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Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - ToreadorElder - 08-19-2012

You're considering taking the bid. What is a reasonable expectation about your partner's hand? These are the possible cases:

a) Partner passes in a non-save situation
b) Partner passes in a save situation (e.g. you're dealer; LHO passes, partner passes)
c) Partner gives meld in a non-save situation, then passes
d) Partner gives meld in a save situation, then passes
e) Partner gives meld, then bids again
f) Partner gives an aces bid, then passes

We'll skip partner giving a double aces bid. Smile We know he's got us covered on meld and tricks.

a) Partner passes in non-save situation

I play partner to give me 15 total points. I don't really care how, usually; could be 10 meld and 5 from play, or 4 meld and 11 from play. Sure, there's rare hands where I'm short of 20 meld myself, but with a huge playing hand. In those cases, I often go with my gut, but I can't play him for more than about 8 meld.

b) Partner passes in a save situation

I tend to pull in the reins, just a bit. If I must, yes, I'll play him for 15, but in borderline cases -- say, pass-pass-50 to you, and you're choosing between 60 and 65. 65 needs 15-17 from partner. Bid 60, and give it up if the opponent bids 65.

c) Partner gives meld in a non-save situation, then passes

The question here is, how many tricks will partner kick in? I say 2. ONLY 2. Yes, it's conservative. I could see assuming 3, but not more. So: 2 tricks == 5 points, so the total contribution is his meld bid +5.

Note, too, that your hand texture is important. If you have something huge like AATTKKQJ AAxxxxx Axx xx partner may well win NO tricks, even with a couple of aces in hand.

Also note that a) and c) have a significant impact in bidding, most commonly the 20 meld bid, and brings up a simple rule: add the number of aces you hold to your actual meld. If you get 20 (14 with 6 aces, 16 with 4 aces), give 20. Same for a 30 meld bid. 16 with 3 aces? Look to other factors. 3 marriages? 75% chance you have 18. Aces that may not cash (in very long or very short suits)? Down-value somewhat.

d) Partner gives meld in a save situation, then passes

This is a case where partner might have lied just a bit. He may have NO good bid. Give him TKQJ ATQQJJ ATQQJ TTTQJ and he has no good bid. 16 meld and 2 aces isn't normally enough for 20; the only possible trump suit is too poor; but he does have a heckuva lot more than passing suggests (see point b.) You don't feel bad giving him some mild encouragement. So here, I'd want partner to give 20 as the least lie, and I'll treat it, as in b), just a bit cautiously.

e) Partner gives meld, then bids again
e.1 partner bids 52, pass, 53, pass, 54
Partner has a run, most of the time, and is bidding back in case your bid was just a save.
e.2 partner bids 52, pass, 53, LHO bids 54, partner bids 55. He's NOT been shut out, and you may only have saved. Partner should have extras...probably a decent 6 card run and some aces. You can't take this TOO far, but 3-4 tricks is a reasonable assumption on your part.
e.3 partner bids 52, pass, 53, LHO bids 60, partner bids 65. This should be VERY specific, because you have a better feel for the partnership's safe level. About the ONLY hand that makes sense is 7-5-4-4 with a weak 7 card run (say, ATKQQJJ) and several aces on the side. His 65 crowds you too much otherwise. Again, figure he *should* be good for 3-4 tricks.

f) Partner gives an aces bid, then passes
I'll play him for 25 points, total. He's said 10 with the aces, and figure 5 tricks plus another splash (marriage, pinochle, jacks maybe).

Note that in the cases where partner bids twice, I'm assuming strength first bidding...so, partner's meld bid denies a strong desire to play it. Otherwise, though, and this covers MANY situations, it doesn't matter what you're playing.

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - rakbeater - 08-20-2012

This is very good, even if you believe in meld first bidding. Would like b) explained in more detail.

Perhaps the title should be "Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - when partner bids before you"? So that way I can look forward to the articles like Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - when partner is responding to your XX bid"

There are several good posts just waiting to be written. *HINT HINT*

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - ToreadorElder - 08-20-2012

There is no reason to split the topic whatsoever, certainly not on those grounds. Pass is pass is pass. The ONLY difference, and it's slight, is partner's actions in save situations. And THOSE can come both before and after you bid.

On b), when partner has a little something something, he *tends* to at least give the save. Second, remember my point that a decent RHO has a hand. He *should* have enough to bid 60. If you think he does, you've got to be a bit careful because that often translates to extra strength. Combine this with partner's failure to save...exposing a risk that LHO, who needs something real to bid on, has a bit...and ugh. Partner's just less likely than normal to give the full 15.

Also note: from point d) he may have given 20 with 16 and 2 aces. So, his likely *maximum* contribution is closer to 16-18; the cases where he'll give you more than that, are pretty narrow. Not impossible...kings around, no Q ergo no marriage, and 6 aces in 3 suits. But here the least lie is probably giving an aces bid...and he didn't do that! I don't like aces bids on this kind of hand normally, but in save situation? It states the hand value reasonably well. But he didn't...so it's NOT all that likely he's got that. Kings around, no Q, 4 aces in 3 suits...yes, this is plausible. But that's 18, and obviously it can easily be WAY less.

So...over pass-pass-50, say I've got about a 50 point hand:


That's 29 meld and 8 tricks for another 20. That's 49. Give partner 15 and we're at 64, so 65 would be reasonable, and may be mandatory (after, say, partner passes, and RHO bids 52; 65 is *often* LHO's max, so take it and force him to guess). After pass-pass-50, though, I just bid 60...right now. I'm combining safety and aggression, and confusion...ever have RHO rebid 65 thinking he'll just push you to 70? I'm trying to balance bidding to a level that I can make most of the time, while putting RHO to the hardest decision I can.

Yes, if you start with
Now you're down to 25 meld, 45 total. 60 is quite pushy...justified because of the bluff aspect. RHO will, at times, bid a bad 65, or at least a 65 that doesn't work out. And partner can have the 15, so it's not a hopeless bid by any means. BUT IT IS, TO A DEGREE, A BLUFF, over RHO's 3rd seat opening.

BTW: Note that RHO can avoid the issue. Pass-pass-60. With the 49 hand, maybe you bid 65, maybe not. (My gut feeling is, you'll go down about 1/4 to 1/3 of the time, and probably show a net MINUS versus passing.) With the 45 hand, you never do.

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - rakbeater - 08-21-2012

ok, so just B, D, and F would be your partner bidding before you, but A, C, and E work no matter who bids first between your partner and you. Just wanted to clear that up.

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - ToreadorElder - 08-21-2012

Stop thinking about who bid first. Wrong thought process. The point is partner was in a *save* situation. And that *can* arise even when you bid first. RHO opens 50, you bid 53, pass, pass, 54 by RHO. Case d) has an analogous auction. Only f) is clearly because partner bid before you, because 51 == aces can only happen when he acts first.

But as noted, don't worry about who acted first. Consider the action, and the options...because every action you take, limits the hands you can have. (This is why meld-first bidding is, IMO, terribly wrong...because it does NOT do this.) Consider these two sequences, with LHO starting (and putting partner in the save seat):

a) pass - 50 - pass - 52 - 54
b) pass - 52 - pass - 54 - 55
c) pass - 52 - pass - 54 - 56

In both cases, you and partner are showing 20 meld...but in a) he chose to start with 50, which may have been passed out, THEN he gave 20, offering it back to you. So what does this suggest? Most likely, a 6 card run, and *maybe* a very weak 7 card run (ATKQQJJ or so). With a 5 card run, he should give the 20; with a better 7 card run, there's no reason to return the 20 to you; and with something like a 7 card non-run, why didn't he start with 20? Because it's a pretty good non-run (AATTKKQ, say). This sequence says he's got a pretty decently strong, probably balanced hand with just an adequate trump suit; his 50 said little, but it becomes a strong-ish bid because he had the more informative 20 meld bid available.

Let's jump to c). He gave 20, you gave it back, he 'gave 20' again. No, this doesn't show more meld. It shows "ok, pard, I *can* take it...but I don't much want it." Meld isn't a problem...but pulling 20 might be. He does NOT have TTKKQQJJ or AAKKQQJ, either of which would be fine trump suits. (If you think that aceless 8 card suit is not a good trump suit in this situation, you're wrong. You reasonably expect to win *4* tricks when that suit is trump.)

So b) becomes the case where he's got the trump suit...at least a decent 7...by default.

Note that in a) and c) you may choose to bid again...but there is NO logic for you to take a 2nd bid in case b). Your 20 meld bid limited YOUR hand somewhat...not entirely, as at that point showing the meld might be more important because RHO is still in the auction at that point...but you don't have something better than what his bidding shows, in case b).

That is, IF you actually think through the bidding/situational logic, and don't make the kinds of knee-jerk, 'formulaic' bids.

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - rakbeater - 08-22-2012

I'm asking questions that a beginner who is trying to learn the basics might ask to help our novice members who want to learn more. Many times it is difficult for advanced players to explain the basics because to them it is second nature and they cannot relate to the beginner mindset where everything is new. My goal is to help the community.

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - ToreadorElder - 08-22-2012

For a flat out beginner, one boils things down to 3 rules:

a) If partner gives meld, count on him for the meld + 2 (or 3, if you prefer) tricks for another 5 points.
b) If partner never gives meld or aces, count on him for 15 total.
c) If partner gives aces, count on him for 25 total.

Good beginner rules are simple and clear-cut, but DON'T violate or contradict more advanced principles. These don't.

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - rakbeater - 01-06-2013

Bump, want to reread this later.

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - richardpaulhall - 01-17-2013

New player here:

"For a flat out beginner, one boils things down to 3 rules:"

And the discussion jumps to estimating partners tricks when bidding. But I have not read anything teaching me how to do this, or why. (I can guess why, I play bridge.)

Beginning(newbie) players are at a level way below what an experienced player could imagine. (The experienced player generally having forgotten those "totally in the woods" days oh those eons back.

I get yelled at online when the site does not count meld for me because it takes me a while to count meld. And I often get the count wrong. I have surprised lsp (long suffering partner) because, tho a newbie, I play the hands Ok.

So "Novice Lessons" have to start at he most fundamental level, "don't forget to breathe".

But I have a real question. Why the special consideration for an opening bid of 51 to show aces?

RE: Basics: Expectation about partner's hand - ToreadorElder - 01-18-2013

Playing online is not the easiest way to learn, simply because of the limitations. If you're playing on Yahoo, try the beginner lounge playing unrated, or the social lounge.

Estimating tricks is floating around somewhere, I think...

51 for aces...because those aces mean playing strength and tricks...

a) If I give 20 meld, I may have NO aces...ergo, pulling 20 in play is going to be a problem. An aces bid means that weak hands with decent trump (say, ATTKKQJ) and 1 side ace, can go ahead and bid...those aces should be enough to make.

b) My partner's aces are a wall. Once I exit, even if LHO wins the trick, he probably can't reach RHO. So, we get all the aces we want to get, most of the time.

c) They're also, at times, a conduit. If I have AAAK, I can lead the K the first time I lead that suit, and he's in. Consider a hand like this:


At trick 1, lead KD to partner's ace. He can cash club and heart aces, plus trump aces if he's short. I'm down to losing probably 5 tricks total...2 each in clubs and hearts, plus 1 trump trick. I'm pulling 40...and I can darn well bid expecting to pull 35. Note that if I can't reach partner, the opponents can cash 3 rounds.

Might sound like that's No Big Deal...true for this example, but those 2 tricks can make the difference between 27 and 31. That DOES matter. Here's another example:



Now look at the effect of KD at trick 1. Partner's in; he cashes his heart ace *that could've been lost* then the 2 club tricks to get rid of your losers there. Those 3 tricks were completely up for grabs. Now he can exit with his remaining heart and he's in position to ruff several of your heart losers, and your play as declarer is simple.