridge Tip by Robert Hamman (USA)


Bols Bridge Tip by Robert Hamman (USA)

extraido de: «Bridge Tips by World Masters» por Terence Reese

«If You are to amount to anything at this game, you must build up a picture of the unseen hands».


Q 5
A 10 9 3 2
8 4
10 6 3 2








 A K 7 4 3 2 
Q 5
A Q 8 4


South dealer

Neither side vul

West    North    East   South 
2 Paso Paso 2
Paso 3 Paso 4
Paso Paso Paso  

North’s raise to 3 is fairly close, I would say.

West led the 4 against Hamman’s contract of 4.

It is instructive now to consider what you know, or need to assume, about each suit. Make a list of all the inferences that are available. Have you done that? It should read something like this:

First, spades. You haven’t been doubled, so there is a good chance that they will be 3/2. In any case you must assume this, because you are surely going to lose two diamonds and at lease one club. This is typical «assumption». Since the spades must be 3/2 if you are going to make the contract, you assume they are 3/2 and you build up your picture of the opposing hands on that basis.

Second, hearts. What do you make of that lead of the 4?

Could it be a singleton? Hardly, because that would give East: K Q J 8 7 5 and he would have made a bid over 2 (especially since, as we shall see in a moment, he surely has a diamond honour). So West is leading low from an honour, or possibly two non-touching honours. He might have K x x or Q x x or K J x, something like that. Since he has bid 2 and we are placing him with at least 2, he is more likely to hold three hearts than four.

Third, diamonds. There is a simple, and very common, inference to be drawn here, but it is an inference often missed. With A/K of diamonds are split, with East probably clutching the king.

Fourth, club. Until we had studied the other suits, there wasn’t mucho to say about the club situation. Since we are placing West with at least six diamonds, possibly seven, at least three hearts and at least two spades, he can hardly hold more than two clubs and may have only one.

What about the K, a critical card? One pointer is that East is already marked with a high honour in heart, quite possibly two honours, and with one of the top diamonds. Exaggerating a trifle, Hamman remarks: » East’s silence would would be incomprehensible with a diamond honour, at least one heart honour, and the K as well».

There is another indication, at least as strong, West has chosen an unattactive lead in hearts, and there must be some reson why be preferred a heart to a club.  Perhaps this club holding is a singleton King or K x?

Now we are getting warm. Putting all the inferences together, we hace arrived at the conclusion that the best way to limit the loss in club to one trick is to play West for short clubs, including the K. This is waht hamman did, with good effect, as can be seen from the full deal:

  Q 5
A 10 9 3 2
8 4
10 6 3 2



J 6 
K 5 4
A J 10 9 6 3 2
  10 9 8
Q J 8 7
K 7
J 9 7 5
   A K 7 4 3 2 
Q 5
A Q 8 4

Having won the first trick with the A, the declarer played a club to the A, droppng the singleton K.

There was still a little work to do, because the next club lead had to come from dummy. South had to hope that West held only two spades. He played A and spades to the Q, then a low club form the table. East split his J 9 7, South played the queen, and West was unable to ruff.

The last trump was drawn, and declarer’s 8 and 10 were now equals against East’s J. This is how Hamman ended his account:

«Quickly I draw the lat trump and concede a club and two diamonds to make 4. I notice only my partner is congratulating me. East is eyeing me suspiciously and West already slid his chair a foot back from the table»

 Before we leave this fin hand, let’s just run over the inferences again, because if you think in this way every time you will soon be a champion:

Tumps had to be 3/2, because otherwise there would be no play for the contract.

The lead of the 4 was probably form K x x or Q x x , conceivably from K J x.

The A and K were surely divided.

East unlikely to hold the K for two reasons: with this card he might have had enough to bid over his partner’s two diamonds; and West’s awkward holding in clubs as well, probably K x or K alone.

This type of card-reading is the beginning, and almost the end, of all good play. The theme is present in almos all the contributions to this book. Instead of looking at other examples, therefore, it might be interesting to listen to Robert Hamman’s opinions about a different feature of tournament play – the human side. One of the staff of the ABTA quarterly, the magazine of American teachers, quizzed him about the prennial problem of the sort of welcome that novices get – or don¡t get – when they dip their toes in the tournament whirlpool.

Question: «Several of myu pupils have fone out and fotten into games and been scared to death by the attitude of the players. They hear criticism, partner against partner, even a player against the opponent, telling the opponent what he did wrong, and they get terribly upset about it. They won’t go again.»

Hamman: «Granted that there is substantial room for improvement in the demeanour of tournament players.

Tournament bridge is a competitive event. It s competition, and in competition you do get a lot of tension and you get emotional reactions. It’s not a sociable event in the sense of everybody get out and be friendly and kill some time. So as a bridge teacher you should condition them to the idea that this is a competitive event ahd this is competition, and it’s great to solve problems and win and thar you’re going to get a bit of static here ant there, but you know, educate them to the tact that they will probably run into a situation like that sometime, but in reality nothing too bad has happened to them.

If somebody turned to them and said » Man, well you stupid!, well, chances are that someone just got a bad result. Now, would you rather get a good result and have your opponents say you’re stupid or get a bad result and have your opponents sit back with an inner smugness? So you can put it to them in that way: That usually the opponents are just blowing off steam and reacting to the fact that you did good and beat them.

» Thar will overcome sone of it; nor, it won’t overcome all of it for all people. I think that a lot could be done toward conditioning people. The fact is that it is a conpetitive event and if something goes bad, if your partner does something incredibly stupid, (naturally you yourself would never do anything incredibly stupid) and you get a terrible result, you’re ready to lash oput at anybody, heads must roll!»

To put it another way, if you take up boxing  you must expect a few bloody noses.