Monday, 3 June 2013


Dear Rebecca,
Last weekend I played in a club pairs competition partnering a relative beginner. As it happened we managed to come in the top third, but the two bad boards on the last round cost us a place in the top three.
This was because we encountered two extremely arrogant and smarmy opponents, who did us twice with a rather dubious and highly suspicious convention. Only used at favourable vulnerability and in second position, it was described as the Hoffmeister No Trump Overcall , showing a 9-13 points, balanced hand, with 4 or more cards in two of the unbid suits. I had opened the bidding on both occasions with 1H, but when the INT overcall came in ( alerted ), my partner's natural 1NT response had been snatched away from him. Unsure as to what action to take, he dithered a bit before passing.
So on each board 1NT was played by our opponents, who failed to make either contract. Sadly for us +50 was an outright bottom when 1NT was making all round the room our way. Similarly +100 was no bloody good either,  when we should have making +120.  
Those two galactic bottoms diddled us out of the prizes. 
I have never come across this convention, and I'm desperate to know whether you have....... and what you think of it ?

Yours still feeling miffed as hell, Sylvia Gutbucket

Dear Sylvia,
This convention first come to light in Richard Powell's superb novel " Tickets For The Devil ".  Indeed, the Hoffmeister No Trump overcall has great value in either shutting opponents out of bidding ( as in your case ), or cramping their bidding room to reach a sound low level contract.
Most oddball conventions are licensed these days in a world where there are more artificial bids and responses, than plain simple natural ones. This particular convention always works well when a novice is sitting in the third seat. 
As to what I think about the convention ? Well, like so many others which allow opponents to bid very aggressively on absolute peanuts.....I regard such gadgets as sophisticated and legalised  forms of cheating, equivalent to a cricketer being allowed to use a 10 inch wide bat .......or a golfer having 30 or more clubs to choose from.

Yours still longing for the days when playing fields will be level again, Rebecca Rood

No comments: