Friday, 2 April 2010

Yes folks, if you want to improve your scores when partnering numpties, you need to apply a little bit of psychology here and there. In doing so, you will create those extra opportunities to ratchet up some decent scores......where bad ones were looming large. So for you all long suffering players who need an extra dimension to your game, then take on board every bit of advice from my very own Manual On Psychological Ploys To Get The Most Out Of Numpties.
1. If you have a partner who refuses to lead your suit against an opposition contract ( perhaps in defiance of your directional overcall ), then you must resort to a little bit of reverse psychology. Therefore, if you have a decent suit to overcall on, don't bid it. Overcall instead on the weakest of your other 3 suits. This way your weakest suit won't be led, and you have a 33% chance of getting partner to lead your strongest suit.....which is a big improvement on zero %.
2. If on the other hand partner is prone to overbid every time there is a competitive auction, this psychological ploy is a must. When it is your turn to bid, go into the tank, ponder for ages, fiff-faff over whether to pull out a bidding card or not, hesitate like a man who has a major problem over what to bid. Then pass ! Immediately, the opponents will call for a director's ruling which will forbid partner to make a bid. Mission accomplished.
3. Similarly, if partner is renown for under-bidding, a psychological ploy here is to imagine there's an extra Ace is in your hand......and bid accordingly. Open a no-trump on 8-10, or any suit at the one level using the rule of 15. Bid 2 over 1 with 5-6 points, and jump bid with anything better. These bids will no doubt elicit a pass from partner, but you might well end up in makeable contract, or at least make it difficult for the opponents to find theirs.
4. As declarer, your inept partner may have put you into some horrendous and unmakeable contracts. Now you must turn your psychological ploys onto your opponents. So if you are in a doomed contract, play it at speed like a man who knows it is coming in. Look confident and happy. By playing at a faster tempo, some opponents may follow your lead, giving them less time to find the obvious defence, and perhaps make errors to gift-wrap you the contract.
However, if by remote chance your partner has managed to put you into a safe makeable contract, then play like a man who has real problems, anxious, worried and moody. Play the contract at an extremely slow tempo, umming and arring as to what to do for the best ( despite having a clear plan of play in mind ). But best of all is the psychological damage inflicted upon your opponents. They will strive to spend a great deal of time and mental energy looking for a defence to beat the contract, where none exists. After slowly rolling the contract in, they will feel gutted, frustrated and upset, criming themselves for failing to find that killing defence. Their damaged states of mind makes them easy prey for the next hand(s) in this particular set.
5. When your numpty partner is guilty of an infraction, you must adopt a posture of someone who is a complete authority on the rules. Speak up immediately to tell the opponents their rights, like someone who is out to punish partner for his unholy and wicked transgressions. Try to bamboozle your opponents with your superior knowledge and feigned wisdom. Hopefully, they will relinquish their right to call a director, allowing you to give a ruling that is far less damaging than the one which would be highlighted by the TD. This psychological ploy might only succeed against less savvy opponents, but if it succeeds it is a wonderful exercise in damage limitation.
6. If the bumbledog opposite puts you into a ludicrous contract which then gets doubled for a mega-penalty and galactic bottom, redouble with with a sly confident smile and a smurk befitting of a poker player holding a royal flush. Your match point score can't get any lower.....and you never know, the other panic-stricken opponent might well pull it.
7. Playing with a numpty who doesn't understand your bids anyway, choose to make bids that keeps everyone in the dark. Since your partner is already there, attempt to put your opponents in the same boat. Although you might end up in some horrible contracts, so will your opponents. This psychological ploy is aimed at bamboozling two opponents for the price of one. Psyches, deviations, and bids well outside the system requirements must be regularly used.
8. If miracles do happen and partner starts to question or fault your bids, now is the time to be really assertive. The psychological ploy here is to make sure all excuses are turned back on partner, and/or the opponents. You must not allow partner to get too big for his boots. For you to have any chance of improving your scores, you must remain firmly in control. This way he is more likely to keep following your instructions, which then allows you to weave your magic.
9. In defence when you know that partner has all the key trick-taking cards, pretend by means of hesitations, agonised thinking, and worried looks that you hold them all. Get your hesitations in first before partner. Never play singletons in tempo, or in an automatic way : look as though you had chosen the card from 2 or more. Agonise over whether to cover the honour or not, especially when you have nothing to cover anything with. Use the psychological ploy of being in a semi-comatose, semi-delirious state of mind, which suggests to a TD that your actions were not deliberate. Use a ruse to conceal a ruse.
10. When desperate use the psychogical ploy of " going into your shell " and passing everything in sight, especially if your inept partner is more than likely to end up as declarer. Given that you may well miss game and slam contracts, this is no big deal since partner was never likely to reach the same number of tricks as anyone else. However, should these contracts end up being defeated, your partner may, with his 2NT opener opposite your 8+ points, scramble up 8 tricks...... to make his 2NT for a galactic top.

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