Some of Jeff's Imperious Rules of Bridge
- 4333 hands suck. If you have 4333, don't
balance. You won't make, and they can bid
one more and make or double you at their whim.
Don't double with 4333 unless you have them
dead to rights in your hand, and then consider
bidding notrump instead.
- 5422 is a suit shape. If you have a 5-3 fit
and partner suggests notrump, normally prefer
the suit contract.
- 5440 hands don't play great in 4-4 fits. Be
conservative unless you have a 5-4 fit. Same
with 4441 hands.
- The best defense to 2 openings showing 4441
is to lead trumps.
- 5332 is notrump distribution. It's also
very dangerous for balancing.
- Be very aggressive with 6421 shape.
- Points, shmoints. Shape rules.
- Be good to partner; try to keep him on your side.
It's easy to convince him to join the enemy.
- Forcing bids are forcing. It might be right
to pass a forcing bid on this hand, but you
lose ten times over when partner jumps the
next few times, fearing your passing.
- If you are about to make a torture bid,
consider it from partner's chair. Will
he figure out what you want your bid to
mean? If you are not sure, consider something
else. After all, a random choice by partner is
probably less likely to be right than a
random choice by you.
- If you psych and your side gets a bad
result, it's your fault, regardless of how
moronic an action partner took later on.
- Don't push to thin slams on 4-4 fits.
Be more aggressive with 5-4 fits.
- If your teammates don't want to talk about
it, don't push. If they push after you
tell them you don't want to talk about it,
lie to them. Try not to be believable.
- Partnerships are very synergistic. The
sum can be anywhere between a large negative
constant and something much greater than the
sum of the parts.
- When playing in an individual, treat your
partners with courtesy and respect. Don't
make life tough on them, but give them a
chance and you will often get pleasantly
surprised. Give them no chance and you
- If you have not been passed in blackwood,
you cannot win an individual.
- Try very hard to avoid letting opponents
play 1NT white at matchpoints.
- It ought never be necessary to apologize
to partner if you are a real team.
- Check the vulnerability at OKbridge. It
isn't what you think.
- Never ask partner why he revoked.
- If partner makes severe errors two hands
in a row, offer to get him a Coke. It will
break the losing rhythm and maybe get
you back on the right track. If you
make an error two hands in a row, offer
to get your partner a Coke. Same reason.
(If partner or you don't drink Coke, know
what the appropriate substitute is.)
- If at all possible, set trumps before
embarking on a complex or slam auction.
- If something strange is going on, double
- Be generous with praise, stingy with anger.
- Don't take midnight swisses too seriously.
- Be extra careful during the match right
after dinner. Be extremely careful to
concentrate on the first few and the last
- Never give up. That 38% game sometimes
turns out to be a 205.
- Get to the site at least 15 minutes early.
- At matchpoints, never pull partner's penalty
double to a minus score.
- The difference between -800 and -790 isn't
worth a lot of effort. Don't expect partner
to congratulate you for the improvement.
- Don't lead doubletons slowly.
- You see a good line. Bravo! Stop for a
second and reconsider...is there a better one?
- A double squeeze is definitely more fun
than a finesse.
- If you think you played perfectly and
your partner was hopeless, you are
deluding yourself. Consider how you
could have helped partner play better.
- Play more slowly, especially to trick 1.
- Do not learn UNIX system administration
unless you want to be asked to do it a lot.
- In a balancing situation, 2NT is almost
never natural. It is also not necessarily
- Dry ace leads almost always cost at least
- 2NT is forcing on the holder of a six-card suit.
If the suit runs, you'll make 3NT, and if it doesn't,
you'll go down in 2NT.
- If you open a strong notrump with 14 HCP, it's
probably good enough to accept a game invitation.
- Try to avoid doubling for takeout with a
void in their suit. If partner passes, it tends
not to work out.
- Don't preempt with a limit raise for a side
- Don't win cheaply if you are about to shift
to a singleton.
- Make opening leads face down. If you regularly
fail to do this, when you eventually lead out of turn
or generate some other bad result by doing this, expect
partner to be rather upset with you. When your face-up
opening lead causes a problem, do not expect your side
to get a favorable director/committee ruling, at
least not from me.
- After 4th suit, 4NT is natural.
- Disclosure is for the opponents' benefit, not yours.
- Thy takeout doubles promiseth support for all the
unbid suits. 4333 takeout doubles should be avoided unless you have
overwhelming strength. If you have a singleton spade, to make
a takeout double of anything other than spades requires about
the strength of a strong 2-bid, and even then you are taking
your life into your hands.
- Don't be too greedy.
- If you reverse into a 3-card (or shorter) suit, rebid your
original suit as soon as possible or partner will assume you have
four in the second suit.
- Almost all low-level takeout doubles in front of the bidder
- Be agressive when holding length in a known long suit bid
on your right. Be conservative when it's bid on your left.
- Invite if the normal perfect minimum will make game or slam
laydown. (Culbertson's Rule) At matchpoints, however,
be somewhat more conservative about making game tries,
and accept them more agressively. +170 isn't as bad
at matchpoints as it is at IMPs.
- If the trump suit has not been established, a cue bid
is for choice of games, not slam investigation. Give up
on thin slams in confused auctions, but find the right
- If something goes wrong, call the director! Don't
try to make your own ruling.
- Hartman's Law: 4 doubled
always makes. Jeff's corollary: all doubles of
4 are takeout.
- Grant Baze says, "six-five, come alive." It often
pays to bid with 6-5 hands, even when you think it's nuts.
- Never ruff partner's trick and then go into the
tank. Decide what you will do next first.
- When defending 1-level contracts, doubled behind the
declarer, third hand should lead his trump(s) through
- Starting with the second round of the bidding, opener
must cater to a psych after the auction
for at least one round. In my experience, that has been a psych
more than half the time.
- When you open a 9-count, don't cooperate with grand
slam tries. In other words, "boys, six would have been
- Important Safety Tip: don't cross the committee members.
- Don't pass forcing bids. Your exquisite judgment may
get these right more often then not, but there'll be
payback on later hands when partner jumps fearing your
passing his forcing bid.
- Answers to Blackwood or the Grand Slam Force are
not judgment calls.
- When in doubt, take out takeout doubles.
- Don't bid bad suits in slam auctions.
- When the auction is not going your way, try
hard to limit your hand. Thereafter, bids will
be looking for the best strain; you at least know
that partner won't have a problem with level.
Jeff Goldsmith, email@example.com, Feb. 2, 1998