This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Robot Battles Part V - Tactical Bids

This is the penultimate of a series of posts on battling the BBO Robots.

The only time you should psych in a robot tourney is when you are bored, need some entertainment, and want to relearn why you should not psych. It boils down to:

- It is pointless psyching when you have the best hand (okay, not pointless, but pointfull);
- Your robot partner will believe your psych until the bitter end, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

However tactical bids work very well by telling little lies (when not vulnerable little white lies) that will put the robot opponents on the wrong trail, and that can put robot "partner" on the right one.

Some tactical bids involve nondisclosure, as disclosed in the last posting. For example, after a Jacoby transfer, 1NT-2D or 1NT-2H, if you want to superaccept I suggest you ignore the system (which involves showing a specific suit doubleton), and simply jump to 3 of the major regardless of where the doubleton is. The superaccept will still get you to game when you need to be there, and will often get the robot opponents to misdefend.

After 1NT-2S minor suit Stayman, it's best to always bid 2NT, even when holding a minor suit, since you want to put partner on the trail to 3NT, and not to five of a minor. Sometimes denying a four card or longer minor will get the robot opponents lost on the defense.

The most common tactical bid is the triple-x rated minor bid. When you have xxx in a minor suit (three little, or triple-x), bidding the suit can act as lead deflectional (okay, that's not in dictionaries just yet, but let's not get deflected). There are two common places for using the bid:

i) After robot "partner" opens 1H or 1S, bidding 2C or 2C with triple-x can put you on the trail to 3NT, and deflect the lead of this suit. A typical auction: 1M-2m;-2M(can be 5 if not extras)-2NT(game force, natural);-3NT. Even if robot raises the minor, he will often let you play in 3NT if that's your next bid.

ii) As an opening bid, with 11-13 high card points, xxx in the minor you bid, and a natural opening in the other minor (the one you ignore). There is some risk here, as it sometimes goes 1m-any;-1NT-2m: that is "partner" will pull your 1NT into 2 of your yucky minor, often a 4-3 fit and a poor score. However it works the majority of the time, and it is a useful way to shoot for tops - if your percentage is less than 57, it provides the opportunity to increase it without having lost too much when it fails. The auction 1m-overcall-3m seems to produce okay results, and don't retreat into 3NT as it often has no chance.

The key to tactical bids is little lies, not big ones. It's much like the notrump rule: a point and/or a card away: if you stretch that to two points (e.g. opening 1NT with 13) more bad things happen than good things. Likewise you can try opening 1C or 1D with two little, but you will soon find you have too little in your minor.

Tactical bids, or distortions as I sometimes call them, are useful to have in your arsenal for live bridge. When live defenders know you are an active bidder who can make these calls, when picturing your hand they have to consider a wider range of potential hands, which makes finding the best defense tougher. Consider using robot tourneys to practice up your tactical bids and get comfortable with them, and then make your live opponents less than comfortable playing against you.

Next and last: All for the best


  • At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Chris Hasney said…

    (when not vulnerable little white lies)

  • At 8:52 PM, Blogger Memphis MOJO said…

    What about pass pass pass to you and you have 11 hcp with Qx of spades. Do you open and hope for the best, or pass it out?

  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger Memphis MOJO said…

    The key to tactical bids is little lies, not big ones.

    It reminds me of when I was married. Little lies are okay(honey, you look great tonight). Big ones are a no-no.


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