Thursday, July 12, 2012

GNT part 2

Our teammates played terrific bridge and carried us into 4th qualifying place for tomorrow's head-to-head match.  Twenty-four of the twenty-five districts fielded teams and sixteen qualified for the knockout stage.  We started strongly today in the Swiss and then hit a couple of bumps in the road before the dinner break.  However, we ended well with three wins in the second session to give us 97 VPs.  Meanwhile, our C team ended third while our A team finished in pole position :)

There were really no very interesting hands today (well, a couple were interesting in the wrong way) so I will use a post that I had prepared earlier.

I've recently been re-reading the very excellent Human Bridge Errors -- volume 1 of Infinity by Chthonic (pronounced like tonic except with a lisp), the (fictional) bridge-playing robot.  In reality it is by Danny Kleinman and Nick Straguzzi.  I've made mention of this book before in this blog (Chthonic).  I think this book is one of the best bridge teaching books there is.  It covers 57 varieties (yes, really!) of bridge errors and the advice is pithy, humorous and, above all, sage.

While all of the chapters are excellent, there are three in the section on competitive bidding that seem to me to stand out above the others, viz. #29, 30 and 31.

Fear of Bidding a Non-Blackwood Four Notrump (29) is something of a diatribe on how, for most humans, 4NT = Blackwood, period.  But at Chthonic points out, in a competitive auction, this is rarely the most useful treatment.  When our side has not found a fit, 4NT should be considered accordingly: if it is logical for this to be natural, then it is natural.  Else if it is needed to show two places to play, then it is a two-suited takeout (I'm summarizing).  If and only if neither of these make sense, then it is ace (or key-card) asking. 

Reopening on Inappropriate Hands Using Negative Double (30) is the antidote to that advice that we all received at some point: always reopen after you open 1-something and that is overcalled on your left followed by two passes.  The logic is that your partner may be trap-passing.  The trouble is that he simply might not have a very good hand and if we have a rock-bottom minimum, we may get into a little trouble.  So, Chthonic believes that we should have extras for this call, just as we would with any double that might be passed for penalties.

Ignoring Clues from the Opponents' Temp and Mannerisms (31) reminds us that the pair we have never seen playing at the club is probably not an expert pair.  If they stop below game, it doesn't mean that they don't have a game, especially if your RHO takes for ever to think about it.  In such circumstances, if we reopen, they may be delighted to take another bid and propel their side into a game they were otherwise going to miss.

I love the humorous way Chthonic pokes fun at us humans.  As an exponent of artificial intelligence techniques myself, I have lot of empathy with Chthonic.

1 comment:

  1. The articles featuring Chthonic in the Bridge World were great.