Believing the Opponents
(Courtesy of Bob Crosby)
The opponents are not on your side. There is a Bridge platitude “trust your partner before the opponents”. Yes it is far better to trust a disciplined partner when the auction starts to sound a bit weird. Trust your partner for her values and double the opponents if they have extended themselves. Just because the opponents bid a game it does not mean they are going to make it. Pseudo sacrifices will happen all the time if you think that way.
Sometimes you have to rely on the opponents bidding to fill in the blanks to get a reading on partners HCP’s. I held the following hand the other day AQx AJ10xx AKQ xx and the auction went
P-2-P-? You have 20 HCP’s and there has been an opening bid and a response by the opponents. Give partner this gorgeous collection xxxx xxx xxx xxx and 2 is too high. In match points you should pass and IMPS you should make one try by bidding 3. Partner has 1098xxx x Jxxx xx and with a good spade position you make +650 as she leaps to game !
There are times when it is a good idea to believe the opponents. You have bid a grand slam in spades and RHO doubles for a club lead which is your partners first bid suit. If you pass there will be a ruff and you are guaranteed a minus. Pull to 7NT as there may be a squeeze or a lucky make ! Another time to believe the opponents is when they convert a re-opening double for penalty.
You hold 9x AJxx xx QJ10xx and hear partner who is vul and a passed hand overcall 1 after a diamond opener. This gets doubled and converted for penalty. Do you leave it in ? Partner did not open 2 or make a weak jump overcall so the spades are 5-1 for sure. You have a nice hand for the two unbid suits so you have a classic SOS redouble. You redouble and you find a nice heart fit.
Even sound overcallers get bad trump breaks. If the opponents convert for penalty and you have a useful distributional hand in another suit then trust the opponents and pull !
xx x J10xxx J10xxx 1-2-P-P X-P-P-? Pull to 2NT. Trust the opponents that the heart suit is miserable and take a chance on a minor.
Taking out insurance in IMPS is another time you can trust the opponents. Glen Anderson killed Vish and I in the Red Deer tournament by thinking that way. His partner opened 1 and I made a Michaels bid . Glen had xx Ax KJ10xx Q1098 and bid 3. Vish bid 4 and RHO freely bid 5. I bid 6 vul and Glen bid 7 ! This went for –300 and Vish and I lost 9 IMPS. Klimo got doubled in 6 for +1660 and won 15 IMPS. I asked Glen why he sacrificed and he said he trusted the opponents !!