Mark Blumenthal

“Help Your Partner”

My son, Erik, plays whist-like games such as hearts and spades frequently. I have tried to get him to play bridge with me. He is intimidated by the bidding, and he said it seems that it’s too easy to cheat in bridge. I know aside from outright having signals many of the top players of would hesitate making it easy for their partner to read what they had or they could read their partner’s delays.

I once played against a top professional who is still considered one of the best players in the country. I’ll call him Joe. was playing with a weak sponsor he had played with often. Joe opened one club to my right. Both my partner and I passed throughout. His partner bid promptly bid one diamond. Joe bid one spade and his partner raised to two spades. Joe now bid Blackwood and upon his partner’s response bid six spades. I had an outside ace and king. Reasoning neither of my opponents had shown great strength until their rebids, I thought I had a chance to beat the hand so I led away from my king. Joe claimed, and I wound up losing my ace. Seeing I was puzzled, Joe told me he hadn’t jump shifted because his partner always thought about it with a marginal response so he was sure his partner would respond if Joe only made a minimum bid.

Another time I was discussing a hand with one of the top internationalists at the time. He told me, “You have to be a schmuck if you don’t help your partner.” In other words, you should hesitate with a close bid.

sometimes even bidding boxes won’t prevent conveying illegal information. Bob Goldman and I were playing against a pretty good sponsor and his regular professional. Bob opened one spade. The sponsor started thinking. He touched various calls. Finally, he threw double on the table. I think everybody at the table knew he had a good hand with short hearts. Nothing untoward happened as his partner did not take advantage of the illegal information he had received. I won’t say Walvick’s law about this is totally true, but there is enough  validity in it  to it to be discouraging.

Incidentally, when I talked to Erik  about this he pointed out  bridge, with partnerships is subject to this, as opposed to a game such as  poker in which anything goes. I guess a sport such as golf in which players will call penalties upon themselves is an  ideal solution, but in normal play for high stakes, I don’t know how honest a player may be.

1 Comment

Keith ZennerFebruary 10th, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I share Erik’s thoughts about cheating. I recently(1999) struggled to justify rebidding when my partner made a nonforcing call and I knew he meant to force. We won the event but I quit playing for the third time. I may play again as they serve bagels and cream cheese at the senior center.

Leave a comment

Your comment