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My way – Norberto Bocchi’s Column (no. 6): A textbook hand

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Summer Fantasy. Every once in a while, all sports are slightly changed, in order to make them more spectacular or to improve them. In bridge only rules may shift, but it does not look like anything substantial will be changed. I suggest two innovations that will make the game much more interesting.

The first innovation is about putting up a nice show: I suggest to play bridge as chess, i.e. with a timer. For instance, if the time available for a match is 2 hours, the two pairs have one hour each. The mechanism is easy: when one bids he presses a button that starts opponent’s time and the same happens when one declares or defends. This would make the game faster, and it would be good for spectators. In particular you would not see players thinking for 18 minutes with 5 cards to go. I am talking about a hand I witnessed and believe me 18 minutes feels like eternity! Bridge requires speed and reflexes as well: on the contrary players make it into an old and slow game in the eyes of the youngsters and this is one of the reasons why young people are not interested in bridge. There is indeed a slow-play rule, but it is left to players’ honesty. It does not always happen that players are honest about how slow they have been: I think an objective measurement would be better.

The second innovation concerns the game itself: we could create a third type of vulnerability, more dangerous than non-vulnerable and vulnerable. We could call it “third”* or “azure”, but the name is irrelevant. In this “third” vulnerability each undertrick is worth 200 and a game, in hearts say, is worth 820. This would lead players to be very careful and would create three styles of bridge: aggressive, moderate, and conservative. Think of the situation when one is non-vulnerable against “third”, the preemptive bids would be wild! And think of “third” against “third”: overcalls would be in Forquet’s style, at least 12 points and at least two honours in the suit!


Dublin black-list. I have been playing in the last 11 European Championships and I am disappointed to see that the organization gets worse and worse. The list of organizational issues is long this year, but I will stick to the most prominent ones, not to be nasty.

1) Women played 18/19 matches over 11 days. This competition could have been held over 7 days only, thus avoiding a waste of 4 days. It would have been enough to start 3 days later, since there were not that many women playing. I  wonder who decided this…

2) Once  upon a time there were scorers who wrote down each card played and all bids. For the first time in Dublin this was not compulsory, while it used to be. I understand we are in a phase of economical crisis, but…

3) Some  players (and their companions) had to move to a different hotel 3 days before the end of the Championships, because in the hotel where we were playing some sort of congress took place. Finding a place that can host us for the whole length of the tournament is asking too much?

4) I do not want to talk about the competition format used in the open, I have  already discussed this in previous articles. However I would like to stress that other players besides me disagree with the format. Why do organizers not ask players suggestions about the format instead of leaving  this in the hands of bureaucrats? Even after the qualifying round  organizers had no idea how to play the second part. Who decided? Obviously  not us, professional players. There are no top level players in the EBL  and WBF committees, so they cannot make suggestions in this respect. As a  consequence, some teams who won the 2 rounds played against one another  immediately, instead of later on, which would have been more logical.


 A textbook hand. We are in Philadelphia, round of 32 of the Spingold. An incredible hand was dealt. I try to tell you how it went. Madala’s, my partner, cards are: AQTxx Axx Kxxx x. My cards are: KJx KQJx Axx Axx. Madala opens 1 Spade and I respond 2 Clubs, relay. Madal rebids 2 Hearts, which shows either diamonds or a weak balanced hand. I bid 2 Spades, another relay. Madala bids 3 Diamonds, which shows 5431. Now I agree spades with a forcing 3 Spades and Madala shows a decent hand. I then cuebid with 4 Diamonds and Madala cuebids with 4 Hearts, which shows the ace of hearts. I ask for aces with 4NT and Madala shows two with the queen of spades. At this stage I bid 7 Hearts because I can make this contract by ruffing two clubs even without the king of diamonds! Fun isn’t it? But it would have been even more fun if opponents (who bid and made 6 Spades, thus losing 13 IMPs) had not had the king of diamonds, because I still would have made 7 Hearts, but they would have sadly gone down in 6 Spades.

Adios y hasta muy pronto



July 24, 2012

My way – Norberto Bocchi’s Column (no 6): A texbook hand [Translated by Laura Cecilia Porro for Neapolitan Club]

*Translator’s note: “non-vulnerable” and “vulnerable” are called in Italian “first” and “second” zones, respectively.


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