Better Basic Bridge: A comment from a player who should know better

Nancy Evins • Updated Feb 26, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Recently, I overheard a woman tell someone what she hated at bridge was when someone had passed twice and then came in and bid.

Her listener tried to explain it was “balancing.” The first woman said, “not when she’s passed twice.”

Yes, it is true. That is balancing and makes a lot of sense if you use common sense.

The listener tried to explain, if your partner, say West, opens a diamond – or anything – and I pass and you bid one heart, pass by my partner and then yours bids one spade and I pass again, you raise to two spades and it is passed around to me, that is when I must balance.

Woman: That doesn’t make sense. You’ve passed twice, so you don’t even have an opening hand.

Listener: I know that if your partnership only holds anywhere between 18 and 22 points, then my partner and I have the balance of points between us.

Woman: How would you know that? (disdainfully)

By then, the round had been called, and I didn’t get to hear anymore of the discussion as they left to go to different tables.

I had expected to hear the listener say, “Elementary, my dear Watson” and continue to point out that if opener had twelve to fourteen points and partner could have as few as six or up to nine, as their bidding showed, that meant she and her partner would have the balance.

When I make the balance bid, I am bidding my partner’s hand also, and he must never raise me. The whole purpose is perhaps to make my bid; force them to another level, which we may set or just go down less than opponents would make on their bid.

This can be disastrous if opponents don’t know how to bid, and one holds, say, 18-19 points and just gives a simple raise to his partner.

Even if you are playing in an out-of-town tournament where you don’t know the skill of your opponents, it is still best to balance. Most people who play duplicate bid correctly.

Not always so. I balanced in this way many years ago with a young doctor who was my partner. He immediately raised me and was quite putout when I failed to make the contract.

I was trying to explain, and the opponent, an older man, interjected. “Son,” he said to my partner. “She is bidding your hand and her hand also.”

“Tell her to bid her own hand,” came the indignant reply.

Well, not everyone plays with a full deck. I just hope he is doing better in the medical field.

Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at na_evins@att.net.


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