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You Be The Judge #1
You Be The Judge is a recurring feature in Bridge World.  The basic idea is simple...present 2 hands where actions taken led to a very bad result.  The hand is submitted to experts...and I do mean serious, world-class experts with major, major credentials...and also for readers to assess.  A few months later, many of the individual opinions and the reasoning, as well as the final consensus, are published.  Always liked that column.

Anyway, that's what we have here.  I can't offer an expert panel.  I will offer my assessment, but this area has considerable room for interpretation...especially if I pick a decent hand. Smile it's North and South.  Which player deserves the most blame?  What percentage of the blame do you assign to that player?  And what is the single worst action taken, in your view?


  S -

[Auction "N"]
Pass 50 60 65
- 70 Pass Pass

Obviously, they don't pull what they need.  So, who did what wrong?
If I were playing South, I would probably open at 60.  It's a bit of a stretch, because (1) you only have 19 meld; and (2) you're expecting your partner to account for 10-12 total points (19 meld + 2.4 * 8 tricks = 38 points) - but you could easily make at least 1 of the THs, which would mean less support required of your partner.

From North's perspective, there is no good reason to bid 65.  You have all of 2 aces, and your long suit is 7 with not a lot of power.

To me, it's a tough call on whose poor decision was more egregious.  If South bid 60, maybe West would have gone to 65.  Of course, this takes South off the hook - but what's the net difference between South as Declarer or West as Declarer?  Obviously, if the bidding went Pass - 60 - 65 - Pass, South has no choice but to pass.  Also, South bidding 70 on 19 meld with no indication of meld from North is way out of line - but this is in part because of North's stepping in at 65, which (s)he had no business doing.  Therefore, I think I'm leaning towards North's butting in at 65 as the worst move.

I'm a little surprised that N/S didn't make the 70 bid - they would have only needed to make 27 trick points by my count.  I can see where a bad distribution in diamonds and hearts could backfire on South...but what did E/W have, and what happened during the trick play, that cost N/S from making?
I fully blame North for making a declarer-type bid with a meld-type hand full of losers.
South is right to ask for meld and I think the 60 bid is going to end badly too often to be advisable.
West's 60 bid is the perfect monkeywrench bid against the NorthSouth team who seem hellbent on taking the contract.

If South was determined to win the contract with his/her lopsided hand, then North passing would have spared them five points on the contract.

Given the scenario information, I'll put blame solely on North and give West a high five.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
That's exactly the kinds of comments I wanted to see. Smile

Tigre:  opening 60 with that South hand is tricky;  mick points out correctly that 60 will bomb fairly often.  I would be MUCH happier if the hearts had the side ace.  South's hand is probably going to be very timing-sensitive, and you're quite correct:  the heart suit is very important.  In favor of 60 is that South's hand has very narrow support value, and 60 is *often* going to be the best spot for N/S.  It also puts good pressure on West, and he'll bid a pushy 65 some of the time.  This cancels out at least some of the times 60 fails.  

This is the kind of hand where a full-scale pinochle simulator/deal generator would be very nice.  Set the South hand;  deal the other 3 hands, East's first because it has the only other constraint:  it has to pass.  But then you'd need to estimate how often 
a)  West would bid 65
b)  South would make 60
c)  North makes the question moot because of HIS hand -- something like:


I think most of us will bid 65 over South's 60, and ALL of us will bid to play over any West jump bid regardless of South's first call.  This is a monster.  

The play also was poor.  South led  AC then  QD ... didn't even start the hearts.  But the problem even then, if South started hearts at trick 2, is that South is going to have to ruff spades *many* times.  He may get 5 spade ruffs, 3 trump aces, and the club for 9.  North will kick in a club trick;  that's 10.  But by the time the hearts set up, it'll be too late;  South can't strip the trump.   And of course, the trump exit was awful;  it cost MAJOR tempo.  Defense started the attack on South's trump before South ever started the hearts.  

So I could see South opening 60, but I can't call 50 a clear error, or close to the worst action.

West's 60 bid was good...but that's one of the reasons why pass-50-51 is such bad bidding.  If West just bids 51, North might give the meld.  South probably bids 65 and it's over.  

Here are my opinions:

Blame:  North 80% for that 65 bid.  It's a poor bid, and it's the worst action.  But it's actually not an impossible one, if North attacks spades.  It needs too much to be the right call, particularly with the VERY weak trump suit, but it's not altogether hopeless.  

South 20% for bidding 70.  He's got no meld to do this, and to force things up 5 more.  You can't count South as more than a 9 trick hand, and probably 8 is more accurate.  21 meld and 8 tricks is needing 30 support from partner?  Ugh.  If North's suit is spades, then yeah, life's ugly at 65.  If it's diamonds...unlikely but possible...pass is actually correct.  Why go up 5 more?  If North's suit is hearts or clubs...and clubs isn't implausible...South's support isn't so bad any more. Also figure: who says North's hand isn't somewhat similar to South's? Take the example hand I gave, drop it from a double pino to a single pino, throw in a splash of meld (queens or kings around).
I love seeing posts like these. Well done.

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