There have been no new developments insofar as returning to playing bridge face-to-face at a table with live competitors. But the June monthly magazine from the American Contract Bridge League published initial attendance figures for its online competitions since duplicate activity at clubs was halted due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The figures show that since the ACBL’s virtual club duplicates began in late March, when its first game drew 19 tables, one month later a total of nearly 3,500 tables per day, or about 20,000 tables per week, were participating in the online games.
This naturally raises two important questions that all bridge players are now asking themselves: How high can this number go? And will organized bridge ever be the same again when things return to normal? The answer right now is that nobody knows.
Today’s quiz: We continue this week with the current series of quizzes on takeout doubles and overcalls. In both of the following problems, choose what you think is the best action after your right-hand opponent has opened one diamond in first seat at equal vulnerability.
1. S 4 H KJ53 D KQ1072 C AQ8
2. S AKJ954 H 6 D 83 C AKJ7
1. Pass. This call is arrived at by considering the alternatives. Your hand does not come close to fitting the proper shape for a takeout double or one notrump overcall, and an overcall of one heart on a four-card suit is equally distasteful. This hand is typical of many where you have better than a minimum opening bid of your own but cannot take any action for the time being because the opponent has opened in your own best suit. To bid, in fact, would in effect take the opponent (who is, after all, in a diamond contract at the moment) off the hook and put yourself on it.
2. Double. Unless you are a member of the small minority that still plays strong jump overcalls, double is your only real choice at this moment. When playing weak jump overcalls, as nearly everyone now does, the only way to show a powerful hand with a strong suit is to start with a double, planning to bid your suit at your next turn. Partner will then understand that you have a big hand (17 high-card points or more) that was too strong for a simple overcall at your previous turn to bid.
An initial bid of one spade does not nearly do justice to this hand because partner will pass with many holdings that will produce a good play for game opposite this one. After all, all you need from partner to make ten tricks are two black queens, or an ace and a black queen, but how is he to know this if you make a simple overcall, which could promise as little as 8 or 9 points?