When The Dealer's Defensive Declaration Has Been The Only Bid

As a general rule, when this situation arises, the Fourth Hand holds a

combination of cards which makes his bid unmistakable. The other three

players having shown weakness, or, at least, the absence of offensive

strength, the Fourth Hand almost invariably has a No-trumper of such

strength that his pathway is plain. Of course, his hand may, by reason

of Spade or Heart length, call for a Royal or Heart declaration in

preference to a No-trumper, but nevertheless, under these

circumstances, it is generally easy for the Fourth Hand to declare.

When, however, the exceptional case occurs, in which the Fourth Hand

finds himself, no previous offensive declaration having been made,

without a plainly indicated bid, it is difficult to lay down a rule for

his guidance. Three players have shown weakness, and yet his cards

assure him that one or more of them is either unduly cautious, has

passed by mistake, or is trying to deceive. If the strength be with his

partner, it may be that, by passing, he will lose an opportunity to

secure the game. On the other hand, if the adversaries have the winning

cards, he may, by declaring, allow them to make a game declaration,

whereas they are now limited to an infinitesimal score.

He must also consider that, should he pass, the maximum he and his

partner can secure is 100 points in the honor column. This is a

position to which conventional rules cannot apply. The individual

characteristics of the players must be considered. The Fourth Hand must

guess which of the three players is the most apt to have been cautious,

careless, or "foxy," and he should either pass or declare, as he

decides whether it is more likely that his partner or one of the two

adversaries is responsible for his predicament.

It sometimes, although rarely, happens that the strength not in the

Fourth Hand is so evenly divided that no one of the three has been

justified in making an offensive declaration, and yet the Fourth Hand

is not very strong. When this occurs, a clever player can as a rule

readily and accurately diagnose it from the character of his hand, and

he should then pass, as he cannot hope to make game on an evenly

divided hand, while as it stands he has the adversaries limited to a

score of 2 points for each odd trick, yet booked for a loss of 50 if

they fail to make seven tricks; 100, if they do not make six. In other

words, they are betting 25 to 1 on an even proposition. Such a position

is much too advantageous to voluntarily surrender.

It is hardly conceivable that any one would advocate that a Fourth Hand

player with a sure game in his grasp, instead of scoring it, should

allow the adverse "one Spade" to stay in for the purpose of securing

the 100 bonus.

Inasmuch, however, as this proposition has been advanced by a prominent

writer, it is only fair that its soundness should be analyzed.

The argument is that the score which is accumulated in going game is

generally considerably less than 100, averaging not over 60, and that,

therefore, the bonus of 100 is more advantageous. The example is given

of a pair who adopted these tactics, and on one occasion gathered eight

successive hundreds in this manner, eventually obtaining a rubber of

approximately 1150 points instead of one of about 350.

The answer to any such proposition is so self-evident that it is

difficult to understand how it can be overlooked. It is true that a

game-going hand does not average over 60 points, which is 40 less than

100, but a game is half of a rubber. Winning a rubber is worth 250,

without considering the 250 scored by the adversaries, if they win. A

game, at its lowest valuation, is, therefore, worth 125 plus 60, or 85

more than the 100.

Examining the case cited, it will be seen that even had the pair, who

are so highly praised for their self-control in scoring eight hundred

before going game, known that for ten successive hands they would hold

all the cards, and, therefore, that they had nothing to fear from

adverse rubber scores of 250, they, nevertheless, made but poor use of

their wonderful opportunities. If, instead of accumulating that 800,

they had elected to win five rubbers, they would have tallied at the

most moderate estimate five times 350, or 1750, in place of the 1150 of

which they boast.

If, however, during that run of luck the adversaries had held two game

hands--say, the 5th and 10th, the exponents of self-control would have

made on the ten hands about 450 points, instead of approximately 1350,

which would have been secured by players who realized the value of a


In the event of an even and alternate division of game hands, the

non-game winners at the end of twelve hands would have lost three

rubbers and won none, as compared with an even score had they availed

themselves of their opportunities.

It is, therefore, easily seen that the closer the investigation, the

more apparent becomes the absurdity of the doctrine that it is

advantageous to sacrifice a game for a score of 100.

When The Dealer Has Shown Strength And The Second Hand Passed When The Only Offensive Declaration Has Been Made By The Dealer facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail