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The Numbers Game


By Ian Bailey

In our bridge lives we have come across a great number of rules. A lot of these rules involve numbers - the rule of 20 - the rule of 11 - fourth highest and so on. At the moment I am thinking of the rule of 15. Just in case this has slipped from your memory banks, this applies to your choice of opening a hand after three passes. The rule of 15 then says you should open only if the number of hcp plus the number of spades is 15 or more.

Thus rule was tested recently in a GNOT heat. After three passes you hold

N
WE
S
K Q
K Q 9 3
J 9 8 6 3
J 3

A quick calculation for applying the rule of 15 gives you 14, and the rule says pass. On the other hand real men will open any hand with 12 hcp. In this case, although I held nice spade honours, I did not like the combination so resisted the temptation of being a real man and passed.

When I revealed my hand to the table, it was met with astonishment and I was given a right royal bollocking. It was too late to change my mind, so had to put up with the scorn.

Maybe you would like to know the outcome. Of course you would. The other three hands were

West Deals
None Vul
7 5 4
J 7 5
K 7 2
A 9 7 5
A 3 2
6 2
A 10 4
Q 10 8 6 4
N
WE
S
J 10 9 8 6
A 10 8 4
Q 5
K 2
K Q
K Q 9 3
J 9 8 6 3
J 3

At the other table, south did not make a cowardly pass and opened 1D. In the end, EW wound up in a spade contract making 3. So we gained 4 imps on the board. This did help to reduce the scorn level.

I made a quick analysis on how things would go if you swapped the north and east hands. This would lead to a happier result. But bridge is a game of percentages and I do not pretend I can work out the best percentage action on this particular hand.

But at least on this occasion, the rule of 15 was successful. You can make up your own mind whether this is the best course of action in general or if I should eat more red meat.



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