I am glad Frank Stewart has never made my acquaintance since this author of many how-to books on bridge would find me particularly annoying.
I hate his books.
Every time I start to read, I find him saying something that is against all things I have not only been taught but find wonderfully reasonable.
I gave one example some time ago when he said to open a four-card-spade suit over a five-card heart because “you might never get to bid spades at all.”
Well, if partner didn’t raise my hearts and if he skipped bidding one spade himself, what difference does it make? You do not have an eight-card fit in either spades or hearts so start checking on another suit or no trump.
Anyone who can find a reasonable response to Stewart’s instructions, please call or write me. I will stubbornly offer reasons why he is wrong.
Here is another example:
He shows opener bidding one diamond with this hand and partner responding one spade. He asks what does opener bid next?
Opener’s hand: (S) A Q x x (H) x (D) A K J x x (C) A J x
I can’t imagine anyone bidding anything but four spades. He is telling partner that if partner holds only six points, they have enough for game. Should partner hold more, then he is in the driver’s seat since opener has now made a limit bid of around 20 points, counting distribution.
But, no, Frankie boy says opener should jump in clubs. He says a direct bid of four spades would show a balanced hand. Huh? Why wouldn’t partner think he is denying spades and holds at least four clubs.
And I find it strange that it is important to use Stayman after partner’s opening no-trump to find that wonderful eight-card fit but you, according to him, can skip over mentioning spades should you hold four small ones and respond two or three no-trump.
I’ve heard of people not using Stayman if their majors are small, but I figure if I hold four small ones, his have to be larger than mine, and even if they aren’t much, they can be used for crossruffing.
I may owe an apology to a pro player who charges quite a sum for playing with less-experienced players. Some of those players simply pay him for him to play most of the hands, garnering them more master points, but some do pay to learn.
The day I played against this pair, the novice opened one diamond, pro responded one no-trump, and novice rebid two clubs, and there it was played. When pro’s hand came down, I saw he had four small spades and questioned him about it, and he said they were too small to bid.
I immediately rushed to the conclusion that he wanted to play the hand because he was the expert. I may have been wrong, but I’ll be dogged if I’ll admit it.
Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at email@example.com.