Saturday, May 12, 2007 5:34 PM

Hand Evaluation – Partnership ( Captaincy )




            One of my partners commented “ most players appear to not trust their partners”. It seems that way but maybe they do not realize they are repeating what they just announced  to partner. They do not fully understand the Bridge concept of “captaincy” . They violate captaincy without realizing it. Bridge bidding quite often is deciding who should control the auction or switch captaincy back & forth.  Bidding again , when you have already announced your hand violates captaincy. Partner has already heard you so why are you repeating yourself ? Captaincy is a partnership bidding or hand evaluation concept. The worst captaincy violation is bidding again with a minimum opener. Responder has heard your opening bid  so is captain of the auction & you have a minimum. Why are you bidding again uninvited when responder’s hand is the great unknown ?


A player held this hand ♠J10xxx Kxx xxx ♣Ax , partner open 1♠ in 3rd seat. She bid Drury , partner bid 2. Now what ? She thought her 8 HCP hand should be promoted to Drury which is good hand evaluation due to her 4th & 5th trump. However , she is “all in” with her Drury bid so she needs partner to make the final determination so she bids 2♠. This ends the auction . At the table , she bid her hand again with 4♠ so partner who should have been captain of this auction went 3 down vul.


            Many players make single handed bids time & time again that take partner right out of the picture. AKx AQxxxx KQx ♣x the nv RHO opened 1 , you overcall 2 . They bid 4♠ so around to you so now what ? Bidding 5 directly is insulting partner it is so single handed & violates captaincy. You could go for –1100 with a heart stack & 4♠ might go down. This hand is an obvious double saying I have a moose 2 overcall so partner can make the decision for the partnership. Partner now bids 5 , you get doubled for +850. 5 is the proper contract but bid from the correct side !! The unknown hand should be captain of the auction when you can describe your huge hand with a double.  Bidding 5is violating captaincy big time which is what the Tormentee bid. Knowing which partner should be captain of the auction is a hand evaluation or bidding skill !!


            The auction goes 3♠-P-3NT-?   ♠void QJ109x AKJ10xx ♣Ax  something seems fishy here so you double to announce your strength first by a double & bid your 6-5 later in the auction. Partner leaves the double of 3NT in so you know she is not particularly broke. They bid 4♠ so now what ? You have announced to the table they your side owns the auction ( penalty double ) so you have turned on forcing passes. You have two bids that stand out. 1st you can bid 5 to show your distributional two suiter in the reds ( you bypassed clubs so you must have the reds) or  the bid I would make which is pass. Most players do not think forcing passes  as partners have dropped the ball so often by not bidding in a forcing pass scenario , the partnership trust is not there . I would pass & pull which is the strongest action possible & might show my spade void. 7 or 7♣ is cold on this hand. Partner should be captain of this auction as her hand is the “great unknown” & you have already had your say. Forcing passes never violate captaincy.


 What is the worst possible bid you could make with your spade void ? A penalty double which is just announcing your double of 3NT all over again, but this time showing a balanced defensive hand with wasted values in spades. You are violating captaincy . Partner already knows you have a strong hand so now you can afford to bid or pass showing no duplication of value in the spade suit. Duplication of value is not just a splinter concept. A penalty double announces wasted values in their suit. Partner should be captain of this auction so that hand evaluation can take place knowing you have no duplication in their suit. A Tormentee doubled & was rewarded with +100 instead of her vulnerable grand slam.


            A very bad bid by a newer player was with this hand ♠AQJ10 AKQx x ♣AKxx  playing with Dora against Peter Jones & Buchanan. He opened 2♣ , Peter Jones overcalled 2. Dora passed & Chris bid 2which got promptly doubled. This double was passed around to Chris who bid 3. An expert would kiss the opponents on the cheek as 4-4-4-1 strong hands are very hard to bid. These opponents have given you a chance to describe your stiff diamond by passing. Dora knows that 2♣ bids are forcing to game so a pass by her is out of the question. The player doubled 3 bidding his hand again thereby giving the wrong picture of duplication of value in diamonds to his partner. 6 has a shot vul & 3x was lucky to go for –300. Partner is captain of this auction as you described your hand already by opening 2♣. As responder is normally captain of 2♣ auctions , you are violating captaincy. In fact , with all strong hands you should describe it & allow responder to be captain !!


            “Captaincy” in Bridge means once you have bid your hand , partner is in charge of the auction. This is self evident in that you already described your hand so partner’s hand is the great unknown. Shouldn’t that hand be in charge of the auction ? Captaincy means partnership Bridge.  If partner pre-empts at the 3 level , who should be captain of the auction ? The unknown hand or the hand that just described their HCP’s & distribution ? One of the 1st lessons I gave a male Tormentee was the concept of captaincy. He bid an unusual 2NT ( essentially a pre-empt ) 3 times in an auction at the 2 level , again at the 3 level & finally at the 4 level so I played 5 of a minor going for –1100 against nothing. I told him that as he described his hand already , I was captain of the auction so he “insulted me “ . He says he has never forgotten this lesson. This captaincy concept re-enforces the partnership aspect of the game of Bridge.


            Here was an interesting auction  the other day. ♠KJ10xxx A AKQJxx you are vul vrs not. They open a strong NT to your left & RHO bids 2♣ Stayman. Now what ? There are two ways to show this hand. Some would bid 2NT which shows any strong 2 suiter in these auctions. Another way you could bid it is to double the club bid & then  jump in spades to describe your black two suiter to partner while giving her some idea of your distributional strength. Incredibly the  player doubled 2♣ & when they bid 2 , bid 3♣ !! This is a non bid as you hid your 6 card spade suit , the strength of your hand & rebid the club suit you have already shown with your double. You have eliminated partner from the auction by hiding your strength & distribution. You should describe your huge hand & let partner be captain of the auction. Some people get hung up with their own strong  distributional hands & forget they have a partner. The best way to handle distributional monsters is to let partner in on the secret. Invite partner to the party early to assist in the decision.


            Here is a simple auction gone bad for no apparent reason other than violating captaincy. Not exercising your captaincy rights when you should is also violating captaincy. A Tormentee held Kxxx AKJx A10x ♣xx & heard her partner rebid 1NT after opening 1♣. Once partner has described her hand within a narrow range , the other partner automatically becomes captain. This was IMPS , so you are armed with the information that partner has a flat 13 HCP. You have a flat 15 HCP so you simply bid 3NT. You may miss you 4-4 spade fit but this is not matchpoints. If the opponents make +650 & you +630 it is called a push in IMPS. There is no slam once partner rebid 1NT. The Tormentee bid 2 forcing to game so partner bid 2♠. This is good ,  as captain you know there is no slam , so you bid 4♠. You bid 3♠ instead which is a slam try. Partner misinterprets the bid so thinking he is on a spade Moysean , he offers a choice of contracts by bidding 4 hoping for a 5-3 fit. Knowing you have a 4-4 spade fit , you inexplicably pass the Moysean & go down with a bad trump break when +650 in spades or 660 in NT is cold. L


                        Bridge is a partnership game so you bid to inform partner so joint decisions are made. You do not have to do everything yourself. There are auctions that dictate that one partner must be captain of the auction though.