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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

Patience and karma pay off
Buddhism teaches the value of patience and mindfulness. If your karma is good, all will be well. Some people also learn patience from Bangkok traffic, as you wait powerlessly for what seems like hours in order to move forward a few meters. Other people, however, react to Bangkok traffic with impatience. The first type of people are probably the better bridge players. Mindfulness includes awareness of one’s thoughts, motivations and actions. Thai Buddhists should be good players, since bridge certainly benefits from patience and mindfulness, as we will see.
Many players use a bid called a negative double. For those who are unfamiliar with this bid, it is quite simple, but very useful. When your partner bids a suit and the opponents immediately overcall in another suit, your double is not for penalties, but is “negative”. It denies your partner’s suit and shows the two unbid suits. Most particularly it shows any unbid major (lying some about having the unbid minor is usually acceptable). For example, your partner opens 1S and RHO overcalls 2C. Your hand is:

S: 98
H: KQ542
D: Q976
C: 76

You have a decent heart suit, but cannot bid 2H (which shows a minimum of about 9 or 10 points), because you do not have enough points. So you keep the bidding low by doubling to show the red suits. Alternatively, your hand is:

S: 98
D: A976
C: 763

Now you have enough points to bid at the two level, but only four hearts, not enough to bid at the two level. Again, you double to show the red suits. But what do you do if your hand is as below, RHO overcalls 2C and the opponents are vulnerable?

S: 8
H: A64
D: 9754
C: AJ1098
If you double, partner will think you have the red suits, so this is where patience comes in. You pass. Your partner knows that pass in this position means either that you are weak, or that you are lying in wait in clubs. If your partner thinks you are lying in wait, he or she must double to give you a chance to pass (or, if you are actually weak, to bid something). The full deal is shown below, with you sitting West and East dealing and NS vulnerable:

  S: 10952  
  H: 852  
  D: KJ108  
  C: 43  
S: 8   S: KQJ64
H: A64   H: QJ103
D: 9754   D: AQ63
C: AJ1098   C: -
  S: A73  
  H: K97  
  D: 2  
  C: KQ7652  

East South West North
1S 2C P P
Dbl All pass    

South made a reasonable overcall, with a good six card suit, 12 high card points and a singleton. But, your partner looked at his void in clubs and knew to double. Your karma must be good because this has delivered South into your hands, with nowhere to run to—NS’s longest combined suit outside clubs is spades, your partner’s opening bid.
Declarer took your spade lead with the ace, and then led the club queen (a low club is better), hoping to drop two opposing trumps. You take it and switch to a diamond. Partner takes two top spades (with you throwing diamonds), and switches to the heart queen. Now, no matter how South twists and turns, you take a total of ten tricks (2 spades, 3 hearts, 1 diamond and 4 clubs), for down 5. Soon, you are writing plus 1400 on your side of the score sheet. Ah!—the
rewards of patience.
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site

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Bridge in Paradise