Flag-flying





The practice generally called "flag-flying" consists in overbidding an

adverse declaration, which will surely result in game and rubber, with

a holding which is not of sufficient strength to carry out the

contract.



While at times flag-flying is of great advantage, in inexperienced

hands it is apt to prove a dangerous expedient. The argument in its

favor is obvious. The bonus of 250 points for the rubber really makes

500 points the difference between winning and losing, and in addition

there must be computed the points and honors which would be scored by

the adversaries in the deal with which they go game, and the points and

honors which may be scored by the flag-flyers in the succeeding deal

which they hope will carry them to their goal. On this basis

flag-flyers estimate that it makes a difference of 600 points whether

their opponents go out on the current deal or the flag-flyers score

game on the next, and they claim that any loss under 600 is a gain. The

estimate is correct; the claim, ridiculous. Whenever the next deal

furnishes the player who offers the gambit sufficient strength to

capture the rubber, he gains, when his loss has been under 600, but at

best it is not more than an even chance that he will win, and when the

pendulum swings in the adverse direction, the only result of the

performance with the flag is to increase the size of the adversaries'

rubber by the amount of the sacrifice. This continued indefinitely is

bound to produce Auction bankruptcy.



The player who figures that, on the doctrine of chances, he and his

partner will hold the strong cards once in every two deals, should

remember that the fickle goddess would never have deserved nor received

her well-earned title had she been even approximately reliable.



A run of bad luck may continue for an indefinite period. It has pursued

good players not only for a day or a week, but continuously for months

and years. It does not sound warnings announcing its appearance or

disappearance. To attempt to fight it by the flag-flying process as a

rule only multiplies the loss many fold. And yet, it must not be

understood that the flag-flyer should always be shunned and condemned.

When his loss amounts to only 100 or 200, or when, not detecting his

purpose, the adversaries fail to double, and the loss is, therefore,

smaller, the odds favor his exhibition of nerve. Flag-flying, however,

is like dynamite: in the hands of a child or of one unfamiliar with its

characteristics, it is a danger, the extent of which none can foretell;

but used with skill, it becomes a tool of exceptional value.



It is only during the rubber game that even the most enthusiastic and

expert flyer of the flag should allow it to wave. With a game out, to

make the play successful Dame Fortune must bestow her favors twice in

succession. Before taking such a long chance, a player should realize

that there are future rubbers which he has an even chance of winning,

and that it is better to minimize the present loss than to allow it to

become so great that, even if good fortune follow, it will be

impossible to recoup. On the first game of the rubber, or with a game

in, and the adversaries still without a game, it is plainly too early

and the situation is not sufficiently desperate to resort to any real

flag-flying. Except when playing the rubber game, a voluntary loss of

over 100 should never be considered.





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