Some of Jeff's Imperious Rules of Bridge

  1. 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.

  2. 5422 is a suit shape. If you have a 5-3 fit and partner suggests notrump, normally prefer the suit contract.

  3. 5440 hands don't play great in 4-4 fits. Be conservative unless you have a 5-4 fit. Same with 4441 hands.

  4. The best defense to 2D openings showing 4441 is to lead trumps.

  5. 5332 is notrump distribution. It's also very dangerous for balancing.

  6. Be very aggressive with 6421 shape.

  7. Points, shmoints. Shape rules.

  8. Be good to partner; try to keep him on your side. It's easy to convince him to join the enemy.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. If you psych and your side gets a bad result, it's your fault, regardless of how moronic an action partner took later on.

  12. Don't push to thin slams on 4-4 fits. Be more aggressive with 5-4 fits.

  13. 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.

  14. Partnerships are very synergistic. The sum can be anywhere between a large negative constant and something much greater than the sum of the parts.

  15. 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 cannot win.

  16. If you have not been passed in blackwood, you cannot win an individual.

  17. Try very hard to avoid letting opponents play 1NT white at matchpoints.

  18. It ought never be necessary to apologize to partner if you are a real team.

  19. Check the vulnerability at OKbridge. It isn't what you think.

  20. Never ask partner why he revoked.

  21. 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.)

  22. If at all possible, set trumps before embarking on a complex or slam auction.

  23. If something strange is going on, double the Israeli.

  24. Be generous with praise, stingy with anger.

  25. Don't take midnight swisses too seriously.

  26. Be extra careful during the match right after dinner. Be extremely careful to concentrate on the first few and the last few boards.

  27. Never give up. That 38% game sometimes turns out to be a 205.

  28. Get to the site at least 15 minutes early.

  29. At matchpoints, never pull partner's penalty double to a minus score.

  30. The difference between -800 and -790 isn't worth a lot of effort. Don't expect partner to congratulate you for the improvement.

  31. Don't lead doubletons slowly.

  32. You see a good line. Bravo! Stop for a second and there a better one?

  33. A double squeeze is definitely more fun than a finesse.

  34. If you think you played perfectly and your partner was hopeless, you are deluding yourself. Consider how you could have helped partner play better.

  35. Play more slowly, especially to trick 1.

  36. Do not learn UNIX system administration unless you want to be asked to do it a lot.

  37. In a balancing situation, 2NT is almost never natural. It is also not necessarily forcing.

  38. Dry ace leads almost always cost at least one trick.

  39. 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.

  40. If you open a strong notrump with 14 HCP, it's probably good enough to accept a game invitation.

  41. Try to avoid doubling for takeout with a void in their suit. If partner passes, it tends not to work out.

  42. Don't preempt with a limit raise for a side major suit.

  43. Don't win cheaply if you are about to shift to a singleton.

  44. 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.

  45. After 4th suit, 4NT is natural.

  46. Disclosure is for the opponents' benefit, not yours.

  47. 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.

  48. Don't be too greedy.

  49. 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.

  50. Almost all low-level takeout doubles in front of the bidder are takeout.

  51. Be agressive when holding length in a known long suit bid on your right. Be conservative when it's bid on your left.

  52. 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.

  53. 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 strain.

  54. If something goes wrong, call the director! Don't try to make your own ruling.

  55. Hartman's Law: 4D doubled always makes. Jeff's corollary: all doubles of 4D are takeout.

  56. Grant Baze says, "six-five, come alive." It often pays to bid with 6-5 hands, even when you think it's nuts.

  57. Never ruff partner's trick and then go into the tank. Decide what you will do next first.

  58. When defending 1-level contracts, doubled behind the declarer, third hand should lead his trump(s) through declarer.

  59. Starting with the second round of the bidding, opener must cater to a psych after the auction 2H-2S for at least one round. In my experience, that has been a psych more than half the time.

  60. When you open a 9-count, don't cooperate with grand slam tries. In other words, "boys, six would have been enough."

  61. Important Safety Tip: don't cross the committee members.

  62. 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.

  63. Answers to Blackwood or the Grand Slam Force are not judgment calls.

  64. When in doubt, take out takeout doubles.

  65. Don't bid bad suits in slam auctions.

  66. 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,, Feb. 2, 1998