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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.

Next: When The Only Offensive Declaration Has Been Made By The Dealer

Previous: Fourth Hand Declarations

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