Taking out Insurance




            I going to quote a good Polish player ( Klimo )  Take the cheap insurance from time to time and you will be ahead by a mile!!! I think the frequent playing of “match points” is screwing up our IMP game philosophy . In match points we are so scared of a minus that we visualize the worst case scenerio all the time and do not “take out insurance” . In IMP’s ,  the insurance to bid one more time to prevent a double partial/game/slam swing is the winning strategy . If you guess wrong and blow 200 to prevent a –19 loss it is a small price to pay . If the opponents get lucky and make a doubled game on a forcing pass auction it is only –4 as partners are assumed to be in the game also . So , one good result with a forcing pass auction and get +12 you need 3 bad results of a doubled game to break even !


            Penalty doubles are a recipe for disaster. A pull of a double with a void and a 6 - 5 is taking out insurance against a disaster . You stand way more to lose by leaving in a double then to bid again . It is just plain logic . In poker there is a concept of “pot odds”  where you only gamble if your expected gain matches the probability of success of your hand . In Bridge it is similar but in a different manner . What are the expectation of your possible loss if you do not “take out insurance” . Is there a double game swing ? Do you have a slam ? Do you have a grand slam ? What is your expected loss if there is a worst case scenerio ?  Back to Klimo’s quote above .


D.S.I.P. doubles are “taking out insurance” against bad penalty doubles. By not allowing penalty doubles in competition unless converted by partner many disasters are avoided. Penalty doubles only occur when partner has defense and you have trump which is a lethal mixture for the opponents. The single handed “penalty doubles” being removed from competitive auctions , should result in lowering the premiums against doubling the opponents into game.



            On the disaster Jones and I had , Lorna and Lorna also had a disaster the other way . Lorna doubled 5♣ and they made it when they had a sacrifice that made 5 their way ! Lorna felt that Lloyda could have saved the day by pulling the double with her 6 –5 . However , Klimo says “wait a minute” , why can’t Lorna take out cheap insurance and bid 5 instead of doubling ?  Lorna doubled 5♣ with the AJx of clubs and found the KQ on the board to hold it to 5 . If the club honours were split the hand makes 6 . Why gamble with a double when cheap insurance is probably 100 . You get rewarded when partner actually makes this hand .


            Peter Jones held  xxx xx J10xx AKQx against KIZ and KLIMO . I opened a diamond nv and KLIMO bid 2 vul and Peter bid 3♣ and Kiz bid 3 . I leaped to 5♣ and Klimo bid 5. Peter doubled and they made 5 spades doubled  vulnerable . If he had taken out insurance by bidding 6♣/ not vul he would have been rewarded as I can make either contract . Again , Peter did not know that we could make 6 of a minor . It is just an IMP insurance bid against disaster . 20 imps is a lot to explain in one hand .


            The most stupid bid in bridge is to be fixated on your hand and not take action in a forcing pass situation . Say partner doubles an initial bid of 2 and then when the opponents bid 4 he bids 4 and the opponents persist to 5 hearts and partner passes . This pass has to be forcing as he doubled and bid game all by himself. The pass says he wants to play the hand if your hand is suitable and double if it is not . He could hold 24 HCP for all you know . Your hand is


                                    xxx xxx xxxx xxx 


            Do you pass because you hand is weak ? A pass would destroy the partnership . Your double card should hit the table very fast. When you double , your hand has got nothing to do with this auction .



            Being ashamed of your opener is no reason to pass a forcing pass . You hold void KQ10x K109xx KJxx . You open a diamond and hear 2 to your left and partner bids 2 showing a limit raise or better and the opponents bid 2 . You pass and the opponents bid 4 and partner makes a forcing pass . You have quite a dog . Maybe you should pass in case they make it ? Not on your life , partner could have 4 Aces and wondering if there was a grand . I actually held 3 Aces and 5 makes . This was a double game swing as 4 makes .



            Anyway , one thing I have learned in Bridge is “forcing passes” is right up there with the most important concepts in Bridge . In rubber bridge , you do have the luxury of “forcing passes” because you need a partner you can trust. With your regular partner you should have forcing passes discussed inside and out . This is my 5th e-mail just around this subject. I think a book can be written on all the nuances. If you do not play forcing passes , then play with the dentist and all penalty doubles show 100 honours in trump . You do not have to think or make any decisions that way . However finding a good partner will prove pretty difficult…




Bob Crosby