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HOW TO PASS


por ELY LENZ source The Rotarian Magazine, 1942
 

 

 An anonymous benefactor sets forth the rides and regulations for the use of this bridge tool.

 IT IS A MIRACLE to me that, in all the literature of bridge, there is not a single chapter on How to Pass. It is true that passing is

mentioned. "In such a case, pass" is frequently quoted, and "Pass, instead of doubling" is another phrase we meet, but there is absolutely nothing on how one should pass.

Such neglect is absurd. It is like saying, "On falling into a lake, swim,"  without any instruction on how to keep above water. Imagine a textbook on surgery that told the eager student that trepanning was necessary and let it go at that, without any illustrations or advice on how to do it! Yet passing is as necessary to a bridge player as trepanning is to a sturgeon more, in fact, for trepanning is seldom indicated, yet every hand of bridge necessitates three passes before it can be played.

I do not speak of tournament bridge, for that is not a game at all, but a miniature battle played with cards and dirty looks instead of  guns and bayonets. I refer to the family or bridge-club game the friendly game, as my wife sarcastically calls it.

Let us first look at the pass with intent to pass, or The Pass Direct.


You are West, and South has dealt. You pick up your cards and arrange them. They are -Spades: J 8 5 2; Hearts: 9 4; Diamonds: 10 7 5; Clubs: Q 9 6 3. South passes. The question arises: How should you pass?


Don't just say, "By,- O r, '1 pass." Look at your cards hard. Moan with anguish. Screw up your face into a grimace of utter despair. Then say, firmly, "PASS!"

This leaves your partner with a clear understanding that this is not a trap pass, nor a reluctant pass, but an out-and-out no-bidding-values pass. Suppose he was planning to bid on three honors. This will tell him, in one simple word, that he cannot count on you for anything but grief.

If, in spite of your warning, he insists on bidding, just leave your hand in a bundle before you and mutter, "Pass," at every opportunity. Even if it isn't your turn, interject a "Pass" into the bidding now and then. Thus you convey in no uncertain manner the information that you have an absolute bust.

The next hand, you are still West, you deal and pick up -Spades: A K1043; Hearts: 9732; Diamonds: 104; Clubs: J 7. Almost a biddable hand, but not quite. But how to get the information across to your partner? Merely passing won't do it. And The Pass Direct will mislead him.


So here we adopt the technique of The Informative Pass. Look over your hand carefully. Then look directly at your partner and say, "How many spades will it take to give us a game?" Of course, as you already  know, he will answer, so you look regretfully at your hand and  say, "Then I pass."

By this maneuver your partner knows you have strength in spades and practically nothing else. It isn't enough strength..., so it must be one-and-a-half or two honor tricks in spades only. With this information he is much better equipped to make his first  bid. If he says, "One heart' you can go to two, which shows him that  your spade pass meant control of the suit and something in his suit as well.


Another form of the Informative Pass comes up on the third hand.


You look at your hand and find Spades: A Q 4; Hearts: Q 9 8 6; Diamonds: K 2; Clubs: K J 10 5. North bids one diamond, your partner passes in such a way you cannot tell if he means it or is stalling, South bids one heart, and it is up to you. Instead of bidding on this round, you can pass the burden to your partner together with much information if you hesitate a moment, and then say brightly, "Have we anything on game?" This immediately tells your partner that you have a fairish sort of hand, and if he has anything at all, he should bid it, and thus give you a chance to carry it on, but that if he has nothing, it might be best for you both to shut up.

Closely allied to The Informative Pass is The Lead-Directing Pass* Let us suppose you hold ace-king-queen of spades, but haven't had a chance to show them, because the level is too high by the time it reaches you. Turn an astonished face to your right and demand, "Did you say three spades?" in a shocked and incredulous tone. Of course, he will correct you, and you can then laugh lightly and remark, "I didn't think you did I pass." Naturally, your partner, who, it seems, will have first lead, will promptly lead spades, unless he is an absolute ass.

The Trap Pass is a tricky thing, but can be made to pay great dividends, if not overworked. Let us suppose your opponents are bidding spades. You haven't much of anything, but you do have five spades to the nine-spot. When your right-hand opponent says, "Three spades," you sigh lugubriously, and say, "I could have guessed that pass," and the trap is set. Both your opponents look for the bulk of the spades in your partner's hand. What a cheerful surprise they get when you ruff aces!

The Warning Pass comes in handy when your partner has a tendency to overbid. Suppose you have a part score of 60, and a fair-to-middling hand, but certainly no slam in prospect. Your partner bids two clubs, and you fear he may carry it on indefinitely. Instead of a mere "Pass," it may be well to remind him of the part score. You can do this by saying, brightly, "Well, that's all we need to go game, isn't it, partner?" Thus you imply that unless your left hand opponent pushes the limit up ? you are willing to let well enough alone. Maybe you can make four clubs, but why take unnecessary risks?

Another form of The Warning Pass is when you cannot make a game bid and your opponents evidently cannot either. The bid comes to you from them at three diamonds. Laugh lightly and remark, "They won't get fat on that, partner I'm going to let them have it." This establishes the fact that they haven't a game and your support for his hearts is none too hot, so don't go on!

The Diversion Pass comes in handy when the opposition is headed for a game in a suit in which you have a void or a singleton. It must not be confused with The Lead-Directing Pass. The latter is where you name the suit you want led, which is NOT the one they mention. The Diversion Pass is similar., but you name the suit they DO name. Thus, your right-hand opponent says, "Three hearts/' You look at him incredulously and say, "Did you say three hearts? 9 * Then laugh happily and quickly say, *T pass!" This immediately convinces your left-hand opponent that you hold all the missing hearts, and he chokes the four-bid he was about to make maybe even shifts to diamonds, in which you hold five to the king, queen.

Going back to first-round passing, do not overlook the use of The Query Pass. This is where you have a pretty good hand, but prefer to have your partner declare his preference in suits first. So you pass but not without asking for information. Look at your cards carefully, shake your head doubtfully, mutter to yourself but clearly enough for your partner to hear "I wonder'* and then pass, slowly, regretfully. This clearly indicates that you want his cooperation, and are prepared to help him in almost any suit. This pass may lead to a slam.

Do not overlook the use of inflection of the simple word "Pass." A straightforward, crisp pronouncement means that you do pass, without mental reservation or secret evasion whatever. But a slower "Pass" implies that you could, if you would, make an opening bid. A drawling pass after an opponent's bid is almost as good as a double, and much less expensive should he make any overtricks.

So you see, the pass is a -weapon in your armory of bridge. A careful study of the art of passing is worth at least one quick trick. I have seen hands that, by ordinary rules, would not permit a game bid not only get to game, but make it. And I have seen cold slams (or, at least chilly) defeated by the proper use of The Lead-Directing Pass, Current bridge experts have overlooked the well-worn maxim that the best defense is an offensive. They have relegated the pass to a defensive maneuver entirely. I hope that these few directions will convince you that, properly used, the pass is not only a good defense, but that it can be offensive, too.